When I was younger and the schoolwork was finished, I spent quite a bit of time with my butt planted in front of the TV watching Disney cartoons. Ducktales, Talespin, Darkwing Duck, and Rescue Rangers were easily my favorites of the Disney's afternoon. While each of these shows proved to be popular with the kiddies, Ducktales was the first and most well received.
The show takes place in the city of Duckburg. Primarily it focuses on Scrooge McDuck who lives with his grandnephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. The boys were staying with Donald, but being the sailor that he is, he decided to join the navy and see the world. Together Scrooge and the boys went on countless adventures seeking riches or simply just to have a good time. The show may have been silly at times but there was often a point to the episode and a moral to the story buried in somewhere. Granted the depth of the plot was relatively light since it's not like a kid will sit through some grand opus involving talking ducks.
The thing that really helped Ducktales out the most though was the fact that it expanded upon the known duck universe. Characters such as Launchpad McQuack, the pilot who could crash any plane, and Gyro Gearloose, the genius inventor, really helped to round out the show. Of course you can't have an interesting adventure series like this without worthwhile villains. The Beagle Boys and Magica De Spell take up a decent amount of screen time but my personal favorite was Scrooge's greedy nemesis Flintheart Glomgold. Yes, Ducktales is a fun show and surprisingly it holds up extremely well nearly twenty years later.
As part of the Disney Afternoon Ducktales began in September of 1987 and ran for a total of 100 episodes. It was so popular that a theatrical film ("Treasures of the Lost Lamp") was released in 1990, but it hasn't quite hit DVD yet. If you have been collecting the Disney Afternoon releases then you probably already have this one in your library somewhere. Two sets have come out thus far and in total we have been treated to 51 episodes of Ducktales. With the holidays upon us it's only timely that Disney would send the third installment of Scrooge's adventures to store shelves.
This time around the presentation is much the same. Three discs are included in the box and 24 more episodes have made the cut from the first season and beyond. Once again these episodes are symbols of Disney at the top of their game. This was arguably the best show from the Afternoon block and to this day I don't believe that any other Disney cartoon has matched the quality.
If you were ever a fan of the series then I'm sure you have been looking forward to the arrival of GizmoDuck (well, I was looking forward to it at any rate). His origin is included here in the form of a five part storyline called "Super Ducktales". If you haven't been introduced to GizmoDuck before then you're in for a treat. Basically Scrooge hires and accountant named Fenton who botches things up when the Beagle Boys come looking for the Number One Dime. As fate would have it he accidentally stumbles upon one of Gyro's latest inventions and activates it by muttering blatherskite. Pretty soon Fenton names himself GizmoDuck and becomes a mainstay for Ducktales. This five-part storyline was probably my favorite when I saw it on TV back in the day and it's safe to say that's still the case now while watching these DVDs.
Another great storyline here is another five-parter named "Time is Money". This one introduced Bubba the Caveduck and his pet Tootsie. Now, let me just state for the record that I was never the biggest Bubba fan; even so I thought this storyline was a lot of fun. Scrooge and the gang are trapped inside of a diamond mine and manage to travel back in time to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately they went a little too far and wound up back in the prehistoric age where they met Bubba. From there, with caveduck in tow, they made their way back to the future and found themselves in a heap of trouble. Basically Flintheart and the Beagle Boys give them the "what's-for" but of course Scrooge comes out on top in the end as he always does.
Those two stories are the only multi-episode adventures featured in this set but to be quite honest that's enough. The rest are the one-shot plots that made Ducktales what it was and that's perfectly fine in my book. Some of the better episodes include "Duck in the Iron Mask" where Dewey gets sick of looking like his brothers, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. McDuck" which features Scrooge getting hit with a potion that makes him generous, and "Ducky Horror Picture Show" where Scrooge makes a haunted house filled with real monsters. There are some episodes of lesser quality but to be quite honest I'd say only two or three made their way into this group of episodes. Considering the series is presented in the order with which it was produced there is a certain consistency to everything and these episodes simply gel.
Whether you were a fan of Ducktales when it aired or not this release from Disney is a must; especially if you have kids. The series was innocently fun with a message but it was written intelligently enough to serve as entertainment for the entire family. I loved it when I was younger and nearly twenty years later I can still say that this show is a treasure. Ducktales was indeed one of the finest cartoons to come along for Disney and this set will keep fans happy as well as create new ones. Get the first two volumes and pick this one up as well; you won't be disappointed.
Duck to the Future
Launchpad's First Crash
Dime Enough for Luck
Duck in the Iron Mask
The Uncrashable Hindentanic
The Status Seekers
Nothing to Fear
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. McDuck
Once Upon a Dime
Spies in their Eyes
All Ducks on Deck
Ducky Horror Picture Show
Till Nephews Do Us Part
Time is Money
Considering that these episodes of Ducktales were produced in 1987 the transfer here is fantastic. The print has been kept nearly pristine and apart from a few moments of speckle and discoloration, the video here is very pleasing. The image quality does dip at a couple of points where some soft edges and grain is identifiable but overall the care taken to bring this show to DVD is noticeable. Ducktales may not be as sharp looking as shows produced more recently but this release is a much better alternative to old VHS tapes and occasional reruns (if they can still be found).
Much like the image quality, the audio is reminiscent of a television show from the 80s. That means you can expect to listen to the show with a flat mono soundtrack that does little to impress audibly. The show sounded as good as I remembered with some terrific voice acting and music, but since it comes across with no directionality it can't really compete with today's current titles. Fortunately I didn't encounter any distortion or flaw with the transfer and even the English subtitles are very accurate.
For serious collectors or folks who simply loved the show the DVD release for Ducktales has been a source of disappointment in the bonus features category. Like the other two installments this release includes nothing supplementel.
When it comes to cartoons from the 80's it really doesn't get much better than the adventures of Scrooge and his nephews. Other shows come and go but Ducktales is arguably going to be around for my longer. Each episode is a fun little treat and it's one that fans can still enjoy nearly twenty years later. While the show may not be the most complex series out there I can still picture today's kids getting into it just as much as my generation did back in the day. That's the mark of good television; timelessness.
The third volume of Ducktales houses some fantastic episodes from the later part of the series. The quality is very consistent and with the introduction of Bubba and GizmoDuck to the cast the roster gets even more interesting. If you loved this show back in the day then pick this release up, you won't be disappointed!
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