You don’t need to know the OG Mighty Ducks to love this show.
The movie franchise that launched a professional hockey team is back and creating magic on the small screen. But even if you never saw a single movie from the 90’s trilogy or watched a single game of the NHL team it doesn’t matter. You’ll still enjoy this heart-warming show from beginning to end. But if you ARE a fan of the OG Ducks, you’ll love it even more. With more than just a tip of the cap to the history of the Mighty Ducks, it really captures the spirit of a team of mismatched characters able to come together as a family to overcome the odds.
Unlike the Ducks of old, the new Mighty Ducks are junior hockey powerhouses. They have dominated for ten years and are run like a franchise machine with fancy uniforms, a state-of-the-art arena, and a young and hungry coach who drives them to victory after victory with his ruthless tactics. When young Evan is cut from the team despite his love of hockey, his mom (played wonderfully by Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame) starts a local team of her own to support her son. Along the way they recruit a team of misfits and a grumpy, reluctant former Ducks coach in Gordon Bombay (played by Emilio Estevez reprising his role from the films). Together they grow, learn, and become a true team embracing what the original Ducks stood for even if they don’t have the name.
It was clever to flip the script on this franchise and make the Ducks the bad guys. We end up rooting against the Ducks the entire season! And yet, that’s kind of the point. The current team no longer embodies the heart and spirit of the old. It’s this upstart team – the Don’t Bothers – who embrace what it really means to be a duck. Kind of hearkens back to that old line from Romeo and Juliet, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The show does a great job of paying homage to the past without leaning too much on it. They bring back most of the OG Ducks for a special episode (with one notable exception in Joshua Jackson who played Charlie in the trilogy of films) but they don’t dwell on them. Instead the show focuses on this new group of kids, their modern day issues and challenges, and how tough it can be growing up and feeling accepted.
At first, I was disappointed not seeing more of Gordon Bombay. I thought a Mighty Ducks reboot would feature Emilio Estevez’ character more and give us a small screen sequel to the films. But instead the creators did something smarter and really make the Ducks part of the setting rather than the focus of the show. So many reboots (or reimaginings or whatever you want to call it) make that mistake of focusing so much on the past that it simply is a retread instead of something fresh. This show would be a success even without the backdrop of the Ducks because the stories are interesting, the actors are great, and the writing is well done. Lauren Graham does a great job as Evan’s mom, but even more so the kids are wonderful. And they play modern characters that appeal to modern youth. Koob is a gamer with amazing reflexes, Lauren is into cosplay, Sofi the perfectionist and overachiever, Logan the kid with all the cool stuff but pretty much no experience, Maya the popular girl who is learning to find herself, and of course Evan who binds them all together. My favorite has to be Nick though played expertly by young star Maxwell Simkins. Playing Evan’s new bestie in the show, he is quirky, funny, and engaging. You can’t help but root for this kid who could come off as too eager or too needy in another actor’s hands, but instead is a fan favorite and has some of the best lines.
If you haven’t yet tuned in to Mighty Ducks: Game Changers on Disney+, make sure to put it on your watchlist today!