This DUCKTALES review contains spoilers.
Kid Donald and Della are the best. The absolute freaking best. Donald’s grumpy grunge boy attitude, Della’s infectious adventuring spirit, they’re both wonderful contrasts to each other that make this episode a blast. Now normally I’m not a big fan of “what if character but they are kid/baby.” Oh sure it’s a license to print money for most franchises but it often lacks a soul. Not here though. DuckTales is too good for that.
This isn’t just a MORE kid-fied version of the DuckTales you know, it’s a chance to see your favorite characters experience a huge moment in their lives; their first adventure. This is a moment that defines them and lays the groundwork for the future.
For Donald it’s a moment of clarity. While the whole grunge rocker thing never seems to lead anywhere (he can never write a full song or come up with a band name) he does unlock a key part of who he is. His anger. That sounds bad but remember, in this show Donald’s anger isn’t always a negative. It’s played for laughs but it comes out when it involves someone he cares about.
And what does Donald care more about than his sister?
Donald gets angry (at least in that over the top Donald way) for seemingly the first time because he thought his sister died. It showed him what matters most in the world to him. Not the music or sticking it to the man (though he was right that we should eat the rich) but those closest to him. He has his own odd way of showing it but it’s only because of this adventure that it become clear to him. He’ll do anything to keep his family safe.
For Della this is obviously confirmation that she wants to go on adventures for the rest of her life. More importantly though she won’t let anything stand in her way. Scrooge tries to keep her and Donald out of his way but she won’t back down. Nothing can stop Della Duck!
With this though comes the risk taking. There’s a moment when, faced with a giant chasm between them and their goal, Della leaps forward without thinking. It’s only with quick action by Scrooge that she’s saved. Della doesn’t give it much thought afterwards but we can see that Della lets the adventuring get to her head. She doesn’t think about how it’ll affect others. That’ll come back to haunt her but right now she’s getting to try it out in a big way for the first time!
These two made the episode for me. Another highlight was the formation of F.O.W.L. and all the ways Bradford justifies to himself he isn’t evil. What he’s doing is awful but he dresses it up in fancy words, letting himself off the hook with threadbare justifications. Not too far off from how real world evil people work, honestly.
The rest of the episode was solid but nothing much else really stood out. The adventure was good but not up to DuckTales’ high standards. The weak link in all of it was Scrooge. His interactions with Della and Donald were fantastic but the “Scrooge accepts his family” emotional beat has already been covered by the show. It’s fine here but I wish they’d found a new way of approaching it instead of a simple retread.
Still, the character work with Della and Donald did a lot to make up for the so-so plot. As with so many other parts of this show, I need more of them! Let’s see Donald and Della go on more adventures both as adults and kids. I can’t believe I want more of kid versions of adult characters but that’s the power of DuckTales. It always makes you want more of characters you never thought you needed.
A special shout out goes to Cristina Valenzuela for her excellent work as the young Donald. If I hadn’t looked at the credits I would have assumed this was one of Russi Taylor’s last roles before she passed away. Valenzuela’s ability to perfectly mimic that voice is absolutely exceptional and she brings a lot of charm to the character as well. I hope we hear more of her in the future!
DuckTales Quotes To Make Your Life Better
-“These days I’ve left all that behind to focus on a new kind of conquest. Corporate conquest.”
-“Nothing can stop Della Duck! Except the ground!”
-“They’re my family!”