DuckTales is back! And luckily, it’s pretty great. I’m a big fan of the original series, and even watched the sort-of-a-reboot, Quack Pack, that came out in the mid-90s. So, let’s dive in! In this week’s episode, Scrooge and the gang skip Christmas and set out to reach the summit of the “impossible” Mt. Neverrest.
1. The writers must have been playing Portal recently.
I kind of love that the end of the episode turns into Portal, without any explanation. The “rules” of the mountain just change, and no explanation is given about where the “wormholes” come from. The explanation isn’t needed, and the show does a great job of establishing the logic of the portals and how they change the stakes of the adventure. They also aren’t thrown in just to add unneeded complexity to the story; they directly influence Scrooge’s decision to abandon his quest to reach the top. That decision is a nice subversion, since up until this point, perseverance in the face of all odds has been an ongoing theme of the show.
2. The momentum shift wasn’t worth the scheduling change.
This was a great, standalone episode, but it felt a little incongruous with the previous ones. There was no evidence of the stronger friendship between Webby and the boys, no teasing of overarching plots, and Scrooge was still very standoffish towards the kids. I had seen that some of the episodes were airing out of order, but story editor Frank Angones’ response when asked about the order made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. The inconsistencies in this episode finally got me to look up the correct order. Apparently, Disney wanted to sync up with the holidays, so this episode was placed in December for Christmas, even though it was originally episode three. They still wanted to keep “The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!” as the Halloween episode, so “Terror of the Terra-firmians!” was moved up to compensate, even though it should have come last in this sequence.
Now knowing the intended episode order, so much makes sense now. I have had two main complaints about the series so far: not enough Scrooge, and too many episodes in between big adventures. Both of these would have been addressed by the correct episode order. Obviously, the content doesn’t change, but the show as a whole would have felt more balanced.
3. The reorder affected smaller moments.
There are smaller things that don’t suffer from the reorder as much, but are still important. The first thing that comes to mind, is Huey’s Junior Woodchuck involvement. The first time we’re introduced to it in “Terror of the Terra-firmians,” Huey’s Woodchuck guidebook is already at parody levels of hyper-detail. In “The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest,” the Woodchuck guidebook sounds not too dissimilar to something out of the Boy Scouts, so the later hyperbolic version would have been even funnier. The other smaller parts of the show that suffered from the reorder were the Lena episodes. Nothing was really spoiled, but having a little space between the tease of Magica De Spell’s connection with Lena in “The Beagle Birthday Massacre,” and her more prominent role in “Terror of the Terra-firmians!” would have greatly improved the show’s pacing.
4. Launchpad has “regressed.”
Another casualty of the reorder in this episode is Launchpad’s shtick. There are no layers to his b-story; he’s just dumb and gullible here. It would still have been hard to watch without seeing all the other episodes, but it’s especially egregious since we’ve already seen more nuanced versions of Launchpad’s behavior. In “The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra,” his burrito obsession turns into a crucial plot point, and in “Terror of the Terra-firmians!” his confusion and paranoia actually have a progression and isn’t just one note. It’s also hard to believe that this is the same Launchpad that single-handedly went up against a group of ninjas and rescued a baby panda off-screen in “The House of the Lucky Gander!”
5. It’s still just a kids show . . . for now.
The bottom-line is that this is a show aimed at kids, and Disney probably has good reason for shifting the schedule. It’s still aggravating. This iteration of DuckTales is so close to being a truly great all-ages show, like Adventure Time, or Steven Universe. However, completely reordering episodes just to align to holidays de-emphasizes the story pacing and careful character development that the creators original envisioned. Those are some of the elements of the show that cater to older audiences, and are hallmarks of great all-ages shows. That’s not to say that DuckTales can’t be entertaining for everyone. It is, but it’s maddening when one of the things that is bringing the quality down, isn’t the actual content of the show.Continued below