Joe once mentioned to me that he knew that DuckTales was going to be something special when Flintheart Glomgold made his OUT OF NOWHERE appearance at the start of (what would become) part two of "Treasure of the Golden Suns." You kind of figured that the Beagle Boys would be "naturals" as regular menaces, but Flinty hadn't appeared in an original American comic-book story since 1965. I've previously argued that the DT crew's choices of Barks stories to adapt may have been influenced by the contents of UNCLE $CROOGE McDUCK: HIS LIFE AND TIMES. Since "The Second-Richest Duck," the 1956 tale that introduced Flinty, was part of that collection, I wouldn't be surprised if the crew first came to know of Scrooge's doppelganger through that story. The original (1985) design of the animated Glomgold certainly seems to have been inspired by Barks' earliest version of the character, right down to the central button on the broadcloth coat:
As to what happened next... well, my guess is that someone at WDTVA complained that Flinty "looked too much like Scrooge." Since the Beagle Boys were given different names and personalities in order to help the viewer keep them straight, I can easily imagine the same fate befalling Glomgold. The "reconstructive surgery," of course, turned out to be quite comprehensive:
boerewors, and I had no trouble rationalizing away Flinty's changed appearance and his presence in Duckburg by speculating that (1) he was a native Scot who made his fortune in the Transvaal, rather than the Klondike, and (2) he moved to Duckburg to keep a closer eye on his eternal rival, Scrooge (much as Scrooge's spies were hired to watch over Magica De Spell's activities on Mt. Vesuvius -- but I suppose Flinty felt that no one but himself could be trusted with the job of spying on Scrooge). I've even conjured up a justification for Glomgold's retention of his kilt: in America, the great melting pot, Scrooge found it easier to discard the sartorial trappings of his ancestral home, while Flinty's garb reflects the stronger and longer-lasting British influence in South Africa.
In DuckTales, of course, Flinty is typically far more of an out-and-out villain than he was in two of Barks' three Glomgold stories, the exception being "So Far and No Safari." The attitudes that Scrooge and Glomgold display towards one another during "Djinni," however, appear to be just as heavily influenced by the events of "The Second-Richest Duck" and "The Money Champ." What Greg called the "playground-level insults" that Scrooge and Flinty hurl at each other in Aladdin's vault and on the desert sands are, in fact, rather mild compared to the knock-down drag-outs in which they engaged in those two 1950s stories.
Oh, come on, fellas... you have a reputation to live down to.
Towards the end of "Djinni," the more nuanced elements of Barks' early Scrooge-Flinty duels appear to come into play, with the two old money-grubbers actively cooperating in their efforts to escape the palace of the Sultan of Sim-Sala-Bim. In fact, they go to somewhat... extreme lengths to do so.
I get the harem clothes being readily available, but how'd their eyelashes grow so fast?!
Scrooge and Glomgold would form a similar mariage de convenience in the later episode "Robot Robbers." As was perhaps inevitable, however, Flinty's evilness vis-a-vis Scrooge won the day, and Glomgold spent the rest of the series in his terminally dyspeptic "So Far and No Safari" mode. That's not to say, of course, that he wasn't already showing a few signs of it during "Djinni," most notably in his employment of two strong-arm goons.
Aladdin, else he surely would have been tinted blue. (Genie Goofy should have been so lucky when Disney Comics reprinted the 1960s story "A Lad 'N His Lamp" in 1993.) Despite his "heel turn" and sorry ultimate fate, I've always found the Djinni to be a very likable character, certainly more so than the vaguely Satanic fellow in the much inferior Rescue Rangers episode "A Lad in a Lamp." Most of the credit goes to Howard Morris and his always enjoyable riff on the wailing voice of comedian Ed Wynn.
Even if "Djinni" were a mediocre episode -- which it is not -- it would still merit extra attention for an easily overlooked reason: it is a time-travel story. There have been some reasonably meritorious efforts along those lines in Duck comics, of course, but Barks himself only touched upon the idea in "Back to Long Ago" and "King Scrooge the First." Even those versions of the trope came with large asterisks attached; the Ducks didn't actually go back in time, but merely thought that they did. Thanks to the luxury-loving Djinni, however, Scrooge and Flinty take the temporal trip in both spirit and body. Though the rivals spend a relatively short period of time in ancient Sim-Sala-Bim -- there's that "overstuffed plot" problem cropping up again -- their adventures there are memorable, and the transitions from modern to ancient times and back again are exceptionally well staged and animated. The success of this episode no doubt encouraged the DT crew to revisit the time-travel idea multiple times, albeit with somewhat mixed success (at least where certain caveducks are concerned).
This episode also features the first example of what will become one of DT's most enduring and endearing traits: its ability to imaginatively reinterpret the elements of classical myth and legend in a "Duck-universe" context. "Lost Crown of Genghis Khan" hinted at this approach, but, of course, it was based on a Barks story to begin with, so it had a "webfoot up" in a manner of speaking. "Djinni"'s clever spin on 1001 ARABIAN KNIGHTS is entirely new, and immensely winning. Whereas the "real" Scheherazade was obliged to tell cliff-hanging tales in order to keep her ruler from executing her, Schewebazade, the lovely Somnambulan captive of the Sultan of Sim-Sala-Bim, uses her ability to bore her listeners to her advantage (not to mention Scrooge and Glomgold's). I can easily imagine a character like Schewebezade appearing in one of the lighter-hearted, more satirical Barks $CROOGE stories of the early- to mid-60s.
(GeoX) Scrooge and Glomgold's well-thought-out plan to race back to Duckburg involves sprinting through the trackless wastes. Good luck with that.
But you can just imagine the Scrooge and Glomgold of "The Second-Richest Duck" and "The Money Champ" doing that, can't you? If they were willing to roll balls of string up through the heart of Africa, then...
(GeoX) A bit odd to see a sultan lustfully "inspecting" his harem in a kids' cartoon.
At least Roger C. Carmel seemed to be enjoying himself in the role. This was Carmel's last performance of any kind; the fruitily entertaining character actor (who also voiced one of Glomgold's goons and the sleepy-eyed Emir of Somnambula) died in November 1986, which suggests that "Djinni" was in production during the Summer of that year. It makes one wonder: which "Glomgold comeback story" was put in production first, "Djinni" or Don Rosa's "Son of the Sun"? Rosa's first full-length $CROOGE adventure was published in April 1987, beating "Djinni" into the market by some five months, but I don't know when Rosa actually began work on his story. The two productions were clearly unrelated, but the fact that they were undertaken at roughly the same time indicates just how fructiferous a period 1986-87 was for American Duck fans. It was a great time to hop aboard the fandom train, as I did in the mid-80s, but it certainly meant far more to the "old sourdoughs." Five Disney comics publishers later, will we ever get that vibe back?
Next: Episode 11, "Magica's Magic Mirror" and "Take Me Out of the Ball Game." (Hey, look, a real "two-for-one sale"!)