Friday, July 8, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Fifty-Eight: "All Ducks on Deck"

How bizarre: prior to watching this episode, I was sure I had seen it before, but the only fragmentary scene I "remembered" from it--Donald from behind after, either getting out of the navy or going on leave or SOMETHING--is most definitely NOT in the episode itself. Huh.

Seems odd to put two naval episode featuring Donald back-to-back, but there you have it. There's a cool intro in which the ship is being menaced by a storm and running into dangerous reef territory, and the waves and the crags are personified with "evil" faces, and I thought hey, yeah, Donald can beat an octopus, GOOD GOING! and it wasn't until he entered the cabin to steer the ship to safety that I realized, darn--this is gonna be all a dream.

Well, a fantasy, anyway, that he's telling to the kids. It's certainly an appropriately Barksian thing for him to get in trouble due to his ego getting carried away like this, so kudos to that--he certainly plays a better role here than he did last episode.

Anyway, I suppose it's just burying the lede to have gone this long without mentioning that this episode feature the PHANTOM BLOT as a villain. You know, I've always thought the very idea of the Blot as a recurring comics villain is kind of dumb--the whole point of the character in the original Gottfredson story is that he's mysterious. But once we learn his True Identity...well, he's just some guy. So now Some Guy is a recurring Mickey villain, to what I have generally found to be minimal effect.

The Blot here has even less relationship to the original character than the latter-day comics version does; he's all over-the-top cackling and megalomaniacal. Fact remains, though, few if any of the people in the show's target audience are gonna have been familiar with the character at all, and stipulating that this guy has little or nothing to do with the original, he's pretty effective. He actually has comparatively little screen time, but his ranting IS entertaining to watch, and I have to admit, I was not expecting--spoiler alert!--for Grimitz's ass-kissing adjutant to be in league with him.

Oh, yeah, anyway, the Blot tries to steal an experimental invisible plane--though the idea that he's going to somehow be able to RULE THE WORLD with this plane needs some fine-tuning. He fails, and Donald…well, doesn't really save the day in any particularly profound way. It's not like lighting signal flares to let Scrooge's and Launchpad's plane land was a particularly brilliant idea. Oh well. The kids making a medal for him at the end is nicely reminiscent of the Barks ten-pager in which he tries out for the Olympics, and the meta-y business of the medal showing a Wheel-of-Fortune-type show in which "Duck Tales" is the solution is fun.

Stray Observations

-"A net! And I don't mean Funicello!" GROAN.

-Seems like the idea of the nephews stowing away in luggage is a bit ragged by this point…

-Pretty dumb of Grimitz & Co to think that HDL's remote-control thing is a shark, but it's funny when Donald shoots it with a flaregun and just sets the top of it on fire. I fail to see why he shouldn't get credit for having done that--not HIS fault it goes out of control.

-"It's nice to be fishing again!" "Aye! And THESE fish DESERVE to be caught!" As opposed, presumably, to regular fish, who are just innocent victims.

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