Rewatching DuckTales! Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games… and episode 53, “Jungle Duck.”
Here’s what happens: Scrooge and company travel to “Bongo Country” in search of a giant silver statue and, hopefully, an adjacent silver mine. Along they way, Mrs. Beakeley tells Huey, Dewey, and Louie the story of young Prince Greydrake, a child she once nannied, whose plane was lost over this very jungle. After another Launchpad crash landing, the crew hires a local, Captain Fargo, to take them up river in his boat. But when Fargo learns that the gang is seeking the silver statue, he gives them the boat and takes off running.
Everyone heads into the jungle, and then sets up camp for the night. Everyone’s spooked by Fargo’s tales of a “jungle phantom.” Mrs. Beakeley stays up for the first watch. A mysterious figure swoops out of the darkness and carries her away. She wakes the next morning in a treehouse, only to menaced by a lion. She’s rescued by a musclebound jungle man. Scrooge and the others, meanwhile, are captured by non-culturally sensitive natives.
Mrs. Beakeley befriends the jungle man, and it’s soon revealed that he’s the long-lost Prince Greydrake, and he remembers her as his former nanny. The natives are about to toss Scrooge and the rest into boiling oil, when Greydrake rescues them by summoning an elephant stampede. Greydrake then takes scrooge to the silver buzzard statue, only for it not be silver, but the plane that originally brought Greydrake to the jungle. If the gang can get Greydrake back to his home country before his next birthday in a few days, he can be crowned king. But Greydrake doesn’t want to leave. It’s a race against time to get the plane up and running, and then the stakes are raised when the natives return and attack.
Back in Greydrake’s unidentified home country, Greydrake confronts his evil uncle minutes before the uncle is crowned. Greydrake’s distinctive birthmark identifies him as the lost prince, and the uncle lets it slip that he sabotaged the young prince’s plane to go down in the jungle. Greydrake becomes king, Scrooge gets paid a handsome reward, and we have no idea how this country will function with a jungle man on the throne.
Humbug: The subplot in this one is Scrooge angry at Launchpad for crashing at the start of the episode, saying that Launchpad will never fly Scrooge anywhere again. At the end, Scrooge halfheartedly apologizes when he needs Launchpad’s help to fly out of the jungle.
Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey and Louie’s subplot is that Mrs. Beakeley teaches them to juggle, which they then use to distract Greydrake’s uncle at the coronation. Not much of a subplot, but it’s something.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad gets to show off his smarts by identifying the crashed plane in the jungle, and then getting it flying condition again.
Maid and maiden: Before she came to work for Scrooge, Mrs. Beakeley was a nanny for this unnamed country’s royal family. Her juggling expertise is maybe a suggestion that she was also once a performer or entertainer of some sort.
Fowl fouls: We spend about a minute with Greydrake’s uncle, but he’s certainly villainous. He threatens to throw the boys into a dungeon when they interrupt the coronation. The less said about the natives the better.
vReference row: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel Tarzan of the Apes was first published in 1912, serialized in All-Story Magazine. The character went on to be one of the most well-known pulp heroes in history, even with all his problematic aspects. Disney did their own take on Tarzan in 1999.
Thoughts upon this viewing: By this point in the series, the animation was being farmed out to, let’s say, lesser animators, so the show has developed a flat look. Combine that with a pretty slim and predictable plot, and this episode is pretty skippable.
Next: Crash course.
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