Rewatching DuckTales! The third episode, “Three Ducks of the Condor” does a lot of world-building, is one of the few episodes to feature almost the entire ensemble. This is a lot of DuckTales.
Here’s what happens: Picking up from the previous episode, Scrooge is investigating the gold coin recovered from the mysterious sunken ship. A coin expert tells Scrooge it’s from the mythical Treasure of the Golden Suns. Scrooge believes that the sunken ship only carried a small fraction of the original treasure. The only other known coin is located in a fortress in the Andes.
Meanwhile, Scrooge is also hiring nannies for his nephews, who don’t want a nanny. The boys scare off all the applicants but one, Mrs. Beakley, who gets the job and moves into the mansion with her precocious granddaughter Webbigail, a.k.a. Webby.
Scrooge next meets with inventor Gyro Gearloose, who builds him a helicopter specially designed to traverse the Andes. To fly the experimental craft, Scrooge and Gyro turn to pilot Launchpad McQuack. Donald Duck, still serving in the Navy, gets a 72-pass and joins the expedition.
In the Andes, the heroes find a lost civilization who worship the second gold coin. Through a series of mishaps, Scrooge and co. start a rebellion against the civilization’s tyrannical leader, while escaping with one half a map that leads to the original treasure.
Humbug: Although Scrooge doesn’t approve of the villain’s evil ways, he’s still willing to negotiate to get the treasure map. He also smartly predicts that the villain will betray him.
Junior Woodchucks: The nephews use a toy snake and toy bow and arrow (I assume they’re toys) to scare off nanny applicants. They have to stay behind because this expedition is too dangerous, but Scrooge ends the episode saying, “Next time, we’ll bring the boys.”
Fasten your seatbelts: It’s the first appearance of Launchpad McQuack, who nails the high-adventure-plus-corny-jokes tone of DuckTales. It’s suggested that he and Scrooge already have a working relationship of sorts, but no details are given. The joke isn’t just that Launchpad always crashes airplanes, it’s that he loves crashing airplanes, and he brags about how awesome his crashes are.
Maid and maiden: It’s also the first appearance of Mrs. Beakley and Webby, who will get more to do in the next episode. Mrs. Beakley offers to take the job as nanny for no pay other than room and board, which has me wondering what kind of scam she’s pulling.
Great gadgeteer: AND it’s the first appearance of Gyro Gearloose, another character who originated from the original Carl Barks comics. This episode establishes that can build anything, but also that he can do it fast, coming with giant contraptions in less than a day.
In the Navy: Here we establish that Disney superstar Donald Duck will be a recurring character in DuckTales. In this episode, the joke is that he thinks he’s on vacation and not an expedition, taking photos of everything. There’s a running gag about Launchpad not understanding anything Donald is saying, but I like how they end up as buddies by the end.
Foul fowls: The villain is Juaquin Slowly (get it?) who plays off the local superstitions to turn the ancient civilization into his personal kingdom. He is his own undoing, losing the coins, which causes the locals to see him for the phony he really is.
Down in Duckberg: Gyro lives in a tiny house with a huge satellite dish on the roof, and a huge front yard. We also visit the Duckberg airport, where Launchpad apparently has a second gig as a test pilot.
Reference row: The episode title is a reference to Three Days of the Condor, a 1975 political thriller about corruption in the CIA, starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway, and directed by Sydney Pollack. Beyond the title, the movie bears no similarities to this episode.
Thoughts upon this viewing: I always thought the appeal of DuckTales was that it was like a 30-minute Indiana Jones movie every day after school. This episode has a lot of Indy-style chases and escapes, but it also has tons of jokes. About every other line is some wisecrack, and they don’t quite land. Still, it’s a lot of fun and does a good job of packing a lot of story into its 30 minutes.
Next: That’s nature’s pocket.
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