Rewatching DuckTales! We’re back out on the ocean with an ice cream-eating sea monster in episode thirty-seven, “A Whale of a Bad Time,” part two of the “Catch as Cash Can” five-parter.
Here’s what happens: Scrooge and Glomgold are in competition for a lucrative contract in a faraway country of Macaroon. To win, they must each physically move their entire fortune to the country and have it weighed. As this episode begins, Scrooge’s nephews investigate strange goings-on in Scrooge’s new ice cream factory. They investigate, only to learn that Scrooge is using the company to ship the money overseas secretly.
The next day, Scrooge gets upsetting news, that a sea monster (!) attacked the boat, devouring half of Scrooge’s fortune. This drives Scrooge to shout “A sea monster ate my ice cream!” repeatedly. He comes to his senses and embarks on a deep-sea expedition to recover the money. At sea, Scrooge runs into the U.S. Navy, who have taken possession of the crash site – and the money. The Navy apprehends Scrooge and the boys, conveniently on board Donald Duck’s ship. Donald’s commanding officer, Admiral Grimitz, tells Donald that a stolen experimental sub is really responsible for the theft. He orders Donald to keep Scrooge off his investigation, while also placing a tracking device on Donald.
Donald joins Scrooge and the family when transporting the second half of Scrooge’s cash across the ocean. They’re attacked by a giant killer whale, who swallows the money, along with Scrooge and Donald. Scrooge finds both boatloads of his money inside the whale, which is no whale, but the experimental sub, disguised as a whale. They meet Dr. Bluebottle, who stole the ship and who is working for Glomgold. Scrooge and Donald fight Bluebottle using all the sub’s weapons and gadgets. The Navy finds the sub and attacks. Scrooge and Donald disable the sub’s steering, just as the Navy hits it with a depth charge. To keep the sub from sinking, Scrooge has to dump all the money. The sub reaches the surface, Bluebottle is apprehended, and now Scrooge must come up with a way to retrieve his money from the deepest part of the ocean.
Humbug: This episode gave us the meme of Scrooge jumping up and down and repeating “A sea monster at my ice cream!” over and over. It’s one of the wackiest moments in this already wacky series.
Junior Woodchucks: An early scene has the three nephews taking a moment to introduce themselves, so we the audience can remember which is which. (For the record, Huey is in red, Dewey is in blue, and Louie is in green.)
Maid and maiden: Webby gets a running joke in which she keeps wanting to eat something but gets interrupted each time. Let the little girl eat something, already!
In the Navy: Admiral Grimitz has become pals with Donald Duck by this point, calling him “Donald” instead of “Seaman Duck,” and treating him like a valued member of the crew. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Foul fowls: Turns out Bluebottle is the one who designed the whale-sub, and he stole it because he was tired of his groundbreaking work done on top secret projects, and instead wanted fame and fortune for his work. Glomgold promises him all the magazine covers in return for attacking Scrooge.
Down in Duckburg: This is the first of two appearances for Scrooge’s timid personal accountant, Mr. Wilmpleman. He’ll be back in the episode “Dime Enough for Luck.” In later seasons, Wimpleman will be replaced by a new accountant, Fenton Crackshell, a.k.a. Gizmoduck.
Reference row: The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy was an overnight smash when published in 1984, and it must have been on everyone’s mind when working on this episode.
Thoughts upon this viewing: Another episode that can’t decide between comedy and action, with submarine battles mixed with the goofiest slapstick. I guess that’s what the cartoon duck show is, but I wonder if there could be a better balance between the jokes and thrills.
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