Rewatching DuckTales! As the series plays around with various adventure tropes, the tropes begin to repeat over time. We’ve had multiple sea monster episodes, multiple Greek mythology episodes, and now, in episode 42, “Ducks of the West,” we’ve got more than one cowboy-themed episode.
Here’s what happens: Gas stations all around Duckburg are out of gas. Scrooge, owner of McDuck Oil, heads to his Texas oil fields to investigate. The nephews enjoy staying at a local dude ranch, seeing real cowboys in action. Scrooge is confronted by local tycoon J.R. Mooing, who wants to work out a deal for Scrooge to buy his oil-rich land.
A cowboy named Tex tells Huey, Dewey and Louie about a nearby ghost town haunted by a ghost cowboy and a monstrous white buffalo. The ghost appears, and chases them around town. As they hide from the ghost, the boys find stores of oil hidden in town, and that the ghost is a guy dressed as a ghost. Meanwhile, Scrooge disguises himself as a cowboy oil tycoon in a failed attempt to out-swindle J.R. Seeing through Scrooge’s disguise, J.R. challenges Scrooge to a cowboy contest, where the winner gets the loser’s entire fortune.
J.R. cheats in the cowboy contest, claiming Scrooge’s wealth for himself. Huey, Dewey and Louie befriend the white buffalo and ride it back to the dude ranch. Scrooge and the boys return to the ghost town in search of the oil. They confront the “ghost,” and discover a secret underground pump draining Scrooge’s oil field dry. It’s a real Scooby Doo ending when Tex is revealed to be the ghost in disguise. J.R. admits to his cheating and lets Scrooge keep his fortune, and everyone gathers around a campfire for the happy ending.
Humbug: All this talk about controlling all the oil doesn’t make Scrooge look very likable. But he does have a moment of humility after failing the cowboy contest, when he admits to his nephews that he never should have tried to be someone he is not.
Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey and Louie are thrilled to live out their cowboy fantasies. Looking at previous episodes, we can see they’ve been camping plenty of times, but this is their first go at going full Western.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad has one short scene where he tells Scrooge there’s no gasoline for Scrooge’s private jet. This forces Scrooge to fly commercial on Glomgold Airlines. (We’re not told where Glomgold got his oil from.)
Foul fowls: While J.R. is set up as the villain, him and Scrooge swindling each other ends up being just business as usual. Tex acted alone, it seems, in his “pretend to be a ghost to steal all the oil” scheme. It’s also worth noting that his ghost outfit looks really freakin’ cool.
Down in Duckburg: Scrooge appears to have a whole other life in Texas with his own group of supporting characters working for him. I especially like the laid-back cowboy Wildcat, who responds to everything with a casual “Yup.”
Reference row: J.R. Mooing is quite obviously a parody of J.R. Ewing, the main character in the ‘80s nighttime soap opera Dallas. (Wanna know who shot J.R.? It was his sister-in-law Kristin Shepard.)
Thoughts upon this viewing: Yes, it’s more an episode of Scooby Doo than it is DuckTales, but that’s all right. This one has a cool ghost villain, and even some pretty funny gags. Good stuff.
Next: Double hypertime!
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