Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Seventeen: "Down and Out in Duckburg"

Look: I think my reviews of "Robot Robbers" and "The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan" demonstrate that I'm capable of evaluating episodes based on Barks stories on their own merits rather than automatically slagging them off for changing the details of the original. Okay? That said, all I could think of while watching this one was how much I wished it were anywhere near as awesome as the "Horseradish Story," on which it is based.

A guy who is not Chisel McSue--probably because McSue was too good of a villain--barges in to Scrooge's manse and takes over, on the basis that his ancestor failed to deliver a shipment of…marbles--presumably because horseradish was too interesting a maguffin. Unlike in the original story, there's no evidence that the ship sinking was the result of sabotage, presumably because that would have made non-McSue's plot less nonsensical.

There's no thirty-day stipulation here, and the ducks, after being chased off Scrooge's estate, go to live under a bridge abutment. Obviously, the legal system is somewhat fluid in duck comics in general, but the idea that Scrooge would just become a vagrant with no legal recourse or other kind of fight whatsoever is really too ridiculous to take seriously. Then, for reasons that I can't begin to explain, instead of getting straight to the salvage bit, we get a grating, unfunny parody of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," in which host "Robin Lurch" (=Leach) interviews newly-impoverished Scrooge and his staff. Why he still wants to do this interview in spite of their lack of richness, I could not tell you.

It's only after all this that we get to the salvage operation that's the heart of the original story, and there's none of the excitement or tension that characterized Barks' tale. They find the marbles. Scrooge gets his money back. And now he's generous to all the people to whom he had been stingy at the beginning of the episode, to demonstrate his newfound empathy. And that's all, really.

By this point in the show, there's ample proof that the creators are able to do great things, but they sure can't do them consistently. Let's hope that they're able to ramp up the quality control in the near future.

Stray Observations

-Really now, is it conceivable that anyone ever signs a lease which includes the proviso "I can raise your rent however much I want at any time for any reason or no reason?" C'mon.

-BOY, is Not-McSue ever annoying. His tacky redecoration of the McDuck estate is mildly amusing however, I suppose. He has an unexplained fetish for the color orange.

-Has anyone ever actually been required to wash dishes to pay for a restaurant bill? Regardless, for some reason I find the trope far more hilarious than I think it really is.

1 comment:

  1. I think the cargo got changed just for a couple of lines about having "lost his marbles." But even in the superior Barks story, I could never understand why Scrooge wasn't informed of McSue's lawsuit against him the moment it was filed so he could wage a legal counterattack immediately. I know the owl judge has it in for Scrooge, but you wouldn't think he'd issue an order totally impoverishing Scrooge without giving fair warning.