If DuckTales can keep up the deft balance of character moments, humor, and intrigue like The Great Dime Chase did, the show will stand as one of the best all-ages animated series Disney has aired since the late, great Gravity Falls. One can only assume that new DuckTales episodes will be released with more predictability, at any rate. The Great Dime Chase doesn’t delve as deeply into any of its ensemble as Day Trip of Doom did with Webby, but we do gain some insights into what motivates two of the nephews, not to mention our first real clue as to the mystery of Della Duck.
The episode begins with an egregiously lazy Louie running afoul of Scrooge, who drags his great-nephew off the couch and to the Money Bin to learn the value of an honest day’s work. Dewey, meanwhile, makes the ill-advised move to read one of Webby’s journals searching for information on his mom. Webby, ever eager to dig up more on the McDucks, helps Dewey convince Scrooge to bring them along to the Money Bin as well.
Once at the Money Bin, Scrooge brings Louie into a board meeting with “the only people cheaper than me,” as Scrooge says, the trio of business-formal vultures from Woo-oo!. Predictably, Louie skips out of the meeting, where he spys a vending machine. The thing is, he’s a dime short of that delicious first sip—good thing there’s a dime right there in Scrooge’s office! When Louie returns to hear Scrooge passionately recount how he earned the Number One Dime as a lad (portrayed in a painterly homage to the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck), Louie panics and dashes back to the vending machine. Only the machine has just been emptied, leaving Louie the task of tracking down the coin. Returning the dime, of course, will provide Louie with that hard day’s work Scrooge wanted to impart on his nephew.
Compounding things for Louie is the introduction of Gyro Gearloose, whose most recent robotic creation quickly (but predictably, apparently) turns from helpful to deadly. The inventor’s former enthusiastic personality has been revamped into one of entitled resentment, and Gyro’s inventions have a tendency to turn on their masters. It’s an interesting direction for the reboot to take, and I’m of two minds on the subject. Conflict, of course, is at the heart of any story worth telling, and a disgruntled inventor whose creations inevitably turn evil will have little trouble generating conflict. On the other hand, Gyro Gearloose in the original DuckTales (as well as the classic Uncle Scrooge comics) was at his core a happy character. Perhaps Gyro will have a bit of an arc as DuckTales progresses—I do have a soft spot for the villain-turned-ally trope, so here’s hoping.
As all of this unfolds, the B-plot sees Dewey and Webby visit the McDuck family archives, tended to by the melodramatic (and unstable) archivist Quackfaster (her attitude towards an otherwise mundane job hearkening back to the cryogenics tech in Futurama proclaiming “Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!”). The escalating nature of each encounter Dewey and Webby have with Quackfaster plays up the archivist’s instability, resulting in some great visual gags—what kind of librarian can’t sort books mid-combat via sword, after all? It’s a fun sub-plot, and the discovery of the secret room and note from Della Duck provide some crumbs for the season’s ongoing mystery. There’s not much to go on yet, and we don’t know anything about the McGuffin (the Spear of Selene) that’s caused this rift in the McDuck family, but the picture of Donald and Della is telling. They were clearly close before Scrooge apparently did, well, something.
The drive to find out what happened to Della Duck also helps underscore that Dewey is a character searching for validation, as we saw Dewey’s initial interactions with Scrooge in Woo-oo!. The quest to find out just what exactly happened his mom on the surface seems to be a search for external validation, but I’d bet it will ultimately teach Dewey the worth of self-validation. Presuming, of course, that Dewey gets to see the mystery through to the end. But for now, Dewey is the type to project confidence in hopes that nobody notices his insecurities.
Let’s return to Louie for a moment. Whether Louie makes chase to recover the “Number One Dime” because he feels bad or doesn’t want to get caught is debatable. The latter is seemingly the case at first, especially as he lapses back into laziness in the change-sorting room, providing Lil Bulb’s means of ascension. But as it turns out, Louie seems to be genuinely touched by the dime given to him by Scrooge at the end of the episode, even though its loss is played for a gag at the end of the episode.
Also, one random note looking forward. The fact that Scrooge keeps the real Number One Dime on his person at all times highlights both Scrooge’s shrewdness and sentiment. It’s also going to make things much more personal when Magica de Spell inevitably makes her debut.
Again, DuckTales has produced a well-rounded episode, especially considering this is only the third episode of the series. I don’t have any particular youngling feedback to report this time, other than their disappointment that there was no more to watch. Right there with you, kiddos. Speaking of which, next week’s episode is titled “The Beagle Birthday Massacre,” and I’m looking forward to seeing if the Beagle Boys fare better in their sophomore outing.
Race Cars, Lasers, Aeroplanes: 7 Lil Bulbs out of 10
I’m always a fan of evil robots building themselves more impressive bodies, one of my favorite examples being the Swat Kats episode Unlikely Alloys. That example takes things to an almost Katamari Damacy level of extreme that, sadly, Lil Bulb didn’t get to exercise. Library swashbuckling also gets an honorable mention here.
Might Solve a Mystery (or Rewrite History): 8 secret archives out of 10
While it’s true we didn’t leave Duckburg again in this episode, the secret library run by a cultish archivist is a staple trope of genre fiction, and DuckTales uses it to great effect here. Receiving our first real scraps of information on Della Duck and the Spear of Selene is a plus. Lastly, Gyro’s Project Blatherskite is rather ominously introduced, given what will ultimately come of it.
Smarter than the Smarties: 2 nephews out of 3
While not the in-depth examination Webby got last episode, we do get a peek at what makes Dewey and Louie tick. Gyro’s heel turn is interesting, and I hope the writing team gets to explore the new Gyro a bit. Speaking of which, Gyro’s list of prior creations that went evil includes a number of robots from the original run of DuckTales, plus a particularly deep Disney cut—the Cogs, which served as antagonists in the surprisingly long-lived MMO ToonTown Online!
- It’s telling that this episode opens with a gag aimed squarely at parents familiar with HGN’s stable of “reality” shows.
- “You have arrived at your destination.” I know this bit was played out on Disney XD’s advertising, but Beck Bennet plays Launchpad with a charming earnestness I really enjoy.
- “Shut up everyone, I’ve done something brilliant!”
- “Mmhmm. How will you ensure this one won’t achieve sentience and turn evil like all the others?”
- “I’ll show you. I’ll show you all!” “Maybe wait until you’re out the room to say that next time.”
- “Do you have any idea how many vengeance curses I have on my head?”
- “Oh yeah? If it’s just a card catalog, how does it know your name?”
- “It is not for us to understand the ways of the archives.” “That is literally your job!”
- “Look, they’re all mad as loons. And if you fire them they’re definitely going to seek revenge.”
- “Use your training. The most valuable knowledge must be earned!” “OK, how much of this is about us doing your work for you?” “About fifty perceeeent!”
DuckTales airs Saturdays on Disney XD.
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