Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Twenty-Two: "Launchpad's Civil War"

The Wikipedia article sez of this episode: "Launchpad encounters old Civil War soldiers once led by his ancestor, who was not all that Launchpad thought he was." That description makes it sound as though this ancestor (Rhubarb McQuack) was involved in covered-up war crimes or something--although, of course, given that this is a Ducktales episode, that obviously was never gonna happen.

I kind of vaguely think I saw this episode on video (along with that last one) back in the day, but I truly remembered nothing about it. I'll say one thing: it's pretty strange to have an episode centering on the Civil War with no actual historical context, probably because that would inevitably result in some rather dark undertones. The story is that--well, see above. Launchpad's being asked to portray ol' Rhubarb in a Civil War reënactment; it turns out he lost the Battle of Duck Ridge with his bumbling. His opposite number, Colonel DuBarque, is inordinately smug about this--hey, Rhubarb may have lost, but at least he wasn't fighting on the treason-in-defense-of-slavery team, so, you know, there's that. Actually, the episode downplays into oblivion the notion that there were any meaningful differences between North and South--obviously, they want to avoid being overtly political, but surely everyone can see that silence is political in and of itself.

Anyway, Launchpad determines to team up with these here ancient soldiers (they've gotta be at least in their hundred-thirties if the show's meant to be contemporaneous with its production) to defeat the Confederate reënactors. I don't think that's really how reënactments work, but sure, let's go with it. Hijinx ensue. The battle is won. Huzzah! And at the end, the townspeople agree to be less dickish in the future regarding Rhubarb's defeat. They do this in front of a giant Confederate flag, which takes me aback a bit…okay, it doesn't; I'm obviously just playing naïve. But really: would you see a swastika in a Ducktales episode? Crikey.

Not a bad episode, questionable politics notwithstanding, but I can't help but feel that it's not the best writing for Launchpad we've ever seen. He comes across as somewhat overly dumb, and not quite gung-ho enough to be as entertaining as he is at his best. It's definitely a fine line.

Stray Observations

-Huey, upon learning that Launchpad's been invited to be in this thing: "Wow! The Civil War happened a long long time ago!" That's a rather bizarre non-sequitur.

-We are (or were last time, really) a quarter of the way through Ducktales now. Well, roughly; it's hard to say to what extent the movie should weight this percentage. It's been fun, mostly. And even when the show hasn't, the complaining is still entertaining (in other words: the messes become successes! Sort of). Stick around.

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