Each Saturday morning, we’ll remind you of the time when it was still cool to wake up early on weekends. So whenever the hell you wake up these days, there will be a nostalgic treat waiting for you, reminding you of those old jammies you used to wear and that old television set. They make even less sense now, but that’s half the fun. We hope you enjoy.

The Cartoon: DuckTales
Animation Studio: Walt Disney Television Animation
Original Run: September 18, 1987 and ended on November 28, 1990
Episodes: 100
Seasons: 4 (sorta)

The Characters:

  • Uncle Scrooge McDuck
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie
  • Donald Duck
  • Duckworth
  • Launchpad McQuack
  • Mrs. Beakley
  • Webby Vanderquack

The Setting:

The city of Duckburg, in a world populated by a variety of humanoid animal races, all of which take after different species of birds. Plus dogs too, for some reason.

Scrooge McDuck is the richest duck in the world. Despite owning several banks, he keeps the vast majority of his wealth in coin form, which he then stores within an immense money-bin so he can swim through it.

When Scrooge’s nephew, Donald Duck, joins the Navy, Scrooge is entrusted with the care of his triplet grand-nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie (we never learn what became of their parents). Together with his nephews, Scrooge hops around the globe looking to expand and add to his fortune, while keeping his myriad foes away from his money-bin.

The Gist:

Life is like a hurricane

Here in Duckburg

Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes

It’s a duck – blur!

Might solve a mystery,

Or rewrite history!

Ducktales! (awhoo oo!)

Every day they’re out there making

Ducktales! (awhoo oo!)

Tales of daring do bad and good

D – D – D – Danger! 
(watch behind you!)

There’s a stranger, 
(out to find you!)

What to do? 
Just grab on to some -

Ducktales! (awhoo oo!)

Every day they’re out there making

Ducktales! (awhoo oo!)

Tales of daring do bad and good

Not pony tales or cotton tales, no

(awhoo oo!)

Part of DuckTales charm is that it has no set-in-stone format. Even its genre is pliable; while always high on adventure, episodes might explore westerns, sci-fi, horror, romance, Greek mythology, fantasy, Noir, superhero. An episode might be set entirely within Scrooge’s mansion, or under the sea, in space, in the Himalayas, in an Egyptian tomb, even back in time.

The Short History:

Based on Carl Barks‘ classic Uncle Scrooge comics, DuckTales was part of the bold creative renaissance happening at the Mouse House in the late 80’s (of which the feature film department gets all the attention). Not only was DuckTales Disney’s first television venture produced specifically for syndication, it was by far the most expensive animated show Disney had ever done – considered a very risky move at the time, as animated television had historically been viewed as purely a low-budget investment. But it paid off when DuckTales was a spectacular hit, in many ways ushering in the era of high quality television animation current children are still enjoying.

DuckTales kicked off its run with a TV movie, title “The Treasures of the Golden Suns,” which was later broken into five episodes and incorporated into the regular series. The original season (1987/1988) consisted of 65 episodes, which sounds crazy but was not totally uncommon for animated programming. Two other five-part mini-series – “Time Is Money” and “Super DuckTales” – premiered as television movies in 1988 and 1989.

If you have 65 episodes in your first season, it is forgivable to already be burnt out by season two. The second season (1988/1989) added 18 new episodes, and two woefully distracting new “Poochy” characters – the completely unnecessary but endearing Fenton Crackshell and his alter ego Gizmo Duck, and the unarguably retarded Bubba the Caveduck and his punchable pet triceratops, Tootsie.

DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp farted into the wind in August 1990. That September, The Disney Afternoon block started, which included DuckTales, flush with its final seven episodes, bringing its total number of episodes to a cool 100 (one of the highest of any Disney show).

The Merchandise:

Proving that the Chinese are right, and all things are cyclical, the popularity of the Uncle Scrooge television adaptation was then itself adapted back into a comic book.  Gladstone Publishing put out 13 issues (1988-1990), and Disney Comics put out 18 issues (1990-1991). Disney also ran some DuckTales stories in the magazine Disney Adventures throughout the 90’s.

Campcom had some success with the DuckTales video game for the original NES, and DuckTales 2 for NES and Gameboy. Walt Disney Computer Software released an unrelated game for home computers called DuckTales – the Quest for Gold.

BTW – back in the 90’s I made the eerie discovery that the obnoxious novelty song “Mambo #5″ by Lou Bega begins with almost exactly the same groove as the NES DuckTales video game theme.

Listen for yourself…

What does it all mean?!?!?!?!

You might have seen this commercial:

In Don Mancini’s original script for Child’s Play (1988), Chucky was modeled after the Cabbage Patch Kids. When director Tom Holland came on board and rewrote the script, I think he had some different inspiration… presumably this horrifying fucking thing…

Tune in next Saturday morning for another installment.

Previously on Saturday mornings: