Saturday, October 22, 2011

Darkwing Duck, Season One, Episode Five: "Night of the Living Spud"

There's a framing sequence where Darkwing--for reasons unknown--comes upon a campsite frequented by these really dickish cub-scout types; they are contemptuous of him, but I'm glad to say that he ultimately succeeds in scaring the shit out of them with the terrifying tale of the vampire potato.

Vampire potato? Sounds like Bushroot's back. Already? Hey, I don't mind; I like the guy. The idea is that he wants to make a flower into his ideal bride, but thanks to a mistake on the part of his bumbling man-eating-plant assistant, he makes a potato into a giant vampire creature, who, with the unpleasant sounds she makes, is indeed kind of frightening. He tries to make the best of a bad situation, but she breaks loose and starts infecting people with potato-zombie-hood. Can our hero save the day???

It's a pretty atmospheric, fifties-horror-movie-type episode, a highlight being when Darkwing and Launchpad are picked up while hitchhiking by a creepy Deliverance-y backwoods weasel guy (though there's a bit where the locals are convinced Darkwing's a vampire that goes on perhaps longer than it needs to). However…well, I wouldn't call this hugely dumb, but it's definitely at least a little dumb: DW & Co think they have to chant "potato" backwards to stop the monster, but then they figure out that "you don't say 'potato' backwards; you say 'potato backwards!'" Really, now.

Several milestones in this episode. First, it is, I believe, the first time we hear Darkwing's civilian name, Drake Mallard (we learned about "Mallard" at the end of part two of "Darkly Dawns the Duck," but I'm pretty sure this is the first time "Drake" has come up). Second, we meet Honker's family, though not in any great detail: his father Herb, his mother Binkie (embodying the pervasive fat husband/thin wife trope that's all over TV), and his bullying brother Tank. Plenty of room for growth here.

Stray Observations

-"Well, at least I'll have some peace and quiet." "We interrupt your peace and quiet for a special news bulletin."

"There are no vampire potatoes. Scientists who turn themselves into plants, yes, but vampire potatoes, that's ridiculous!"

-Also, the return of Hamburger Hippo!


  1. Other favorite lines include "the mystic art of shadow puppetry" and the exchange:
    "She's a potato."
    "I'd go with the blue."

    I think we need to differentiate between inadvertently dumb due to authorial incompetence, and deliberately written dumbness for the sake of comedy, or at least inspired lunacy or absurdity.

    In "Darkly Dawns the Duck," didn't he say "Nothing can stop Dark- Drake Mallard" when Gosalyn hugs him at the end when he adopts her?

  2. I stand corrected on the Drake issue; as for the exact status of the "potato backwards" issue, I think it can be a bit of a thin like to walk: there IS a difference of intentionality, no doubt. I dunno, though...I feel like it's trying to be clever and not quite getting there. It makes me think of the bit in The Lord of the Rings when they're trying to open some gate or other and the clue is "speak, friend, and enter" or something like that and they're stymied until Gandalf goes, by George, I think I've got it! You just have to say 'friend!' Brilliant! Yeah...I know you think you're being clever, JRR, but this is actually sorta embarrassing. Granted that DW is inherently goofier (okay, intentionally goofier) than LotR, and so really oughtn't to be held to the same standards, but eh, I dunno...anyway, it's not a big deal either way.