Well, that was a cool episode…
There’s a lot to go over in this one, as DuckTales dives into full fanboy territory, introducing not only Gizmoduck, but throwing in a bunch of Darkwing Duck references as well. The fact that this was also the first Luanchpad-centric episode to date for the reboot also helped give this adventure a classic feel, even as it leaves several of the main characters “at home” in order to keep things from getting too busy.
But first, let’s talk about that Darkwing Duck opening! I literally muttered “wow” out-loud when I realized that Quackerjack was making an appearance, and the sight of Megavolt joining him must’ve brought a smile to my face. Before long, Darkwing Duck arrives (and then finally admits that his introductions might be a little too long), and it’s almost chill-inducing to hear that Jim Cummings is still able to nail the voice more than 25 years after first voicing the character. It’s a very sweet sequence, with blasts of cool colors that perfectly capture the look of the original show, but soon it’s revealed that it is a show that Dewey is watching, one which Launchpad declares the greatest series of all time (“Yeah, when you were a kid maybe,” Dewey counters, in a typical for the modern DuckTales bit of meta-humor). Some are probably going to be a bit letdown that Darkwing Duck himself isn’t a part of the the universe our characters inhabit, but if it continues to exist as a “show-within-a-show,” that’s perfectly fine by me.
Anyway, on to the main plot: Launchpad is thrilled that he’s finally gotten his driver’s license (which is both hilarious and horrific), and is certain that Scrooge McDuck is going to throw him a surprise party to congratulate him. McDuck, however, is occupied elsewhere, shopping around for a new drone from Mark Beaks (who…I thought he hated, but maybe that was Glumgold’s thing more than anything), who is promoting a robot that is capable of driving Scrooge’s limo by itself. Launchpad, in an event similar to the Armstrong episode of the original series, quickly gets on the defensive, and in a rash decision challenges Beaks’s newest invention to a race. Beaks, ever the slimeball that he is, is more than eager to use his creation to humiliate someone else, and Launchpad loses the contest in a matter of seconds.
This brings us to the introduction of Fenton Crackshell, who here is working as Gyro’s assistant. On the original cartoon, Fenton was mostly an idiot who happened to be a genius when it came to being able to quickly perform arithmetic, which made him an ideal money-counter for Scrooge. Here, Fenton’s still a bumbler, but he’s also more intelligent that Gyro (more short-tempered here than in the first series, but as a result he’s probably a lot funnier as a character) gives him credit for, though he’s still dumb enough to go to public internet forums in order to find tips for solving his boss’s glitches. This is how Beaks got the blueprints for his newest invention, and infuriated, Gyro fires Fenton on the spot.
On some level, DuckTales almost begins having a conversation with itself as both Launchpad and Fenton lament to each other over their inability to function in modern society. Both characters are under the impression that they need to change in order meet the demands of others, with Launchpad convinced that he must be more cautious to keep working for Scrooge and Fenton thinking he must slow down to satisfy his former employer. This is a DuckTales in which nostalgia triumphs, however, and Launchpad’s entrancement of that–emphasized by his talking Darkwing Duck bobblehead–is crucial to saving the day. Launchpad must crash and Fenton must keep bending the rules, and the latter’s transformation into Gizmoduck is the new being able to arrive because the old was allowed to breathe as well.
In the end, Beaks stealing Gyro’s technology backfires, as his only solution to keeping his robots from becoming evil was to make them “less dorky,” requiring the day to be saved by Launchpad and Fenton. Him becoming Gizmoduck might strike some as slightly rushed here, as it’s an event that took a five-part episode (initially aired as a primetime special called Super DuckTales!) on the original cartoon. But it’s hard to have any complaints beyond that about the execution here, with the action sequence that follows being one of the most splashy and elaborate the series has delivered to date.
Ultimately, Beaks loses because of his rejection of Launchpad–and subsequently the old, or the first DuckTales series in this case–while Gyro grows because of himself being able to move forward. But the battle is hardly over for Beaks, who owes his life to Gizmoduck, but only sees dollar signs as soon as he witnesses him springing into action. There may have been nothing about Della Duck in this episode, but Beaks’s malicious cackling of “I MUST HAVE GIZMODUCK!!!” ensured that it ended with a “to be continued” all the same.
* This may be by far my favorite episode of the reboot to date, despite how loaded it was. The jokes consistently landed, and the fan pandering was effective without being overdone.
* I love that the no longer Headless Horse is now in Gyro’s employ. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of him.
* Launchpad is a huge Darkwing Duck fan, but on the original cartoon, he was also a major character on it! Mind fuck?
* Come to think of it, Gizmoduck showed up from time to time on the original Darkwing Duck as well. Double mind fuck?
* Launchpad and Dewey on the Darkwing Duck actor:
“He got beat up pretty badly in the later seasons because he did all of his own stunts.”
“Why not simply use CGI instead?”
“Hey, real heroes don’t care about common safety precautions!”
* Was this the first episode of the reboot to not have Webby in it?
* Next week, two My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic voice actors will voice colorful talking ponies. I love this show even more now!