Monday, July 16, 2018

Legend of the Three Caballeros, Episode Eight: "Nazca Racing"

So here's the one where they go to Nazca and become line drawings and have to fight Felldrake and Sheldgoose like that, and meanwhile April May and June infiltrate Sheldgoose's mansion to try to figure out what's up with the barrier. Does that about cover it?

I like that title, but it's no lie: this one is a substantial step down from the last few. The line drawing business is reasonably cool-looking, I guess, and it DOES come alive a bit in the aerial chase scene where everyone's drawing cannons and whatnot to attack everyone else, but eh. It's mostly pretty uninteresting. As is the infiltration sequence; it's great to give AMJ a more prominent role and all, but it was not done in a super-compelling way here. I didn't even care for the song; it felt forced and unnecessary in a way that previous musical numbers haven't. I guess I liked the intensely Midwestern Nazca guardian lady. She and the monkey look really strange in the "real" world.

Also: "If the earth is destroyed, he will be too! He's evil, not insane!" I dunno, man: he wanted to "cover the world in fire" back in the Easter Island episode. Are you sure you've thought this through?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Legend of the Three Caballeros, Episode Seven: "Mount Rushmore (or less)"

I enjoyed the fact that the Mount Rushmore business--which anyone would assume would take up the whole episode--was dispensed with in four minutes. Good; I think that's all the time it needed. I enjoyed the fact that George Washington was so throughly invested in being a ghost, and I enjoyed the unusual thing of actual historical figures being portrayed as ducks (see also Francis Drake in Rosa's "His Majesty McDuck"), but I feel I would have gotten pretty bored pretty quickly if that had gone on for much longer than it did.

But no! Instead it gets all zany and shambolic in a fun way. The bearskin rug coming to life feels a bit arbitrary, but the bear is cute. I like it. I also like Sheldgoose being concerned with civic maneuvering while Felldrake wants to focus more on world-conquering activities ("You are the least important president of anything ever"). I have no strong feelings about Eugenia Ferdinand-Ferdinand (sp?), but it did make me think, huh. Has there ever been a peacock character in the duckiverse before? It seems like there should have been, but I can't think of one (okay, peahen, technically, and therefore shouldn't really have the plumage, but hey--nitpicking is fun!). I liked Xandra destroying the hors d'oeuvres at the party, even if it was a bit predictable. I didn't so much love Daisy trying to make Donald jealous by dating the unreliable Dapper Duck--"Love Trouble" was fine and everything, but these days, that can't help but feel pretty dated. I might be interested if Daisy becomes more involved with the main plot, however. Oh, one thing: I didn't understand why the Caballeros were unable to enter Sheldgoose's house when everyone else could. Please explain.

Here are some other things that made me laugh:

-Ari putting an ear of corn in a pot and tossing in a grenade to make popcorn

-"Stop right there, bear!" "We have chased you all over the square!" "In goblin jaaaaail!"

-"Poppycock! There's no such thing as The Moon!"

"Donald was Felldrake the whole time?"

Very good episode. More like this, please.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Legend of the Three Caballeros, Episode Six: "Stonehenge Your Bets"

In ancient times...hundreds of years before the dawn of his'try...wait, did Leopold TALK before now? I feel like that's an new thing. Weird.

Well, as you know, this is the one where they go through a portal in Stonehenge to Goblin Land. I like the doorbell sound that the portal makes. "As long as they're leaderless, they're not a threat," Xandra says, and inevitably, hey, there's Gellfrake and Deldshoose. Our heroes are thrown in Goblin Jail, and yeah, the song put a smile on my face. The more elaborate the musical numbers, the better, is my feeling.

Large beast is summoned. Large beast is defeated via...pathos (I must disagree with the nomenclature here; making it all heart-warmed is by no means the same as "breaking its heart)? Endearing small goblin Worm (ne Vomit) becomes king...hooray.

I don't know; did I like it as much as the last one? Probably not; there was plenty to like, but it did feel a bit more peril-of-the-week-y. Also, I could have done without the goblin drooling and/or vomiting on Xandra's head, not to mention the fart jokes. Still, it is unpretentiously entertaining. Not all Up Itself like the last Ducktales episode. I could gladly go on watching this stuff. And, uh, I will!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Seventeen: "From the Confidential Case Files of Agent 22"

Dammit, I'm required to have an opinion about this, aren't I? Um...can I phone a friend?

I feel like my opinions about these attempts to create webs of continuity with other Disney properties are difficult to articulate and not necessarily justifiable. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, I guess. It just...I don't know, feels like an effort to accrue good will without earning it, just by pointing at past stuff that we're assumed to like? Maybe that's it.

Well...I guess it's to no one's great surprise that we learn, omg, Beakley is or was (it's not quite clear) an agent of SHUSH. I mean...fine, I guess. It's certainly better than her original-Ducktales incarnation. And having Van Drake be the director is...fine, I guess. He doesn't really do much. But I DEFINITELY cannot abide the idea of Scrooge as having been part of the organization. That's the kind of thing that, upon being floated, the other writers should've been like no, dude, that's a dumb idea, what's wrong with you? All the "Scrooge is awesome at everything" stuff marred a number of Rosa stories, and "oh he's awesome at everything AND ALSO HE'S A SECRET AGENT!" is just so much bad fan fiction. I mean, even beyond the fact that it egregiously violates everything we know about him. It's too bad, because if it were just a peripheral thing you could more or less ignore it, but with him being so damn central to the plot, you know this is going to be forcibly rubbed in our faces in future.

Right, the plot is a lotta whatevs for me. Webby is obsessed with Scrooge suddenly; I know that's sort of been a thing previously, but it's just so obvious that they're setting things up so they can have her partner up with him. It's pretty clumsy. Beakley's kidnapped and they have to To do...thing. There's a FOWL agent, Black Heron, and I can only imagine the force of will it must've taken them to not just stick Steelbeak in there. Gotta save SOME hollow fan service for later, I guess. I was wholly unmoved by references to nutmeg tea and unicorns, and I refuse to say anything about any references to a show that was itself inspired (if that's the word) by bad candy. That's just too much for me to take. The end.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Legend of the Three Caballeros, Episode Five: "No Man Is an Easter Island"

Ain't no party like a Moai party, 'cause...well, for obvious reasons.  But Let me repeat that: a MOAI party! They're called Moai! Not Moa! Jeez, episode.

That notwithstanding, this was an obvious, huge improvement on the last few. This involves lava lizards under Easter Island whom the Moai are supposed to keep down. It's a creative approach, and I enjoyed it, but what I really enjoyed was that it didn't devolve into the same kind of boring "stop the baddies" thing that the last few did.

Did I love the usual reductive Donald/Daisy stuff? Not hugely. Did I find the rationale for why DAISY MUST NEVER KNOW about the Caballeros a bit dubious? I did. But mostly, I liked it. Here are some other random observations about the episode:

-It's kind of disorienting when they're dropped off by Apollo, who had not appeared in the last episode.

-Love Ari cracking himself into pieces with a mallet and reconstituting as mini-Aris. In general, I think the less realistic the better with this show.

-And on that note, also love Sheldrake bursting into song to get rid of the Moai. The song itself isn't memorable, but it's great that it happened.

-Man, they sure do kill A LOT of sentient lizards. Does this have the highest body count of any episode of any Disney cartoon?

"You're like my brothers from a different mother and a different father from a different country that I recently just met!"

-Good Donald impression from Xandra.

-I know I said I like the unrealism, but I also like Donald trying to flush himself down the toilet and it obviously not working. Good messing around with expectations.

-"You hired my nieces to cook and clean for you." Well, now we know why they're hanging around for no apparent reason. Okay!

"And now they shall cover the world in fire!" I know it's pointless to ask, but one does have to wonder what exactly Felldrake WANTS, exactly. Just world domination? Destroying the world outright? It's a big hand-wavey in that "we need a bit villain, dammit" way.

-I can't say I care for the way they truncate the theme song and end on a crescendo that's not at all part of it and sounds jarringly out-of-place.

That's all! I'm keen to continue!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Legend of the Three Caballeros, Episode Four: "World Tree Caballeros"

So is that title a pun I'm not quite getting, or is it REALLY as trivial as "There's a World Tree and 'tree' sounds kind of like 'three?'" Can't say I'm overly impressed by that, guys!

Well, it's not a super-impressive episode, though I guess I'll take it over the last one. The idea is that Felldrake can't access the caballeros' house, so he needs to get special power, and I wonder: why can't he just send Sheldgoose? He was able to go in before. I don't get it. But, he can't, so instead he has to go to this world tree in Italy, where there are Roman gods. PRETTY sure you're thinking of Norse mythology here, guys. Or a number of others, but definitely not Roman. Weird.

Anyway, caballeros go after them, and Zandra fangirls out over the gods, only to find that they're old now. Well, Jupiter Venus and Mars, at least; no other are featured. Anyway. It's necessary to get them back into fighting spirit, which she does with the help of platitudes from April May and June. And...the good guys win. Sorry for the spoiler.

Well, there were some things I liked: I liked that it opened with the caballeros having a popcorn fight and Zandra knocking down the chandelier. I liked the way Italy outside the plane window had the word "Italy" emblazoned upon it. I liked "We're not birds! It's not like we can fly!" And then this exchange:

Donald: I'm freezing my tail off!
Panchito: That's because you don't wear pants!
Jose: Hey! Do not knock it until you try it, my friend!

It's a good point. But overall, again, I was pretty lukewarm about this one. We shall see what happens next. Obviously.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Sixteen: "Day of the Only Child"

I think if you're going to appreciate this series at all, you really need to accept the fact that most of the characters have basically nothing to do with their comics-equivalents. This is true of HDL more than anyone, I'd say. The show makes this harder to do by including the odd bit of inept comics-fan fan-service, but you gotta. I mean, the "completely different personalities" thing is...a thing. That is nothing whatsoever like older things. In a way I can't say I care for.

But! This episode, for what it was, actually was not bad. We have them trying to be autonomous people while also being part of a triad, which, okay, fine, the character-building could be worse. Huey helping Beagle Boys be better outdoorsmen was fun, for sure. As for Louie visiting Doofus...well, I do think it's funny that the writers apparently realized that nobody ever liked Doofus and so didn't even make a token effort to maintain the original character; all that's left is his name and, sort of, his looks. Now he's a deranged, spoiled billionaire. There seems to be the potential for horror here--hard not to think of the kid wishing people into the cornfield--but eh, it's amusing enough.

Inevitably, of course, we then come to Dewey's segment, and uh. This is the part of the episode that decidedly does not work; seeing him try to enact this fake talk show all by himself with cardboard cutouts as an audience makes him look as crazy as Doofus if not more so, and not in a fun way. More in a bemusing, why-the-hell-am-I-watching-this-and-what-does-this-have-to-do-with-Dewey's-established-personality-such-as-it-is way. Oh well. As a wise man once said: though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night, I can see paradise by the dashboard light. Wait, am I thinking of something else? Whatever!