Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Ten: "The Duckman of Aquatraz"

Sheesh--it's sort of amazing that they could do an episode as good as the last one and then, bam, follow it up with something as intolerably idiotic as "The Duckman of Aquatraz." Seriously--let me count the fucking ways.

Scrooge gets framed for stealing a painting of Glomgold's, which framing is make easier by the fact that he was conveniently behaving incredibly suspiciously (but with an innocent explanation!) leading up to the theft. He is found guilty and sent to a maximum-security prison. There's an alternate painting that would magically clear him, but it gets ruined, so HDL's only recourse is to find incredibly obvious exonerating evidence in a security video that somehow nobody previously saw in spite of having scrutinized the tape jillions of times. PS. Flintheart also framed Scrooge's cellmate.

I don't think that description quite does justice to the sheer insane idiocy of this episode, however--even if we can look past the incredibly dubious central premise. My "favorite" part is where HDL watch the video and notice the detail that--shock horror--Glomgold was just pretending to be Scrooge to frame him and their dialogue shows them to be incredibly slow on the uptake, or just plain dimwitted: "Hey! Where'd he get that beard! And that weird pancake hat? *Gasp* That isn't Unca Scrooge! It's Flintheart Glomgold disguised as Unca Scrooge! It's the evidence we need!" Yeah, thanks for spelling that out. Otherwise, we might've missed all the subtle shades of meaning. Also, watch them beat a joke into the ground: "We know Unca Scrooge didn't steal that painting, right?" "Yeah! He only likes little paintings of Presidents!" [picks up a dollar bill] "The ones on dollar bills!" Actually, I think it's more the case that the writer here had an extremely low opinion of the audience's intelligence. It's really pretty insulting.

This is by far the worst episode yet, and whoever wrote it ought to be fidgeting uncomfortably and repeatedly glancing at the clock. Let's use "stray observations" to catalogue some more of its offenses.

Stray Observations

-In jail, Scrooge effortless beats all of the enormous, burly inmates at arm-wrestling. Come the fuck on.

-Unintentional humor: the guy who Glomgold gets to dispose of the painting that would (via magic) have exonerated Scrooge tosses it in a river, but the kids fish it out. "Our family portrait! Aw! Oh no! The water is washing away the paint!" Doggone delayed-action water!

-Glomgold to painting-dumping guy: "Just be sure no one sees you dumping the evidence--and don't cash that check until next week!" Yup--Glomgold's check is gonna bounce. Why must you gratuitously assault me with your idiocy, writer?

-"Flintheart's only crime was stealing his own painting!" C'mon, guys--you've already demonstrated your shaky understanding of the US legal system quite well enough. Don't make it worse for yourselves.

-I know I mentioned this above, but the last-minute revelation that "HOLY SHIT! GLOMGOLD FRAMED SCROOGE'S CELLMATE, TOO!" just takes dumbness to new, previously-unimagined heights.

-I was going to complain that this was a missed opportunity to feature the Owl Judge, but truthfully, the Owl Judge is probably feeling pretty relieved to have been left out of such a subpar episode.

-Inmates, eating all of Scrooge's dinner: "We wouldn't want you to lose your girlish figure!" Seriously: veiled prison-rape reference? I frankly wouldn't put much of anything beneath this episode.

-I was so irritated by this that I actually went back and looked up the writer's name so I could curse him personally. Damn you, Francis Ross!


  1. I suppose Francis Ross's opinion of his audience's intelligence came from the fact that he assumed that his audience was composed mainly of six-year-old kids on a sugar high from marshmallow-filled breakfast cereal. The best writers for children are those who produce work that children and adults will both enjoy, albeit on different levels. It's amazing how many pop culture and historical references there are in Ducktales that I didn't get as a kid that I do now.

    But even when I was six years old (though I never cared much for sugary breakfast cereal), I knew that Glomgold committed way more crimes than stealing his own painting. Lying to police? Causing a false arrest? Receiving stolen goods? Tampering with a witness? Accessory to littering? At the very least, Scrooge should have sued Glomgold for all his money and ninety percent of his feathers.

  2. Egads, that sounds like a horrid one.

    Beating the inmates and arm-wrestling... I believe it. I used to marvel all the time how really strong Scrooge is, especially for someone his age. He does crazy sh*t all the time.

    And for the prison rape reference? In a children's cartoon, I'm more pleased they got away with it.