Rewatching DuckTales! After checking in with Donald Duck’s Navy adventures last week, we’re with him again this week in episode 63, “All Ducks on Deck.”
Here’s what happens: He’s visiting the mansion, regaling Huey, Dewey and Louie with exaggerated tales of his heroism. Donald, Scrooge, and Launchpad leave to drop off Donald, after which Scrooge and Launchpad have “other business.” When Donald leaves his duffel bag behind, the boys hide inside it to become stowaways.
Cut to Cat Island, where would-be world conqueror the Phantom Blot has subjected the locals. He calls his co-conspirator Agent X. On board Donald’s ship, the nephews are quick to discover that Donald’s stories of heroism are fabricated, and that he’s really a put-upon klutz. They plot to secretly help Donald earn some medals. Scrooge and Launchpad travel to Cat Island to check on Scrooge’s fishing fleet, which has been out of contact for weeks. They get captured by the Phantom Blot.
The boys’ schemes to help Donald backfire, so the reveal to him that they snuck aboard the ship. We learn that there’s an invisible jet (!) on board the ship. It’s stolen by Donald’s fellow sailor Ensign Plover, who was really Agent X all along. He steals the jet and takes to Cat Island. Scrooge and Launchpad manage an escape from their cell. They defeat the Phantom Blot with help from Scrooge’s fishermen. They then fly the invisible jet back to Donald’s ship. The ship experiences a power failure, and it’s Donald who comes up with the idea to light Launchpad’s way with flare guns. He doesn’t get a real medal for his efforts, so the nephews give him one they made.
Humbug: To escape from the Phantom Blot’s cell, Scrooge goes full MacGyver by whipping up a fishing rod out of his and the other prisoners’ pocket scraps to pull a lever and free themselves.
Junior woodchucks: The boys’ attempts to make Donald look like a hero include a remote-control fake shark for him to fight, and a radio device that will guarantee Donald’s missile will its target no matter what. Except then Admiral Grimitz spots the device and puts in his back pocket, setting up a comedy explosion.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad does a pretty good flying the invisible jet, considering that he cannot see any of the controls. He does mistake the canopy opening for the ejector seats though.
In the Navy: Donald’s responsibilities aboard his ship are all over the place. He’s put to work swabbing the deck and peeling potatoes, and he also gets a turn at practice-firing missiles at a drone.
Fowl fouls: The Phantom Blot is an old-school Disney character. Rather than originate from the Carl Barks Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics, the Phantom Blot was a villain in the classic Mickey Mouse newspaper strip. This is his only appearance in DuckTales.
Down in Duckburg: Donald the boys use Scrooge’s desk to play aircraft carrier, which angers Scrooge but amuses Launchpad.
Reference row: The Phantom Blot compares himself to Captain Hook, Darth Vader, and Dr. Doom, three characters all now owned by Disney. He also quotes “I’m mean, I’m mean, you know what I mean,” a song lyric from the 1980 Popeye movie, referencing the villain Bluto.
Thoughts on this viewing: The episode is more interested in slapstick comedy than in the adventure, so the invisible jet plot gets introduced very late in the story. Similarly, the Phantom Blot is a nice over-the-top villain, yet he’s in and out of the episode pretty quick. It’s an amusing episode, but it could have been a lot bigger and better.
Next: It’s just a jump to the left.
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