There are enough cute one-liners in “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” to make you want to suit up once again.
Passed from one ragtag player to another, the jokes give this franchise new life and introduce some very fun situations.
Now a pre-teen powerhouse, the Mighty Ducks of Minnesota are able to cut players who aren’t able to help add another trophy to the 10 on their shelves. “You’re good but you’re not good enough,” a coach tells young Evan Morrow (Brady Noon). His mom, Alex (Lauren Graham), hears this and decides she’s going to organize an alternate team – one designed to have fun, not win scholarships.
Unfortunately, it takes players, ice and a coach to get your head in the game. That fills much of the first episode and brings Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) back into the picture. Bombay, you may remember, coached the Ducks when they were just starting out. Now, he’s jaded, tired and hardly inspirational. Still, that doesn’t stop Alex who (spoiler alert) makes the deadline and rekindles a bit of her own ice past.
Because the adults don’t ride the net, we get a good chance to score with the kids. They run the gamut of ability (and personality) and make winning accidental, not assured.
Koob (Luke Islam) has great reflexes, thanks to watching too many video games; Logan (Kiefer O’Reilly) has the look, not the skill; and Nick (Maxwell Simkins) admittedly has “more of a podcast body.”
Evan lives next door to Nick, which makes them natural friends and easy recruiters. Still, they don’t find much buy-in from the in crowd, so they mingle amid the outcasts.
Directed by James Griffiths, the first episode sets up play for the remaining nine. It’s not the Gordon Bombay show; it’s very much the wheelhouse of kids who aren’t the biggest, the best or the bravest of their generation.
Simkins, who looks a bit like Sean Astin, comes through consistently. He deadpans plenty of lines and gives Graham all the ammunition she needs to pull the players out of the land of participation trophies.
When Estevez shows up, it’s with a different vibe. He’s no Herb Brooks, just another adult who has seen too many pushy parents with agendas.
While producers say some of the original film Ducks will appear in later episodes, it’s quite enough to see the new brood. They represent different voices and could – just could – encourage parents to pull back on misplaced dreams.
The new team’s name is pretty good, too. If it catches on like “the Mighty Ducks,” expect to see a flood of merchandise. It practically sells itself.