Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Eight: "Time Teasers"

Man, this is slightly alarming: apparently, I saw this episode back in the day. I say this only because I distinctly remembered the Beagle Boys singing the highly Oedipal "I Want a Girl (just like the girl who married dear old dad)." I hadn't the faintest recollection of anything else in the episode. How many of these did I see that I just don't remember?

In this story, Gyro invents a magic watch that stops time; the Beagles steal it and use it to rob Scrooge. As Chris is fond of pointing out, Don Rosa's later story "On Stolen Time" uses the same premise. I think it's VERY questionable whether or not Rosa was actually inspired by the episode, though. The "time-stopping-artifact" trope is very well-worn, and if you're going to apply that to the duck universe, giving it to the Beagles is the most obvious thing to do. And it's not like cartoon and comic have anything else in common that would indicate a connection.

Regardless, the episode's okay, though it didn't exactly rock my world--certainly not as good as Rosa's effort. The plot construction is a little rickety: the first act is devoted to the kids co-opting the time device to get their work done more quickly and to influence a baseball game--you sorta think they'll learn some sorta lesson about not cheating in this fashion, but it is not to be. The bit with the kids goes on for so long that for a while I almost thought that the Beagles wouldn't be involved, and that the whole episode would be a meditation of some sort on the ethics of time-stopping. That would've been a cool episode. Alas, it is not to be, as watch and subsequently money are stolen. Then, there's a left-field turn as the Beagles idiotically break the device and thereby go back in time, where they're captured by a group of pirates led by Pete. Scrooge and HDL must follow to sort things out. I cannot help but feel that the ramifications and uses of the time device never get explored in the detail that they should, though the Beagles--forced to entertain Pete on his birthday--make a pretty funny barbershop trio, and his reason for wanting to capture them after their escape--"Great singin' groups don't come along every day!"--is similarly amusing.

Stray Observations

-The Duckburg Mallards game is in the morning, for some reason. Also, "by stopping time with every pitch, we can help the Mallards win their first game EVER!" Look: I've watched plenty of really dreadful minor-league baseball teams in my day, and none of them have had anything close to a "perfect" losing record. This would only be possible if the episode were taking place early in the Mallards' inaugural season.

--I like how HDL apparently were initially under the impression that a frozen baseball game would be fun to watch. A bit slow on the uptake, eh?

-I like--or at least am alarmed by--the trigger-happiness of fictional law-enforcement: the Beagle Boys are first seen robbing a bank, and after HDL use the watch to sabotage them, the security guard attempts to bring them down in a hail of bullets. I think there are both safety and legal ramifications to this.

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