Rewatching DuckTales! This week it’s a crime thriller complete with jailbreak in episode 15, “Duckman of Aquatraz.”
Here’s what happens: Scrooge is arrested for grand theft after a famous painting is found in his cellar. Flintheart Glomgold insists that Scrooge stole the painting from his personal collection. The evidence is stacked against him at the trial, so he’s off to jail. Huey, Dewey, and Louie investigate on their own, spying on Glomgold’s suspicious activity with a mysterious stranger.
Scrooge is sent to Aquatraz, an inescapable island prison, where he clashes with his brutish cellmate Mad Dog. After taking some lumps, Scrooge proves himself to be just as tough as the other prisoners, and he and Mad Dog become buddies. The nephews discover the mysterious stranger disposing of the real painting Scrooge was after that night, a family portrait of him and the boys.
Scrooge’s friendship with Mad Dog goes too far, when Mad Dog makes an escape attempt and insists Scrooge join him. The nephews go over the evidence, discovering that Glomgold framed Scrooge. Simultaneously, Scrooge discovers Mad Dog was only in jail because Glomgold framed him as well. Scrooge gets a pardon, Mad Dog is reunited with his long-lost mom, and the judge decides that Glomgold is to be punished by putting a painting of Scrooge in his home for the next 15 years.
Humbug: When the nephews visit Scrooge in jail, he says he misses them more than he misses his money. This furthers my thesis that the show’s series-long arc for Scrooge is not him being a rich jerk, but him learning to put his family before his wealth.
Junior woodchucks: Add scuba diving to the nephews’ list of skills, as that’s how they recover the portrait after its thrown in the river. The mysterious stranger the nephews pursue is character named Pierre, who never appears again.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad shows up during the trial in full comic relief mode, accidentally blurting out info that hurts rather than helps Scrooge’s case.
Maid and maiden: Mrs. Beakeley and Webby are included in Scrooge’s family portrait, showing how much he considers them family. There’s a gag where Mrs. Beakeley cleans up Scrooge’s cell to be more like home.
Foul fowls: Glomgold isn’t given any specific motive for framing Scrooge, other than their ongoing rivalry. He successfully disguises himself as Scrooge to fool security cameras, perhaps a comment on how the two characters are similar.
Down in Duckburg: The opening scene takes place at the Duckburg ice cream parlor, last seen in the episode “Master of the Djinni.”
Reference row: The title refers to convicted killer Robert Stroud, the so-called “Birdman of Alcatraz,” who famously raised and cared for abandoned birds while in jail. He later studied ornithology and published two books about bird science, all while STILL in jail! His story was later told in in the 1962 film Birdman of Alcatraz, starring Burt Lancaster and directed by John Frankenheimer.
Thoughts upon this viewing: One of the more interesting things about DuckTales is how the show plays in so many different genres, this time a mystery/noir episode. It’s surprisingly plot-heavy, with a lot back-and-forth about the case, but there’s also a lot of time given to the Scrooge/Mad Dog friendship, which is a lot of fun.
Next: Teleportation nation.
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