The writers of Disney XD’s terrific DuckTales reboot are giving fans a gift they’ve been waiting three years for this holiday season: the backstory behind Uncle Scrooge McDuck’s (voiced by David Tennant) long-running feud with Father Christmas himself, AKA Santa Claus (recurring guest star Hugh Bonneville of Notting Hill and the Paddinton movies).
“How Santa Stole Christmas!” opens with Della Duck (Paget Brewster) reciting a darkly sinister take the classic “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem to her sons Huey (Danny Pudi), Dewey (Ben Schwartz), and Louie (Bobby Moynihan), though the kids would prefer to hear the original version. They know Santa isn’t allowed in McDuck Mansion, but they don’t understand why. On the roof, the nephews find Scrooge and Webby (Kate Micucci) setting traps for Santa’s arrival, when there’s a knock on the front door and who shows up but Jolly Old St. Nick himself.
Santa claims to have broken his leg and needs Uncle Scrooge’s help in completing his annual task of delivering gifts to all the good little children of the world. Scrooge reluctantly agrees in exchange for Santa’s promise to never visit the McDuck household again on Christmas Eve, and they set off with Webby’s help in traveling around the world. In the meantime, we’re also treated to flashbacks of Scrooge and Santa’s first meeting and their early attempts at going into business together, with Scrooge delivering coal to cold families at wintertime and Santa bringing along presents and good cheer.
We see a series of cameo appearances by characters like Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Manny the Headless Man-Horse, and even the Beagle Boys (Eric Bauza) as Santa, Scrooge, and Webby make their way through Duckburg and across the globe. Another flashback tells us the story of a mystical artifact called the Feliz Navidiamond, which allows Santa to slow down time as he delivers gifts. Eventually, the sleigh makes its way to the final house, where Santa discovers that Scrooge has been switching out the contents of the presents for coal. Inside, Scrooge befriends a young girl (Abby Ryder Fortson of Marvel’s Ant-Man films) who teaches him the true meaning of Christmas.
The episode’s third flashback tells us the story of how Scrooge and Santa finally had a falling out, largely due to a difference of opinion concerning Scrooge’s enduring capitalist tendencies. Back in the present, having realized the error of his ways, Scrooge vows to make amends by correcting that night’s mistakes and enlists the rest of the family, including Donald Duck (Tony Anselmo), Launchpad McQuack (Beck Bennett), and Mrs. Beakley (Toks Olagundoye) in re-delivering the gifts around the globe. Scrooge rescinds his hatred of Santa and says he’s welcome to visit the mansion anytime.
It’s a fun, heartwarming tale that I could see joining the traditional Christmastime rewatch list each year, and I especially enjoyed the holiday reworking of the DuckTales theme song during the opening title sequence. Plus, as series executive producer Frank Angones pointed out on Twitter, this episode contained a deep-cut reference to a beloved Uncle Scrooge comic. Among its many other attributes, DuckTales sure knows how to do holidays right.
“How Santa Stole Christmas!” is the final episode of DuckTales for this year, but the show should return sometime in early 2021 with the remaining half-dozen or so episodes of its third season on Disney XD.
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.