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Ducktales ‘How Santa Stole Christmas’ Review: A Perfect Cure for Bad Series News

Photo Credit: Disney

Ducktales Season 3 has been one of the best pieces of comfort television to air in 2020. 

Since its premiere in 2017 the series has quickly transformed itself from a non-stop nostalgia-fest for 30-something Disney kids turned parents to an exquisitely written, animated and performed series filled with humor, heart and action. Season 3, since it kicked off in Spring 2020, has leaned into these core strengths and each week they deftly weave breezy, big kid-oriented fun with very emotional (and sometimes dark) story arcs. 

This season has seen some of the best standalone episodes of the series like — “Astro B.O.Y.D.!” where a robot boy created by Gyro Gearloose (Jim Rash, Community) reeks havoc on Japan or “The Rumble for Ragnarok!” where Scrooge’s involvement in a Norse pro wrestling league (featuring GOT’s Kristofer Hivju) “The Trickening!” featuring Launchpad’s (Beck Bennet, Saturday Night Live) irrational and violent fear of Halloween to an ambitious hour-long Darkwing Duck episode, “”Let’s Get Dangerous!” 

However, none of these episodes could hold a candle to ‘How Santa Stole Christmas,’ the second Christmas special in series history. The episode picks up a loose thread from Season 2 — Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) and his long-standing hatred of Santa Claus (a polar bear voiced by Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville). 

‘How Santa Stole Christmas’ documents how Scrooge and Santa were once business partners in the coal delivery business and through a series of flashbacks we learn how to the two were best friends, discovered the flying reindeer together and wrangled the “Feliz Navi-Diamond” (which slows down time allowing them to make deliveries around the world in time for Christmas) from the clutches of a literal abominable snowman. However, Santa is injured and he needs Scrooge and Webby (Kate Micucci, Garfunkel & Oates) to help him deliver all the presents in time for Christmas. 

The series unexpectedly leans into the traditional traits of Scrooge’s “scrooginess.” In this series Scrooge is cranky and cantankerous and cheap, but we’ve never really seen him as a vindictive “bah humbug” like we did during his introduction to the Disney Universe in Mickey’s Christmas Carol. However here, we see it slowly seep through every one of Scrooge’s actions until it culminates in an outstanding “come to Jesus” moment for the world’s richest duck. 

This moment is so moving and the resulting scenes of Scrooge realizing his errors and working with Santa is like a warm cup of pure, unadulterated holiday joy. It’s sincere and honest and frankly you might find yourself shedding a small tear. For a Disney animated series, it’s rare to find a moment of truth and humanity that speaks beyond the ink and paper (or pixels and digital art). 

This ending actually softens the blow that came literally days after it aired, when we learned that the series will come to an end in 2021. It’s an absolute gut punch because this series, for this writer, has been an absolute joy to watch and has kept my mind out of dark places during this time of pandemic. Does it make sense that this series is coming to an end? From a practical standpoint — it’s obvious the series is expensive to produce due to not only the effects and animation, but also the staggering regular and guest vocal cast of the series. Also, Disney did the series no favors by shifting the series to DisneyXD and putting episodes on their DisneyNOW app instead of placing it on the Disney+, which is wildly more popular than the app and channel.

Yet, after this news dropped, I went back and rewatched the episode. The heart and joy in this episode is undeniable. No matter how grim the news of the series’ fate, the messaging here overshadows it. Watching Scrooge and Santa make amends, watching them deliver gifts to the regular supporting cast and just ending a warm moment is a reminder that even the simplest of stories and the world of animation can still provide a slice of panacea in a world of anger, tumult and stress.

Ducktales Season 3 is now demand and on the DisneyNOW app. Previous seasons can be found on Disney Plus.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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