Thursday, October 20, 2011

Darkwing Duck, Season Beebleberry, Episode One: "That Sinking Feeling"

On Ryan's recommendation, I am going to watch the episodes in modified order to try to make them make more sense chronologically. And even when it doesn't technically matter, I'm still going to try to watch them according to airdate. I have NO idea what they were thinking when they decided that this sort of fractured ordering system was a good idea. Oh, and it doesn't make much sense to classify the "ABC Season One" episodes as just "season two" when I'm doing it this way, so instead, I'm just going to use random words. Okay.

This episode introduces Gosalyn's pal Honker. Well, "introduces" would be pushing it; he's basically just there, not unlike--gulp--Doofus. It's too soon to have a firm opinion of him; I must simply try to remind myself that it's not his fault that he looks like the title character from that abhorrent Chicken Little movie. I do like that he actually sounds like a normal kid, as opposed to the gratingly overplayed voices that nerd-type character usually get.

Anyway, there's this mole supervillain, Moliarty, with a whiny sort of voice. I know it's a play on "Moriarty," but I can't stop thinking "molarity," even though I don't have a clear idea of what molarity is, because science is hard. His game is to try to plunge the world into darkness so the moles--with their giant, deranged-looking slugs and giant pillbug-tanks--can take over the surface. Oh no!

So he gets thwarted, obviously, but it's pretty good fun. Seeing the moles marching over the surface like little stormtroopers is striking, although I wish we'd seen more of the extent of their conquest. Also, the way that they finally stop Moliarty--in a surreal sort of baseball game--is quite cool, and seems to illustrate the difference in sensibility between this and Ducktales pretty well.

Another thing I like so far is the interaction between Darkwing and Gosalyn. A lot of times, when there's an adult authority figure looking after a strong-willed kid, this kid always gets his/her way, and so quickly becomes super-annoying. So far, however, this show is more balanced in that regard.

Stray Observations

-I also like the beginning, with Darkwing and Launchpad just kind of loitering at night on a bridge waiting for evildoers. The idea of superheroes having to endure a lot of tedious downtime is funny to me.

-Oh, and it's also funny when Gosalyn's complaining vociferously about being left behind while devouring copious quantities of ballpark food.

-Speaking of the show's sensibility, there's a bit where Darkwing tries to shoot Moliarty with some sort of gas gun, only the gas just forms into a human shape, starts crying, and dissolves. "Tear gas," he thoughtfully explains, evincing no sort of surprise or irritation. I do indeed like that.


  1. This episode was the first one written and recorded and was the very first one aired - the Saturday before the syndicated episodes began and before the pilot aired that Sunday afternoon. You can easily tell this was made first by the roughness in Darkwing's voice as well as things like the tear gas and the nature of some of Darkwing's entrances which would change a bit as the series went on.

    This was also animated by Disney's new Australian satellite studio, which gives it a lively, quirky look unlike anything else done before in Disney's TV canon and would quickly eclipse the Japanese studio as the go-to animation house for shows like Goof Troop, Bonkers and Quack Pack. Creator Tad Stones has stated that this was the look he always envisioned for Darkwing Duck. Unfortunately only 9 shows were animated in Australia, with the bulk of the rest of the episodes being animated in Japan and Korea. Mostly Korea.

    Honker gets better as the series goes on. At first it's obvious they really don't know what to do with him. But they slowly begin fleshing him out a bit. He's nothing like Doofus, so don't worry about that. Wait until you meet his parents.

  2. Oh, and smart move going by airdates. The 65 syndicated episodes the first 13 episodes that aired on ABC were made as one production season. Many ABC episodes introduce characters that end up appearing in syndicated episodes. So, obviously, placing that first batch of 13 ABC episodes AFTER the entire 65-episode syndication run gives a very false idea of how the series first unfurled during it original airings.

    Fair warning however. Even if you arrange the episodes this way, the random way the episodes aired puts the show's continuity entirely out of whack. Many characters show up randomly without any explanation or origin stories, only to have their actual origin episodes appear a few days (or even several weeks) LATER.

  3. Mike,

    Yes, the Australian-animated episodes always stood out! This one especially...almost looks like a '40's-'50's theatrical short...

    Hopefully tomorrow, I'm going to send Geo two alernate lists: one by production order, and one by airdates, but adjusting all the "origin", "Darkwing's first encounter with so-and-so", etc. episodes so that they precede all other episodes with the respective character(s).


  4. Well, I'm going on Ryan's recommendations (in comments to the initial DW post); I presume he knows what he's talking about.

    Thanks for the informative comments. People like you definitely increase the value of this blog.

  5. Ryan,

    Both of those lists are definitely going to be helpful. But going by air dates works (at least for me) because it works almost as a time capsule. Geo hasn't seen this series, so if he specifically watches them by air dates his experience will mirror what anyone who watched the show's original 1991/92 airings experienced. Which to me would be incredibly cool.

    I'm just waiting for him to get to "Justice Ducks". I can easily imagine he saying, "Who the hell are these characters?!?"


  6. Mike,

    Hmm...yes, I can, too! And maybe I shouldn't possibly be preventing that "pure" reaction from ever happening. But my reflex was to jump in and say, "Hey, wait, but the episodes aired in a screwy order..."

    But as I said in the earlier thread, I'm just passing on the info, and beyond that, Geo's decisions are his own!


  7. These shows have been repeated so many times in so many different forms that the "time capsule" thing hardly seems worth it. I would guess the people who watched them in the original order are in a distinct minority.

    Anyway, rewatching this I realised Honker knows about DW's secret identity... I guess I must have forgotten that. Come on, are they just telling everyone now?

  8. I think another problem with the "time capsule" approach is that there's another essential component to it; namely "being ten years old." Not much to be done about that. Also, while I suppose I could feign confusion when villains' origin-stories appear out of order, it would all be theater.

    He does seem pretty casual about his secret identity, doesn't he? Certainly more so than Fenton in Ducktales, though of course I haven't seen enough to really generalize.