If you’re in the know, you’d be aware that there is already a new show called The Three Caballeros that’s airing overseas right now. And if you’re really in the know, you’d be aware of the illicit locations on the web of where to find episodes of said show. And if you’re really, really in the know, you would have watched some or all of those episodes, and kind of realized that version of the show, while very strange, is also kind of good, in that chaotic-fun, anything-goes kind of way. I wouldn’t say that “The Town Where Everyone Was Nice!”–and DuckTales as a whole–is in any way competing with The Three Caballeros. But, again, if you’re really, really, really in the know, you’d be hard pressed not to compare that show to DuckTales’ take on the reunion of Donald, Jose, and Panchito.

While that show portray Jose and Panchito as well-meaning but somewhat clueless, burgeoning heroes, DuckTales portrays them as immensely endearing, if quietly sad, old friends. And, gosh darnit, they are just so likable. I’d argue that this DuckTales first real casual, hangout-type episode of the run so far, leaning more comedic than adventurous, with Donald, Jose, and Panchito gleefully bouncing off one another, enjoying their nostalgic reminisces, while simultaneously (and obviously) hiding their current lifestyles. And, sure, it’s a sitcom and cartoon plot as old as time–making up lies about one’s current life to impress people–but DuckTales props up the cliche by 1) providing a layer of genuine warmth and congeniality among its reunited friends, 2) adding a significant amount of visual flourishes, particularly during the climax, and 3) by being really, really funny.

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There’s a bit of clunkiness around the edges, mostly with the triplets, who kind of feel superfluous. But when Donald run into his old school buddies, the three immediately reconnect, and Madison Bateman’s script sells that camaraderie, both with their initial secret handshake, and with their surprisingly deep talk about the good ol’ days and growing up, leaving their carefree days behind them. It’s not deep deep, but it’s human, a bittersweet honesty that’s glossed over nicely when the three begin to dance to the music they’re overhearing. It gives a certain authenticity to the characters, even as their lies begin to escalate. The focus is on Donald, so we get to see the specifics of his increasingly desperate attempts to maintain his lie, stealing and even attacking Scrooge to pay for everything (to which Scrooge, hilariously, retaliates when he gets the chance), but we can see Jose and Panchito sweat it out as well, mainly at the dinner table (as they eye each other on who should foot the bill), but also in their ever-growing exaggerations of global access and fanbase sizes.

That the “Feast of the Flower” was an elaborate trap by the very flower itself to lure in victims is pretty solid twist, but it’s clear that the plot is quite secondary to the show’s revisioning of The Three Caballeros, since it has some pretty significant holes in it. But they’re worth ignoring, because the climax–with the shift in the color palette to a tropical vibrancy and with Donald, Jose, and Panchito singing their signature theme song while fighting back against said plant, via quick cuts, montages, and unique artistic directions–is fantastic. It also helps that the song is a re-establishment of their equal footing and friendship, after all three admit to being frauds (Donald is broke, Jose is just a flight attendant, and Panchito does children birthday parties). Yet they still recognize that as being valid, nothing to be truly ashamed about, and especially nothing that can hold back how well they function together. They’re still carefree as they’ve always been, but they aren’t sad-sacks or manbabies, as they prove in that incredible sequence. I would love to see them as a band again, and, more broadly, I would love to see them as recurring characters in this version of DuckTales.

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Stray observations

  • Apologies for the late posting, due to circumstances beyond my control.
  • I kind of thought that Donald could have just said, “I was in the Navy.” That would have impressive enough. But of course you wouldn’t have had the cliche plot to work off of.
  • I like that even though Donald got most of the physical abuse (that’s just what you do with a character like Donald), it rarely feels over-the-top in that mean-spirited kind of way.
  • I find it very hard to believe at no one noticed that the people in the town had no feet and were attached to giant vines. I will say that making “Feast of the Flower” have double meanings here was, indeed, very clever.
  • I’m of two minds of the entire gag with Louie and Dewey trying to take selfies all of the time. It has an air of “millennials amirite,” but at the same time, watching at least some of the triplets goof around with each other and have dumb fun like kids is always a nice touch, and something that DuckTales does quite well. I think they took it too far at times, particularly with Dewey. He usually is the most eager for adventure and action, so for him to get lost in the allure of social media feels wildly out of character.
  • Y’all, the exaggerated facial expressions in this one scene is worthy of an A alone:

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