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DuckTales on DVD: Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3

DuckTales: Volume 1 DVD Review

Buy the DuckTales: Volume 1 DVD from Amazon.com DuckTales: Volume 1 (1987)
Show & DVD Details

Supervising Producer: Fred Wolf / Associate Producer: Tom Ruzicka

Regular Directors: Alan Zaslove, Steve Clark, David Block

Regular Writers: Michael Keyes, Anthony Adams, Ken Koonce, David Wiemers, Richard Merwin / Story Editors: Tedd Anasti, Patsy Cameron / Story: Carl Barks

Regular Voice Cast: Russi Taylor (Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby), Alan Young (Scrooge McDuck), Terry McGovern (Launchpad McQuack, Babyface Beagle), Hal Smith (Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold), Chuck McCann (Duckworth, Burger Beagle, Bouncer Beagle), Joan Gerber (Mrs. Beakley, Webra Walters), Brian Cummings (Doofus), June Foray (Magica De Spell, Ma Beagle), Peter Cullen (Bankjob Beagle), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Gino Conforti (Benzino Gasolini), Tress MacNeille (Circe, Queen Ariel), Charles Adler (Filler Brushbill), Brock Peters (Druid Chief), Rob Paulsen (Robin Lurch), Frank Welker (Assorted)

Running Time: 615 Minutes (27 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
Original Airdates: September 21, 1987 - October 27, 1987
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $34.99 $20.00
Cardboard box with three clear slim keepcases

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Two seasons and two shows into the television animation game, Disney launched for syndication in 1987 what would become one of the studio's best and more popular TV cartoon creations ever: "DuckTales". Originally envisioned as a 1-hour network series, "DuckTales" would instead reach the airwaves as a daily half-hour syndicated series.
Airtimes and channels would be different based upon what part of the country you were in, but throughout most of the United States and beyond, anyone with a TV could tune in each weekday afternoon and join the anthropomorphic animal inhabitants of a town called Duckburg for thirty minutes of sharply-written mystery, adventure, and comedy.

At the core of this series were characters who had made some appearances in past Disney animation. Comprising the family of protagonists: Scrooge McDuck, the top-hatted, cane-wagging, bespectacled billionaire whose greatest love of all is money, and his mischievous identical triplet nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck, who only display individuality in the distinct color of the shirt/hat combo they reliably wear. None of these four personalities was a stranger to fans of the studio's cartoon shorts. Scrooge made his first animated appearance in the opening titles of "The Mickey Mouse Club", fiscally advised his nephews in 1967's Scrooge McDuck and Money, and appropriately embodied the lead character of the Oscar-nominated 1983 featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol, but he had existed since the late 1940s in Carl Barks' well-received Donald Duck comic books. Huey, Dewey, and Louie had been around even longer, making regular appearances as Donald's carefree tormentors since 1938. The irascible Donald himself, inarguably Disney's most famous duck, turns up on "DuckTales" with little frequency. We are told that he's at sea with the Navy, though he does appear in two episodes in this Volume 1 DVD.

Rounding out the Duckburg regulars are Scrooge's hired help: confident but crash-prone pilot Launchpad McQuack, the dog-like butler Duckworth, oft-consulted inventor Gyro Gearloose, and the plump and multi-talented maid Mrs. Beakley, whose pink-wearing granddaughter Webbigail Vanderquack (more commonly called "Webby") is a frequently-appearing playmate of Scrooge's nephews. Not everyone in Duckburg is so genial. A handful of nemeses pose problems from time to time for Scrooge and his wards. Making repeat appearances in these earliest episodes are: Magica de Spell, a raven-haired woman who desires Scrooge's lucky dime; the Beagle Boys, who repeatedly break free from prison and their life sentences in hopes of clearing Scrooge's massive money bin; and Flintheart Glomgold, Scrooge's fellow wealthy businessman who has even less scruples than he.

The opening "DuckTales" title logo depicts Scrooge McDuck and nephews enjoying a swim in his money bin. D-d-d-danger, watch behind you!

"DuckTales" represents a fairly important achievement in television animation, a field traditionally marked by limited budgets and ambition. Disney's first forays into creating cartoons for TV came in the fall of 1985 with a pair of Saturday morning shows, "The Wuzzles" on CBS and "The Gummi Bears" on NBC. A mere thirteen episodes were produced of the former, while the latter found success through the beginning of the following decade,
totaling six seasons and 65 half-hour episodes. The popularity and acclaim "DuckTales" was met with, however, blew away that previous accomplishment and has yet to be matched by any subsequent Disney television production. Less than three years after first gracing the airwaves, one hundred episodes of "DuckTales" had been shown and theaters were offering DuckTales: The Movie - The Treasure of the Lost Lamp, the studio's first fully-animated feature film created outside of the "Feature Animation" canon. Needless to say, the show and later the movie signaled the most ambitious outings to date by the then-flourishing Walt Disney Television Animation department. "DuckTales" paved the way for more widely-embraced cartoons like "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" and "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" as well as future small-to-big screen jumps for series like "Recess" and "Teacher's Pet."

One need only watch a single episode to understand and appreciate why "DuckTales" was a hit. Rather than taking the cost-cutting measures animated television series often do, the creators of "DuckTales" clearly believed in their series enough to spend money and deliver results. Each episode stands on its merits and clearly differs from the rest. Rather than dealing with just a few locations, each story employs a diverse number of settings: an Egyptian desert, a tumultuous sea, outer space, and the blustery Arctic are just four of many environments memorably depicted in this collection of episodes. Rather than farming out animation to the place that could do it cheapest, the end credits underscore the in-house nature of production. Missing are the oddities and inconsistencies that plagued even the best of '80s animation that relied on English writers and Japanese visual artists. Instead of relying on a handful of characters and minimal movement, efforts taken ensure that Duckburg is brimming with life. Characters do not fluctuate on and off-model, nor are their past actions forgotten in subsequent episodes.

Undoubtedly, all of the technical elements of the series could be up to snuff and you could still have a drab series. But, "DuckTales" succeeds with brilliantly-concocted adventures that overflow with imagination. As the mostly unforgettable theme song points out -- "might solve a mystery...or rewrite history" -- there are just about no limitations to the encounters of Scrooge and his nephews. They search "Great Written" for a lost "William Drakespeare" manuscript, stand up to an evil Greek sorceress with the help of Homer, walk amongst the dinosaurs, and come face-to-face with aliens on more than occasion. Even when they stay in present-day Duckburg, adventures are abound with strong subtle lessons behind them. The show really does have everything, from allusions to history and great works of art to comedic baddies and gentle satire of human characteristics.

From left to right: Huey, Louie, Dewey, Scrooge, and Webby put their heads together. Scrooge tries to butter up his pilot Launchpad McQuack.

For several years now, "DuckTales" reruns have been missing from television or at best relegated to odd hours on the digital cable network Toon Disney. Revisiting the series for the first time in over a decade proved to quite a pleasant experience for me. Any aging undergone since last watching "DuckTales" is bound to have had a much greater effect on viewers than the show. It holds up as diverting, involving, and a generally good time. For the purposes of this review, I received the DVD less than a week before release date, which meant plowing through the more than ten hours of episodes as quickly as possible. Even in this less than leisurely viewing fashion, these episodes provided entertainment above and beyond what you would expect of a daily cartoon series created in 1987 or today.

While the Disney studio has exhausted most of its theatrically-released film catalogue on DVD, it has barely scrapped the surface of its rich original television programming vaults. With this 3-disc, 27-episode Volume 1 set, "DuckTales" becomes only the second Disney cartoon series to receive DVD release in comprehensive multi-disc format. (The first was "Gargoyles", released in December of last year with little promotion and no use of the "Disney" name.) The box promises "Episodes 1-27" and that is very nearly true. The episodes are arranged by original airdate, as per Bill Cotter's useful but out-of-print resource The Wonderful World of Disney Television. However, the 5-part pilot episode "Treasure of the Golden Suns" is nowhere to be found. It was later shown as five separate episodes (titled "Don't Give Up the Ship", "Wronguay in Ronguay", "Three Ducks of the Condor", "Cold Duck", and "Too Much of a Gold Thing"), but as it established the premise of the series and aired first, its absence makes very little sense. One can only hope it is present on a future set and I can't imagine it wouldn't be, but then again I can't imagine why it is not included here.

Magica de Spell works her magic to reveal her true self in "Send in the Clones." Donald Duck learns that being a god isn't all it's cracked up to be in "Sphinx for the Memories." Master...Courage's hair...has fallen...off.

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from this Volume 1 collection.

DISC 1

1. "Send in the Clones" (22:46) (Originally aired September 21, 1987)
Magica De Spell helps the Beagle Boys bust out of prison to retrieve Scrooge's prized #1 dime. To aid them in this task, Magica turns the jailers into clones of Scrooge's nephews. Meanwhile, a reporter writing a piece on Scrooge struggles to make sense of the madness at the McDuck mansion.

2. "Sphinx for the Memories" (22:47) (Originally aired September 22, 1987)
Donald Duck gets some time off from the Naval service to spend with Scrooge and the boys. Plans change, however, when Donald is mistaken for an Egyptian god known as the Garbled One, kidnapped, and worshipped by an entire civilization. In hopes of reuniting, Scrooge and his nephews hire a bargain tour guide with nefarious intentions.

3. "Where No Duck Has Gone Before" (22:44) (Originally aired September 23, 1987)
When a movie studio can't repay Scrooge's loan, he becomes the new owner of the studio that houses the boys' favorite TV show. A visit to the set allows Scrooge and the nephews the chance to meet Master Courage, the show's leading actor, whose mannerisms are closely and amusingly modeled after "Star Trek" captain William Shatner. When Scrooge decides the series needs to shape up, he hires Gyro to retool everything in the name of realism. Taking his job a little too far, Gyro's improvements result in Master Courage, Launchpad, the triplets, and their aptly-named friend Doofus being launched into real outer space for some close encounters of the entertaining kind.

4. "Armstrong" (22:46) (Originally aired September 24, 1987)
Gyro's latest invention, an anthropomorphic robot named Armstrong, can do everything and seemingly better than anyone else can, from rescuing Scrooge's gold train to piloting a helicopter, from cleaning the house to impressing Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Scrooge is simply amazed by Armstrong and the cost-saving changes he devises, but everyone soon learns there can definitely be too much of a good thing.

Djinni is ready to grant da wishes, but who is da rightful master? Scrooge and his boys run a haunted "Hotel Strangeduck." Abominable Snow-woman or not, there's always room for pink snow cones.

5. "Robot Robbers" (22:47) (Originally aired September 25, 1987)
Scrooge is shocked and dismayed to lose a construction bid to Flintheart Glomgold, who is boasting the new aid of towering man-operated robots designed by Gyro. When the Beagle Boys and their mother take control of the robots, they wreak havoc on Duckburg and set their sights on Scrooge's vault.

6. "Magica's Shadow War" (22:45) (Originally aired September 28, 1987)
Magica brings her shadow to life and trains it to steal Scrooge's lucky dime. But her plan goes awry when the shadow develops intentions of its own and begins multiplying to get its way. In an unlikely pairing, Scrooge and Magica team up to defeat the evil shadows.

7. "Master of the Djinni" (22:47) (Originally aired September 29, 1987)
Scrooge and his archrival Flintheart Glomgold both reach and rub Aladdin's long-missing magical lamp at the same time, leaving the genie uncertain as to who his master is. The genie devises a race between the two ducks to Duckburg Ice Cream Parlor where the winner will receive the three wishes ownership entails. Being waited on at Scrooge's mansion leads Genie to make it so he'll never have to serve anyone again

8. "Hotel Strangeduck" (22:47) (Originally aired September 30, 1987)
Scrooge fixes up and reopens an upscale hotel that he has purchased and his nephews become bellhops. Business appears to be promising until a ghost believed to belong to the hotel's founder Ludwing von Strangeduck begins haunting the staff and the two wealthy foreign guests. More than most, this episode really delivers on the mystery angle of the series.

9. "Lost Crown of Genghis Khan" (22:47) (Originally aired October 1, 1987) Scrooge and company must battle blizzards and an unscrupulous competitor in the snowy search for Genghis Khan's longlost crown. Along the way, Webby disappears and the gang encounters a not-so-Abominable Snow-woman.

Scrooge makes a new friend in the slammer. Thanks to Gyro's Furniture Mover, the Beagle Boys are up to their shoulders in Scrooge's gold. Gyro checks out King Arthur's Quackalot in the hopes he'll be more appreciated.

DISC 2

10. "Duckman of Aquatraz" (22:46) (Originally aired October 2, 1987)
Scrooge gets arrested for grand theft of a priceless Pablo Paquacko painting from Glomgold Galleries and the evidence against him seems indisputable. With Scrooge sentenced to fifteen years in the tough Aquatraz prison, it's up to Huey, Dewey, and Louie to prove their uncle innocent. Scrooge makes friends with a cellmate who looks to return a favor by helping Scrooge escape prison.

11. "The Money Vanishes" (22:46) (Originally aired October 5, 1987)
The Beagle Boys break out of prison yet again and when they hear of Gyro's newly-invented Furniture Mover, they decide to use it to take control of Scrooge's money. Scrooge buys a spray he is duped into thinking will protect his money, and in turn, gives the Beagle Boys immediate ownership of his prized riches...and also his three nephews.

12. "Sir Gyro de Gearloose" (22:45) (Originally aired October 6, 1987)
Bummed out by a long line of irate customers seeking gadget repairs, Gyro tweaks a bathtub into allowing one to travel back to see how things could have been in a different time. Huey, Dewey, Louie, and he wind up in Quackalot amidst royal partier King Artie and a heated feud.

13. "Dinosaur Ducks" (22:45) (Originally aired October 7, 1987)
Launchpad discovers a lost world where dinosaurs still roam the Earth. Scrooge demands Launchpad to fly him there in a helicopter big enough to store a dinosaur. The boys and Webby are not allowed to come, but like any self-respecting curious youngsters, they find a way to tag along and get in the mix of things.

14. "Hero for Hire" (22:46) (Originally aired October 8, 1987)
After crashing into Scrooge's bank, Launchpad gets fired and struggles to find a new purpose in life. With encouragement from Doofus, he becomes a hero for hire and passes out cards to anyone he can find. Unfortunately for him, his first and only customer is the mother of the Beagle Boys, who decide to cast the aloof Launchpad as a superhero in a series of bank robbery films. Poor Launchpad thinks he's just acting the part, but soon his picture is all over the newspapers and the police are on his chase, much to Scrooge's guilt.

Doofus has got the power in "Superdoo!" Scrooge is willing to donate, but if you can't break a thousand, he can't help you. Scrooge, the triplets, and some committed actors consult following their performance of William Drakespeare's unpublished play "McDuck" in "Much Ado About Scrooge."

15. "Superdoo!" (22:47) (Originally aired October 9, 1987)
The Junior Woodchucks are out and about on a camping trip with their leader Launchpad. After his clumsy ways hinder plans repeatedly, Doofus stumbles upon a "diamond donut" from alien beings which doesn't qualify him for a geology badge, but does bestow upon him amazing powers to succeed at everything he tries, from making knots to flying!

16. "Maid of the Myth" (22:47) (Originally aired October 12, 1987)
Mrs. Beakley's opera debut attracts real rowdy Vikings who kidnap her and return to Greenland. Scrooge, Launchpad, and the boys follow. Launchpad agrees to a chariot race to secure a clean exit for all, but he appears to be drastically outmatched.

17. "Down & Out in Duckburg" (22:44) (Originally aired October 13, 1987)
Scrooge loses all his fortunes when he learns he is the oldest living relative of Seafoam McDuck, a man who failed to deliver on a contract with Fritter O'Way. All that belonged to Scrooge now is owned by Fritter, from his mansion to his gold. Compounding Scrooge's problems, the less fortunate he shunned when wealthy are not so willing to aid him, but a bucket of lost marbles deep under the sea may restore order.

18. "Much Ado About Scrooge" (22:46) (Originally aired October 14, 1987)
Scrooge and his nephews try everything they have to avoid the persuasive salesman Fuller Brushbill, but he eventually he finds a way and plenty of things to sell them. Among Scrooge's new acquisitions are a handful of original manuscripts of the plays of William Drakespeare. Inside one of the books is a note informing of an unpublished play, which Scrooge and the boys travel to Great Written to find. On their journey, they encounter ghosts of Drakespeare's play's characters and an informed Brushbill.

Buy DuckTales: Volume One DVD from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Continue to Page 2 >>

DuckTales on DVD: Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3

Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed November 8, 2005.