Saturday, December 27, 2014

POST-DUCKTALES RETROSPECTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Sometimes It's Better to be Lucky...

The Internet really is like the Wild West.  If you wander into the wrong place at the wrong time, you can figuratively be "blasted full o' holes" for looking at someone funny... BUT, you can also run across the most unlikely treasures in the most unexpected places.  Take the case of the long-rumored "Making of DuckTales" documentary.  The Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers documentary is readily available, and you'll occasionally run across images from the Tale Spin equivalent of same...

... but a behind-the-scenes look at DuckTales, the series that started WDTVA's syndicated ball rolling and led to The Disney Afternoon?  Not a trace... THAT IS, until I accidentally ran across this the other day:



As best I can tell, this promo ran as part of something called "Disney Day Off," a Disney cartoon marathon that ran on a local station.  (Note the occasional display of the air time of the syndicated series.)  It makes sense that Disney would use the opportunity provided by buying time on a local channel to spread the word about its new series, especially since airing it exclusively on The Disney Channel would have reached only a small portion of the potential audience. 

It's amusing to note how blithely Disney uses the names of such Carl Barks supporting players as Gyro Gearloose, Magica De Spell, and the Beagle Boys as "hooks" to snare viewers' interest.  How many kids in 1987 could have been expected to know who those characters were?  Evidently, the company was figuring that the "lure" of the supposedly better-known Scrooge and HD&L would be enough to entice eyeballs.  Even that seems something of a stretch, despite the then-recent revival of American Disney comics.

The obvious followup question here is, are there any more of these featurettes floating around?  Perhaps one focusing on Scrooge, or one focusing on the Nephews?  It wouldn't surprise me.

4 comments:

Comicbookrehab said...

I don't think Launchpad became as famous as Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Godzilla, but this promotional piece (which feels like part of a press kit created to create interest in the program to sell it to syndicated television markets rather than Disney Channel viewers), but it does a nice job of introducing the series without sounding patronizing.

Yossi Horowitz said...

That was amazing! Thanks for sharing!

(More! More! I want to see more!)

Ryan Wynns said...

Chris,

Wow, you've struck gold!

As I've oft-told, I remember that on that September 1987 Sunday night when a local station premiered "Treasure of the Golden Suns", the DuckTales "making of" special came on immediately afterwards. I stayed in the room for its first couple minutes, but whatever time it actually was, it was deemed past a five-year-old's bedtime, and so off I was sent.

The thing was, I always remembered that within those couple minutes, it took a quick turn to a showcase and introduction of Launchpad. Might this then be exactly what I saw that night?

I'd always assumed that I had missed an entire 30- or 60-minute special, but how would I actually know? I hadn't even learned to tell time yet! Perhaps this four-and-half-minute promo is actually the entirety of the (fabled to some, distantly remembered by me) "making of" special?

"Weekdays at 4:30" (just as it was!) appearing superimposed a the bottom of the screen midway through indicates that this was aired on at least one station carrying the series, and not on The Disney Channel or something. "My" station -- and others -- could have been using it to pad out the bottom of "Treasure of the Golden Suns"' second hour. But for all I know, it and other stations could have aired it multiple times, at different junctures in the schedule.

One point of contention is that I've always remembered seeing Launchpad's biplane bouncing from rail car top to rail car top at the beginning of "Armstrong" in this segment. However, I could have mixed things up over time. We may well never know.

-- Ryan

Chris Barat said...

Ryan,

It definitely sounds as though this featurette corresponds to what you saw that night. For my part, I watched the "Golden Suns" movie debut TWICE that weekend and don't recall seeing it.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if a longer version of this -- or several entirely different versions, focusing on other characters -- were produced. The trick now is to seek them out.

Chris