Rewatching DuckTales! The series goes full-on disaster movie, in more ways than one, in episode 57, “The Uncrashable Hindentanic.”
Here’s what happens: Scrooge and rival millionaire Glomgold are at it again. They make a bet, with Glomgold saying he’ll sell Scrooge a piece of property that Scrooge is certain to lose money on. The property turns out to be an antique dirigible, or zeppelin, called the Hindentanic. It’s a wreck, but Scrooge is determined to get it up and flying again. Various members of the wealthy elite join the maiden flight, including aging actress Gloria Swansong and movie producer Irwin Mallard.
Launchpad has yet another plane crash, so Scrooge fires him before Launchpad gets a chance to pilot the Hindentanic. He’s replaced by Captain Foghorn (last seen in episode 21, “Bermuda Triangle Tangle”). The transatlantic flight gets under way, with Swansong trying to connive her way into Mallard’s new movie, and Glomgold stowing away in disguise to sabotage everything. The ship passes through a meteor shower (!), where Foghorn flees and Launchpad takes over as pilot.
After another series of mishaps caused by Glomgold, the ship starts leaking hot air. It lowers in the atmosphere and (of course) it hits an iceberg and sinks. It looks as though Scrooge has lost the bet, but Irwin Mallard filmed the whole thing for his newest disaster movie, which is a hit. Scrooge gets a cut of the cash, and everyone celebrates at the premiere.
Humbug: For Scrooge, this episode is all about his quick thinking, coming up with a solution for every problem that comes his way.
Junior Woodchucks: Huey, Dewey and Louie serve as bellhops aboard the ship, but then are later seen working in the engine room. I guess they’re just filling in wherever needed.
Fasten your seatbelts: Scrooge rehires Launchpad because, as he puts it, he needs someone both smart enough to repair the ship’s engine, but also dumb enough to climb onto the outside of the ship to do it. Launchpad also is a skilled skywriter, except that he misspells Hidentanic as “Hidenpanic.”
Maid and maiden: There’s a seriously unfortunate fat-shaming joke in this, where the ship needs ballast, so they just use Mrs. Beakeley. A real low point for show’s attempts at humor.
Foul fowls: Glomgold’s comeuppance happens offscreen. We know he lost the bet, but we don’t see him face any other consequences for his almost killing everyone.
Down in Duckburg: The opening scene has Scrooge buying useless used tires from Glomgold, only to sell them as tire swings for all the kids in town. He says he’s made “a fortune” from this.
Reference row: Almost too many references to count. The real-life tragedies of the Titanic and the Hindenburg are the most obvious, but the episode seems more interested in spoofing celebrities of different eras and backgrounds, including Gloria Swanson, Irwin Allen, John D. Rockefeller, Burt Bacharach, and Carl Sagan. I also wonder if the classic 1983 PC game Murder on the Zinderneuf could have been an influence.
Thoughts on this viewing: This episode is something of an outlier among DuckTales episodes. While most follow adventure-movie templates, this one is structured as a farce. It’s a bunch of subplots that crisscross with each other at various times for humorous impact. A few years after this, The Simpsons and Animaniacs would do the celebrity spoof humor much better.
Next: Check your status at the door.
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