Rewatching DuckTales! Let’s everybody get teeny-tiny in episode 22, “Micro-ducks from Outer Space.”
Here’s what happens: Gyro Gearloose is experimenting with a new satellite dish, which appears to grant first contact with aliens. Scrooge’s farm, meanwhile, has a surplus of wheat he’s having trouble selling. Gyro then contacts Scrooge about the aliens, saying their planet has a food shortage and they want to buy all the wheat. What no one is expecting, though, is for the aliens to be tiny, the size of ants.
The aliens have a matter manipulator, which can grow jewels for payment, and shrink the wheat for transport back to their planet. They depart, accidentally leaving the matter machine behind. Scrooge tinkers with it, shrinking him, the nephews, and Webby to teeny size. From there, it’s the usual shrunken adventure that you usually see. The heroes get swallowed up by a vacuum cleaner, befriend an ant, travel down a sidewalk drain like it’s a river, all to get to Gyro’s house.
After reaching Gyro, the heroes return to Scrooge’s mansion, unaware that the aliens have returned and taken back the manipulator. Fortunately, the aliens’ ship gets caught in some glue Launchpad was using earlier in the episode. They return everyone back to their original size.
Humbug: My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning that his friends and family are more important than his wealth. This episode would have us believe Scrooge has learned his lesson when he chooses not to squish a bug at the end. But… has he learned a lesson? All this life-threatening peril happens because of his greediness.
Junior woodchucks: The subplot in this one has to do with the nephews’ ant farm, and the ants getting loose around Scrooge’s office. Of course this comes into play after everyone gets miniaturized.
Fasten your seatbelts: Why is Launchpad covered with glue? His shtick in this episode is to glue a big “X” onto the roof of Scrooge’s mansion so the aliens will know where to land.
Maid and maiden: When the shrunken heroes encounter the ants, they’re monstrous at first. But then Webby is able to tame them by being kind to them. Once again, we see befriending monsters is her super power.
Best brain: Gyro’s shtick this time is to deliver a pompous welcome speech for the aliens. He’s acting as if this is Earths’ first contact with aliens, even though the characters have met aliens before. Also, Gyro gets around town on some sort of flying saucer/hovercraft thing.
Down in Duckburg: Scrooge’s mansion is depicted as being a hilltop overlooking the city, when it hasn’t in previous episodes. Maybe he’s so rich that he owns two mansions.
Reference row: Stories about people being miniaturized have been around all long as they’re been stories, it seems. The two most definitive works on the subject are 1927’s A Man Among the Microbes by Maurice Renard and 1956’s The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson. Matheson later adapted his book into the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, which is likely the main inspiration for this episode.
Thoughts on this viewing: Most TV cartoons do an “everybody gets shrunk” episode, which gives the animators a lot to play with in terms of design and scale. There’s no real story in this episode, but it’s nicely animated throughout.
Next: What would you do for a Klondike bar?
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