Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Twenty: "Pearl of Wisdom"

Featuring Sharkey as the villain. But do I mean Lawyer Sharkey? No, no! This time, Black Pete has taken on that name. The portrayal of Pete is actually quite interesting here: as a Mickey Mouse villain, he's generally a pretty bad dude--certainly more "evil" than the Beagles. But here, he's barely evil at all. Sure, he steals this big ol' pearl from the island natives, but his kind of goofy voice and the fact that his grins are rarely if ever evil grins conspire to make him seem more adorable than anything else. Rather nicely--and surprisingly--done, I must say.

So Pete and his assistant, Yardarm, steal this pearl. We are treated to Pete doing some native dancing to sneak Yardarm close enough to nab it; it's pretty funny.

Back in Duckburg, HDL are entering a marbles competition, and as soon as the world "marbles" comes up, you can be instantly one hundred percent sure that the pearl will get mistaken for a marble or vice versa. And indeed that happens: Pete sells the pearl to Scrooge, but then wants it back when he realizes that there's apparently some magic ritual you can do with it back at the island that gives you preternatural wisdom. Scrooge realizes and wants the same thing. But oh no! Webby took the pearl to use in the marbles contest! Actually, the whole marble/pearl confusion thing is kind of superfluous to the main story; it really only feels like it's there to take up space.

Anyway, after some hijinx everyone gets back to the island, and Pete and Scrooge both get the benefit of pearl-augmented wisdom: Pete learns that Crime Doesn't Pay, and Scrooge that he shouldn't exploit the natives. Then, they all have a party. Pete dances with Webby. It's very cute.

Fun episode, though I was a little disappointed that the writers weren't a bit more ambitious with the pearl business: Scrooge repeatedly states that he wants to get the pearl back to the island so he can get smarter and make more money. The viewer immediately realizes that there's a big difference between "smart" and "wise" that Scrooge is overlooking, and that the wisdom he gains is not going to be of pecuniary benefit. And sure, he learns that stealing pearls is bad, but I think it would have been much more interesting if he had a more far-reaching vision--something about the ultimate hollowness of the eternal pursuit of money. And then he would have had to deal with that or, more likely, sublimate it. Would've been a bit dark, but I think they could've pulled it off.

Stray Observations

-Return of Lord Battmounten from "The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan."

-"That magic pearl could mean the difference between being rich and being richer!"

-Funny little scene where Duckworth coolly catches the urns that the ducklings have knocked off their pedestals.

-"Nobody likes them--just like us!" I like sharks. And I like you, Pete.

-I'm sorry, but there is no way a marble would set off a torpedo.

-I think I see at least part of the reason why people aren't too fond of Webby: she's consistently pitched as much younger than HDL. In this episode, you can see this very clearly in a scene where Scrooge is chewing out a shipping agent and she's imitating this chewing-out on a toy phone (also, her eyes are bigger than HDL's, connoting both femininity and youth). I don't really mind this, but I can understand why it would rub people the wrong way.

1 comment:

  1. On Webby: Plus she's always carrying a doll around and here we see her ride a Big Wheel, which is normally used by children <<10yo. I just assume she's 6-7-ish and HDL are 9-10-ish.