If you are someone who, like me, grew up with the Disney Afternoon and episodes of DuckTales everyday after school, the new reboot of DuckTales is a show that not only carries on the old show’s good name, but actually improves on it in several ways (Webby is actually the show’s best character. No, really!) Needless to say, I’m a fan and I’ve watched almost every episode.
One thing that has really bugs me about this reboot, however, is what they’ve done to poor Darkwing Duck. Where Cape Suzette, Spoonerville, and even the Gummiebears are name dropped every now and then, DuckTales curiously went out of its way to establish that Darkwing Duck was a television series in the Ducktales universe and that it didn’t really exist which, as I said, bugs me because, as you’re no doubt aware, Darkwing Duck was amazing and hilarious and for the show to shrug and say, “it’s not a thing?” I hate to use the term “slap in the face,” but that is what it was!
Thankfully it seems that those producers and writers that made this mistake are also listening to the audience and acknowledge that they messed up. With the newest episode of DuckTales, “Tales of the Duck Knight,” Darkwing Duck is officially in the DuckTales Universe as an honest-to-goodness superhero and I couldn’t be happier, not only because this is what I wanted, but because the episode that resulted was genuinely excellent and clever.
When a movie studio, that just happens to be owned by Scrooge McDuck, decides to reboot the old Darkwing Duck TV show, the washed-up actor who played Darkwing Duck decides to invade the studio to take over the role from the younger actor that has been cast to replace him. Launchpad McQuack, Darkwing Duck’s biggest fan, is only too happy to help his idol even though his idol is acting like anything but a superhero doing what’s right.
The sheer brilliance of this episode is not just in the way that it retcons the idea that Darkwing Duck is only a television show in the DuckTales universe, but it’s also this multi-leveled commentary on superhero movies, the fan base, morality of right and wrong, letting go of the past, finding something in common with people you didn’t think that you would, and even Disney itself. I’ve often said that DuckTales is way too clever for its own good and episodes like this are a clear indication of why. He comments on all of these various facets, and more that I’m sure that I’m forgetting, with finesse and never feels like it’s trying to bash you over the head with the lesson.
You see characters grow… characters who have shown absolutely no growth since the series began. Launchpad McQuack, for example… Launchpad McQuack has actual honest-to-goodness character growth in this episode and, for a character that has never been given any growth in any kind of across three different television shows, that’s extraordinary.
What’s more, “The Duck Knight Returns” feels like a back door pilot for a Darkwing Duck series and I want to see that happen. It would be a perfect companion piece for DuckTales and, heck, might open the door for resurrections of TaleSpin, Goof Troop, and who knows what else. Disney could be looking at their own cinematic universe!
“The Duck Night Returns” is a well written and incredibly clever episode that could prove to be one of the best this series has ever done.
You know what could also do with a reboot? Gargoyles. Disney… call me.