As they did in "Double-O-Duck," writers Ken Koonce and David Weimers manage to do the little things right here. Their numerous pop-culture references treat the audience with respect and do not intrude upon the larger narrative (what there is of one, anyway). They eschew facile moralizing (oh, there's a line or two about Scrooge ruing his initial decision to "gamble" with Glomgold, but that's strictly a throwaway bit) and stick doggedly to the task of making the viewers laugh. The pacing is brisk, the lines (including the "so-bad-they're-good" ones) clever, and, despite all of the zaniness, there are only a small handful of plot points that could legitimately be criticized on a strictly logical basis. They even manage to toss some surprisingly scary moments into the mix, though you have to be paying attention in order to fully appreciate them. Watching this tale unspool makes one wonder all the more why Koonce and Wiemers, who could be so "on" in their best moments, could slip so badly off the beam in eps like "Down and Out in Duckburg" and "The Right Duck." My own theory is that K&W began to flounder when they tried to force morals and/or extraneous gags into their scripts in an unnatural or clumsy fashion. In terms of tone, "Hindentanic" is about as far from K&W's earlier gem "Hero for Hire" as could be imagined, but I think that both episodes possess the signal virtue of devotion to first principles.
As for Greg's point that Scrooge seemingly forgot his earlier activities as "a gambling man," let's run down the existing evidence:
(1) The money-piling contest in "Catch as Cash Can," like the similar duel in Carl Barks' "The Money Champ," did not involve any monetary betting (though I wouldn't have been surprised if the Duckburgian kibitzers watching the piling had made a few friendly wagers amongst themselves). The only bet seen in either of these two adventures was Flinty's agreement to "eat Scrooge's top hat" if he lost in "The Money Champ."
(2) The bet in "Wrongway in Ronguay" involved a similar ingestion of headgear (Glomgold's tam, this time).
(3) There was no evidence that Scrooge and Glomgold placed any actual bets on the Kenducky Derby during "Horse Scents"; they were simply competing for the prize money that would go to the owner of the winning horse.
(4) Scrooge's gambling at cards at Dangerous Dan's honkytonk during "Back to the Klondike" (Hah! Did you forget about that one?) was what Hergé might have termed "les péchés de jeunesse" (the sins of youth), and "The Goose Egg Nugget" was probably worth less than $1 million anyway.
I think we all would agree that Scrooge's wager on the outcome of the Hindentanic project is by far the largest monetary gamble that Scrooge has essayed to date. In that sense, Scrooge truly is a "gambling man" here in a way that he never has been before, at least in a DT context.
Cutie Mark Crusaders when they fix up their parade float in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "One Bad Apple." I actually think that the CMC's effort is just as impressive: they do their job overnight, do not have the assistance of adults (not to mention fingers and thumbs!), and sabotage their handiwork at the same time that they are completing it! Sure, the Hindentanic was much bigger than the Golden Apple Float, but the CMC were working from a skimpier infrastructure. Judge for yourself...
The "christening" and "all aboard" sequences, in which we are introduced to our cast of stereotyped passengers, may go on a bit too long for some folks' tastes -- cutting as they do into the time allotted for the Hindentanic's fateful flight -- but they're squarely in the tradition of the 1970s disaster movies that are the focus of parody here. They also provide the tantalizing hint that, despite the director's credit being given to David Block, Terence Harrison just might have had a hand in putting this ep together. The "jerk and jolt" animation during the christening scene has a definite Harrison-esque "vibe" to it...
Casablanca riff, which, in terms of imitating Humphrey Bogart's actual mannerisms (including Terry McGovern's voicing), is far more exaggerated that what we saw at the end of "Double-O-Duck." Needless to say, the overplaying works well in this particular context. (And, GeoX, regarding the "play it again [sic], Sam" error, at least this episode is in some pretty distinguished company in that regard.)
Of course, "the great Gloria Swansong" is by far the most memorable of the visiting players here. Koonce and Wiemers not only show considerable confidence in the ability of the viewers to recognize that Swansong and her retainer Quax were spoofs of the Norman Desmond and Max characters from Sunset Blvd. (1950), but also showcase a fairly deep knowledge of arcane movie trivia by making Swansong's long-awaited "comeback" movie a disaster flick. Gloria Swanson had not made a theatrical movie since 1956 before agreeing to appear in Airport 1975 (1974) as, quite literally, herself. The only explanation that I've ever seen for this decision was Swanson's announced desire to appear in an "old-fashioned family movie" of which she didn't have to be ashamed. Well, there are different kinds of shame, as those who have seen Airport 1975 are well aware.
Light My Fire," all of Burt's little tunelets are swiped from Hal David and Burt Bacharach songs.
Airplane! (1980), was more attuned to the goofier, more exaggerated iterations of the disaster-movie genre. Nowadays, films like Airport (1970) and Irwin Allen's The Poseidon Adventure (1972) are routinely lumped in with the likes of Airport 1975 and Allen's The Swarm (1978), but the former are works of great art compared to the latter, which begged to be taken seriously but could ultimately only be accepted as unintentional comedies. The Hindentanic's Airport 1975-style lack of a pilot (once Captain Foghorn bails, that is), Mrs. Beakley's "Roy Rogers counter staff" wardrobe, and, of course, John D. Rockefeather's loosed bees are all clear signs that the "decadent era" of disaster movies was the target here. That being said, K&W's inclusion of the mallet-wielding "hijackass" who wants to go to London is probably the single most memorable gag of the lot, because it is not instantly recognizable as 70s-inspired and, well, it is just so hilariously unexpected. I don't recall "Hindentanic" being pulled off the air in the wake of 9/11, so evidently even the would-be "cleansers of potentially offensive imagery" managed to take this scene in the goofy spirit in which it was meant.
"Let's get hopping"... yeah, right.
For all of Scrooge's pledges that he won't let Launchpad near the controls of the Hindentanic no matter what, the old miser should have realized that allowing LP to be part of the crew in any capacity wouldn't end well. Fatalism that the Launchpad of "Top Duck" would have wholeheartedly embraced kicks in as LP accidentally bursts the blimp, Duckworth's attempt to take the controls leads to Poseidon Adventure-style upside-down sky-high hijinks, and the Ducks' efforts to keep the Hindentanic afloat with additional "hot air" quickly go up in smoke. Scrooge finally bows to the inevitable and gives LP the controls for the final dégringolade, leading to the ep's best exchange:
Launchpad: I won't let you down, Mr. McD!
Scrooge: You'd better... why do you think I'm hiring you?
There follows a dramatic explosion-and-crash sequence that would probably have spelled a real-life finis for any non-Toons on board...
Big Blimp in Little Trouble." It was a serviceable enough story, but the main reaction that it evinced from me was nostalgia for the genuine article. Would it ever have been possible for a back-in-the-day DuckTales comic-book adaptation to have captured the spirit of "Hindentanic"? At their best, John Lustig and William Van Horn might have been able to do so, and, if DUCKTALES comics were still being produced today, so might a moonlighting Katie Cook and Andy Price. The mere fact that I have to invoke such comedic comics talents for such an imagined job tells you all that you need to know about the quality of "Hindentanic."
(GeoX) ...you have the mentally incompetent captain [Foghorn] from "Bermuda Triangle Tangle"...
... who, despite that silly sojourn with the steering wheel in hand, does seem to possess a level of self-awareness that he didn't have in that earlier appearance. "Bailing out" may not have been a brave thing to do, but it's a classic example of the truth of the quip, "I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid."
TURKEYS CAN FLY. Thank you.
Perhaps K&W should have substituted "white elephant" for "turkey." That would have made pretty much the same point (since "white elephant" means "valuable but burdensome possession") and allowed for the same type of gag (Duckworth hearing a trumpeting elephant flying overhead). They aren't the first people to make that mistake about flying turkeys, however. I did the same thing when I reviewed a LITTLE LULU collection some time ago.
(Greg) So we head into Scrooge's Money Bin office as Scrooge runs in and puts his cane on the vault door and sits down at his desk which has the oldest golden phone and name plate in history. Man; he is cheap to hire a gold polisher. Scrooge goes to his phone and dials the phone for the Duckb[u]rg Daily News. Scrooge wants to announce the return of the Hindentanic and [we hear] the gobbling on the phone as Scrooge blows it off because he knows turkey[s] cannot fly and orders them to print it. Nice to see Scrooge show that he gets the figure of speech.
But what happened to his phone?
(Greg) This is of course Gloria Swansong... and she's voiced by Joan Gerber. The Mrs. Beakly voice gives it away. By the way; I also noticed a BS&P decision of using a weird rose in place of the long black smoke pipe.
Good catch, and a clever SWERVE around the whole smoking issue.
Was this some sort of an attempt at continuity with "Duckman of Aquatraz"? If so, then someone must not have gotten the proverbial memo, both in terms of the appearance of the portrait and its placement in Glomgold's home.
Um... and that's what makes it so cheap? I guess.
(Greg) [Swansong and Quax] go to Duckworth as she hands the ticket over and Duckworth answers the letter pleading for help because [Mr. Webworth] is having a beak transplant. Wow... I didn't expect them to allow dismemberment in any context in DTVA; but here it is.
Don't forget the mamluks in the Aladdin series. For them, dismemberment was one of the common side effects of their profession.
Airplane! shout-out! Rockefeather does not seem to be amused, which makes him one of the very few individuals who has not laughed at the gag being referenced.
And, in so doing, he does a most un-Scrooge-McDuck-like thing and appears to break the fourth wall! I mean, who ELSE would he be speaking to here, apart from the audience? An unseen Cinnamon Teal? I don't think so.
Don't worry, Scrooge -- you can't be expected to compete with an expert.
(Greg) Gloria orders Quax to put Sheik Nurse of Baghdad in the projector at once. And yes; Webworth is a duck by the way as Quax agrees to [it]; reminding Gloria that people walked out over Kansas. I'm sure that they DIED in tears and frustration too. Geez; even this show is mocking suicide over a bad movie.
Another unexpectedly "dark" reference in this "laugh riot" of an episode.
(Greg) So we head to the cleared dining room as Scrooge walks in and sees Launchpad sweeping the floors in his blue suit. I see he left his web boots at home today. Launchpad doesn't like this job because he has to stoop so low and Scrooge blows him off to stoop lower because he missed a spot. And there is a big dust bunny magically appearing from the floor out of nowhere.
Actually, you can see it when Scrooge first enters the scene: check at lower left.
Evidently, Captain Foghorn isn't the only one around these parts with psychic powers.
(Greg) Now that was a balloon ride filled with old movie parodies and lots of chaos, destruction, terror and even Gloria Swansong's bad acting. Flint turned out to be the better terrorist than the real hijacking terrorist just to make the parody even funn[i]er.
As I noted above, I don't believe that "Hindentanic" was blackballed due to 9/11, but, if it had been, then Flinty's "Middle Eastern gear" would probably have been the reason. The getup, and even Glomgold's fake voice, aren't particularly offensive, but the mere juxtaposition of a "Middle Eastern character" with an air disaster might have been enough to tip the scales. Thankfully, cooler heads appear to have prevailed in this case.