Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ducktales, Season Three, Episode Eighteen: "A Duck Tales' [sic] Valentine"

"I thought you loved me but it seems you don't care."
"I care enough to know I can never love you."

The wikipedia entry--as well as various other internet places--lists the full title of this episode as "A Ducktales Valentine (amour or less)," but that last part does NOT appear on the title card. PLEASE PROVIDE EXPLANATION. Also, it renders "Ducktales" as two words (and includes an inappropriate apostrophe), though the internet fails to acknowledge that.

This is the second Ducktales Valentine's Day episode. The first was the adaptation of "Back to the Klondike," which, in spite of smoothing out the emotional complexity of the Barks original, as well as having an infamously-sappy ending, was actually pretty good. So what's this one like?

Um well um. Scrooge is on the hunt for the "Lost Temple of Aphroducky" and the treasure it contains, callously disregarding the fact that Valentine's Day is coming up. The coldhearted bastard! He refuses to allow HDL and Webby to go along, and there's an unintentionally hilarious bit where they're like, oh man, what'll we do? And then the camera focuses on an empty crate and they're all, maybe we CAN go, after all! Dudes, you stow away in boxes three or four times a week. Don't act like the idea is such a revelation.

Anyway…they go to check out this temple, which is currently submerged under the sea. And they find statues of Aphroducky, as well as Vulcan and Cupid, and two things: A) if you're going to give one of them a lame duck-oriented name, you have to do it for all of them. None of this lame inconsistency; and B) Aphrodite is Greek; Vulcan and Cupid are Roman. I don't think it's asking too much to expect the show to get this fairly basic bit right--at least, if you don't want people to resort to the damming-with-faint-praise "who cares? It's just a dumb kids' show." Of course, you probably want to keep "Cupid," since "Eros" doesn't quite have the same cultural resonance, and besides, hypersensitive parent groups might get enraged. So the best choice would've been to just go with "Venus;" we'd lose the awesome duck-name, of course, but I can honestly say that that is a sacrifice I am prepared to make.

That was certainly a lot of ink spilt on an incredibly minor point! Anyway, they find Cupid's golden arrows, and there's a vaguely amusing bit with Launchpad getting poked by one and falling in love with a shark. They take them back to the states, but it turns out Aphrofuckit is still kicking around, and she's pissed off that her arrows have gone missing, so she goes to retrieve them personally. Only, sigh, she gets poked and falls in love with Scrooge and vice versa, and the kids are sad about being ignored. Webby in particular engages in an intolerable amount of saccharine burbling; there is definite evidence of some sort of Electra Complex here.

There's a serious contradiction here; to wit, the episode is supposed to be glorifying love, of which the goddess who will not be named is meant to be a representation, yet the show is unable to resist depicting her with your typically lazy, low-level misogyny: selfish, callous, slightly bitchy. Not so fantastic, guys.

Anyway, it turns out that to break the curse of love, you have to be forced to choose between it and something else you love. Scrooge picks goddess over money, but--get ready for a shocker--it turns out he loves HDL and Webby more'n anything, and good god, if you thought the train blowing smoke-hearts at the end of "Klondike" was syrupy, get a load of him declaring "I've got all the treasure I need right here!" as he and the kids are limned in violently-pulsing red, white, and pink hearts.

Probably not quite as bad as this description makes it sound, but still relatively awful.

Stray Observations

-Yes, the conflation of romantic and familial love is just a bit creepy, now that you mention it.

-"This so-called holiday is just a ploy by the card and candy companies to make a buck!" We're clearly meant to disagree with this statement, but…well, don't get me wrong, I find lazy anti-Valentine's-Day cynicism super-boring, but the fact remains, it's sorta kinda completely true.


  1. To be fair, in Greek mythology Aphrodite is pretty much like her presentation here, only more promiscuous. So blame the ancient Greeks, not the writers.

    And the scene with Launchpad leaving with his suitcases to live under the sea with his shark cracks me up for some reason.

  2. Granted, but I think it would be a bit much to claim that, in counterpoint to what they do everywhere else, they're being deeply concerned with mythological integrity here. For an episode that tries--with dubious success--to be a sweet, sentimental thing, that depiction just felt off.

    I agree about Launchpad, though. That bit was all right.

  3. I vote for going with all Roman names, so we wouldn't miss out on the best line of the episode: Launchpad greeting Vulcan with, "Live long and prosper."