LUDWIG VON DRAKE IN THE HOUSE, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
YES! Even if this episode sucked in every other way, it would STILL have Ludwig Von Drake! He looks perfect, he sounds perfect, and his mannerisms are perfect. In other words, if it's not already clear, a perfect portrayal. The internet tells me that this is his only appearance in the show, which sucks, 'cause he's just plain great.
The Barks story isn't exactly one of my favorites (remind me to do an entry on it one of these days), but it has its moments. I guess you could say the same for this episode. If the catalyst for the action in the original is somewhat contrived, this one takes contrivedness to a whole new level. Get this: Launchpad claims that his plane was messed up by flying bird-women (depicted after the manner of that one Twilight Zone episode, sort of); then, Scrooge is reading a book about the golden fleece to HDL and sees a picture of a harpie (no longer "larkies"), and thinks HOLY CRAP! Those things Launchpad saw must be harpies! Which must mean the golden fleece is real! That's some Glenn-Beck-level logic right there.
But whatever, I guess! Scrooge, HDL, and Launchpad go to Greece (actually, the trip is severely truncated, and there's no real sense of place), where they find harpies, who capture Launchpad so as to fête him; meanwhile, Scrooge and HDL go off to find the fleece, and encounter the dragon, though it's much less cool-looking than it is in the story. There's also a bad moment where they want to check what the Guidebook says about dragons, only to find "Dragons are a myth. They don't exist." Dude. The guidebook is NEVER WRONG, let alone in the name of a lame joke. Not cool, guys.
So anyway, having fattened him up, the harpies want to sacrifice Launchpad to the dragon; there's an escape-type-thing, and the REAL difference from the Barks story comes when all involved decide that they can't take the golden fleece after all, 'cause that would be stealing. And then, the harpies turn friendly--they're certainly more likable than they are in the comic. I'm not saying that Scrooge's corruption and subsequent redemption here isn't a little bit heavy-handed, but it's neat to see the episode sort of tackling questions that are only implicitly addressed in the original stories: what gives Scrooge the right to all this ancient treasure?
So yeah, not a bad episode on balance, in spite of some initial dopiness.
-"Those are some of my best crashes yet," whereupon HDL hold up numbers like Olympic judges--pretty amusing bit of absurdism.
"I've survived three thousand eight hundred seventy-six crashes!" If Launchpad is in his early thirties, that's a-hundred-thirty-ish crashes a year, so about one every three-ish days. That actually sounds about right.
A nonsensical, abortive joke with the Hall of Echoes: "amazing! It only echoes the word echo!" But then it proceeds to go ahead and echo the word "fleece" anyway. I have no idea what the writers had in mind there.
-Where the hell did this crazy pedal-powered three-seater airplane come from?
-Listen: it's not "fattening someone up" if you just make him eat 'til he's full. He has to have time to convert that food into fat. If you just eat him/feed him to the dragon/whatever right away, all you'll get are a bunch of gross semi-digested stomach contents, and if you're okay with that, why not just cut out the middleman and eat the food from the beginning?