Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty-Four: "Luck o' the Ducks"

Hey, you know how I said in my entry for "Double-O-Duck" that the opening was a good indicator that the episode was gonna be pretty kickass? Well, the opening here has Webby intoning the words "Unca Scrooge! Unca Scrooge! I'm having a few close toys over for a tea party! Wanna come?" Does any more need to be said?

Scrooge has a shipment of Irish linen coming in to sell, which seems a bit picayune to me, but whatever. And…in the shipment there is a leprechaun straight out of a Lucky Charms commercial. Really, Ducktales? That's what you've decided on? Alas, yes, and the result is one of the more horrid episodes in recent memory.

Seriously, I don't want to talk about it, lest I have a fit of vomiting. Scrooge and the kids go to Ireland and Scrooge displays heavy-handed EEEEVIL with his desire to steal the leprechauns' treasure and Webby sprays saccharin all over the place in her interactions with Fardoragh (that's how the closed captioning spells his name, at any rate), and in the end Scrooge learns not to be a dick for the umpteenth time, though in a much clumsier way than usual, and…gah.

This episode was gonna suck no matter what, but the fact that it comes right after the sublime "Double-O-Duck" adds insult to injury. Hey, you assholes--you've just shown what you're able to do when you deign to make an effort, and now you're trying to pass off this half-assed nonsense? Bah!

Stray Observations

-…and that horrible little Irish-ish Jig-ish thing they all do at the end--ugh.

-Okay, one funny line: "I've been robbed of my favorite two hundred dollars and twenty-six cents!"

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty-Three: "Double-0-Duck"

Launchpad, who felicitously resembles an enemy secret agent working for FOWL (Foreign Organization for World Larceny), therefore takes on the task of impersonating him for the Duckburg Intelligence Agency, in order to uncover the villainous Dr. Nogood.

Allow me to confess here, the following: I have never seen a James Bond movie in its entirety. There's no particular reason for this; I just…didn't for a long time, and then it became sort of a "principle," albeit not a particularly serious one (I HAVE played a fair bit of N64 Goldeneye, though). The tropes of the genre are sufficiently familiar that actually being familiar with the source material to "get" parodies thereof is unnecessary, however.

Thing about this episode is, it may well be the best episode yet. The show is really firing on all cylinders here. The elements of Bond-pastiche--international jetsetting, nonsensical spy-inventions by Gyro ("G"), the dangerous femme fatale, the invincible evil sidekick, the heavy with a sinister pet cat--aren't exactly blindingly original, but they're executed with a great deal of panache and energy, and Launchpad proves more than capable of holding his own in a starring turn--his bumbling persistence carries the episode forward with a lot of momentum while not feeling at all rushed--pretty much everything that needs to be covered is covered. It's no wonder this one spawned a spin-off.

Stray Observations

-I find "Foreign Organization for World Larceny" quite hilarious. Darned generic "foreigners!"

-"Feathers Galore" is surprisingly sexually aggressive!

-…and speaking of things you're sort of surprised are able to be depicted in a Ducktales episode, Nogood ends up dying(!) in quite a gruesome fashion.

-Okay, I'll grant you, the ending--in which Launchpad and Feathers are conveniently separated by means of him quoting the ending of Casablanca--is a bit on the clumsy side.

-Really great, nearly wordless introductory sequence in which Bruno (the guy Launchpad's impersonating) evades DIA agents. If the rest of the episode's gonna be that good, you reflect, it's gonna be a damned good episode. And whaddaya know--it is.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty-Two: "Scroogerello"

Gripped by a grippe, Scrooge falls asleep as Webby reads him "Cinderella," and has a fever dream in which he takes the lead role in a reverse-gender version of the story with Beagle Boys and Glomgold as the step-people and Goldie as the princess. There's also some dicking around with Goldie captured and Scrooge & Co having to navigate a magic hedge-maze and castle, in order to chew up extra running time.

Yup, the fantasy episode riffing on an old, familiar story--the staple of idea-strapped writers everywhere. To be fair, there were a few things I liked here--well, two, basically: Launchpad as a frog is kinda funny, and I enjoyed Goldie's unexpected second appearance, and more particularly her voice actress.

But beyond that…boy. I found this pretty tedious, I have to tell you. None of the "Ducktales characters as Cinderella characters!" stuff was particularly imaginative or clever or anything. I'm pretty sure this isn't gonna turn out to be the case, but this feels very much like the desperate, last-gasp kind of thing that these sorts of episodes tend to be. Blah.

Stray Observations

-Brief, non-speaking appearance by Ludwig, as one of the guys who gets his head smashed in the food by a Beagle Boy.

-The beatnik Beagle is now some sort of combination beatnik/disco Beagle. Very strange.

-One of the Beagles, on how they got transformed back from nightmarish bull/frog hybrids: "We found an ugly princess who'll kiss anyone on the first date." Dude. Not appropriate.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty-One: "The Right Duck"

Scrooge fires Launchpad for incompetence, though it's not clear why THIS was suddenly the last straw. He tries to go into Duckburg's space program to prove his awesomeness, but actually, the space program people only want him 'cause he sucks as a pilot and they need someone like that to test their new idiot-proof rocket. He gets in the wrong rocket with Doofus and they go to Mars and there are Martians and they get captured and then they escape and they stop the missile meant to destroy Earth and that's it.

The head of the space program, Dr. Von Geezer, is, by his name and his accent, clearly one of those former nazi propulsion engineers who emigrated to the US after the war, where they worked for the government and appeared in Disney TV specials. That's kind of interesting. But that's about all that's interesting. The episode is rushed and jumbled and, really, just plain dumb, from the training sequence where Launchpad is judged to be incompetent even though it's obvious that all of his "failures" are mechanical in nature and not remotely his fault to the really lazy, slapdash depiction of the Martians and their despotic ruler, to--this is probably the worst--Doofus's awful, passive-aggressive whining.

When it seems like the Martians are attacking Earth, there's this incredibly dopey sequence where Scrooge crams all his stuff in closets so they can't take it. That kind of typifies the episode--it was really obviously put together very hastily by people who didn't have any interest in properly characterizing anyone--hence, everyone is just really annoying and dumb. It's amazing how quickly this show can oscillate between really good and plain ol' crap.

Stray Observations

-…and Launchpad submits a childish crayon drawing for his "application." See what I mean? Nobody cared that this made no sense; it was just "Launchpad is dumb, so let's have him do this dumb thing and knock off early."

-Two Martians die offstage. Is this the first time death has occurred in a Ducktales episode?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Forty: "Raiders of the Lost Harp"

In an opening scene that parodies the opening of The Exorcist, workers uncover the entrance to the ruins of Troy; there, Scrooge and HDL find a whole bunch of treasure, the pièce de resistance being a magic harp that tells when people are lying, which is in a casket held by a giant minotaur statue. They take it and go. Magica (making her first appearance in a while) finds out about it and is filled with harp-lust; meanwhile, the statue comes to life and plods across the ocean to recover the stolen harp.

This is a pretty classy episode, I've gotta tell you. It's packed full of incident--maybe slightly too much so; I can easily see this working as a two-part episode--and the character's reactions to the harp are well-done. It had a decidedly Barksian feel, and the implacability of the statue is genuinely frightening. Magica has never been better, either; she's not interested in the dime here, but that's canonically acceptable, if you recall "Isle of the Golden Geese," and she makes a variety of neat transformations as she pursues the harp. She also has a cool goblin chauffeur and a sweet raven-monster-thing helicopter.

There is one thing that doesn't make sense: Scrooge locks the harp in his desk and tosses the key in his vault for safekeeping, but…for some reason he can open it just as easily with HDL's "skate key?" Wuh? We're supposed to believe that Scrooge is so cavalier about security that he'd have a desk that any key fits? Also: "Bruce Springchicken." Please, no. But these are more or less quibbles. This episode is the first unqualified success the show's seen in a long time.

Stray Observations

-The title is appropriate, given that the Ducktales title-logo is a takeoff of the one from Indiana Jones.

-"Achilles' Golden Chariot." "Hector's Golden Spear." As in any number of videogames, I question what exactly the writers think gold is like, if they imagine it would be useful for weaponry.

-The show has pretty clearly forgotten that Ratface (sorry, "Poe") was originally supposed to be Magica's transformed brother.

HDL, cramming stuff into their closet: "Whose bright idea was it to leave the air mattress inflated?"

-Magica subscribes to something called Tomb Magazine.

-"Beautiful ladies who want to meet me don't need an appointment." It always feels very strange when Scrooge displays romantic and/or sexual interest in women who aren't Goldie.

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Nine: "Back Out in the Outback"

Is it just me, or does Alan Young play up Scrooge's Scottish accent more than usual here? Most peculiar.

Something's wrong with Scrooge's sheep farm in Australia (the set-up is similar to "Queen of the Wild Dog Pack," but that's about as far as the resemblance goes)--weird UFO things are messing things up by shearing the sheep--so Scrooge, HDL, and Webby come in to investigate. Webby ends up getting lost, so she has to do her thing while the others look for her and try to solve the UFO mystery.

Although I know some people object to Webby's excessive "cuteness," I generally haven't found it to be much of a problem, but GOOD LORD--the whole "Webby befriends adorable Australian animals" business is just about more than a man can bear. I very nearly went into sugar shock.

Well, that part's at least memorable, I suppose, but the central mystery here isn't especially interesting. It was pretty obvious from the moment he appeared that the manager of the ranch, Duke, would turn out to be a bad guy; I hoped briefly that they'd surprise us by not having this come to pass, but no such luck. I wonder if there's an intentional critique here: sure, Duke's bad and all, but, as he explains it, "Scrooge has gotten rich off the sweat of my brow long enough" (or something like that; I didn't write it down), and Scrooge at one point remarks "you and Duke aren't just my friends--you're my trustworthy, low-paid employees." It's a funny line, but maybe if Scrooge weren't so exploitive, he wouldn't have problems like this. Then again, the other employee, Sundowner, gets rewarded for accepting his lot, so I dunno. Highly questionable, is what I find this.

It's also what I find the climax: in order to stop the UFOs (which turn out to be mechanical, remote-controlled boomerangs with blades on them), HDL come up with a plan where they use a giant slingshot to launch a bunch of regular boomerangs out of a plane to destroy them. Even ignoring the fact that a boomerang will not fly properly if you just throw it any old way (imagine trying to throw a frisbee like a baseball), there would be no reason to expect that they would actually hit the evil boomerangs. And yet…this idiotic plan works perfectly. Intelligence-insulting nonsense like this does not sit well with me.

Not painfully bad, but certainly not particularly good.

Stray Observations

-I'm giving the episode the benefit of the doubt and assuming that the animals which the characters refer to as "warthogs" (or, in Webby's vomitous case, "wartyhogs") are in fact meant to be feral pigs, which, unlike warthogs, actually exist in the wild in Australia--as opposed to the writers just being really clueless about the native fauna.

-Webby DOES ride (well, sleep, anyway, but close enough) in a kangaroo's pouch, thus following the local, state, and federal laws that require this for any cartoon set in Australia.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Eight: "Time Teasers"

Man, this is slightly alarming: apparently, I saw this episode back in the day. I say this only because I distinctly remembered the Beagle Boys singing the highly Oedipal "I Want a Girl (just like the girl who married dear old dad)." I hadn't the faintest recollection of anything else in the episode. How many of these did I see that I just don't remember?

In this story, Gyro invents a magic watch that stops time; the Beagles steal it and use it to rob Scrooge. As Chris is fond of pointing out, Don Rosa's later story "On Stolen Time" uses the same premise. I think it's VERY questionable whether or not Rosa was actually inspired by the episode, though. The "time-stopping-artifact" trope is very well-worn, and if you're going to apply that to the duck universe, giving it to the Beagles is the most obvious thing to do. And it's not like cartoon and comic have anything else in common that would indicate a connection.

Regardless, the episode's okay, though it didn't exactly rock my world--certainly not as good as Rosa's effort. The plot construction is a little rickety: the first act is devoted to the kids co-opting the time device to get their work done more quickly and to influence a baseball game--you sorta think they'll learn some sorta lesson about not cheating in this fashion, but it is not to be. The bit with the kids goes on for so long that for a while I almost thought that the Beagles wouldn't be involved, and that the whole episode would be a meditation of some sort on the ethics of time-stopping. That would've been a cool episode. Alas, it is not to be, as watch and subsequently money are stolen. Then, there's a left-field turn as the Beagles idiotically break the device and thereby go back in time, where they're captured by a group of pirates led by Pete. Scrooge and HDL must follow to sort things out. I cannot help but feel that the ramifications and uses of the time device never get explored in the detail that they should, though the Beagles--forced to entertain Pete on his birthday--make a pretty funny barbershop trio, and his reason for wanting to capture them after their escape--"Great singin' groups don't come along every day!"--is similarly amusing.

Stray Observations

-The Duckburg Mallards game is in the morning, for some reason. Also, "by stopping time with every pitch, we can help the Mallards win their first game EVER!" Look: I've watched plenty of really dreadful minor-league baseball teams in my day, and none of them have had anything close to a "perfect" losing record. This would only be possible if the episode were taking place early in the Mallards' inaugural season.

--I like how HDL apparently were initially under the impression that a frozen baseball game would be fun to watch. A bit slow on the uptake, eh?

-I like--or at least am alarmed by--the trigger-happiness of fictional law-enforcement: the Beagle Boys are first seen robbing a bank, and after HDL use the watch to sabotage them, the security guard attempts to bring them down in a hail of bullets. I think there are both safety and legal ramifications to this.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Seven: "Ducks of the West"

So the idea is that Scrooge's Texas oil wells have dried up and he and the kids go down to investigate. Scrooge bets away his entire fortune to a JR-Ewing-parody (when I think "JR," I think, Gaddis, but that's neither here nor there) and then they have to stop a "ghost" who was the one diverting away the oil to a nearby ghost town.

I'm not gonna lie to you: this episode caused me physical pain with its stupidity. Scrooge will go broke if the oil doesn't start up again? In spite of the fact that, as the series (let alone the comics) has made abundantly clear, he has all sorts of other business concerns? He's willing to gamble away his entire fortune* without even knowing the details of what the contest will involve? And then, having done this (and not having bothered to question the incredibly obvious tricks that JR used to cheat), he has barely any noticeable reaction--instead he's more concerned with finding the missing oil, which wouldn't be his anymore anyway? And then, after finding said oil, JR conveniently morphs into a good guy and just gives back his whole fortune, no further action needed? Seriously, was this episode written by people with severe head injuries?

*Reminding me of his insane decision to give his entire fortune in exchange for a lentil concern in that batty-ass Romano Scarpa story "The Lentils of Babylon."

There were a few small things I liked about this episode: Scrooge's affectation of a Texas accent is pretty hilarious, and I enjoyed his foreman, Wildcat's, laconic "yeps" and "nopes." Oh, and the "ghost" buffalo that the kids save is pretty cute. But that's all. This is not a good episode; it harkens back to the bad old days of "The Duckman of Aquatraz" and "The Money Vanishes."

Stray Observations

-I badly wanted some of the bits with oil wells to segue into a There Will Be Blood parody, if only this episode didn't appear twenty-odd years before that movie.

-Know what's good? The Wall of Voodoo song "Call of the West." What's this have to do with the episode? Not much, but I'm trying to forget the episode, so you'll have to forgive me.

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Six: "The Golden Fleecing"


YES! Even if this episode sucked in every other way, it would STILL have Ludwig Von Drake! He looks perfect, he sounds perfect, and his mannerisms are perfect. In other words, if it's not already clear, a perfect portrayal. The internet tells me that this is his only appearance in the show, which sucks, 'cause he's just plain great.

The Barks story isn't exactly one of my favorites (remind me to do an entry on it one of these days), but it has its moments. I guess you could say the same for this episode. If the catalyst for the action in the original is somewhat contrived, this one takes contrivedness to a whole new level. Get this: Launchpad claims that his plane was messed up by flying bird-women (depicted after the manner of that one Twilight Zone episode, sort of); then, Scrooge is reading a book about the golden fleece to HDL and sees a picture of a harpie (no longer "larkies"), and thinks HOLY CRAP! Those things Launchpad saw must be harpies! Which must mean the golden fleece is real! That's some Glenn-Beck-level logic right there.

But whatever, I guess! Scrooge, HDL, and Launchpad go to Greece (actually, the trip is severely truncated, and there's no real sense of place), where they find harpies, who capture Launchpad so as to fête him; meanwhile, Scrooge and HDL go off to find the fleece, and encounter the dragon, though it's much less cool-looking than it is in the story. There's also a bad moment where they want to check what the Guidebook says about dragons, only to find "Dragons are a myth. They don't exist." Dude. The guidebook is NEVER WRONG, let alone in the name of a lame joke. Not cool, guys.

So anyway, having fattened him up, the harpies want to sacrifice Launchpad to the dragon; there's an escape-type-thing, and the REAL difference from the Barks story comes when all involved decide that they can't take the golden fleece after all, 'cause that would be stealing. And then, the harpies turn friendly--they're certainly more likable than they are in the comic. I'm not saying that Scrooge's corruption and subsequent redemption here isn't a little bit heavy-handed, but it's neat to see the episode sort of tackling questions that are only implicitly addressed in the original stories: what gives Scrooge the right to all this ancient treasure?

So yeah, not a bad episode on balance, in spite of some initial dopiness.

Stray Observations

-"Those are some of my best crashes yet," whereupon HDL hold up numbers like Olympic judges--pretty amusing bit of absurdism.

"I've survived three thousand eight hundred seventy-six crashes!" If Launchpad is in his early thirties, that's a-hundred-thirty-ish crashes a year, so about one every three-ish days. That actually sounds about right.

A nonsensical, abortive joke with the Hall of Echoes: "amazing! It only echoes the word echo!" But then it proceeds to go ahead and echo the word "fleece" anyway. I have no idea what the writers had in mind there.

-Where the hell did this crazy pedal-powered three-seater airplane come from?

-Listen: it's not "fattening someone up" if you just make him eat 'til he's full. He has to have time to convert that food into fat. If you just eat him/feed him to the dragon/whatever right away, all you'll get are a bunch of gross semi-digested stomach contents, and if you're okay with that, why not just cut out the middleman and eat the food from the beginning?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Five: "Merit-Time Adventure"

Scrooge's cargo ship is sunk by a sea serpent, which goes on to eat Scrooge himself; meanwhile, the kids (including Webby) are doing some merit-badge-earning-type stuff. Naturally, the sea serpent is a human (well, avian) construction (there's a certain similarity to "Terror of the River"), and it must be stopped, Scrooge rescued, and merit badges earned.

I've gotta tell you, there's not much I liked about this episode, for two main reasons. First: there's the portrayal of the Woodchucks. For one thing, we have Launchpad as a troop leader again, which is so wrong-headed it drives me crazy. I don't like when the writers do stupid, lazy things just because it's easy. Also, they have an awful, horrific, intolerable chant where they go "Wacka-Wacka-Woodchuck." Whoever came up with that one should certainly be thrown off a steep embankment. Next, there's Webby. Now, I COULD just shout "HEY! The Junior Woodchucks are NOT coeducational! She should be in the Chickadee Patrol!" And, in fact, that's just what I'm going to do: HEY! The Junior Woodchucks are NOT coeducational! She should be in the Chickadee Patrol! Still, that's not my main concern, even though having her as part of a rival scouting group could provide some good story ideas. No, my problem is that she's presented as a beginner Woodchuck, and she outshines HDL and Doofus because they're just half-assing it, on the basis that they have enough Merit Badges already. Now look, I appreciate the feminist message and everything, but the idea of HDL as Woodchuck slackers is so fundamentally opposed to everything we know about their character the whole thing is just too ridiculous to take seriously. Gromph.

My second concern is that the plot just falls apart. There's a Black Pete character (not nearly as adorable as the one in "Pearl of Wisdom," sadly). When Scrooge's ship sinks, he takes possession of the cargo. The kind of thing that a bad guy is going to do, right? But then the "stolen cargo" plot is completely dropped and Pete, along with the also-shady Captain Mallard, become good guys and help to deal with the serpent. Making Pete behave against type is an interesting surprise, but the initial plot is never resolved, and in the end he just disappears and the show doesn't make even the most token effort to reconcile his earlier and later behavior. Please tell me that there's something I missed that would make this less poorly-plotted than it initially appears. Thanks.

Stray Observations

-…and Doofus's crush on Launchpad is becoming somewhat creepily intense.

-"Captain Mallard and Dogface Pete seem pretty chummy."
"Like me and Launchpad?"
"Like Bonnie and Clyde!"
So what you're trying to tell me is, they're fucking. Come on--you can say it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Four: "Catch as Cash Can," part four: "Working for Scales"

Hmm. This is definitely the best of the four, though "classic" would be pushing it. The idea is that Scrooge is flying his money to be weighed on the city of Atlantis, now airborne with balloons, which certainly gets credit for the novelty factor. But here's what REALLY bugs me about this one: there's a super-ultra-contrived conflict between Scrooge and the nephews--because they're searching for Atlantean treasure to help him win, they forget that they're meant to be minding the cloud-making-machine, which shielded the island from sight. This sends him into a ridiculously over-the-top, towering rage. "And I thought that some day you lads would follow in my footsteps--obviously, I was wrong!" It's absurdly out-of-character, whether in cartoon or comic form, and their response--"We're nothing but a bunch of blockheaded, blundering, good-for-nothing, goof-ups!" is similarly hyperbolic. All this is quite dumb, but what really gets my goat is that Scrooge is never made to acknowledge that he was being a dick--the kids only get back into his good graces because they in fact find the treasure in question (as usual with situations like this in Ducktales, the "secret" turns out to be laughably obvious). Really leaves a sour taste in my mouth, that does.

Shame, because there IS a lot to recommend this episode: the sky-high hi-jinks are generally good (though those damn Beagle Boys are again the antagonists in that regard), and the interactions between Glomgold and the Indian leader-guy are priceless. I know I described him as "risibly-accented" in his appearance in the first part of this serial, but, here, well, I dunno--I feel like I shouldn't be laughing at over-the-top ethnic stereotypes (though they're pretty harmless here), but the guy's just hilarious, particularly his keen interest in Glomgold's "talking coat" (he has a walkie-talkie in there with which he surreptitiously communicates with the Beagles).

Anyway, Scrooge wins, obviously, though all of the money, his and Glomgold's, gets mixed up together, which seems like it would present problems. And it's hard not to wonder why all this weighing couldn't have just taken place back in Duckburg. Oh well! It's over now, at any rate. Overall, "Catch as Cash Can" has its moments, but in the aggregate, it's hard to think of it as anything more than mediocre.

Stray Observations

-"We're gonna steal some of Glomgold's fortune!" Only "some?" Very magnanimous of them.

-Ridiculously perfect aim when HDL use a makeshift catapult to detach the beagles' planes from the island.

-"Gee--I never crashed a briefcase before!"

-"Quick! Hide! It is a deranged water buffalo!"

-"Straw that Broke the Camel's Back" notwithstanding, ONE DIME WILL NOT MAKE THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE. Sheesh.

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Three: "Catch as Cash Can," part three: "Aqua Ducks"

Huh. No HDL in this episode. Again, I ask: a unique occurrence? You might wonder: why the heck would Scrooge leave the kids at home but bring an incompetent like Doofus? The answer is: so that we can see three characters of dubious competence--Doofus, Launchpad, Gyro--team up to save the day. Which is I guess an okay idea, even if the narrative contrivance is pretty obvious, but the episode does rather excessively play up their uselessness for much of the episode so that their ultimate victory can be more impressive.

The episode has a fair few similarities to Barks' "Sunken City:" trying to recover money from the ocean floor and being captured by fish-people who may or may not be the descendants of Atlanteans (Gyro suggests that the nearby city is Atlantis, but this is never verified). It is indeed a marginal improvement on "A Whale of Bad Time"--our heroes' ultimate escape plan is kind of creative, albeit goofy--but I wouldn't call it great. The fish-guys are pretty charmless, and while the dolphins that Doofus befriends are cute enough, I suppose, they don't really make that much of an impression. At any rate, the kaiju-type monster that the ducks have to vie with is pretty cool.

Stray Observations

-Funny opening in which--after another disastrous landing--Scrooge and Launchpad spin into Gyro's house.

-Launchpad, on reading the bottom of the "Marinara Trench:" "Ground floor--pots, pans, ladies' lingerie and lots of mud." An Are You Being Served? reference in a Ducktales episode? Never would've seen that coming.

-"Thanks to Flintheart Glomgold, my fortune is sitting on the bottom of the ocean!''--Well, as noted in the entry for the previous episode, you've gotta take a lot of the blame for that yourself.

-Doofus refers to "my mom," the only piece of evidence so far that would contradict my theory that he's an insane vagrant. Still not entirely convinced, though.

The makeshift scuba helmet that they fit out for Launchpad is obviously not remotely close to watertight.

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-Two: "Catch as Cash Can," part two: "A Whale of a Bad Time"

So as the episode opens, HDL are checkin' out Scrooge's ice cream factory, but their suspicions are raised when the premises are restricted and they see a bunch of non-responsive ice-cream-truck drivers headed away, and it's transparently obvious to me that Scrooge is using subterfuge to transport his cash, but not to them, apparently, so we have to drag this out for a while. He's transporting it by ship, but alas, the ship done got sunk. Fortunately, this DOES lead to the most hilarious thing in the series, as Scrooge goes completely nuts while repeatedly shouting "a sea monster ate my ice cream!" The fact that nobody seems to have done a techno remix of this has caused me to lose faith in the internet.

But anyway, yeah. Sea monster. "Nonsense, Webby," Scrooge avers, apparently having forgotten all about "Home Sweet Homer" and "Bermuda Triangle Tangle." "there's no such thing as sea monsters." It transpires--quelle surprise--that this is a Glomgold plot, and the monster's a robot (it's immediately obvious that it's a robot, but the ducks are apparently supposed to be extremely dim, so it takes them a while to figure it out.

The ship is being operated by a scientist name Dr. Bluebottle--a horribly annoying German who is kinda like a Mickey Mouse villain but, well, annoyinger--and Scrooge and Donald have to stop him. Yay! Donald! Aside from his brief cameo in "Home Sweet Homer," hasn't appeared since episode seven. I DEMAND MORE DONALD.

And it actually ends without resolving everything, which is sort of good, but the final sequence is pretty illogical: the robo-submarine sinks, and Bluebottle tries to stop Donald and Scrooge by claiming that ONLY HE can return it to the surface. No, Scrooge replies, and jettisons the money, causing it to float to the surface. Um…if Bluebottle was in fact capable of raising it--and the episode gives us no reason to believe otherwise--why not just let him do it and them subdue him? Going to all the trouble of salvaging the money again seems like a lot of work for what appears to be nothing more than a point of pride.

Well, in spite of all this, I didn't hate the episode. Didn't love it, but it was certainly better than the last one. If this trend continues, the final part may be something close to classic. Not holding my breath, though.

Stray Observations

-This is surely the nadir of the obsessive, nonsensical duck-punning: Bluebottle hopes to win the "No-Bill Prize." What?

-Glomgold isn't actually stealing Scrooge's money; he's just keeping it hidden 'til after the weighing. That seems uncharacteristic.

-The closed-captioning renders "I don't see any salvage ships around" as the substantially more meaningless "I don't see any sailboat ships around."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Thirty-One: "Catch as Cash Can," part one: "A Drain on the Economy"

Oh look, it's a multi-part episode. I admire the narrative ambition, in theory at least, but from this first episode, it appears that--as with the pilot episode--the writers aren't really going to be able to build such a thing that isn't so choppy it might as well be entirely separate episodes.

The central plot is painfully contrived: there's an India-ish country called "Macaroon" that has a magic kind of fruit that can provide illumination to replace lightbulbs and whatnot. But, according to the country's risibly-accented ruler, "the only person qualified to market our fruit is the richest man in the world," which is about as flawed as premises get. But alas, it turns out that Scrooge and Glomgold are, as far as anyone can tell, equally rich, so the only way to tell which of them is "the only person qualified" is to lug all that cash down and weigh it. 'Cause it stands to reason that the one who has .001 milligrams more money is going to be qualified, whereas the other one would fatally botch the operation, right? Of course.

But all this is beside the point: Glomgold hires the Beagle Boys to steal Scrooge's money so he'll lose! Oh noes! Have I mentioned how much I hate the Ducktales Beagle Boys? Probably every time they've appeared, huh? Well, I do. Their portrayal is simply an unmitigated failure, and the show's creators should bow their heads in shame. Anyway, the episode consists of them attempting to rob Scrooge. Slapstick goofiness results. Some of it's mildly pleasant, but none of it is exactly riveting. Eventually, Scrooge's money falls down a storm drain, and it must be recovered. "If I lose one single penny in the next nine days, Flintheart will be declared the world's richest duck!" Scrooge declares. The idea that you could recover everything after such a calamity without losing so much as one cent...jeez.

Anyway, that's about that. Not the worst I've seen, but certainly not very good; neither the portrayals of Scrooge nor HDL are at all up-to-par, and the action is less-than-compelling even when it's not forcing the viewer to contemplate the underlying ridiculousness. I'd be lying it I said I was enthused for the next three parts. But I will persevere!

Stray Observations

-In the sewers, the kids are easily scared away by Beagle Boys in a really fake-looking alligator suit. Just an example of poor characterization; the Junior Woodchucks I know would never be fooled so easily.

-"Boy, the Department of Water and Power's gonna hear from me!" "Yeah! First fluoridation, now alligators!" Um…what? I know it's at least meant to be joke-y, but I feel about the same about this as I would if the show just casually stuck in a reference to the fakeness of the moon landings.