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Welcome to first of what looks like will be a nine-episode bomb of new DuckTales episodes! Barring any sudden schedule changes, of course. Generally speaking, this has been a stronger, more confident season than the first one, and “Treasure Of The Found Lamp!” has a thematic drive that in a lot of ways suggest why. The episode doesn’t really explore it until the end, which kind of makes this episode seem like it was fused from two separate scripts. Still, each part of the episode works for what it looks to accomplish, which isn’t much, but does make for a weirdly ideal episode to jump-start this two week stretch of premieres.
A mysterious figure by the name of Djinn arrives at Scrooge’s mansion, dressed in a cowl and brandishing a scimitar, who, according a terrified Huey, wants to speak with Scrooge. Apparently, Scrooge had taken a certain lamp from one of his many adventures, a lamp that may or may not hold certain magical properties if it’s not in the right hands during “Ifirit’s Dawn.” Spoiler alert: it doesn’t, but it did, and before that reveal occurs, Scrooge struggles to find it among his scattered, messy garage full of artifacts, only to fail to find it. Louie sold it during an impromptu yard sale, and he makes the boys track down the lamp while he and Webby attempt to distract Djinn through their own made-up, pointless adventure–one Webby is extremely excited about creating.
There’s a sense of “getting back to basics” with this episode, particularly the first two-thirds of it. For one thing, it’s been a while since the show did a story involving all the triplets together. I have had my issues with some of the characterizations of them in the past but when they’re together, they’re a fun, silly-yet-engaging band of kids. They don’t really do much, mostly follow the opaque clues left from meeting with Duckworth, Gander, and Doofus, but they continue to have that nice, specific-sibling rapport among each other. (Bringing back David Kaye, Paul F. Tompkins, and John Gemberling, respectively, for what feels like bit parts is random; at first I thought this was meant to be a quick run-through of characters the show established so far, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It was cool to see them again though, even if they felt superfluous, particularly Duckworth.)
The artificially-created adventure with Scrooge, Webby, and Selene (Nia Vardalos, also returning) is a funnier bit, partly because all three characters are game for the insane, stake-less adventure they come up with (and the improv they’re forced to do when Djinn proves to be an insanely good adventurer), partly because it winks at the larger meta-narrative of coming up with adventures-as-stories as pointless, but worthwhile, distracting entertainment. As Djinn wins every obstacle put before him, he chronicles it on his parchment as a worthwhile point in his ongoing life/journey. If the first season spent (too much?) time on winking commentary about the adventurous life, this second season seeks to find value in the journey itself, the stories we share about them. To paraphrase Djinn, adventures isn’t about the treasures, all locked up as tossed aside trinkets in a garage. It isn’t even about being “smarter” than the concepts of adventures themselves. It’s the stories about them that matter, something that the writers’ room is starting to take to heart. (Personally, I like that the show addresses the “artifacts tossed in the garage” thing. It feels like one of the many threads that DuckTales is tweaking to give its adventures, and the results of those adventures, more weight to them than the first season’s more ironic, “world-weary,” self-aware approach.)
Even though the third act is wholly different than the first two–an all-out junkyard brawl over the lamp with a whole gang of Beagle Boys–it allows the animators to shine with another big, elaborate set piece. Just as importantly, it forces Scrooge to admit to Djinn his elaborate hoax. It doesn’t really absolve these ducks of their lie, but Djinn adding the ordeal as just part off his overall journey oddly works. It’s bolstered by the sweet, delightfully-animated story of his multiple-great grandmother falling in love with the former genie of the lamp (hence the importance of the lamp to him; otherwise, it’s worthless), but also provides Scrooge the impetus to take all those treasures out of the garage and into a Adventurers’ Wing of the Duckburg Museum. There he can regale the stories of those treasures, stories that light up the imaginations of his familial audience–just like DuckTales itself.
- If you were expecting any references to the DuckTales film “Treasure of the Lost Lamp,” I’m afraid those references are minimal. (Not even a throwaway comment on Rip Taylor voicing the genie in that film.) They do reference a scene where Scrooge and Flintheart climb a tower and tug at a lamp (replacing Flintheart with Ma Beagle), but that was from the original show (and I can’t for the life of me remember which episode). Maybe you comic folks can weigh in?
- Nia Vardalos’s reading of the simple line “That’s the end of the joke book” absolutely floored me. Selene being so game for all this was a great bit of character for someone we’ve only seen once before.
- Just a fair warning: this DuckTales bomb is dropping right as I’m beginning a two-week vacation, so apologies in advance if there’s typos or mistakes in these reviews. I’ll fix them when I can!