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Cartoon Friday: The Curse of Castle McDuck

Posted in Media


It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

After last week’s duck-themed animated offering, several of my Twitter followers shared their love of DuckTales. So, by popular demand, tonight’s selection is “The Curse of Castle McDuck.”

On Nerdvana, Jayson Peters selected this as one of “20 DuckTales episodes that never get old.”

Of course, there are more than 20 great DuckTales episodes — it’s hard to find a truly bad one with no redeeming qualities. But these are the ones I find myself watching again and again […]

The Curse of Castle McDuck: Revisiting his roots in bonnie Scotland, Scrooge and the boys and young Webby uncover a Druid conspiracy that draws elements from Sherlock Holmes’Hound of the Baskervilles.

On the AV Club, Todd VanDerWerff explained why DuckTales cartoon has such an enduring popularity.

DuckTales, the most successful show of Disney’s short-lived television-animation renaissance—and a show that kicked off a brief interest in syndicated afternoon animation from a host of media companies—has mostly disappeared from the limelight, to the degree that the company released around three-quarters of its episodes on DVD, then simply stopped. What’s fascinating about this is that DuckTales is a vastly entertaining show, with quality traits that go beyond its catchy theme song, and it’s incredibly easy to gobble up episode after episode of the thing. Plenty of cartoons from the ’80s and ’90s fail the nostalgia test, simply falling apart when re-examined through the lens of adulthood. DuckTalesisn’t one, and returning to it as an adult reveals that there are hidden pleasures there that go beyond memories of what it was like to watch as a kid. For a show so breathless and action-packed, DuckTales takes its time, and that makes all the difference.

[…] It’s an understatement to say DuckTales was a hit. Not only did it lead to a huge number of additional Disney animated shows that entered the “Disney afternoon” syndication package—shows like Chip ’N’ Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck—but it led to other studios raiding their own cabinets to see what could be reworked into programs that would entertain America’s bored latchkey kids. […] DuckTales was the first, however, and it served almost as a statement of purpose. Rather than trying to be as kid-friendly as possible, the series made its protagonist an irascible old man. Rather than celebrating the sorts of family-friendly virtues Disney was associated with, the series was about the awesomeness of unchecked avarice and greed. (Fittingly, it debuted the same year as Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, with its famous “Greed is good” speech.) And instead of drawing its inspiration from a toy line or popular movie (like other pioneers in the afternoon animated-syndication market), DuckTales drew its inspiration from a series of comic books that weren’t terribly well-known in the United States.

A man in a top hat cavorts in a Scrooge McDuck style "Money Bin"
“Greed is good, kids, and money is all that matters!”

I will confess that I wasn’t a DuckTales superfan then or now. But of Disney’s diverse cartoon offerings of the era it’s the one I think has aged the best. Gummi Bears is total shit in retrospect (and didn’t seem that good even then), and TaleSpin drove me crazy by creating an annoying character with my namesake. Both were the kinds of shows that entertained just enough to stay on your TV when you were just plain bored, but DuckTales could be relied on to reliably entertain and even generate a few laughs.

Here’s the Nostalgia Critic’s take:

And since the video of this episode doesn’t have the ridiculously catchy theme song attached, I’ll close with this a cappella version I discovered.

In the comments, share your DuckTales memories or let me know what cartoons you’ve enjoyed recently!

Photo by Ricky Brigante released under a Creative Commons NonCommercial No Derivatives license.