NOTE: This review contains minor spoilers and about Episodes 1 and 2.
Duster – [duhs-ter] noun: a player who does not get a lot of playing time and collects dust sitting on the bench.
“Dusters,” the second episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, is a fitting description of the underdogs recruited to play on the new team — called The Don’t Bothers, as a dig to what Coach T. told 12-year-old Evan Morrow in the first episode. (“It’s like at this stage, if you can’t be great at hockey, don’t bother.”)
On any other team, each of the kids on the Don’t Bothers would be a duster, mainly sitting on the bench and only getting a few token shifts if the team is up by a lot of goals. But here, each one is a vital piece. Heck, when you only have six skaters and a goalie, every player matters that much more.Whereas the first episode was about recruiting a team, the second episode focuses on getting to know the players. Alex, who reluctantly coaches the Don’t Bothers after pleading from her son, makes the team work on trust falls, sharing facts about one another, and other “touch-feely” stuff. We quickly see who each Don’t Bother is and how they fit in:
Sam – a confident skateboarder kid who will do anything on a dare.
Maya – the mean, popular girl who can cut you down with her words.
Laruen – the weird kid who talks about heady stuff, wears a cloak and carries around nunchucks.
Koob – the fat goalie kid who is a whiz at hockey video games; think Goldberg from the Ducks films, but fatter and with much less charisma.
Logan – a boy from Toronto who owns gear but can’t skate; he moved to Minnesota with his dad after his parents divorced.
Nick – a shy kid who quit pee wee hockey because he wasn’t good enough; he co-hosts a hockey podcast called “The Wraparound.”
Evan – Coach Alex’s 12-year-old son who is obsessed with hockey.
Of course, Evan does not buy into his mother’s ideas about trying to make a different type of team, one that focuses more on pizza parties, developing friendships, and overall just having fun. He seeks advice from Gordon Bombay.
“She’s trying to coach my hockey team, but it feels more like a sleepover party with a puck,” explains Evan.
Of course, Bombay wants nothing to do with the team. And while it is a little sad that the “Minnesota Miracle Man” now hates hockey, Bombay has the funniest lines in the episode. Emilio Estevez must have had a great time acting the jerk, because he does a hilarious job of doing it.
At just 33 minutes, the second episode is almost 10 minutes shorter than the first. Fortunately, “Dusters” has some hockey-comedy action in it, so isn’t all just off-ice drama.
After two episodes, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers still is a solid “3 pucks” — good, but not great. Funny, interesting and entertaining enough that I look forward to the next episode. My only real complaint is that Game Changers insists on the lazy storytelling device of having an announcer/commentator explaining the on-ice action; this time, it is Nick’s podcast cohost. However, this device is only briefly in this episode.
BONUS: Duck Eggs for Season 1, Episode 2 “Dusters”
Each week, I’ll share a few “Easter Eggs” — which I’m calling Duck Eggs — about the episode reviewed:
In their first on-ice practice, the Don’t Bothers are given beach balls to shoot instead of pucks. This could be a nod to the scene in the first Ducks movie when the kids are knocking around beach balls while skating at the Met Center.
The Don’t Bothers play their first game against the Cardinals, which was one of the teams from the original Ducks movie.
When asked about the last time he skated, Gordon Bombay retorts “When did the North Stars move to Dallas?” That would be the 1993-94 season, which around when D2 took place. Remember, Bombay didn’t skate at all in D3.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■