Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirteen: "Dinosaur Ducks"

Dinosaurs. Is there anything that can't be made better with the addition of dinosaurs? This title's actually kind of nonsensical--"dinosaur ducks?" Looks like they just sort of arbitrarily decided to clonk a couple of keywords together and leave it at that. How silly!

The best part of this episode is the opening, as Launchpad tries to capture a bird for Scrooge's zoo while being menaced by a carnosaur of which we only ever see the legs. It's very effectively done. This is followed by another great bit where, having inevitably crashed, Launchpad is crawling through the desert, gasping for water; he crawls (in exactly the same posture) down a vertical canyon, through it, up the other side, onto a steamship, back to Duckburg, and into Scrooge's office--an effectively absurd little sequence.

Anyway, naturally, Scrooge wants him some dinos for his zoo, so it's off to this Lost World, with HDL and Webby as stowaways. They tangle with the bad carnosaur and help out the good hadrosaur mother and child (I've always found this business of assigning moral agency to animals based on their perfectly natural characteristics to be pretty goofy, but at the same time, it's entirely understandable). There are also caveducks, of course. I know it's pointless to complain about such things, but really, now--everyone knows by now that dinosaurs did not coexist with people, I think; it just strikes me as a bit lazy to ignore that fact, especially when the people in question serve a rather minor role in the episode.

But hey, I'm not complaining too much; it was mostly a decent episode, and hey, dinosaurs!

Stray Observations--note that in spite of all the petty complaints I'm making here, I did enjoy the episode overall.

-Hey, look, it's Miss Quackfaster! No, wait--we've changed her name to "Mrs. Fillerbee" for no apparent reason. Seriously, that just annoys me--some changes from comic to cartoon can be justified, but something like that just stems from laziness and carelessness.

-"Are you sure the Junior Woodchuck tiger trap will catch a dinosaur?" Dude--we're talking about the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. I'm pretty darn certain you're going to find a trap specifically for dinosaurs in there--a different one for each kind of dinosaur, in fact.

-The caveducks' apparent wheel-fetishization is goofy (what the hell are they doing with all these stone wheels?), but it pays off in the amusing climax, when the attacking carnosaur loses its balance on a bunch of them.

-So HDL are trying to protect the baby hadrosaur that's trapped in a canyon from the evil carnosaur--and then it turns out that, oh, there's actually a cave right there. Hard to see why help was even needed.

-In other nitpicking news, I have to note that there is no reason that HDL should have gotten caught in their own trap--I rewound and rewatched the sequence several times, and they never touch anything to set it off--it just springs itself by magic.

-When Scrooge first tries to pick up the picnic basket in which Webby is stowing away, he finds it incredibly heavy and hard to lift. But later on in the episode, both Scrooge and Launchpad toss it around (and yes, Webby is still supposed to be in it) like it waren't no thang.

-Cute part where Webby's transfixing the caveducks with a completely mangled fairytale.

-"Are you sure this chopper can carry a dinosaur back?" "It can carry the back, the front, the head, the tail--everything!" I like Scrooge's irritated eye-rolling at this. Seems like a natural reaction when you have to deal with this kind of thing habitually.


  1. Uncle Scrooge's secretary on Ducktales is named "Mrs. Featherby," which is distinctly more duck-like than "Fillerbee." I like to think that there are two reasons for the name change for an essentially identical-looking character. The first is that Miss Quackfaster got married to a man named Featherby. The second is that Miss Quackfaster left Scrooge's employment, possibly she was fired for having the effrontery to ask for a nickel a week raise or something along those lines. Now, we know that Scrooge hates change (not change as in coins, he loves that, but change as in things being different), as evidenced by the fact that he wears the same thing day after day, even when the old coat or hat are destroyed are lost (and we do see his clothes ripped to shreds or the hat forever lost in various episodes), and he immediately replaces the lost or damaged item with one exactly like it. Maybe when Miss Quackfaster left his employment, he replaced her with Mrs. Featherby because she fit the two necessary conditions: 1) She'd accept a low salary, and 2) She looked exactly like her predecessor.

  2. Ah, Featherby. That makes more sense. Blame the closed-captioning for that one; not that I'm hard of hearing, but I like to have it on do be sure I don't miss anything, and the stoopid transcriber wrote "Fillerbee," so apparently by the power of suggestion that's what I heard. I definitely prefer your first theory; I've always liked Miss Quackfaster and it would be a shame to see her go--can't say I'm too fond of her voice, though. Among other things, she makes me think too much of Miss Blankenship in season four of Mad Men (a much later character, obviously, but still...).

  3. ...which justification notwithstanding, however, I STILL don't approve of the name-change.