Rewatching DuckTales! We’re dealing with the unstoppable march of time in episode 28, “Sweet Duck of Youth.”
Here’s what happens: Heartbroken about failing to find a lost mine, Scrooge worries if he’s getting too old to treasure hunt. That night, he fears there are burglars in the mansion, but it’s just everyone throwing him a surprise birthday party. It’s a fun time, but there are more reminders of Scrooge getting on in years. Scrooge then gets the idea of finding the Fountain of Youth, following the trail of legendary explorer Ponce de Loon (get it?).
In the Florida swamps, Launchpad’s helicopter is shot down by an arrow. Scrooge is separated from the rest, while Launchpad and the nephews conveniently convert the helicopter into a swamp boat. Alone in the swamp, Scrooge builds a shelter and fends off alligators. He’s then chased off by what appears to be a ghostly Spanish conquistador.
The conquistador then abducts Launchpad, and reveals himself to be an old man chasing outsiders away from his swamp. Huey, Dewey, and Louie attempt a rescue by pretending to be a ghost to spook the phony ghost. Once defeated, the old man admits he’s been searching for the Fountain of Youth for years. The boys find a treasure map hidden inside the old man’s antique conquistador armor, leading them to an underground river. They find the Fountain of Youth, discovering that the water magically makes one’s reflection look young, but it’s not real. Scrooge admits, however, that he got to feel young again for a moment, and that was enough.
Humbug: Scrooge at one point says it never crossed his mind to bottle and sell water from the Fountain of Youth, but then follows that up with a sly look. My hypothesis is that DuckTales is the story of Scrooge learning that his family is more important than his wealth, but not this episode.
Junior Woodchucks: When the three nephews look at their reflections in the Fountain of Youth, they see themselves as unhatched eggs, raising more questions about life in the DuckTales universe.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad in this episode is definitely “dumb Launchpad” and not “cool Launchpad.” His only worry about getting younger in the Fountain of Youth is that his clothes won’t fit anymore.
Maid and maiden: Mrs. Beakley is the one puts the idea of the Fountain of Youth into Scrooge’s mind. Webby’s birthday gift for Scrooge is a rocking chair, which seems kind of cruel. We also learn Webby owns a skateboard.
Best brains: Gyro is at the party scene, but has no dialogue.
Do the doo: Doofus is at the party as well, making a crack comparing Scrooge to his grandfather.
Glad to be here: Gladstone Gander makes his first appearance at the party scene, but he has no dialogue. First-time viewers not familiar with the original Uncle Scrooge comics will probably wonder, “Who’s that guy?”
Foul fowls: The old man’s name is never given. The Disney Wiki identifies him only as “swamp dweller.”
Down in Duckburg: The other guests at Scrooge’s party are perpetual tourist Vacation Van Honk, and a guy in a red sweater and green cap. I spent two and a half hours scouring the Disney Wiki trying to figure out who this is, but no luck. I’ll certainly feel foolish when he’ll no doubt show up in a future episode.
Reference row: Juan Ponce de Leon (1474-1521) was a real person, a Spanish Navy man, explorer, and later a politician, with a long list of accomplishments throughout his life. His famous search for the Fountain of Youth, however, is wholly fictitious, based on stories that circulated many years after his death.
Thoughts upon this viewing: The best thing about this episode is the animation, which looks great throughout. The nighttime scenes in the swamp are especially cool-looking. The plot is a little on the silly side, but it’s nonetheless the Indiana Jones treasure hunt stuff that is DuckTales at its best.
Next: A whole lotta shakin’ going on.
Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.