Thursday, September 4, 2014

DUCKTALES RETROSPECTIVE: Episode 99, "The Golden Goose, Part 1"

A few words before we figuratively "kick for home" in a cloud of goose feathers and gold dust... 

I greatly appreciate all of the comments and suggestions I've received while I've been working on what has turned out to be a two-years-plus (the latter, just barely) project.  It's been quite an experience, and, as I've said before, I've been continually amazed at how much MORE I've been able to say about the DuckTales episodes than what Joe and I included in our original DUCKTALES INDEX.  After we've taken a fresh gander at "The Golden Goose," I plan to do a wrap-up post, similar to the one I wrote at the conclusion of the Kimba reviews, and then... quien sabe?  I definitely intend to review the cutscenes of the DuckTales Remastered video game, since (as I can now personally aver) the scenario does resemble a 101st episode of sorts, provided that you squint hard enough and aren't distracted by all the bleeping and blooping.  I'm also thinking about reviewing some of the DUCKTALES comic-book stories -- not the ones I've already discussed, such as "The Gold Odyssey" and the various stories that appeared in kaboom!'s UNCLE $CROOGE during its DT phase, but stuff from the early-90s DISNEY ADVENTURES, the "non-serialized" era of the Disney comics DUCKTALES title, and other sources, most of which I've never had a chance to put under the critical microscope before.  (In certain instances, that might actually be a good thing!)  I'm also seeking out whatever interesting DuckTales fan fiction might be lurking out there on the Internet.  There isn't much of it -- or, should I say, much that is legitimately worth reading -- but I have unearthed a bit of promising material thus far.  Do you, my humble and lovable readers, have any further suggestions as to DT-related matter that you might want to see me dissect on this blog?  If so, then please let me know.

According to GeoX's diligent correspondent "Christopher," "The Golden Goose" wasn't actually meant to be DuckTales' farewell adventure.  The creative staff supposedly believed that there would be more episodes to come, perhaps even another feature film or two.  Granted that "Christopher" might have access to some "inside infor" that I don't possess, something about this theory doesn't ring right to me.  DuckTales: The Movie was animated by Disney MovieToon Studios (now DisneyToon Studios) and Walt Disney Animation France, neither of which had anything to do with the production of DT half-hours.  Therefore, delays caused by animation studios being busy with other projects (as, for example, Hasbro Studios releasing only 13 new half-hours of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic during the 2012-13 season, due to the Summer 2012 release of the Equestria Girls movie) ought not to have been an issue.  The absolute best possible time to have produced a substantial number of new eps would have been the 1990-91 TV season, the first season of The Disney Afternoon and the first season following the release of the theatrical feature.  The decision to make only four 1990-copyright episodes and stop at a total of 100 eps (a strip-show-friendly number, since it is divisible by five) seems suspiciously convenient.  In the end, perhaps the best argument in favor of "Goose" being an appropriate end of the road is, in essence, a psychological one.  Its narrative may be "lean and lively" rather than "sweeping and epic," and it plays out on a relatively bare stage, but it simply feels like a finale, blending elements from all "eras" of the series -- action, moral seriousness, slapstick, verbal humor, great character dynamics -- into a satisfying whole.  Add the fact that the storyline, for all of its sideline silliness, features the most apocalyptic vision EVER put forth in a story about talking ducks, and you've got the ideal way to wrap up modern TV animation's most groundbreaking single series.

Our quartet of creative contributors (Ken Koonce, David Weimers, and Alan Burnett on story; Jeffrey Scott on script) waste zero time cutting to the wild goose chase (Burger's favorite, in case you weren't aware), putting all of our major players into Barkladesh right away.  (That initial pan shot of people shopping in the marketplace must have blown the budget for extras for the entire adventure; a "cast of thousands" will be conspicuous by its absence the rest of the way.)  As will be confirmed in Part 2, this country (which ought to have been named "Barksladesh," but you can't have everything) is tucked away somewhere on the Indian subcontinent.  The appearance of a snake charmer and a merchant's reference to "rupees" further hammer home the point.  This inevitably leads to speculation as to whether Dijon and his brother Poupon, anchorite-in-chief of the Brotherhood of the Goose, are Barkladeshian.  I have no real problem with the notion.  It's easy to imagine Dijon, the kleptomaniacal "black sheep" of the 'on family, literally being forced to strike out on his own as a lackey-for-hire and winding up somewhere in the Middle East (with dress to match the location) just in time for the events of DuckTales: The Movie.  Funny how he seems to regard morphing into a "professional beggar" as a step up in class from that.

The explosive meeting of Scrooge and Dijon in the marketplace, as I confessed in my review of "Attack of the Metal Mites," really SHOULD have been the characters' first get-together since the final scene of DT:TM.  They quickly recognize each other and display entirely appropriate reactions.  It might have been nice to have had one additional reference to the events of the movie -- perhaps Scrooge making note of Dijon's takeover of the Money Bin while Dijon had control of the magic lamp and its Genie -- but what we got was perfectly adequate.  Given Dijon's subsequent character arc in the story, it's for the best that we start back at "ground zero," with Dijon occupying the same moral position that he did when he escaped with that pantload of "loose change" in the movie's final scene.  It also makes sense for HD&L to suggest that Scrooge immediately let bygones be bygones by giving Dijon a quarter (which, when you come to think about it, makes about as much sense as that legendary Scottish ditchdigger giving "young Scroogie" an American dime).  That turns out as well as you might expect.

After Dijon swipes the robe (yes, I know it looks like he paid the merchant, but watch carefully; he actually paid with money cadged from the guy's own pocket) and "joins" the Brotherhood, we segue to Glomgold and the Beagle Boys on the balcony, with Flinty making with the exposition about the Golden Goose.  Get comfortable with this, because there are several additional info-dumps to follow.  There was no real way to avoid this, of course, since we only have 45 minutes or so in which to develop and wrap up the entire storylineOne noteworthy aspect of this scene goes unmentioned but deserves comment: This is the only time in the series when Glomgold actually steals a march (an appropriate phrase, methinks) on Scrooge when it comes to seeking out a treasure.  Flinty has aggressively taken the initiative in the past, of course, but such proactiveness involved duplicitous behavior (framing Scrooge in "Duckman of Aquatraz"), a new business venture (commissioning the giant robots in "Robot Robbers"), or a challenge to a contest (coming to Duckburg to literally throw down the gauntlet to Scrooge in Carl Barks' "The Money Champ").  In "Wrongway in Ronguay," "Master of the Djinni," and throughout "Time is Money," Flinty gets involved in a treasure tussle in response to various actions by Scrooge.  Here, Glomgold is boldly treading on turf that should, by all existing precedent, be Scrooge's.  I wonder where Flinty got his original "infor"... or do I want to know? 

Greg is right -- that is Flinty's arm when it should be Scrooge's.
You can tell by the red cuff.

The relationship between Dijon and Poupon will, of course, be of key importance throughout the remainder of the tale. Poupon's obvious decency and willingness to forgive his wayward brother are unquestionably admirable, but his inclination to give Dijon such an important responsibility (that of guarding the Goose on its fountain) right away could be flagged as a bit... naive.  Even real-world monastic orders, after all, don't give their novices major duties right off the bat.  Rather, the novice must typically demonstrate fidelity to the order through acts of humility and selflessness.  Since Poupon offhandedly disses Dijon in the fountain scene ("Have you anything worthless... besides yourself, of course?"), he pretty clearly thinks that Dijon has a ways to go before fully meriting the good opinions of others... and Dijon quickly backs him up on that by casting a covetous glimpse at the Goose the moment after Poupon has left the fountain room.  Poupon can't even be sure that the two big monks at the door will provide a fail-safe, since Dijon is well-known for his slipperiness.  Dijon, Scrooge, Glomgold, and the Beagle Boys all share some responsibility for the metastatization of the "Goose crisis," but Poupon's contribution shouldn't be neglected just because his actions were the result of kindness.

The Beagles provide the main levity of Part 1 when they don the inevitable "cheesy disguises" to try to sneak into the fountain room.  I'm in agreement with GeoX that the Beagles are a bit on the irritating side here -- Burger makes one or two too many food references, and the absence of Bouncer deprives the Beagles' performance of some needed gravitas (did I ACTUALLY JUST WRITE THAT?!) -- but the "tacky tourist" garb the B-Boys employ here is simply too funny for words.  Dijon is quick to get with the program, embracing his inner Toon and materializing an impromptu disguise of his own that fools the monks into giving him the (literal) boot.

Commence Moral Dilemma Number 1!  Dijon shows off his shiny new conscience by talking through his options on the mountainside.  I think that Scott made the right decision by having Dijon's final remark (the one before the Beagles accost him) suggest that he might have voluntarily returned the Goose.  It's our first real indication that this seemingly hopeless case might be salvageable, after all... and it makes Poupon's angry "supposed final break" with Dijon during Part 2 have even more of an impact.

Scrooge finally becomes involved in the adventure through no effort of his own, thanks to the proverbial "conveniently placed box."  (In case you're wondering where the "fifty rusty door chimes" are, Greg, they're obviously under the packing material on which the Goose lands.)  Scrooge's relative passivity here contrasts, in a certain sense, with what most of us would like to think about the character, just as Glomgold's aggressive treasure-seeking is something out of the norm for him.  The dissonance is especially true of the classic "old sourdough" version of Scrooge who dug his fortune out of the frozen ground of the Klondike, "outsmarted the smarties," and so forth.  However, there are more than enough UNCLE $CROOGE adventures in existence into which Scrooge gets sucked by one means or another, so I have no real problem with his portrayal here.

After Poupon collars Dijon and teases what we will learn about the Goose's powers in Part 2, we shift back to Duckburg, where Scrooge begins to get an inkling as to the true worth of the "ugly" Goose after Burger tries to steal it (Big Time would have been my first option for that job, but that's just me) and Glomgold attempts to bargain for it.  I'm not sure why Greg was so negative about the "sale negotiation" scene.  Scrooge knows enough about Glomgold's capacity for do-badding that he should naturally be suspicious at any interest Flinty might show in a seemingly "worthless" item, especially after one attempt to steal it (and by a figure who has worked with Glomgold in the past, no less) has already been made.  Flinty's comment to Scrooge back in Barkladesh that he had "more important things to do" than search out bargains may also have popped back into Scrooge's mind here at just the right moment.  Scrooge keeps raising the price only because Glomgold is able to match several of the lower offers for the Goose.  That's not being "a jealous old jackass," that's elementary CYA in the ongoing conflict between this pair.

A bit more contrivance ensues back at the Mansion as Scrooge more or less stumbles upon the secret of the Goose (interestingly, much as he did in Barks' "The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone" [UNCLE $CROOGE #10, June 1955])... and then, "away he golds," with Moral Dilemma Number 2 trailing in his wake!  Though the true consequences of this dilemma will not kick into full gear until Part 2, we get ample foreshadowing of it here, with Scrooge gradually turning more and more things in the Mansion to gold, even as his family members warn him that he's endangering the Ducks' "happy home."  The obvious question here is why no reference to the "gold fever" of "Too Much of a Gold Thing" was made.  Upon further review, I honestly don't think that the two situations are all that comparable.  In "Gold Thing," Scrooge was literally overwhelmed by the discovery and massive physical presence of gold, to a degree unlike anything he had ever experienced before.  Here, Scrooge is actively creating gold and therefore has more inherent "control" (a word he himself uses at one point) over the process of acquisition.  If Scrooge were as gold-crazed as he was in "Gold Thing," or even in "Philosopher's Stone," he would not have stopped to go to bed; he would have continued turning things to gold until the cows came home.  (In "Philosopher's Stone," Scrooge's gold-making had a built-in time limit, in that the "radiation" from the Stone would have turned him to gold before long.  Absent that limiting factor, he would unquestionably have gone on indefinitely, as well.)  Part of the intrigue of this story lies in the fact that we never do get to find out whether Scrooge would have been able to control himself once the initial excitement had died down.  Would he have had a moment of "Dough Ray Me"-inspired epiphany and realized that turning every single thing in his house into gold would ultimately be counterproductive?  Would the pleas of Mrs. Beakley, HD&L, and Webby have finally gotten through to him after a good night's rest?  As with Dijon's ultimate "Beagle-free" decision on the mountainside, the "what-if" helps give this tale an extra, and welcome, layer of complexity.

The genetic source of Huey's fantastic leaping ability in "Send in the Clones" REVEALED.
We end, of course, on the cliffhanger that sent many viewers into a tizzy back in the day, HD&L's being turned into gold statues by the Beagles.  This easily trumps even Bob Langhans' array of narrative minefields in "The Gold Odyssey," which is the highest possible complement where DT is concerned.  What we do not know as of yet, of course, is that the Nephews will literally have no further part to play in the story, in terms of active participation.  This, I think, is why Scrooge's grief and distress in Part 2 wind up having the impact that they do.  Scrooge will have to try and atone for his spasm of greed by dedicating the rest of his efforts to the Nephews, but he will also ultimately be forced to choose between acting on behalf of the boys and acting on behalf of the entire world.

A few coloring and animation mistakes from Wang Films aside, this table-setting chapter of the saga of the Goose delivers ALL the goods... and, just think, we haven't even gotten to that whole "fate of the world" business yet.




Specially requested by GeoX... not.





(GeoX) The idea is that Scrooge and HDL are in Arabland (sic) to collect old junk to pawn off as antiques (um…didn't "Much Ado about Scrooge" establish that this is considered immoral by the show's metric?)
("Christopher")  I think that when you take actual old items from halfway around the world, it's fair to describe them as exotic antiques, because curios that are made in far away places with strange sounding names always have some level of value in the U.S. It's only when you try to pass off mass-produced cheap junk from Hong Kong factories as antiques that you're stepping over the ethical line.

I'm inclined to side with Christopher on this one.  The lost Drakespearian play in "Much Ado" would certainly be of interest to the entire world, and its ultimate worth, no matter what the quality of the play might be, would be greatly influenced by that fact.  Selling Barkladeshian merchandise as "exotic antiques" is much more of a one-on-one transaction involving the seller and the buyer, and the buyer would always have the option of refusing to buy.

I will say that for Scrooge to be micromanaging the stocking, opening, and operation of a department store -- right down to using HD&L as security personnel! -- does seem a little "off."  Surely, Scrooge would ride herd on the individuals who did operate such a store on his behalf, but going to the trouble of traveling to Barkladesh for merchandise and then manning the store himself?  That's much more of a stretch.  All a matter of plot convenience, you understand...

(GeoX) Yadda yadda, [the Goose] accidentally gets stowed in Scrooge's luggage and towed back to the States, and it's quite weird how the show emphasizes how completely worthless he thinks it looks. Dude--it's a gold statue. He would be all over that shit, whether or not he knew its secret.

And, knowing the properties of gold and other precious metals as well as he presumably does, he would probably be suspicious of the authenticity of the "gold" statue, based on the physical evidence alone.

(GeoX) Back in Arabland [sic], Poupon is insistent that they go recover the goose--otherwise, for unspecified reasons, the END OF THE WORLD may occur, as it's been known to do. But back, again, in Duckburg, the Beagles succeed in stealing the statue from Scrooge, and TURN[S] THE NEPHEWS TO GOLD OH NO and to be continued and I can't help pointing out that if you can turn people into gold, there is really no chance that Scrooge wouldn't have accidentally done it to himself in his transmutation binge.

Even while he is in the throes of his initial binge, Scrooge clearly demonstrates that he realizes that the Goose's beak is the source of its gold-granting powers.  Poupon makes the fact explicit in Part 2, but Scrooge definitely got the message fairly quickly.

(Greg)  Dijon sadly doesn't get the remove the damn cowl put and just goes to the eating part. HA! So the monks remove his cowl and they are not impressed because Dijon is not a monk. Dijon claims that this is not the YMCA. Oh god Jeffrey Scott; what would Dijon KNOW about the YMCA?! It should be "So this is not the Friars League?!". That makes a lot more sense than this.

Change "Friars' League" to "Friars' Club," and I'm with you.  That would have been a first-rate "in-joke," especially considering the nature of the real-world organization.

(Greg) The big ass guard grabs [Dijon] by the nose and throws him back into the fountain because they are there to make sure Dijon keeps his word. Which begs the question; if they are there then why would you need Dijon to guard the goose? Probably punishment for being a thief and a liar I guess.

Dijon's task is to keep the Goose on the fountain; the big monks' task is to (as I said before) serve as a fail-safe.

(Greg) So the nephews grab their whistles, and police caps with night sticks and run out of the security room. Yes; we are supposed to believe that a bunch of ten year olds are Scrooge's Rent-A-Cops. Kit Cloudkicker might be able to get away with this; but not a bunch of crybaby nephews. They chase Burger in the store as Burger realizes that he blew his cover; he collides very poorly into a model of a lady posing right next to a dognose (dogperson; same difference) and the bag goes flying and so does the golden goose. Then we jump cut to Burger leaving the store and getting into the heels' van. Huh?! So how did Burger get out of the store?

I guess he must have simply slipped (sound familiar?) past everyone as they were distracted by the sliding Goose.  Also, Burger's mannequin fail = obvious outtake from "New Gizmo-Kids on the Block."  Just saying.
(Greg) Scrooge touches the scale with the [Goose's] beak claiming that it[s] weight is worth in gold and the scale turns into gold. Obvious logic break: After the nephews are surprised that the scale turned to gold, Scrooge then taps the green book; but nothing. The reason I mention this is because before he turned the scales into the gold; both the green book and desk lamp were ALREADY gold colored. And the desk lamp is red shade with a blue base. So the original scene was to have the SCALE turned last and the green book and lamp first according to Wang's line of thinking. Really bad form there Wang Films.

Yup.  There's a coloring mistake earlier in the ep, in which the shirt color of the dognosed Barkladeshian towing Glomgold around in a rickshaw (or whatever the local equivalent with the bicycle is called) switches between blue and tan.  Since Dijon's vest was blue, did some animator mistakenly think that this guy was supposed to be Dijon??  Given Wang's decidedly spotty track record during the series' final dozen or so episodes, I'm almost inclined to believe it.

Before and after, the Wang way!
(Greg)  Mrs. Beakly comes in and blows of[f] Scrooge for letting the golden touch get out of hand here. Scrooge ribs her and tells her to relax [and] he goes to the golden waste paper basket and gets golden garbage since they can buy a new home from it. Which is silly since in Dough Ray Me; this would devalue gold big time.

Not if Scrooge had the sense to use the gold to buy things a little bit at a time.  The open question we are left with is: Would he ultimately have had the sense, had Glomgold and the Beagles not intervened? 

(Greg) Still; a pretty nasty scene as the heels leave while Big Time proclaims that the Scrooge will like the nephews now because they are priceless. Problem with that line is; Big Time never heard Scrooge say that.

I don't think he was ever meant to.  Scrooge's earlier praise of the Nephews as "priceless" and Big Time's use of the word here could easily have been thought up independently. 

Next: Episode 100, "The Golden Goose, Part 2."


Comicbookrehab said...

I recommend Kim McFarland's "Darkwing Ducktales" fanfic tale on her "The Negapage" fan site the url is awfully long, but it shows up easy searching on Google. Her Darkwing Duck fan fiction in general is impressive stuff.

Deb said...

Personally, my favorite DuckTales comics are the ones Gladstone printed, especially the stories that William Van Horn and John Lustig did, even though they really don't resemble the TV series much in terms of storytelling or artwork. Scrooge's Quest wasn't all bad for Disney's first attempt at a serialized DuckTales comic, and the DuckTales movie adaption is a fun book as well, livened up by John Lustig's scripting.

Pan Miluś said...

I wonder did they even consider having final episode involving Donald comming back from the Navy...

Anonymous said...

I always thought the Golden Goose was more in the vein of a first season episode than anything else post-Time is Money. With the exception of Dijon, the emphasis is placed on the "original cast" - Scrooge stars, while the entire household + Launchpad and Gyro all make their appearance. Gizmoduck and Bubba are neither seen nor mentioned.

If you're going to be reviewing DuckTales fan fiction, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Sharon McQuack.

Chris Barat said...


I'm very much aware of Kim's work. She was also a member of WTFB, and I got to see the whole shebang as she produced it.


Chris Barat said...


I've never actually reviewed the Van Horn-Lustig DT stories in any forum -- they were produced before I joined an APA or had any other venue to do so. They are definitely going to be on the list.


Chris Barat said...


If they planned to do a Donald-returns episode at some point, I've certainly never heard about it. There was one story that appeared in Disney Comics in which Donald clearly indicated that he had just RETURNED from the Navy, so Joe Torcivia and I called it "the first post-DUCKTALES duck tale."


Chris Barat said...


"I always thought the Golden Goose was more in the vein of a first season episode than anything else post-Time is Money. With the exception of Dijon, the emphasis is placed on the "original cast" - Scrooge stars, while the entire household + Launchpad and Gyro all make their appearance. Gizmoduck and Bubba are neither seen nor mentioned."

I definitely agree. It was a salutary return to what you might call "first principles." Kind of fitting for a finale, actually.

"If you're going to be reviewing DuckTales fan fiction, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Sharon McQuack."

All I know about her is that she apparently describes herself as Launchpad's "wife," writes a lot of self-insertion fiction, and threatened to vicariously throttle some other fanfic writer who didn't treat LP with sufficient dignity. Do I NEED to hear any more than this???


Comicbookrehab said...

I always liked the scene in the "Treasure of The Lost Lamp" graphic novel where Scrooge is building a towering sandwich, Dagwood-style.

"Coffee, Louie, or Me?" Is the title of that "Post-Ducktales duck tale"..I remember imagining that Donald's return might include the introduction of the Paperinik/Duck Avenger guise, perhaps in a parallel universe, where Ducktales would continue production and he would replace Launchpad, who was now featured in Darkwing Duck. Gizmoduck/Fenton would still be around - I could imagine him and Donald getting along in the same way Donald gets along with his cousin Fethry, so it would be more of a Dynamic Duck Duo than a "Tiff of The Titans"-esque rivalry.

Jason said...

This episode actually surprised me when I got to the end and it had that “to be continued,” since Ducktales never did two-parters before.

I agree that this was more of a first season ep in style, and I think it comes off better for it. Though Gizmo Duck could have come in REAL handy here…

Chris Barat said...


Actually, all the multiparters used the "tbc" indicator when they were broadcast in syndication. You can see some examples of it in earlier posts.


Chris Barat said...


I've never been that comfortable with the Duck Avenger idea. Don't see the point of giving Donald an heroic alter ego except as a one shot a la Masked Mallard. Just having Donald interact with Fenton as is would be good enough for me.