Disney’s next big live-action drama series coming to Disney+ is “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers”, which is a sequel to the original trilogy (which is also available on Disney+).
This new series consists of 10 episodes, with new episodes dropping weekly onto Disney+ from Friday 26th March. Each episode is about half-an-hour long, which feels long enough to move the story along, while still giving time to develop the characters and give them sub-plots.
It’s set in present-day Minnesota, where the Mighty Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. They no longer quack, and they don’t take any prisoners, since they are out to win at all costs.
In this series, we see 12-year-old Evan Morrow, played by Brady Noon, unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, which results in his mom, Alex, played by Gilmore Girls Lauren Graham set out to build a brand new hockey team, which is about having fun and doesn’t have all the pressures of being an almost professional player.
Within the first few episodes, we see Alex and Evan put together a rag-tag group of misfits who don’t fit in or have any desire to be a professional ice hockey player, but just want to have fun and ultimately become their own group. We see Evan go through school trying to recruit new members to the team, all of which have some stereotypical assets that come in helpful at some point.
While Alex tries to get former Mighty Ducks coach, Gordon Bombay, played by Emilio Estevez, to help them out as she doesn’t know what she’s doing, one thing that stood out about the first few episodes, is that the series format allows for much more development time. It’s got a much slower pace, and I think that helps tell the story much better. Having Gordon constantly turning them down feels more realistic, it starts to stir up all the problems he has had, which ultimately will see him join in, but it’s nice to see this played out a little.
One thing I liked about the series so far, is how they take a look at how pushy parents can cause more problems for kids, especially with extracurricular activities. Seeing just how bad most of the kids are on the ice to begin with made it feel a little unrealistic to see them competing against established teams. I get that Disney is playing on the underdog aspect of the original films, but it looks like putting a 1-year-old into a race at a high school sports day!
As you might expect, the team is destroyed when they finally get to play, which instead of making me feel sorry for them and encouraged when they “get” up and start to train. It feels completely irresponsible of Alex to put these kids in danger, just so her son can play. While she is trying to do the best for her son, there are a couple of occasions, I found it hard to connect with her as a character. So I’m hoping in future episodes, this becomes less of an issue as the kids become better on the ice and she steps back from being a trainer.
With 10 episodes in the first season, there is much more scope to show the team improving, and the show does seem pretty obvious in where it will end up, though hopefully there are some twists and turns along the way to make the show more interesting for older viewers.
Seeing Emilio Estevez back on the ice is great, and it’s funny to see just how much he looks like his father, Martin Sheen, now. I really enjoyed seeing him constantly turning down Alex and Evan’s request for help; it just makes him more fun to watch.
Another character I loved was Nick, who Maxwell Simkins played. He is Evan’s next-door neighbour, who loves hockey but podcasts about it rather than playing. He has some of the best lines in the episodes I got to watch and reminds me of a young Sean Austin in the “Goonies”. He makes a perfect best-friend sidekick to Evan and a real highlight. The other kids in the show are also all really great.
“The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” is a great family-friendly series, and I’m sure it’s going to be a popular hit for Disney+. This feels like one of the first Disney+ Originals where the whole family can get together each weekend to watch this show together. If you enjoyed the original film, this is a modern version of that, but with the advantage of being able to take their time to tell the story properly. After three episodes, I’m now completely invested and will be coming back each week to see where the story goes.
Rating – 4 out of 5
The first episode of “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” arrives on Disney+ on Friday 26th March.