It almost feels as though someone took a look at a few classics from the 80s and 90s and wondered what would happen if they were turned on their head, shaken up, and then poured out to see what happened to them. Cobra Kai was a big enough surprise on YouTube Red and then Netflix, but The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is a show that feels like it goes back to the old neighborhood, kind of, since it’s no longer the Hawks that are seen as the elite and snotty team that asserts their will. Nope, now the Mighty Ducks are the power team that was established years ago by Gordon Bombay and carried forward by kids that wanted to play and had the drive and…well, eventually became the kids that had the talent and the type of dedication that’s kind of scary. Imagine this, a kid that’s just becoming a teen pushing themselves so hard during a practice that they puke while sitting on the bench and then get up and get back on the ice because they’re worried they might get cut for giving in and slowing down a bit. The fact that there were parents preaching the wonders of protein and backhandedly shaming single mother Alex, aka Lauren Graham, for not signing her kid, Evan, aka Brady Noon, for a summer hockey clinic, when she couldn’t afford it, is enough to make just about anyone cringe. Unfortunately, when Evan was cut, which is what introduces the drama, Alex didn’t really do much better since she might have made a lot of audience members wonder if this is what hockey moms are really like when they get angry.
The show is, so far, predictable and might not appear that imaginative to a lot of people, but given the time constraints that it has to work with, things could be a lot worse, and in fact, they’re not that bad, especially considering that it’s a family series on Disney+. Thinking that the Ducks are now the elite and have become the tightly-knit band of jerks that gladly look down on anyone that’s not as good as they are is a bit heart-wrenching since this isn’t how the team started out. But of course, one has to remember that once Adam Banks joined the team there was a lot of animosity considering that he came from the Hawks. Once he proved that he was just there to play, regardless of the team, he was accepted, but there’s a whole new level of exclusion happening this time since the fact is that Evan starts off as a Duck, and once he’s cut for being too small for the team, which is a poor excuse, the entire team shuns him without mercy, which is only compounded since they all go to school together. Just imagine being turned into an outcast overnight, and having your mom be one of the reasons why thanks to the outburst she levied at the coach on her way off of the ice. Alex’s heart is in the right place, but the kind of protection she’s trying to offer her son, doing everything she can for him, is so counterproductive that it might make the audience feel like rebelling.
Then comes one of the really confusing parts when Gordon Bombay enters the scene, since the last time anyone saw him, Bombay was doing just fine since he was still in love with hockey, and he still cared quite a bit about those he’d mentored from the first movie onward. What we see so far in the series is an older, bitter man that appears to have given up on everything despite the fact that he runs a rundown ice rink and no longer likes hockey or kids. How in the world did that happen? The chances are good that we’re going to find out, especially since Evan and his buddy Maxwell have found enough players to form their own team, but unfortunately don’t have a lot of talent between them to really inspire a lot of confidence. To be fair though, they do have a kid that’s pretty good at blocking items that are thrown at him, a young girl that has a lot of aggression to get out, a guy that will do anything if he’s dared to do so, a young girl that wants something to believe in, and a guy that has killer gear but no skills to speak of on the ice. So yeah, they have the workings of a new and highly unstable team, but since the Ducks started out in roughly the same way it’s easy to think that something will spark the team in a way that will turn them into winners. Now all that needs to happen is for the group of original players to show up and offer them some inspiration.