Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty-Six: "Magica's Magic Mirror"/"Take Me Out of the Ballgame"

Two episodes in one means…two times the fun? Well, in this case, I'm afraid it only means, at best, a very small percentage of the fun. I really can't imagine why they decided to cram these two unrelated stories together. It might have been interesting to see a "treehouse of horror"-type anthology episode in which the show throws to the winds all ideas of canon, but neither of the mini-episodes here do much of anything to justify their existences.

In "Magica's Magic Mirror," she tricks Scrooge into accepting a mirror that can allegedly see into the future; it actually just connects with another mirror in her possession, and she's gonna use it to trick Scrooge into coughing up the dime. There's potential here, I guess, but the ways in which she tricks the ducks into thinking the mirror shows the future are pretty dumb and rely on a lot of convenient happenstance; the whole thing is pitched considerably dumber than the better sort of Ducktales episode. It does have this going for it: Magica transforming into a vulture is pretty cool-looking. And the ending--in which the kids use the mirror to stage a skit to unmask the plan, in which they smash a Magica doll--is pretty funny. But that's about it.

"Take Me Out of the Ballgame" has a premise that might seem funny, in theory--Duckworth has to coach the Woodchucks' baseball team--but the execution is pretty dismal. The first sign of trouble is when we learn that they're playing against--god help us--the Beagle Brats. Seriously, out of all the obscure characters from duck-comicdom, these were the ones you chose to revive, Ducktales people? Damn you! But the real dumb kicks in as Duckworth sabotages his own team in painfully moronic ways--he won't let them slide into base because that would smudge their uniforms; he won't let them steal bases. After he proved highly capable in his starring role last episode, there's no excuse for him to do dumb shit like this. But never fear! He comes around at the end, and, with the team behind by double-digits, he shows them how to win by playing "like golf," which somehow--the "how" remains unexplained, because that would've required a greater level of thought than anyone cared to put into this--allows them to always hit the Beagles' rigged baseball and score dozens of points at a clip. And then Doofus hits the winning run when Duckworth advises him to "pretend the ball is a great, gooey cream puff," and apparently we're supposed to believe that Doofus's love of sweets would cause him to want to get rid of this cream puff as expeditiously as possible. Really, really stupid stuff all 'round.

Stray Observations

-"Great Grandma Tragica"

-What the hell is the deal with the kid at the picnic dressed as Glomgold?

-Mozambique becomes "Nose'n'Beak." Right, then.

-Dammit, when I saw the bit with Doofus hitting the winning run, I suddenly KNEW I'd seen this episode before, but I have absolutely no memory of anything else about it. Memory is weird!

-The one moment of awesome in "Take Me Out of the Ballgame:" the kids are trash-talking before the game, and a murderous-looking Webby yells "let's make the little creeps cry for their mommies!" That is the Webby we need to see more of.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty-Five: "Duckworth's Revolt"

[insert "Sir, Duckworth is revolting!" joke here]

Well, if we're judging episodes by their openings, whaddaya make of one in which anthropomorphic vegetables in a cornucopia-styled spaceship abduct an anthropomorphic elephant in a bathtub--a girl anthropomorphic elephant in a bathtub with the traditional pink bow in her hair--who seems surprisingly unfazed by this turn of events?

What you make is a pretty solid episode, albeit one just about as batty as the preceding would indicate. The kids accuse Duckworth of being like a SLAVE, so Scrooge fires him so he can go make his fortune. This is undeniably highly dubious, but things get better from there: the vegetable aliens, it turns out, are abducting people from all planets to work in their ship's garden, and Duckworth and HDL are next. Duckworth seems all subservient and stuff at first, but then he plans a revolt--though it's not entirely clear whether we're meant to buy his claim that he was just faking cowardice all along, or whether he actually grows a backbone. Regardless, it's neat to see him take a starring turn.

The episode is admirably committed to its "human vegetables" concept (the leaders are a broccoli stalk, a squash, and a clove of garlic), to the point that it's kind of hysterically--but appealingly--goofy (my favorite is a zucchini beating a drum as on a galley ship). It's easy for things like this to seem like they're straining for zaniness, but this one feels mostly natural.

My only real objection with the episode--but it's a substantial objection--is this: it flirts with asking questions about the morality of Duckworth's employment (what with the kids calling him a slave and all), but it never has the courage to follow through, instead contenting itself with assuring us that, well, he's not literally a slave, so there's no cause for concern. But that's so trivially true that if it's all you're gonna say, there was no point in bringing it up in the first place. Of course he's not literally forced to work for Scrooge--I mean, fucking duh. If you think this is an important question to address--and I think it is; there's always the somewhat uncomfortable feeling in the comics that, notwithstanding all his "earning it square" talk, he's exploiting his employees as much as he possibly can--you should bloody well address it. Otherwise, don't bother.

Still a good episode, however.

Stray Observations

-Hey, guess what: we're fifty percent of the way through the series! Well, okay, if you want to count the movie, then we actually won't get there until about fifteen minutes into episode forty-seven. But the point is, we've gone through fifty episodes. Kerpow!

-"Don't come back until you've discovered the joy, the enchantment, the sheer ecstasy of making big butts!" Er…yes. It's rarely remarked upon that Ducktales was in fact the inspiration for "Baby Got Back." Tell your friends!

-"And I thought elephants NEVER forgot!" "What's an elephant?" Funny commentary on the idea that just because an alien LOOKS like an earth creature, it would think of itself in the same way as one.

-"There comes a time when one must choose between trusting one's enemy or colliding with a gourdy green planet!" Words to live by.

-"Why don't we go to my quarters and have a chat over some nice, hot onion tea?" How would that not be cannibalism?

-Vacation Van Honk!