Scrooge McDuck’s simpleminded pilot Launchpad McQuack takes center stage in this week’s DuckTales episode, which sees Launchpad (voiced by Beck Bennett) and his best buddy Dewey (Ben Schwartz) playing a very James Bond-esque AR game at Funso’s Funzone– a game that evolves into a much more realistic secret-agent adventure thanks to some F.O.W.L. (AKA the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny) agents using the kids’ entertainment center as a secret hideout.
“Double-O-Duck in You Only Crash Twice!” leans into its 007 influences hard, right down to the Shirley Bassey-inspired theme song sung by Dewey at the top and by a more accomplished vocalist over the episode’s end credits, but it’s also another direct reference an installment of the 1980s DuckTales series entitled “Double-O-Duck” and its villainous F.O.W.L. cadre that later carried over into the fellow Disney Afternoon series Darkwing Duck.
It seems the evil-but-also-kinda-dumb Steelbeak (Jason Mantzoukas) and his partner Black Heron (April Winchell) aren’t too happy about the McDuck family and associates hanging around their Funzone lair, as when they see Scrooge (David Tennant) arrive to pick up his family they put a devious plan into action. Heron has developed a raygun that turns its targets into imbeciles– or into super-geniuses, depending on which way the switch is flipped– and she wants to use it on Scrooge as part of F.O.W.L.’s dastardly plan for world domination.
With Launchpad and Dewey immersed in their game, they barely notice when Steelbeak shows up to confront them, considering he fits right in among the Double-O-Duck villain characters. Then they assume each following escalation of the adventure to be another level in the game, until Launchpad gets hit by the genius ray and deduces the actual plot in mere minutes. An abducted Dewey is kept in the dark, however, and the pair continue their pursuit of (and escape from) F.O.W.L. with a little help from the diminutive cast of Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers— represented here as the result of Black Heron’s early experiments with the raygun.
Meanwhile, the also-unaware Webby and Scrooge search for something to keep him occupied at Funso’s while they wait for Launchpad and Dewey to finish their travails. Scrooge dismisses most of the businesses’ activities as frivolous until he stumbles upon Skee-Ball, which naturally appeals to his possession-hoarding personality trait. Mastering the arcade game, he begins amassing a mountain of tickets in a subplot that leads to the episode’s funniest long-game punchline.
And speaking of humor, “Double-O-Duck in You Only Crash Twice!”– like most episodes of this current fantastic DuckTales reboot– is never short on laughs. The ever-budding bromance between Launchpad and Dewey is particularly hilarious here, given its central position in the story. And Mantzoukas (a character actor perhaps best known for his role in the sitcom The League and as co-host of the popular How Did This Get Made? comedy podcast) successfully hams it up as Steelbeak to the point where I hope we end up seeing a lot more of that character.
Having Launchpad be the first DuckTales character to go up against F.O.W.L. in this interaction of the show isn’t just a throwback to the classic series. It’s a hint that the conflict will grow in intensity throughout this season, likely culminating in a showdown between the malevolent institution and the “smartest of the smarties” Scrooge McDuck himself by the end of the year. And I believe this series has gone above and beyond in establishing itself as competent enough to carry out that concept in a way that will prove eminently entertaining throughout.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.