It’s a little surprising how many more Donald shorts are available on Disney+ than Mickey shorts. It’s hard to say which did more cartoons, all things considered; they overlap a lot. But browsing the offerings on the service returns a lot of Donald and a handful of Mickey. In fact, I might be wrong, but I think there’s even more Goofy comics than Mickey ones. He’s the flagship character for the company, but they aren’t really pushing him into the public eye in what strikes me as the most logical way to do it. So if you’re wondering why I’m writing so much about Donald, well, there’s your answer.
And of course technically, this is a Chip and Dale short, which goes further into the “who can even tell?” aspect of labeling appearances. Dale (Dessie Flynn) is reading about knights on horseback fighting fearsome dragons. Then he hears a roaring and sees what, in shadow, looks like a dragon. However, it’s Donald in a steamshovel. He is, apparently all by his lonesome, clearing the route of a new freeway. Chip (Jimmy MacDonald) and Dale retreat to their home, a large, dead tree in the shape of a castle. The pair bravely battle with Donald’s dragon.
I mean, for all the good it’s going to do them in the long run. The short is letting Donald stand alone for the march of infrastructure, but he isn’t really. He didn’t plan the freeway’s route. He didn’t designate the chipmunks’ home for destruction. And if they have managed to drive him away, well, that’s one person. Or duck. But there’s a lot of weight behind Donald, and someone’s going to come back after the tree.
This is after “Out of Scale,” where the tree Donald was trying to destroy was in his own yard. The stakes there worked. Oh, I maintain that it’s one of the clearest examples Disney has given us of Donald’s pathology, but he was still a homeowner in his own yard. If the chipmunks beat him, they don’t have anyone else who will take them on afterward. It can be a victory. As appealing as the “little guys win” plot is here, especially with all the cultural weight we have in the very idea of a castle, one rather suspects the chipmunks are going to learn the meaning of the phrase “you can’t fight city hall.”
Okay, so it’s a bit of a depressing thought, I grant you. Further, while the Disney parks are full of wildlife, they aren’t exactly the same kind of ecosystem that lived there before. (Of course, Walt wasn’t building Disneyland on pristine wilderness in any case.) Disneyland would, in fact, open the next year, and I can tell you from personal experience that it isn’t just safety that means people take freeways to get there.