As all of us are excited for the upcoming DuckTales 1 hour special that will feature our daring duck of mystery, let’s go back 29 years ago, when Darkwing Duck had it’s VERY FIRST 1 hour special during the prime time hours.
Before the Disney Afternoon had a 2 hour premiere blocks, but those would be either aired on a weekend morning, or in the case of DuckTales “Super DuckTales”, that got to air on NBC’s the Wonderful World of Disney timeslot.
Then came the premiere of TaleSpin. Where the Disney Afternoon was able to secure a primetime slot for the 2 hour premiere for their syndicated affiliate to air. Now for these 2 hour premiere specials, what they did was take 5 episodes from their shows and edited to a 2 hour format, usually resulting into cutting some non essential scenes from the special that would be added later when it comes on the regular Disney Afternoon premiere.
Now we get into the fall of 1991, where a brand new Disney Afternoon show will premiere, and become an instant phenomenon, Darkwing Duck. But the difference, Darkwing Duck‘s premiere isn’t 2 hours and doesn’t take a week’s schedule to air when it’s on the Disney Afternoon. This time, the series starts with a 2 part adventure and only is having an hour premiere for syndication and The Disney Channel to air. To complete the 2 hour slot they acquired from TaleSpin‘s premiere, the second hour is filled with a new special of the then popular The Disney Channel (yes, the channel at that time had the word “The” in the title) series, The Mickey Mouse Club reboot.
Watch the classic promo here:
What made this premiere different from DuckTales and TaleSpin was the fact that they actually had to cut scenes from the special as opposed to adding for the Disney Afternoon airings. The most famous and memorable edit, is that the premiere did not start with the traditional opening. Instead to keep the characters more of a mystery, the opening features Darkwing catching thieves on the streets of St. Canard before he delivers them to the police. It does play the theme song for every to hear (especially since this was the first time it was introduced to the audience). It’s a fantastic sequence which is unfortunately lost, due to the fact that the DVD nor the digital release omitted as they chose to have the syndicated 2 part version of the episode “Darkly Dawns the Duck” instead of the premiere version. The premiere also had a few other scenes that were edited out as well, but none as impactful as the opening sequence. If you own the original VHS copy of “Darkly Dawns the Duck”, that is the only official home video version of this premiere.
We did find someone on YouTube that uploaded a great quality version of the opening that you can watch here:
I just remember, after I saw the premiere, I was immediately hooked! the next day I was running around with a towel around my neck screaming “I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am Darkwing Duck!” My affiliate reaired the premiere the next day on Saturday morning and I made sure I had a blank VHS to record the episode so I can at least watch it 5 more times before the show actually came on it’s regular time slot.
As I mentioned before, after the Darkwing Duck premiere, Disney paired it with The Mickey Mouse Club Back to School special. Since at the time, The Disney Channel was a premium cable channel, (meaning you had to pay for it separately like HBO or Showtime) this introduced a lot of people to the show, including myself (at the time, I didn’t have cable at all). Now to be honest, I didn’t care for this special, and pretty sure I turned it off after the first commercial break. But, before the special started, Darkwing comes to the office of the host of the Mickey Mouse Club and demands them to air his music video before their special.
And what follows is probably the MOST 90s thing you’ll ever witness!! AND YES WE’RE SHARING THE MUSIC VIDEO!! Darkwing Duck only had 4 VHS releases in the show’s lifetime, but all 4 videos have this music video in it.
So were you alive when Darkwing Duck premiered? Did you watch it on syndication or The Disney Channel? What Darkwing Duck memories do you have?