Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Fifty-Three: "The Status Seekers"

It opens with Scrooge playing an impromptu football game with the kids, and distracting the opponents with somewhat dubious means--nicely recalls Barks' "September Scrimmage," I suppose. Anyway, he gets determined to fit into high society, and blah blah, you know the Barks story, which this for the most part follows fairly faithfully, though the candy-striped ruby becomes the "Mask of Kuthululu" (a riff on Cthulhu (I am amused to see that my spellcheck here recognizes "Cthulhu"), I suppose, though it doesn't look notably Lovecraftian). I can't help thinking it lacks that essential Barksian je ne sais quoi, however--probably because, let's face it, the Ducktales versions of these characters simply aren't as good as Barks' are. Also, the ending is changed: this time around, Scrooge learns that snobbery is bad and shit after the club members decree that he can't be in the club, let alone be president, if he keeps associating with common people and whatnot, though this seems to be contradicted by the fact that they seemingly have no problem with a crazy homeless guy with a painting strapped to his back indiscriminately raiding the buffet being a member. Whatever.

I'm sorta starting to realize that Ducktales episodes break down as follows: a handful of really exceptional ones. A slightly bigger handful of the absolutely execrable. And a big middle ground of episodes that aren't notably bad in any particular way, but that don't inspire any sort of passion or anything either. This one falls right in there. Sure, I guess there's some vague efforts at social commentary about class consciousness and whatnot, but no credit just for showing up--it has to be done with a certain panache which this show rarely seems able to muster. Grrbah. I don't know why I'm being so negative here, except that I DEMAND EXCELLENCE, dammit! The merely-competent can suck it!

Stray Observations

-How to beat an already-feeble joke into the ground: "I'd like a table!" "Oui, monsieur." "No, not we--just me!" "No no, I said 'oui,' monsieur--that is a classy French word for 'yes!'" Yeah, thanks for that--without the explanation, it wouldn't have been nearly so hilarious. As you may recall, Scrooge is supposed to be something of a polyglot from all his business travel--and now, in the name of a lame joke, he doesn't know the most well-known-by-English-speakers French word there is? Unimpressive writing, Ducktales people.

-…though I suppose I'll admit that it was at least somewhat subtle of the show to imply his lack of sophistication by having him pronounce "garçon" as "garkon," and not immediately spelling out What They Just Did There.

-Seriously, how totally predictable was it that, as soon as the waiter set the dessert on fire, Launchpad would freak out and spray it with water?

-Battmounten cameo appearance at the Billionaires' Club.

-The bad guy speaking "ha ha ha" in his posh accent is pretty funny.

-The giant jellyfish is holding their sub in the air, so Launchpad somehow makes it just sort of exude electricity so it lets them down. Mumblemumblescience.

-Nothing to do with the episode, but in rereading the Barks story, I realized--I had completely forgotten this--that it's a rare example of Barksian continuity, as it explicitly references "All at Sea." Nice.

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