This DuckTales review contains spoilers.
DuckTales Episode 11
On the surface DuckTales’ ‘Beware The B.U.D.D.Y. System!’ is a zany episode filled with mayhem, car crashes, and references to the DuckVerse (is that a thing? It should be!) but just beneath the surface it’s a perfectly constructed piece of television that could have collapsed at any moment.
Think about it. This episode is not only a Launchpad focus episode but it also introduces Fenton/Gizmoduck, brings back Mark Beaks and Gyro Gearloose, features an extended tribute to Darkwing Duck, and, most importantly is hilarious as hell.
Nearly every other show would collapse under all that. The references alone could bog the episode down in “ZOMG they said the thing from thirty years ago!” But no, Francisco Angones delicately balances the fun throwbacks with what the main focus of the episode needs to be. Launchpad.
Launchpad has mostly been a funny side character up to this point, bookending episodes with tantalizing hints at off-screen adventures or wacky b-plots. They were all great but the guy really needed his own episode to shine.
Using Darkwing Duck as not only a show in universe but as one Launchpad was inpsired by is brilliant on so many levels. The “let’s get dangerous” catchphrase of course would be one Launchpad lives by. It’s also a nice wink to the fact Launchpad was a main character in the original Darkwing Duck series as well.
While I’m sure some fans are miffed it looks like Darkwing won’t appear in the series proper, rewatch that opening scene again. Launchpad mentioned Darkwing’s actor (in universe) so I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the terror that flaps in the night.
Launchpad’s quest to just be acknowledged by Scrooge is one that nearly brought me to tears. It’s never out and out depressing (the music never feels overly sappy) but Launchpad’s quiet resignation to failure after he loses the race is a sucker punch to the soul. Beck Bennett absolutely owns every scene he’s in and deserves some serious award recognition for playing the softest and most loveable character on television.
It reminds the audience just how much this series is about family and the different kinds of relationships a family can have. That doesn’t just mean the familial bonds, Launchpad isn’t part of the family directly, but you can be around people so long they become your family. Scrooge’s words to Launchpad mean more than anything to the guy and that drives him throughout the episode.
It seems like a simple motivation but that’s all you need in an episode that also brings in Fenton. What is there to say that hasn’t been said about Lin-Manuel Miranda? The guy is damn talented and he brings nothing but life and joy to the character. Every bit of animation is just enhanced with his voice nearly bursting from the screen with excitement.
Again, introducing a whole new character in a Launchpad focus should upset the balance of this episode but we learn everything we need to know about Fenton in one simple exchange with Gyro.
“Try to think.”
“That’s all I do, all the time.”
With that I knew I was going to love Fenton. Adding a super mega transformation sequence right out of a Tokusatsu series certainly helped. I’m an official Power Rangers expert, I can’t help it.
While I’m certainly not an animation expert I believe this episode had the best animation on DuckTales so far. From the lavish (and visual reference heavy) Darkwing Duck opening to the Gizmoduck rescue sequence, this episode was a feast for the eyes. While I could talk about each sequence’s beauty for separate reviewes on their own I want to focus on one segment in particular that wasn’t as flashy but packed more of a punch.
When Launchpad is asking for advice about “Not Launchpad” I was struck with how much was conveyed with so little. It’s not an over the top fight or daring chase, it’s just Launchpad trying really hard to not directly ask for help. The dialogue and Bennett’s acting of course sell this but the animation just adds another layer. The expressions, the body language, it’s all totally in sync. Huge shout out to Kat Kosamala for animating this and the Gizmoduck transformation sequence.
It’s emblematic of the entire episode, actually. Everything about it works. The writing, the directing, the animation, the acting, the editing, the music, every element of the show is perfectly in sync with each other.
Even with so much happening it never feels overburdened or misses any potential. It all works.
This is a perfect episode of television. Huge congrats to everyone on the DuckTales team. John Aoshima, Tanner Johnson, Evon Freeman, Mark Garcia, and John Ramirez for helping to write it. Ben Balistreri for boarding the Darkwing Duck sequence. Sean Jimenez and the art team. Matt Youngberg for showrunning and being awesome. Anyone else who had anything to do with this episode. You’re all heroes.
Also, Headless Man Horse is an intern. Bless you, DuckTales.
DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better
– “Mustard, looks less like blood.”
– “I have a pilot’s license… don’t I?”
– “Stop having mail sent to my office. That’s for incoming checks and death threats only.”
– “I have to prove I can get dangerous in the safest way possible.”
– “Sanctimonious seatbelts!”
– “Take that you bucket of bolts! Oh, I’m sorry. Is that offensive?”
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Headless Man Horse spin-off when? Follow him on Twitter!