Rewatching DuckTales! Episode 67 is part two of the “Time is Money” five-parter. It’s a time-travel story introducing the new character Bubba, so this is a time travel story with Bubba at its center. He’s “The Duck Who Would Be King.”
Here’s what happens: To save a land deal with Glomgold from going bad, Scrooge uses a frozen substance named Bombastium to go back in time. Be he and the gang went too far back, to prehistoric times, taking Bubba the caveduck with them. This episode begins with the time crashing in ancient China. Bubba wants to help, but Scrooge dismisses him as a pest. Scrooge is enamored of a nearby city with a golden tower. He and Launchpad investigate, to find Mung-Ho, a man who has tricked the populace into thinking he has magic powers, about to execute the lovely and honest princess Sen-Sen. She encourages the people to “trust the prophecy.” Launchpad tries to save the day, but he and Scrooge also get captured.
But then Bubba rides his pet triceratops Tootsie through the city’s main gates, and everyone thinks he’s the “Great One” from the prophecy. Bubba is apparently king now, and he chooses Scrooge over Mung-Ho as his chief advisor. Scrooge sets Sen-Sen free and puts the city folk to work repairing the time machine. Scrooge wants to leave, but the Bombastium has melted. Sen-Sen believes this is Bubba fulfilling his destiny, but Scrooge won’t have it.
Launchpad and the nephews head up to the mountains to refreeze the Bombastium in the snowy peaks. Scrooge stays behind to find the royal palace has a gold vault much like his Money Bin back home. He then learns that Mung-Ho swindled the money out of the people through his stories about the Great One. Scrooge and Bubba put Mung-Ho on public trial, forcing him to return all the wealth back to the people. Mung-Ho flees the city and rallies an army of bandits, threatening to re-take the city.
The bandits send a giant to attack Scrooge. Fights him off with a pen laser. The bandits next attack the city gates, but Launchpad causes an avalanche to stop them. Mung-Ho and the bandits attack again, while Scrooge and co. discover the giant iron statue in the center of town is an ancient mech (!) and they defeat the villains Megazord-style. (Zordon: “Alpha, bring me my Zune!”) This and avalanche fulfill the second and third parts of the prophecy. With peace restored, Sen-Sen wants Bubba to stay, but Scrooge points out that Sen-Sen was the Great One all along. Our heroes hop back into the time machine and disappear off to next week’s episode.
Humbug: Distributing all wealth equally among the populace doesn’t seem like a very Scrooge McDuck thing to do, but that’s what he does here. Scrooge’s argument is that Mung-Ho conned people out of their money, instead of earning it with honest hard work. My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is about Scrooge learning that his family is more important than his money. Could Scrooge’s actions in this episode be inspired by his nephews’ good-hearted influence? Or Bubba’s, even?
Junior Woodchucks: Huey, Dewey and Louie don’t do much, other than come up with the plan to re-freeze the Bombastium. I suppose they’re on the bench so that new kid Bubba can get the spotlight.
Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad falls for Sen-Sen in a big way, calling her “the girl of my dreams.” They say goodbye with not one but two passionate kisses.
Everybody walk the dinosaur: Bubba’s deal in this episode is his devotion to Scrooge, even mimicking Scrooge’s mannerisms in some scenes. Bubba’s also superhumanly strong, throwing around city guards without breaking a sweat.
Fowl fouls: Mung-Ho is a villain type we’ve seen several times already in DuckTales. He’s set himself up as dictator of an old-timey society, profiting off the locals’ superstitions. His particular gimmick is using fireworks to make the city folk think he has magic powers.
Reference row: Rudyard Kipling first published The Man Who Would Be King in an 1888 story collection hilariously titled The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Eerie Tales. The story is about two lost soldiers who find a remote village and set themselves up as its new kings – and then it doesn’t go well for them. It’s been adapted several times, including a 1975 film starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
Thoughts on this viewing: This is a lot of plot for a one-off episode, with court intrigue, a prophecy, and a big battle at the end. The point, though, is to further establish Bubba as the cool new regular character. Again, I want to like Bubba because of his antics, but I question just how much story potential he could have.
Next: Back to school.
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