So, seeing them all together again in Tugboat Mickey is a welcome sight. However, one thing kept standing out to me as I watched this short. I have seen it before. Just as before, Mickey is relegated to the side while Donald and Goofy deal with a frustrating situation trying to get the job done.
But it runs deeper than that. The gags are familiar. Remember in Clock Cleaners how Donald got into a fight with a spring? This time it’s with a steam driven piston, which even talks back like the spring in Clock Cleaners did. Even the ending is similar to that of The Whalers, where all three end up in the water.
Now, if you are going to mimic things from other shorts, you might as well do so with some of the best shorts Disney has made to this point. And the combination works together pretty well. Here we get to see the classic Donald tantrum as he deals with this steam piston, and Goofy’s look of confusion as the grate covering the coal furnace keeps closing on him.
What was an adjustment was seeing the new design Mickey (pupils in the eyes, more human like in the face) with the same old Goofy and Donald. This is the first time they have been together in the same short since Mickey’s redesign, so it took some getting used to while watching.
Overall, though, this short was rather unremarkable. It wasn’t particularly memorable, and in fact, I will probably get this short mixed up with the others years from now, because of the similarities. As best I can tell, this is the last time these three will be paired together. I’m sure the studio did not know that at the time, but it seems like it is time. In the future we will get the Goofy shorts that are some of my favorites and more and more Donald Duck shorts. It’s nice to see the three guys together again, but seeing this short tells me it’s time for them to go their separate ways as well.