DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Eighties kids have a tendency to loudly proclaim that the cartoons they grew up with, your Masters of the Universe, your Transformers, your My Little Ponies were so much better than the cartoons made for kids today.

Why do they say that? Lead. Lead was in everything back then. Paint, exhaust fumes, you name it. And lead is well known to have a harmful effect on intelligence. Couple this with the radiation from the hole in the ozone layer frying their brains and the still lingering effects of Chernobyl and quite frankly it’s a wonder that your typical eighties kid can tied their own shoes, much less attempt an objective assessment of the state of made for TV animation then and now. God love them, they’ve suffered through so much. Now, I am an eighties kid by birth but I converted to the church of 21st century animation a looooong time ago so let me put this one to bed. No. Cartoons were not better in the eighties than they are now. Know how I know? Because cartoons have never been as good as they are now. Pretty much every cartoon made for television from the nineteen fifties to late eighties was garbage. Sure, there were talented people working on them, but they were people, not gods, and there simply was no way to contend with the forces of microscopic budgets, corporate mandated toy-schilling and stiflingly conservative broadcast standards and create something consistently excellent or even good. Yes, occasionally an episode of Transformers might get through that still holds up today but these were very, very rare exceptions (I’m talking exclusively about American TV animation I should hasten to add). Contrast that with today: American animation studios are consistently making shows for kids that are better than most of the stuff they make for adults. Pearl from Steven Universe is one of the most fascinating, layered, tragically flawed characters on television right now, period. Gravity Falls is unfolding an ongoing mystery plot with a skill and intelligence that The X-Files and Lost could only dream about. Adventure Time takes Twin Peaks to school with its pure surrealism. Eighties, I hate to break it to you, even our remakes of your shows are a tenfold improvement. You have Transformers? We have Transformers: Prime. You have Thundercats? We have Thundercats 2011. You have My Little Pony? We have Friendship is Magic.  

GIJoeHeader

You have an army?

We have a HULK.

We have a HULK.

So what happened? Whence came this huge leap forward in quality?

Where else?

Where else?

 

So some time in the late eighties Disney rolled up their sleeves and decided it was time to show these chumps who the big dog was. Disney began producing high quality TV animation intended for syndication. Critics scoffed, saying that this was an expensive folly that would bring the Disney company into bankruptcy.
"Ha. Motherfuckers never learn."

“Ha. Motherfuckers never learn.”

Instead, these shows completely revolutionised the American animation TV landscape. Soon after, Warner Bros also got in on the act with Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and Batman the Animated Series to name a few. In essence, all modern TV animation owes its existence to Disney’s gamble in the late eighties, and in particular to their most popular show; DuckTales.
The massive popularity of DuckTales is something that’s always confused me a little. I mean sure, I watched the show and I liked it fine, but what is it about this story about three duck kids and their miserly grunkle that made it to 100 episodes? Couple of things. Firstly, simply by dint of the fact that it wasn’t terrible it was already head and shoulders above pretty much any other cartoon on the air. But I think another key to its longevity was the fact that it’s quite similar to Doctor Who. One of the reasons that show is older than Jesus is because, aside from the fact that they can recast the main actor, the Doctor has a machine that lets him go anywhere in space or time. There is literally no end to the stories you can tell with that basic premise. And in a way, Scrooge McDuck also has a TARDIS. He’s so wealthy that there’s literally nowhere on Earth he can’t afford to go. Want to do a story on the bottom of the ocean? Scrooge buys a submarine. Want to take him to space? Scrooge buys a spaceship. Want to do a story with dinosaurs? Scrooge gets his personal mad scientist to build him a time machine. Want Scrooge to meet Satan? He has a heart attack and goes to hell because it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to see heaven. Again, you will never run out of stories.
Another thing to consider is that DuckTales was based on a hugely popular comic book, by the legendary Carl Barks. Although Donald Duck was of course created by Walt Disney, it was Barks who did more than anyone else to flesh out everyone’s favourite psychotic waterfowl, creating Duckburg and a whole host of supporting characters; Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica deSpell (it truly was a duck blur). The Duck comics have never really been huge in the States where the comics scene is of course SUPERHEROES SUPERHEROES SUPERHEROES NOW UNTIL THE END OF TIME but they’re very popular in what I like to call “Asterix country”, Europe, Latin America and Asia. In fact, I even tried to get my hands on a copy of The Many Lives of Scrooge McDuck for this review from my local comic shop. This lead to the following exchange. I swear to almighty God I am not making this up.
Comic_Book_Guy_WEE

“Sorry, it’s sold out. We sold the last copy to Killian Murphy.”

“…Killian Murphy? The actor?”

“…Killian Murphy? The actor?”

“The Scarecrow himself, yes. He came in here and asked specifically for anything pertaining for Scrooge McDuck. Who were we to refuse him?”

“The Scarecrow himself, yes. He came in here and asked specifically for anything pertaining to Scrooge McDuck. And who were we to refuse him?”

I SWEAR TO GOD.
But yes, Donald Duck comics are a big effing deal in many parts of the world. Personally though, I always found the entire concept of DuckTales the TV show to be really depressing. Think about it. Hewey, Dewey and Louie get sent to live with their uncle, Donald. I don’t think we ever found out why in the show, but there is no good reason that happens. And then, after losing their parents, Donald passes them off on his uncle, a miserly one-percenter who clearly cares more about his money than his nephews while Donald is off in the navy. Those three little ducks must be carting around a metric ton of abandonment issues. The reason why Donald isn’t present in the series apart from a few cameos is that Roy Disney didn’t want any of Uncle Walt’s classic characters getting TV stink on ’em. Instead, the character of Launchpad was created to fill the role Donald usually did in the comics. Today’s movie, Treasure of the Lost Lamp, came out in 1990 and served as a season finale of shorts to the beloved series. Did DuckTales go out with a bang or a whimper? Let’s take a look.

So the movie begins with Scrooge McDuck (Alan Young), Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webigail (all Russi Taylor), being flown into Genericstan in the Middle East by Launchpad McQuack (Terence McGovern), Scrooge’s personal pilot. Webby is the grandaughter of Mrs Beakley, Scrooge’s housekeeper, because no one in this universe has parents. Nobody. In fact, did you ever notice how many nieces and nephews are running around the Disney universe? It’s like their family trees can only move diagonally like chess bishops. Anyway, Scrooge is shocked to learn mid-flight that Launchpad never took flying lessons (this never came up in one hundred episodes?) but Launchpad cheerfully says that he “took a crash course”.
"Ha! Good one! So. You're fired. You're going to jail. And you may be about to die in fire."

Ha! Good one! So. You’re fired. You’re going to jail. And you may be about to crash and burn alive.

Launchpad crashes the plane, resulting in the greatest destruction of priceless Arabian antiquities prior to the rise of ISIS. Some of the local Arab dogs (to clarify, they’re anthropomorphised dogs, I wasn’t disparaging Arabs) tell Scrooge that they’ve found a chest belonging to the legendary thief Collie Baba. Scrooge has been looking for Collie Baba’s treasure for forty years but when they crack the chest all they find is some old dirty robes. But in the robes they find a map to a hidden temple way out in the desert. One of the Arabs, Dijon, then sneaks away to inform his master, the sorcerer Merlock and ohhhhhhhh boy we need to talk about Dijon.
Okay. So. One interesting think about the Disney animated TV series of the late eighties and early nineties was that they could be…how shall I put this, RACIST AS BALLS.
One of these screencaps is from 1955. One is from 1989. Try to guess which is which.

One of these screencaps is from 1955. One is from 1989. Try to guess which is which.

Dijon is just…yikes. He’s cringing, stupid, cowardly, servile, treacherous and speaks with a weird sing-songy…I wanna say Indian accent? I mean, say what you will about the Dumbo crows, they at least were cool. They were their own…birds. This guy is just awful. In short:
Representation
Much better is Merlock, voiced by Christopher Lloyd and frankly that’s an automatic pass right there. Any cartoon with Christopher Lloyd as the villain has to be more good than bad, right?
"What about Foodfight?"

“What about Foodfight?”

"Doesn't count."

“Doesn’t count.”

"Why not?"

“Why not?”

"Because it can't."

“Because it can’t.”

 Merlock tells Dijon to offer his services to Scrooge as a guide so that he’ll lead them straight to Collie Baba’s treasure. Merlock then changes into a vulture and flies off because the dude knows how to make an exit. I respect that.
So the ducks head into the desert with Dijon in tow, following the map beneath the blistering Sahara sun.
Mmmmm...smells likes Christmas dinner.

Mmmmm…smells likes Christmas dinner.

They find a massive pyramid that’s absolutely filthy with booby traps which Dijon proceeds to trip one after the other after the other until finally they fall through a trapdoor that leads them right to the treasure. And I gotta say, that is some piss-poor booby trapping. I hope Collie Baba kept the receipt for that one.  Anyway, they find the treasure which Scrooge has been searching for his entire life.
A diamond. The size. Of a tangerine.

A diamond. The size. Of a tangerine.

The ducks start splashing around in the loot because, honestly, I don’t even think they spend money in this universe it’s just used for swimming. Webby finds an old oil lamp and Scrooge says that it’s not even worth taking and how did this guy get rich again? It’s an oil lamp in an Arabian treasure tomb, of course it has a genie. What do you think is in it, fucking oil? Dijon also seems rather interested in the lamp.
BAHIA!

BAHIA!

After they’ve bagged the treasure they get ready to go, but Merlock arrives, steals the treasure bags and flips a switch on the wall which starts to lower the ducks into the pit of giant ferocious mutant scorpions below.

"Begin the unescessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism."

“Begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism!”

These kind of animal based traps always bug me. I mean, who’s been feeding these giant scorpions? Did Collie Baba just leave a huge mountain of scorpion food to last the millenia, or do the scorpions work in shifts? Are some scorpions going out for food while the rest sit and watch the treasure while contemplating the futility of their lives? Is the food distributed equally or by seniority? Who decided that? Do they have scorpion laws? Is there a scorpion president? DO SOME WORLD BUILDING MOVIE, GAWD!

Anyway, the ducks escape the scorpions (but there’s so much I want to learn!) and make it out via an underground river. Launchpad and the kids are grateful to be, y’know, alive, but Scrooge is depressed because he lost “the treasure of the century”. Um…the whole treasure fit in a large basket. How is that the treasure of the century?

Scrooge

Surely THIS is the treasure of the century?

Webby gives Scrooge the lamp back to cheer him up.

"Oh yeah. That totally makes up for losing a priceless treasure. Idiot."

“Oh yeah. That totally makes up for losing a priceless treasure. Idiot. You’re an IDIOT, Webby!”

Back in Duckburg, life is such a hurricane of racecars, lazers, aeroplanes intrusive press queries as to what happened to the treasure that Scrooge can’t work and decides to go home early. Back at the mansion, Webby is polishing the lamp and accidentally frees a djinn, a creature created from smokeless fire by Allah himself.

Or a doofus in a stupid hat.

Or a doofus in a stupid hat.

 This is Gene the genie (lives on his back) who’s voiced by Rip Taylor, who did a lot of voice work for Disney TV projects, playing characters as diverse as Wacky Weasel and Skunky Skunk.

All his characters have to make that pose.

Well. I say “diverse”.

 I…don’t like this character. At all. I mean, he’s not going to crack my list of most annoying supporting characters (that is an elite crew, yo), hell he’s not even the most annoying character in this movie (hello Dijon) but he gets in some licks on my last nerve, lemme tell ya.

 Most annoyingly, he has a habit of yelling “SHABOOWIE!” for no reason and godammn it but catchphrases are just lazy writing.

"What?"

“What?”

Gene is overjoyed to be free after centuries trapped in the lamp and immediately starts reading all of Scrooge’s encyclopaedias…

It was like Wikipedia, but made of books…

It was like Wikipedia, but made of books…

It was like Wikipedia, but made of books…

We’re not doing this again, moving on. He’s also amazed to learn that the Earth isn’t flat even though Pythagoras more or less put that one to bed 2,600 years ago. The kids are all “Hey, we’re happy for ya bud, now WISHES, bitch.” In fact, they screw poor Gene out of three wishes each, or twelve in total. Louie sensibly wishes for a million wishes but Gene just says “Get serious, that never works.” Which okay, fine, that is one of the main rules. But then Huey wishes for peace and happiness all over the world and Gene just says “These are wishes, not miracles!”
"Pff...some all powerful genie."

“Pff…some all powerful genie.”

Webby finally wishes for something small, an elephant, which causes so much destruction that Huey has to use up one of his wishes to get rid of the thing. Scrooge arrives home and suspects that there’s monkeyshines afoot but they tell him that Gene is just a friend who’s sleeping over.
They go outside to play and blow a few wishes on life size trainsets and the world’s biggest ice-cream sundae and are so late getting home that they have to use a wish to change Scrooge’s personality so they won’t get in trouble. Speaking of pure evil, as they get ready to go to bed Gene tells them about his former master Merlock, and how he was able to use his amulet to get unlimited wishes from the lamp. He explains that Merlock is immortal (his first wish) and that he was responsible for some of history’s worst disasters like the destruction of Pomepeii, the sinking of Atlantis and the rise of nu-metal. Gene also tells them that with the amulet he can turn into any animal, even a bird.
“But…you’re…birds…” *BOOM*

“But…you’re…birds…” *BOOM*

Sure enough, Merlock and Dijon arrive at the mansion the next day looking for the lamp. Merlock changes into a rat to sneak around undetected while the boys and Gene play cops and robbers. But then, Webby uses the wish to bring all her stuffed animals to life and OH MY GOD JUST KEEP THE PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER AWAY FROM THE SMALL CHILD THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.
Anyway, Scrooge has finally figured out what’s going on and snatches up the lamp, saying that he’s going to wish for the world’s biggest diamond diamond mine all the diamond mines the entire mining industry the whole darn pie. Finally, he settles down and wishes for Collie Baba’s treasure and then, taking the lamp, he announces that he’s going to the Explorer’s Club to really rub their faces in it. He orders Gene to get back in the lamp but the kids beg him to re-consider, saying that he’s their friend (who’s good for another few wishes at least). But Scrooge says that genies aren’t people, they’re things. Y’know, like credit cards. Or chauffeurs.
He flies off to the Explorer’s Club with the lamp and Merlock and Dijon in hot pursuit. Gene sees Merlock at the party and tries to get Scrooge to wish them them to safety but Scrooge refuses to waste one of his wishes. Gene hides both of them in his lamp and they manage to give Merloc the slip but Scrooge trips over a dining cart and oh oh spaghetti oh! He drops the lamp and mixes it up with a gravy boat.  Dijon picks up the lamp and Gene is shocked to discover that he has a new master now.
"Tonight the part of Scrooge McDuck will be played by an extremely problematic Arab stereotype."

“Tonight the part of Scrooge McDuck will be played by an extremely problematic Arab stereotype.”

Scrooge arrives back at the Money Bin to discover to his horror that Dijon has wished for his fortune and that there has been some serious wealth re-distribution going on here.

SOCIALISM.

SOCIALISM.

A furious Scrooge is arrested by his former security goons who now work for Dijon, and has to spend a night in the cells. He’s released on bail by the kids and his butler Duckworth and Mrs Beakley (how come they don’t work for Dijon now?) and Scrooge plots to break back into the Money Bin using his knowledge of all the alarm systems. Because it’s not a Scrooge McDuck plan without copious amounts of child endangerment he sends the kids in first to disable the Bin’s security systems which veer on the ostentatious for somebody who’s usually so careful with money.

"Now Mr McDuck I see from the plans you want a corridor of deadly lazer beams that can only be avoided by walking on the white panels of a chessboard patterned floor."

“Now Mr McDuck I see from the plans you want a corridor of deadly lazer beams that can only be avoided by walking on the white panels of a chessboard patterned floor.”

"Aye."

“Aye.”

"Have you considered that it might be far cheaper and more effective to just install a re-enforced steel door with a secure passcode."

“Have you considered that it might be far cheaper and more effective to just install a re-enforced steel door with a secure passcode?”

"No. When those fuckers come for my money, I want to smell their flesh cooking."

“No. When those fuckers come for my money, I want to smell their flesh cooking.”

"Sir, you are one sick duck."

“Sir, you are one sick duck.”

 Little do they know, Merlock has also stuck into the Bin in the form of a cockroach. Scrooge arrives in Dijon’s office and Gene distracts Dijon so that Scrooge can grab the lamp.

 

"Youre so handsome...and youre beard is so...twisted."

“You’re so handsome…and your beard is so…twisted.”

But, right before Scrooge can get the lamp Merlock transforms back into his real form and snatches it from him. Merlock then places his amulet on the lamp, meaning he now has unlimited wishes.

Shit just got real

Merlock’s first wish is to transform Dijon into a pig who then runs away screaming like he’s gotten the scent of David Cameron. Know why I love Merlock? He’s a villain of the old school. After dealing with Dijon he gets Gene to turn the Money Bin into a massive spiky castle with dragons and gargoyles all over it. IN THE FUCKING SKY.

"JUST THE TWOOOOO OF US!!!! BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SKKKKKYYYYY!!!"

“JUST THE TWOOOOO OF US!!!!
BUILDING CASTLES IN THE SKYYYYY!!!”

Scrooge, never one to know when he’s beat, starts mouthing off to Merlock who orders genie to cast him out of the flying castle (if only he was some kind of flying animal). But then Huey uses his slingshot to shoot the lamp out of Merlock’s hand and the lamp and Scrooge go over the edge together. Merlock turns into a griffin and flies after them but Scrooge kicks his ass because, I may not have made this clear aleady, Scrooge McDuck is fucking badass and he smashes Merlock’s talisman which causes him to fall to his doom. Scrooge then snags the lamp and uses his second wish to return them all safely to terra firma. Finally realising that the lamp is too dangerous, and that he was wrong to consider Gene a “thing”, he uses his last wish to turn Gene into a real boy. Gene is overjoyed and Huey, Dewey and Louie ask him what he wants to do and he tells them he wants to play cops and robber while doing a James Cagney impression and no. No no no.

I knew Genie. Genie was a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no genie.

I knew Genie. Genie was a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no genie.

 They run off and Scrooge goes for a swim in his money only to find Dijon there stuffing his pants with loot. And so the movie ends with Scrooge chasing Dijon over the horizon while the theme tune to DuckTales plays, a song so ridiculously catch that you could score an ad for liquified ebola to it and it would probably sell.

***
More of a dry run for Aladdin than a great genie movie in its own right, Treasure of the Lost Lamp isn’t an awful send off for the Ducktales gang but it’s not exactly a crowning highpoint either. I’d give you some recommendations for better Ducktales episodes, but why should I when there’s likely a legion of Duck fans in the comments only too happy to do that very thing. See you next time, and remember, as Donald Duck always says *incomprehensible quacking gibberish*
Scoring
Animation: 11/20
Uneven, but definitely several notches above the TV show. Certain sequences actually rival movies from the canon.
Lead: 13/20
It’ll be interesting to see how the reboot handles Scrooge McDuck in a post-Occupy Wall Street world. Personally, I can’t help but love the old bastard.
Villain: 15/20
God, I miss the days when Disney villains just showed up and start magically wrecking shit and didn’t waste time talking about their feelings.
Supporting Characters: 06/20
“It’s an Indiana Jones esque romp!” “But without the racism and insufferable comedic sidekicks, right?” “Hey, don’t go putting words in my mouth.”
Music: 14/20
DuckTales always had awesome music and David Newman delivers a pretty darn epic score.
FINAL SCORE: 59%
NEXT TIME:  29 October 2015
Yes. I said I was going to review a Don Bluth move after DuckTales. I lied to you. Why?
Because I’m a wild animal.
wolf
Neil Sharpson aka the Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger based in Dublin. The blog updates with a new review every second Thursday. A new chapter from his novel, The Devil’s Heir, posts every Saturday. Today’s review was made possible thanks to the kind donation of Juha Tilli. Thanks Juha! Original artwork for this blog was commissioned from the oh-so talented Julie Android who you should definitely check out.  

95 comments

  1. Why cartoons are not better now than ever to me.
    I can no longer first find one that really gets me hooked. Spectacular Spider-Man got cancelled too early. There is nothing that compares to Justice League or 2003 TMNT. Nothing in this error makes me want to start from the beginning and finish.

  2. To be honest, Ducktales is a hit-and-miss series for me. Sure, there are some great episodes, but I’ve found just as many episodes that make me say “meh.” It’s one of those things that I respect more than I like. As for this movie, it’s fine, but it just feels like a long episode of the series. And there wasn’t enough Launchpad!

    1. I think it needed some Gyro Gearloose and GizmoDuck. And Maybe Magicka DeSpell. That show had a great supporting cast, way better than Gene and Dijon.

      1. Why do I get the feeling if Magicka tried to interfere, Merlock would probably send her the way of later-season Rita Repulsa?

  3. Oh, it is an okay movie. But I just miss Fenton Crackshell, who was my favorite character in the TV show (that is also one big reason why I never got into the first 80 (!) episodes, when he simply hadn’t made his first appearance yet). And if you believed that nobody in thus universe had parents, Fenton’s mother is a rather huge supporting character during the last twenty episodes. And let’s not forget that the Beagle Boys also had a mother, Msa Beagle, who was one of the great villains of this show.

    I like though that Webby gets plenty of spotlight in this movie, even if her wishes maybe weren’t that wise, because it seemed like the TV shows almost forgot about her during the last twenty episodes. And she would have needed as a female counter-balance to an othwerwise very male-centric show.

  4. I agree that this film at least somewhat paved the way for Aladdin. Do you think that’s a coincidence or a conscious decision by Disney?

  5. Never seen an episode of Ducktales but it always looked like fun to me. I’m a sucker for these adventure serial type shows/movies/videogames. Basically anything kind of like Indiana Jones (even though, oddly enough, the only Indiana Jones movie I particularly like is Raiders). Uncharted, Tomb Raider, these kind of things are just my style.

    I’m totally with you, Mouse, on cartoons being better now than they’ve ever been. I’m a bit biased as I’m only 22 so I didn’t grow up with any of the 80’s shows most people point to as being great, but there’s just so much great stuff that’s come out in the last decade or so. Everything from superhero shows like Teen Titans and Young Justice, to more adult cartoons like Futurama, even to the more interesting stuff like Gravity Falls and Adventure Time (neither of which I’ve seen but definitely have excellent reviews from everyone I know). But I can’t believe Avatar: The Last Airbender didn’t get a mention from you as one of the best cartoons of modern times. So what if it went off the air 7 years ago, it’s one of the greatest shows of all time!

      1. It used to be my favorite Indiana Jones movie. But I rewatched it a couple years ago and just didn’t like it as much. I can’t even fully explain why, I just didn’t. It’s still good though

  6. Ducktales! Woo-oo-oooh! And ok I don’t need to sing the song again.
    First of all, loved the point about modern TV animation being better than it’s ever been. Stuff like Avatar, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls are really quite amazing and I’m just really glad to be able to watch them all. (Speaking of Gravity Falls, how about that last episode! Geez, talk about intense!)
    I grew up with a couple of Ducktales VHS tapes that I’d watch a lot, but I didn’t actually see more than a handfull of episodes until my freshman year of college when I watched the whole series, three episodes a day, on YouTube. (Have since bought the DVDs)
    My favorite character will always be Launchpad, the goof-ball, but I also really love Scrooge. There’s just something really endearing about a greedy, money-loving tough guy who’s got an enormous soft-spot for his great-nephews and nieces… oh wait, no, just nephews. Sorry, thought I was talking about Grunkle Stan for a sec.
    Also, yeah, the “and adventure, anywhere” plot device definitely makes the show so cool. That and the fun character.

    THIS MOVIE THOUGH. Most of the best supporting cast like Launchpad and Gyro and Fenton are barely in it, if at all, the triplets seem MUCH more bratty than usual, and yeah, Dijon and Gene are both REALLY annoying. But Scrooge and Merlock sure do their best to make up for it, their fight scene alone is worth the price of admission, in my book.

    If you want some good episode suggestions, here are some of my favorites:
    Armstrong: Gyro builds a killer robot.
    Home Sweet Homer, a fun homage to the Odyssey.
    Sphinx for the Memories, one of the few episodes with Donald in it, and a fun romp.
    The Money Vanishes, one of the episodes I had as a kid, this might be pure nostalgia talking.
    Sir Gyro de Gearloose, a fun time-travel episode focused on my favorite inventor.
    Top Duck, we meet Launchpad’s family. Do I even need to say more?
    Launchpad’s First Crash, how Scrooge and Launchpad met.
    Duck in the Iron Mask, a funny retelling of Man in the Iron Mask.
    The Masked Mallard: Basically, what if Scrooge was Darkwing?

    Also ANY of the five parters, expect the one with Bubba Duck. We do not speak of Bubba Duck.

    1. Webby kind of became Scrooge’s honorary niece, so you were technically right.

      Fenton and Gyro weren’t in this movie, no, and I sure miss them.

      As for Bubba, he was good in his first five episodes, and also the one where he wore a “thinking hat” and became a genius. But yeah, he was mostly useless otherwise.

  7. Never saw this movie, but I loved the show as a kid. Couldn’t get enough of it. But thank you for reinforcing the notion that we are currently in a golden age of television animation, it’s such a great time to be an animation fan in general.

    BTW, WOOHOO!! Fantastic Mr. Fox!!!

  8. Yes Pearl is my favorite Steven Universe character she’s just so layered and everytime you find something out about her it’s just like AWWW Pearl I want to hug you. Loved the 90s cartoons, but definitely shows like Steven Universe, Avengers: EMH, Justice League and JLU trump most of the older cartoons by far. Never was huge into Duck Tales (was more of a Darkwing and Swatcats gal) but I know plenty of people who loved them. Sort of want to watch a few episodes now lol.

    1. I’m still sad that Avengers EMH ended so early. If it had gone on longer, I think it could have surpassed Justice League and JLU as being the best superhero cartoon ever.

    2. Pearl is my favorite too, although these last few episodes have made me a Peridot fan as well. She’s so wonderfully cranky.

  9. Fantastic Mr Fox is next? Nice! I wrote a review of that film in high school. One of the few legit film reviews I’ve ever written.

  10. “God, I miss the days when Disney villains just showed up and start magically wrecking shit and didn’t waste time talking about their feelings.”

    I blame Pixar. For all the good Pixar did to Disney, it also taught them you can half-ass the villains as much as you want as long as you make the heroes compelling enough. And you can argue this has even extended to the Marvel movies division.

    Pixar has exactly two all around good villains, Syndrome and Hopper (just like the MCU has Loki and… Red Skull, I guess? Haven’t watched Daredevil and I’m going on movies anyway. Even so, even in the comics Skull is a nasty SOB but hardly complex at all). Okay, I’ll give you Lotso was a good concept, but dude’s a pink stuffed bear walking on a cane. It’s his establishment that is threatening and dreadful rather than himself. That wouldn’t matter so much if Pixar alternated threatening and ‘subtle’ villains, but no, they don’t, and ultimately their bad guys, exceptions note above aside, feel ultimately bland and underwhelming.

    As for the duck families, Donald’s nephews do have an established mother, Donald’s sister Della (whom he nicknamed ‘Dumbella’ during their childhood). She only has appeared like twice in the comics, but it’s officially established it was her idea to drop them on Donald to then basically disappear forever. Have you ever looked at Don Rosa’s Duck Family Tree? It’s… a terrifying thing to behold.

    Anyway, yeah, like I said earlier in another post, perhaps reviewing the five-part pilot would have been better. Oh well. Good article all the same.

    1. I also blame the audience. When did this notion that a villain has to be layered has come up? True, Loki has more layers than an onion, but that is only one type of villain. Disney’s greatest villains don’t have layers, they are simply evil! And they enjoy being evil! They don’t pretend to be anything else, unless they want to trick the hero.

      1. It’s not even so much a matter of being evil for the sake of evil or having a motivation, actually; it’s about having a sense of threat and dread about them. For instance, good as Hans and Mother Godel were, none of them held any aura of actual threat, just creepiness and manipulation. And even when King Candy goes Turbo, he just feels… Powerful Gollum-like more than Sauron-like. If you catch my drift. Pixar and Dreamworks are even worse at this, since most of their villains are actually pathetic people to some degree or another.

        I mean, I can appreciate the subversion of the bad guy not being a classic Figure Of Evil now and then, but subversions work when there’s regularly something to subvert. If all your modern bad guys come in the same general pattern where they don’t project that general old sense of greater than life menace, they end up just as repetitive as if they were all clones of Jafar or Maleficent.

      2. Mother Gothel worked on me, mostly because her manipulation tactics hit so close to home. She is a very realistic villain, because there actually are mothers who manipulate their children that way.

        Jafar is a clone of Maleficent already. It’s one of the reasons I never understood why he is so popular, he is just a cheap copy of her.

    2. Apparetly the triplets did out dynamite under their father’s chair when they were still horrible pranksters and then their mother dumped them to Donald (maybe to take care of her husband…) so you could say that the backstory is not that tragic when the nephews are responsible for their own fate…

  11. Yeah, I am aware that there are no sons or daughters in Disney’s strange universe (at least there weren’t any until May turned up). There have been whole essays written about the fact.

    Did you know that the original version of Daisy actually had boobs, but got desexualized more with each outing? (What? There was a Carl Barks exhibition back in the 1990s…there is no better opportunity to pick up useless trivia).

    I think a large part of Duck Tales success is the power of the theme song. I am not kidding here, just look at the Thundercats Title Sequence…it was literally the only reason I even watched the show. And I think a lot of shows back then worked that way, they always put their best animation in the title sequence, paired it with a catchy song and lured in unsuspecting children.

    I actually didn’t watch much American animation in the 1980s…the German children programming was so much better than this, plus, there were some nice animes out there, which were more watchable than Transformers and their ilk. And weren’t a big toy commercial.

    But then Disney came around. I have really found memories of Duck Tales, The Rescue Rangers, Tale Spin and Darkwing Duck. Disney created so much good will with me back then, I even watch Recess (and loved it), despite some of the really bad stuff they put out in-between.

    Either way, unlike most shows Duck Tales not only had this catchy title song, the first season of the show was really good. I still think that the first sequence of adventures, which were all about putting the treasure map together, are the best of them. It showcased so much possibility. This great period ended when they run out of Carl Barks and Don Rosa stories to (more or less) adapt. Well, they were less adaptations, they were mostly inspired by them. As soon as this connection was lost, the show went down the drain, fast.

    1. Like I said earlier, there are two very interesting mothers in “Duck Tales”: Ma Beagle and Mrs Crackshell. So no, it’s not true that there are no sons in this universe.

      Fenton’s girlfriend, Gandra Dee (who I hate, by the way), has boobs. So it seems like someone thought about fixing that detail as well. And I also believe that Daisy had boobs in “Quack Pack”.

      As foor the first season, I have to disagree with you. The last twenty episodes are the best.

  12. I absolutely agree with what you said about 80s animation. Back in college I used my newfound access to broadband internet to basically relive my entire childhood; He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats, etc. Most of it didn’t hold up, although there were occasional good ones like DuckTales and the first few seasons of Real Ghostbusters.

    Today’s cartoons are awesome, and I follow as many children’s shows these days as adult shows. Gravity Falls, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Avatar are genuine works of art. Even Friendship is Magic is pretty damn good, though of all these shows I can’t for the life of my understand why THAT one got its own subculture.

    As for why old farts like me insist the half hour toy commercials of our youth were masterpieces, I think yesterday’s SMBC put it pretty well:
    http://smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3891

  13. Can’t really speak for Ducktales since I never watched it, but I might watch it if I wanna take a look at 80’s/90’s cartoons.
    As for cartoons nowadays, I will agree that there have been some great shows of the 2000’s and 2010’s, like Friendship is Magic and Gravity Falls (even though I’ve only seen a select few episodes), but then you have shows like Teen Titans Go! and half the stuff that airs on Nickelodeon (post-movie SpongeBob, Sanjay and Craig, Breadwinners) that make those older 50’s to 80’s shows look like The Simpsons. That being said, the good shows do get more attention and recognition than the bad shows, so I suppose that’s a win.

  14. Awesome review, Mouse, as always! 😀 Wow, you like Steven Universe? I started to watch it last weekend and I’ve already seen all the episodes, I LOVE THAT SHOW.

  15. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the pure joy I felt when I was a child that was lost when I grew up, but many of the old cartoons I like way better than today’s shows. I’ve watched a few episodes of Steven Universe and I think it’s boring as all and can’t figure out why it’s so dang popular. Gravity Falls didn’t draw me into any type of hype or excitement that everyone else was talking about. My little pony: friendship is magic, I watch for all the messages of anti-friendship than actual friendship. At least G1 was a bit more exciting even though it was the same formula all the time. Creatures wanted to kill the brightly colored ponies simply because, and there were only four stallions yet lots of baby ponies. To me that’s better than today’s show with all their hypocrite messages. Applejack, element of honesty, represents harmony to the good, stands by and just watches her little sister get cruelly bullied by her classmate multiple times. Does nothing what so ever to stop that. Even going so far as to tell her little sister that when she was being bullied that she should have come to her and said something. Which I have to scoff at simply because of that fact that she just stood by and did nothing. But maybe that was their friendship message all along.

    1. Most cartoons, old and new alike, are horrible at handling bullying issues. The resolution is either too easy and convenient or it never comes. So the message you are sending is, either bullies will magically stop if you just stand up to them enough or try to appeal to their good, injured side (hint: that doesn’t work.And bullies who are that way because of emotional damaged need more professional help than what any classmate can provide them with), or bullies will never stop being a problem even if it’s painfully obvious to everyone you’re being bullied (Fairly Oddparents. F***ing Farly Oddparents!)

      It doesn’t help FIM’s morals are big on forgiveness even when those you are forgiving haven’t actually done anything (or at least not enough) to earn that forgiveness… often it just feels like the message is ‘turn the other cheek so they can freely keep on slapping you and others’. I’m still waiting for the next time Discord proves himself a dick to his alleged friends yet again, just to receive yet another chance. I know it’ll come. At least Sunset Shimmer actually changed for the better after a craptastic debut (she’s been consistently entertaining as a redeemed character, however, much better than her original one-note self).

      Other than those, however, I think FIM generally handles morals and characterization better than G1, never mind all the other crappy incarnatiosn that came out between the franchise’s two peaks.

      1. It’s always a problem when people try to handle complex issues with unclear solutions within the space of 22 minutes.

  16. If we are talking Disney TV cartoons, there is Gargoyles and Darkwing Duck. The rest had no staying power… (Not to say I didn’t like them at the time. Even the Aladdin spinoff. But I admit to having no taste, and I still like the other two.)

    Ah, Darkwing. Batman was the hero we got, but Darkwing was the Batman we deserved… ;P

  17. Ducktales! Woo-hoo! Classic themes are forever granted I never grew up with Ducktales. The only Disney TV shows I remember enjoying were Gargoyles, the Aladdin animated series, and the Lilo and Stich series.

    Yeah, I agree, cartoons have gradually matured over the years when it comes to characters, plotlines, life lessons, it’s great here in the modern times even though Adventure Time has REALLY lost steam for me and Regular Show has gotten incredibly boring now.

    Speaking of old 80s cartoons back from the dead, what about Transformers animated? I thought it was a good show,even if the faces were a little off, in that it did somewhat stay true to the G1 days and giving poor Star Scream a little bit of the spotlight in being a main villain. I also am probably the only person in the world that knows that there actually was a darker remake of He-Man where the artstyle and character designs were less cheesy and more serious even Skeletor was somewhat intimidating, I had the action figures and everything and watched some episodes though it might not have been anything special and didn’t have much episodes since people BARELY talk about it nowadays.

    And speaking of Transformers, never grew up with G1, but even I feel fans deserve better when the films are not even going to try and the new Transformers video game (Transformers Devastation) just makes me not care for those movies even more because man, those colorful character designs and that artstlye are so much more appealing. I would gladly watch an animated Transformers film with that artstyle along with some great and clever writing with great character development like Prime with what little I watched of that version.

  18. Oh Come on! Is this because I posted the same question twice? My bad bro, I just completely forgot I asked the exact same question not even four days before the second. Would it help if I said I’m sorry? ’cause I’m really, REALLY, sorry!

  19. I never watched the Ducktales cartoon, I just saw this film.However I am from Finland and the duck comics are HUGE here. You should definitely find the Don Rose comics (ALL OF THEM, they are brilliant). The duck comics were my childhood and there are many really funny and entertaining ones but the Don Rosa ones are pure brilliance.

  20. Ahh, Duck Tales. I remember getting to watch episodes of this early in the morning before being driven off to class. Fun times. And I think I saw this one, I remember Gene. And yeah, 80s children do seem to really have a particular fondness for their generation’s cartoons. Though I don’t seem to remember a lot of people preferring the original My Little Pony to Faust’s reboot. Yeah, budgets were pretty painful to a few of these cartoons. I guess kids don’t notice the cheapness too much (I remember enjoying Scooby Doo a lot as a kid), though mostly now, older shows are just fun to watch and laugh at their hokiness, or strange, likely dated humour (especially the Jetsons. So weird to see some of the things folks from the 60s thought would survive to the future). I’m glad I wasn’t given lead toys as a kid. Though then again, I likely didn’t need any.

    That said, this decade’s got some good shows, but it certainly isn’t perfect. I’ve seen the Animated Atrocities reviews. The 2000s and 2010s definitely have their fair share of garbage, mostly when studios decide they can rest easy because they have Flash so they totally skimp on the art and barely try to make up with the writing and use tons of toilet humour filler. And then there’s the “randomness” breed of cartoon *shudders* I mean, I like a little weirdness as much as the next guy (probably more), but there’s a point when it gets into “stupid” territory. And at that point, it’s more painful to watch than mildly embarrassing like a lot of earlier cartoons were.

    1. I think honestly the biggest game changer was Adventure Time; whether you like it or not, I don’t think Gravity Falls and especially Steven Universe would have gotten their day in the sun.

  21. Interesting that Disney managed to turn TV animation into the right direction at this point, seeing as this was the decade their feature-length film got whooped by a Care Bears movie. From what I remember in your Disney movie reviews, the 80s was kind of the pits for that studio. I guess it wasn’t all bad, if they could still show the cartoon makers how it’s done.

    Wow, I have a lot to say before actually reading the part where you talk about the movie itself. Did Carl Barks actually make up Scrooge? I always figured he was made for Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but maybe Scrooge just happened to have already been made up by then? Also, did Della (or was her name Dumbella?) actually die? Yikes, I hope bird flu didn’t get her. That thing’s a scourge. In any case, I do know the influence those comics had. Apparently one issue told the story of Inception long before the script to the moving starring Mr. DiCaprio was penned. And yeah, I always thought it was interesting that Goofy was the only main character of Disney’s cartoon series that has an actual kid. Dunno if Donald and Daisy’s relationship is on the slow side or if they just have to spend a small fortune on corkscrew-shaped condoms. All right, maybe I wasn’t completely spared from the lead.

    I dunno if I can blame Launchpad, really. He *is* a duck. What kind of duck needs flying lessons? It’d be like asking a human if they had walking lessons. C’mon. As for Dijon, that’s a kind of funny name for a dog. Is he called that because he’s a dachshund and that’s what everyone envisions putting on him when they’re out starving in the desert? Speaking of manic hunger, I’m not sure if I can feel safe around someone that aroused by the smell of burning waterfowl. Erm, excuse me while I go make some snow angels in piles of rat poison, no reason why, what makes you ask that?

  22. Hmm, I don’t know what supermarkets you’ve been at, but that doesn’t look the size of any tangerine I’ve seen. A cantaloupe, maybe. And naturally, money is used for swimming in, why would something be valuable to a duck if you can’t swim in it? Swimming in stuff is, like, all ducks do. Also, if the lamp had oil in it, wouldn’t that make it valuable. C’mon, it’s oil in the Middle freaking East, just about every tycoon around would literally kill for that. Scrooge really is a birdbrain, is he?

    Ahh man, Robin Williams quote plus social commentary on stereotypical cartoon portrayals equals instant laughs. That caption made me giggle. I guess the poor makers of this cartoon would never know how outshone this movie would be in just two years. Wait, maybe they did, Aladdin would have had to be in production when this was made, right? Or did the TV movie animating hand know what the cinema movie animating hand was doing here? So many questions!! But the main one is why did you end this review on that very insensitive mocking of waterfowl dialects? I think I just might care a bit less if some lemming calls you the M word again, mister!!

  23. Totally popped for the Friendship Is Magic name drop 😉 I’m tempted to throw money at you to get you to review the three Equestria Girls movies. Or perhaps just skipping to the second one, since the first isn’t anything special.

  24. I just realized…David Newman, the guy who composed the score to The Brave Little Toaster, composed this movie’s score. That’s an awesome connection.

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