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Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

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Duck Tales, one of Disney’s best television shows, finally makes it to DVD, but the set is as vanilla as it gets with no extra features. It is also unfortunate that the initial five-part mini-series Treasure of the Golden Suns was not included. That series introduced the many characters in the show, as well as having a compelling action-adventure story.

But if you can get past this, then you have some enjoyable episodes that appeals to adults as well as children. The stories are as far-fetched as cartoon shows get, but the characters are what drives the show.

Heroes and Villains

Enjoyable episodes appeal to adults as well as children
Enjoyable episodes appeal to adults as well as children

Huey, Dewey, and Louie, nephews of the famous Donald Duck, are forced to live with their grumpy uncle Scrooge McDuck when Donald joins the navy. Scrooge has no greater love than his money stashed away in a huge bin that overlooks all of Duckberg. You can spend all day debating the political/economical/ sociological or even sexual implications of this, but remember this is a Disney cartoon. He even “swims” in his pile of cash, which consists mostly of gold coins, at his leisure.

Joining McDuck and the nephews are Launchpad McQuack, the show’s best personality, a goofy pilot who crashed more often than he lands, and Gyro, an eccentric inventor whose contraptions do more harm than good.

Duck Tales has a rouges gallery than can rival Batman’s. Scrooge’s archrival Flintheart Glomgold is the real greedy scoundrel who would love nothing more than driving Scrooge out of business. The Beagle Boys are goons always ready to follow their Ma into plots to break into Scrooge’s money bin (maybe he should diversify his funds), while evil sage Magica De Spell is constantly after Scrooge’s lucky dime because of its mystic powers.

It turns out over the course of the show that despite Scrooge’s unwavering love for his cash, he becomes the ultimate compassionate capitalist with a heart of gold and is always willing to put the safety of his family and friends before his money. He made his fortune once, he touts, so he can do it again as long as he still has his lucky dime. And a lot of his adventures are more exciting that most action movies out there, even though some moments get too cute for their own good.

Picture and Sound

The quality of this picture leaves much to be desired, and the sound is still presented in Dolby Digital Mono Sound. You can still see some imperfections that plague pre-computer animation TV, and the sound effects are virtually nonexistent.

Compared to what Disney has put out before on DVD, Duck Tales disappoints. As for a short diversion to share with the young ones, few cartoons can match what Duck Tales delivers.