Alongside Gargoyles, Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series is one of the last cartoons of the 90s that I can remember watching that was actually worth a damn. I mean, Ducks had all of the elements necessary for a franchise of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles status: mutants, aliens, a team of equally awesome and powerful heroes, etc. Each hero even had their own archetype appearance and abilities from Duke’s eyepatch and suave 007 personality to “Grin” and his behemoth strength kept in check by a peaceful nature. These guys (and gals) were made for action figures!
Having re-watched the series pilot recently (The First Face-Off), the show is still as fun to watch as it was back then. With a basic concept that involves intergalactic ducks from a planet called “Puckworld” whose passion is playing hockey, the storyline really emphasizes a lack of imagination in today’s television programming. Granted, there are still a few good shows out there now, but come on: space ducks playing hockey who moonlight as super-cool vigilantes?! That’s awesome!
|Mighty Ducks TAS – Happy Meal Toys from McDonald’s|
Now, some of you may remember the trilogy of Mighty Ducks films with Emilio Estevez which inspired the real NHL team (currently called the Anaheim Ducks).* Luckily, the animated series shares absolutely nothing in common, aside from its namesake, with either of these things. On that same note the cartoon seems to (unfortunately) share the same fate as the films, having virtually disappeared from the public consciousness altogether. I sure forgot about it until just recently and that’s a real shame. Although there was a 3-part VHS release way back in 1997, no word has been given on a DVD collection and the property isn’t really included in any of Disney’s catalog of attractions (Disney World, Disney Land).
One of the best surprises came in the form of Phil Palmfeather, the Ducks manager, who is voiced by none other than Jim Belushi. In a weird sort of way he acts as an oversized Splinter to the Ducks, keeping them (generally) protected by the rest of the human population and is initially the only human to guard their secret. I can only imagine, though, how many times Belushi must have cracked up in the recording studio as he revealed the Ducks’ origin story.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for club member, Jason, for clarifying the history of The Mighty Ducks franchise. For more details, check out his comment below.