Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Ten: "Super Ducktales," part five: "Money to Burn"

So thinking back on the last episode, I realize: Scrooge sold his mansion to Ma Beagle for one hundred fifty million dollars. I realize that having no more than that (minus various expenses) would make him think he was in the "poorhouse," but the episode--as well as the recap thing this week--seems to want us to believe that this is objectively true, which it really isn't. Also, how exactly did the Beagles lose ownership of the mansion? As far as I can tell, it was never actually demonstrated that they had stolen Scrooge's money--maybe the thinking was that it just seemed self-evident, but if so, why aren't they in jail at the end?--so what's the problem?

OKAY. So as this episode opens, Scrooge's bin is somewhere beneath the waves, and he has to reclaim it. Cue: aliens. Of course. They take the bin back to their homeworld, as one does. Aliens harvesting metal from Earth's oceans? I was harboring the hope that these would be the guys from Barks' "Lost Beneath the Sea," but no such luck: instead, they're just miscellaneous robots.

Scrooge, Launchpad, and Gizmo follow them via spaceship. Of the ship, Launchpad comments that it "gets thirty-five light years to the gallon." The show gets points for realizing that a light year is a measure of distance rather than time; it loses these points in the endgame, however, when Scrooge, defying all known laws of physics, swims through space to the bin and somehow propels it back to Earth. And even if there wasn't that, there's the fact that, with no explanation, our heroes have no problem breathing without helmets (and were so confident that this would be the case that they don't even initially wear helmets out) on the robots' planet. Sorry--better luck next time!

Yeah, the whole robot-thing is kinda left-field and arbitrary, but it does provide a good opportunity for Fenton to strut his stuff, which is portrayed reasonably well. I like the way he beats the slightly deranged chief robot (nicely portrayed) by winning a counting contest against it, and I like his newfound confidence in the end, and the fact that he gets a date with his dream girl. Go Fenton! Still…it must be said, the logic here isn't particularly, well, logical. When he loses the suit, Scrooge (having learned his true identity) laments that he's useless without it, to which he responds "But I'M Gizmoduck! He's just Fenton Crackshell with aluminum siding!" Well…not really. It's very clever the way he uses his counting ability to prevail against the boss robot, but that has nothing to do with what he's able to do as Gizmoduck--there's still no evidence that anybody wouldn't be able to do exactly what he does, Gizmowise, if they had it.

I'll overlook that, though, 'cause I like Fenton, and although it wasn't perfect, I'd still say that this was the best multi-part Ducktales thing yet by a rather wide margin.

Stray Observations

-Gizmoduck's arsenal includes, along with such must-haves as a cream pie, a crab, and a turkey baster, a live skunk, which freaks out and runs off. Poor critter--it doesn't stand a chance on the robot planet. I think that's something that would have genuinely bothered me if I'd seen this when I was a little kid.

-Funny bit: as the robot boss is claiming to be "the fastest, most sophisticated computer in the universe," it turns its head and you can see the port marked "VHF cable" on the back.

-…and Fenton's mother's actually not as old as she initially seems, as becomes apparent when she's not wearing curlers. Which certainly makes chronological sense.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Nine: "Super Ducktales," part four: "The Billionaire Beagles' Club"

This one is, I think, more Ma-Beagle-centric than any other episode to date. That's not a bad thing: she's about the only thing I like, Ducktales-Beagles-wise, and seeing her threatening society people and brandishing a blackjack while wearing an absurdly gaudy evening gown--let alone threatening similar people at gunpoint into playing hopscotch(?) with her--is definitely amusing.

So yeah, with the RC-controlled Gizmoduck's help, the Beagles have nabbed Scrooge's bin, necessitating that he sell his mansion for cash, which the Beagles buy. You know…I know that even in Barks, the question of whether Scrooge's bin actually represents ALL of his money is answered in contradictory ways in different stories, but for whatever reason, the way his being-left-penniless here worked just sorta makes me roll my eyes. It just feels very forced. Also, the idea that the Beagles can get away with this because, hey, who KNOWS where their sudden windfall of cash came from? Well, obviously I know better than to expect anything like realism on Ducktales, but last night on Breaking Bad, a problem that came up was that the business that the protagonists bought for money-laundering purposes wasn't big enough to plausibly launder all the meth money coming in. Hey, I KNOW it's unfair and somewhat insane to compare Ducktales and Breaking Bad! But it's front and center in my mind! I can't HELP it! And Ducktales is NOT doing well in this comparison.

But never mind--it's still a pretty good episode, though not particularly Fenton-heavy. You'd think they might've done a bit more with his plight as a Beagle-slave--and his "escape" (HDL just swipe the control; no problem) is a little anti-climactic, but hey, you know, it's Ducktales. It wasn't half bad. It wasn't. Half. Bad.

Stray Observations

-Ma Beagle has tattoos of hearts with arrows through them on both her arms. Love to know what the story is there.

-Even assuming that the tour guide is somehow empowered to sell Ma Beagle the Venus de Milo equivalent, it would sure as hell have to be be for a lot more than four hundred thousand dollars. Some Ducktales writer that we could name if we could be bothered to look up his or her name is wholly unfamiliar with the world of art collecting.

-Scrooge disguised as a baby? There's some serious size-distortion going on for that to be even remotely plausible.

-The idea that HDL can't tell each other apart without their color-coding seems extremely dubious, especially after "The Duck in the Iron Mask."

-Dude, you can't simultaneously have the Bin-money be Scrooge's only source of cash and have him have sentimental attachments to specific bits of money. One or the other! Otherwise it's just dumb.

-Okay, I KNOW I'm not supposed to question these things, but the idea that the Beagles themselves would be allowed to serve on Scrooge's jury?  Come the fuck on.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Eight: "Super Ducktales," part three: "Full Metal Duck"

The episode starts with Gizmoduck battling the evil robot from last episode. I read on wikipedia that Gizmo's original name was the more generic "Roboduck," which makes the Robocop connection more explicit. After that's over, the episode becomes fairly plotless (but in a good way!), as Gizmoduck becomes a hero to all and Fenton has to figure out how the suit works and like that. The question is: how the heck is he possibly supposed to be leading this double life? Scrooge is okay with his accountant just vanishing now that he has a sweet new security officer? I imagine things would've gotten awfully hairy if Clark Kent and Superman both had jobs at the Daily Planet.

Fenton's mother seems to be emerging as a rather delightful character. Her saturnine line delivery is comic gold (her only response to her son showing up in his new outfit: "Fenton--did you join a heavy metal band?" a line that works pretty much entirely because of how she says it), and there's a weird moment of pathos when her TV remote causes the suit to come off ("Mama! The remote control! Look what you did!" "Too bad your father didn't see this--he thought I was worthless.").

Anyway, after Gizmo does some day-saving-type activities, the Beagles are feeling frustrated, until the super-smart Megabyte Beagle (you know he's super-smart because he wears a mortarboard cap everywhere for no reason, as geniuses tend to do) breaks out of jail and comes up with a way to control the Gizmo suit from afar. Oh no! What will happen next?!?

Stray Observations

-Scrooge watches the initial fight from a World-War-I-style trench, for some reason.

-"Okay, you leave me no choice--I'll have to push ALL my buttons!"

-Seriously, they couldn't come up with a 'b' name for him? "Braniac Beagle?" I guess in 1989, megabytes as a concept just seemed too cool and sexy not to reference.

-His number is the sixth root of 716 to the sixth power. Cute.

"You wouldna torture innocent people!" "Oh yeah? We'll make 'em listen to bagpipe music!" "Oh, this is worse than the terrorists who held the city attorney hostage with an accordion!" Seriously, the only people who think bagpipe and accordion music is automatically bad are either completely tone-deaf or lazy hacks who don't know anything about either instrument but are eager to pile on for the sake of dumb jokes because they have the vague sense that it's the "cool" thing to do.

-Brief, non-speaking appearance by Doofus. I hadn't even noticed his recent absence, which gives you an accurate picture of how much I'm into the character.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Seven: "Super Ducktales," part two: "Frozen Assets"

"Frozen Assets" is nicely congruent with last episode's title. I wish they could continue this "assets" theme, but alas, 'tis not to be. Not that I really can think of any more "assets" phrases that would be of use...

So our heroes rather quickly get Scrooge's money back from the Beagles by freezing the lake and carting it away. But alas! Fenton brilliantly uses Scrooge's dime to make a phone call! Yeah…again, the kind of excessive dumbness I'm not that fond of. Scrooge orders him to get it back (showing an inordinate amount of trust), but rather than just, oh, I don't know, getting someone to open up the payphone to retrieve it, Fenton chases it around and is about to recover it when it's stolen by the Beagles, along with a whole bag of other dimes, in a bank raid.

It's up to Fenton to get it back, and this is when the character's Warner-Brothers influence really asserts itself…for better or worse (and if there were any doubt, his declaration, after being thrown out of the Beagles' shack, that "of course you know, this means...a skirmish!" should get rid of THAT in a hurry).

Now, Fenton's efforts to get the dime back ARE fairly amusing, especially when he pretends to be "Bermuda Beagle" and tries to infiltrate the family, and Ma Beagle has to flip through the photo album to verify whether or not she has a son named "Bermuda" (again with the lame disguises that work). The problem I have, though, is that...well, Warner Bros cartoons can be highly entertaining, but the characters don't have the emotional range or depth that the best Disney characters do, do they? So if that's the way it's gonna be with Fenton from now on, he's going to be a decidedly limited character.

So anyway, Scrooge wants Gyro to build him a security robot. After the first model (clearly influenced by the enforcement droid in Robocop that malfunctions and kills a guy) proves sub-optimal, Scrooge gets him to build one that'll be under human (or duck) control; hence, Gizmoduck, which Fenton commandeers and uses to kick some Beagle ass, in a somewhat amusing sequence where they drive a car through the upper level of a hotel. Once again, it's not too easy to know what to say about this Gizmoduck business. It's okay, but it doesn't for the time being, seem to present too many story ideas beyond the generic "Comic Mischief." We'll see; we'll see.

Stray Observations

-Seriously, the kids are toting Scrooge's cash back to the bin one coin at a time? Come on, now!

-Actually, it IS funny how Fenton recovers the dime: a Beagle Boy thinks he's a drive-through window and makes an order, to which he responds "that'll be a large bag of dimes, please." Nicely done.

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Six: "Super Ducktales," part one: "Liquid Assets"

Huh. Who knew that there was a Ducktales episode (or two) based on "Only a Poor Old Man?" Well…Barks fans who've seen this episode, I guess. Dumb question. Loosely based, to be sure, but when a Beagle tricks Fenton into unleashing super termites on the dam, it becomes apparent that the similarities are no coincidence.

So that's the plot, basically: Scrooge has to relocate his money bin due to some sorta eminent domain thing (and Beagle manipulation), and the Beagles, naturally, try to take over.

Yeah, Fenton (who now has HIS own place in the opening sequence). Am I in danger of overrating the character just because he's not Bubba? Maybe, but he seems okay so far. It actually makes organic sense that Scrooge would need an accountant, even if it's not quite clear that Fenton would be as psychotically determined to get the job as he is. I mean, sure the bean-counting job may suck and all, but it still seems a bit much.

Still, I like his enthusiasm, and I like the fact that he's able to use it to sort of overwhelm Scrooge. It's a different character dynamic than we've seen in the past. He is, it must be said, a little Daffy-Duck-esque, but not really in a bad way. Only thing I'm not necessarily keen on is his bumbling--okay, strike that; some bumbling is fine, but when he hears that Scrooge is keen on "liquid assets," so he responds by dumping all of his money in the lake (as opposed to "Only a Poor Old Man," where it gets laked at Scrooge's own behest)? Come on, now. I realize it's a cartoon, but the fact remains, that's more "mentally-impaired" than "bumbling." That sort of thing could get really, really grating if done to excess.

The business with his mother, who sits around and watches soap operas all day, is another thing that could go either way: it's a potentially interesting character dynamic for sure, but it could also get horribly annoying. There needs to be at least some effort made to humanize her, or she'll just get unpleasant to watch.

Still and all, though, this was a pretty decent episode, and I have high hopes for the rest of the serial.

Stray Observations

-And yes: maybe the fact that I actually like this just shows how dopily inconsistent I am, but I find it hilarious the way Scrooge is tricked into thinking that a Beagle Boy is a real-estate agent. In spite of the fact that he's still wearing his number. And his mask. And claims to be from "BB Realty." But hey--he has a bad suit and a toupee! Bam! Later, Scrooge returns the favor by pretending to be a building inspector. Good stuff all around.

-Funny bit with Launchpad, off-camera, communicating with Scrooge via telephone: "Why are people screaming?" "Aw, the sissies never saw a shopping mall collapse before. But don't worry--I'm okay!" An effective use of telling rather than showing.

-Scrooge's worry room makes an appearance! A Ducktales first?

Brief note on Ducktales and ethical questions

So I was thinking about the big plot hole in "Time Is Money"--that Scrooge would still have to pay Glomgold for the island even after changing the past (assuming that graffiti carved in rock really constitutes legal proof of ownership and disregarding the fact that in that case, Glomgold would never have bought the islands in the first place--your brain will hurt if you think too much about this). The big reason for this, of course, is that the writers wanted for there to be this conflict, so there was gonna be this CONFLICT, dammit. But I wonder if there might also be an element here--conscious or not--of feeling as though it would somehow be "unfair" of Scrooge to just snatch the island away from Glomgold like that, even though Glomgold screwed HIM over first by terraforming it away from him--as we know, Ducktales Scrooge is a good deal "softer" than Barks Scrooge. The time travel business makes all this extremely difficult to parse, but it doesn't seem wholly implausible--they could even have made it make sense, sort of, if they'd had some sorta confrontation between Scrooge wanting to just TAKE the island and HDL insisting that, no, you must pay, it's the right thing to do!


If we're talking about "ethics," exactly how ethical would you say it was, on a scale of one to ten, for Scrooge to buy Glomgold's island at a (comparatively) low price, knowing (via some sort of espionage, we can only assume) that it contained awesomely valuable diamonds, and that Glomgold didn't know this? Pretty dick move, Scroogie! The interesting thing is that I'm pretty sure that it never even occurred to the writers that this was an extremely ethically dubious thing to do. Why is that, I wonder? Why do some ethical breaches bother the writers extremely, whereas others go unnoticed?

I don't think I can provide a satisfactory answer to that here, but I'm sure there are multiple factors. For one, this is a cartoon, and the emotional aspect of this--with Scrooge as "good" and Flinty as "bad"--can override a lot, even if the writers DO sometimes play up Scrooge's ethical lapses (if only to have him overcome them). There's also the eternal contradiction between Scrooge's "making it square" mantra and the fact that, come ON, nobody could possibly make that much money "square" (the question of whether anyone having that much money, regardless of how they got it, could possibly be moral is just a part of that)--and there are plenty of places in Barks where his behavior is clearly in conflict with the idea of "squareness" anyway. This tension is part of what makes Scrooge such a great character, but it doesn't work as well in the Ducktales context, in which Scrooge is a much softer, fuzzier character than he is in the Barks tales of old. The writers thusly try to dissolve the tension, but with Scrooge's fortune still right there front and center, it remains, only it becomes lopsided and can feel dishonest on occasion.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Five: "Time Is Money," part five: "Ali Bubba's Cave"

SO. Bubba's safely back in the past, and Scrooge, Launchpad, and HDL travel to the island to grab a diamond to pay off Glomgold (once again, the whole thing hinges on this nonsensical plot twist. Bah, I say!).  Anyway, oh no, Glomgold and the Beagles have, um, constructed a barricade in front of the diamond cave! What to do! Well, first, we could step back and contemplate the fact that we're expected to swallow the idea that Glomgold can engage in all of this blatantly illegal stuff, right out in the open, and nobody's gonna do anything about it. He can get away with all that, no problem. But his contract with Scrooge, boy--that's iron-clad, and it has to apply no matter what and if Scrooge is late by ONE SECOND with the payment, Glomgold gets everything he wants absolutely no question THE END. I'm reminded of the Phoenix Wright series of "lawyer simulators" on the Nintendo DS, where obviously-guilty witnesses are absolutely free to wildly change their stories as soon as they're caught in a contradiction as many times as they want to until they're absolutely stuck. Only…those games, goofiness aside, generally have ingenious and tightly-plotted stories. Ducktales, not so much.

So anyway, our heroes have to try to find a back entrance to the mine, evading an admittedly pretty damn cool-looking cave monster in the process; meanwhile, big surprise, Bubba in the past wants to return to the present, so he flits around in the time machine, which apparently literally works by magic, if the fact that him drawing a crude picture of Scrooge and pointing a dial at it allows him to immediately hone in on Scrooge at exactly the right time is any indication.

Anyway, they fail to pay off Glomgold in time, but they win anyway, due in no way to effort on their part, as all (that's right, ALL. DO NOT QUESTION IT.) of the diamonds from Flintheart's awesome island rocket over to Scrooge's crappy island. Thanks, again, to magic. Bah. Bring on the accountant with the secret superhero identity, PLEASE.

Stray Observations

-"I'm tired of walking around in the dark." "You should be used to that!" Um...burn? I guess?

-So what, Bubba has no tribe? No family? No nothin'? I suppose that makes it easier to justify transplanting him like this, but to just have this be the case with NO explanation seems kind of dubious.

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Four: "Time Is Money," part four: "Ducks on the Lam"

Man, there's just way too much dumb shit in this episode. First, the Beagles capture Scrooge's money bin (thanks to Bubba's somewhat inexplicable, unspecified help), and plan to cart the money off. I guess I can KIND of believe that the DT Beagles are this dumb (they DO suck compared to the originals, as I may perhaps have noted at some point), though them being that dumb AND still being able to operate Scrooge's security systems like pros seems to be stretching it. But then there's Glomgold's brilliant plan: keep Scrooge out 'til tomorrow so he can't pay me the ten million dollars, and then I'LL own the diamond mine! In comments to the previous post, Christopher noted how this is stupid and makes no sense; it didn't register to me at the time, since it's not really a plot point in the previous episode (is it even mentioned? I refuse to go back and see), but it's true. I would even amplify: this is goddamn stupid and makes no fucking sense. The whole idea was that Scrooge, in the past, marked the territory as his. That was the purpose of that expedition. So why would he have to pay Glomgold anything? He didn't go back in time to somehow force Glomgold to sell. The idiocy is great, and given that the entire episode revolves around this conceit, that's a little problematic.

Also problematic: the idea that Scrooge would be unable to get cash out of any bank because of the Beagles' unbelievably half-assed scheme of calling each bank via video-phone and impersonating Scrooge with Scrooge-portrait with the eye- and arm-holes cut out and telling them that, oh no, there's an IMPOSTOR pretending to be me! Don't give him money! And that not only do the BANKS believe this unequivocally, but so do the cops. This is NOT like the classic "all Disney characters are easily fooled by really obvious disguises." Those are actually disguises. I'm not sure what this is, but it's something much, much dumber. Stupid Ducktales--make more sense!

And then Scrooge is in jail for being an impostor (grrr), only he breaks out with Bubba's help (yes Bubba and Tootsie were ALSO imprisoned, for Comic Mischief, and yes, that's ANOTHER dumb thing that makes no sense), and then when he's trying to set up a trip to this island to get a diamond to pay off Glomgold, OH HOW CONVENIENT, there's Glomgold RIGHT THERE to stop him.

Seriously, this shit is just insulting. Being a kids' show doesn't mean you can just be all half-assed because hey, kids are dumb. Screw you! You're JUST as dumb when you pull things like this!

Stray Observations

-I'll admit, I AM charmed by the fact that the jail had a striped top hat available just for Scrooge. And, I suppose, even more impressed that they had a triceratops costume lying around, even if that doesn't excuse the dumbness of Tootsie being in jail in the first place.

-Hey, a statue of Cornelius Coot! I don't believe the character's been mentioned in Ducktales previously, meaning that this is just for old-school fans, which is appreciated…though not enough so to forgive all the dumbness.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Three: "Time Is Money," part three: "Bubba Trubba"

"Bubba Trubba," eh? Isn't that the name of a level in Donkey Kong Country?

It's not so much that I mind Bubba qua Bubba (though I do find him a bit on the pointless side) as it is that I mind the appearance of creative bankruptcy that led to his creation. And that appearance is only enhanced in this episode by a mind-bendingly awful song-and-dance sequence featuring the character and his triceratops in sunglasses, which is just a really rancid effort to appeal to late-eighties notions of "raditude." Yuck.

Other than that, this episode is pretty aimless--Bubba messes around and cartoony slapstickery ensues. Due to some nonsensical quasi-idea Gyro has about how Bubba may in some vague way mess up the space-time continuum, Scrooge becomes convinced that the caveduck's gonna make his fortune disappear--dumb, yes, but I guess this was the only way the writers could think of to add the requisite Scrooge/Bubba conflict before the old coot gives in to his warm fuzzy side. "You're feeling guilty 'cause you turned his life upside-down," sez Scrooge's conscience, which might be a reasonable enough assessment if there had been anything previously that might lead anyone to come to this conclusion.

Meanwhile, Flintheart, angry that Scrooge got his island back (due to having "marked" it as his in the prehistoric segment), plans to capture Bubba and somehow brainwash him so that that when he gets sent back in time, he'll destroy Scrooge's markings and oh no then Flintheart can take over. You know, if these guys were really serious about this line of thinking, this conflict would literally never end--they would just keep fucking one another's plans up in the past over and over and over. Not hugely interesting stuff, but when is ANYTHING involving Ducktales Glomgold? At any rate, we DO get what must surely be the most cliffhanger-y episode ending yet, so huzzah for that, I suppose.

Stray Observations

-"I absolutely positively cannot be bribed!" "Even with a new scarf?" "You've got yourself a deal!" This would be funnier--or at least make some sort of sense--if it had ever been established that Launchpad was some sorta scarf fanatic. Otherwise, it just looks like a writer going, "crap--I need for there to be something Launchpad is really fixated on in order for my tired joke to work! Um…he has a SCARF! I can say he's obsessed with SCARFS! I am SUCH a genius!"

-Newscaster screaming and ducking when Glomgold hurls a vase at the TV--pretty funny.

-I know this isn't something anyone wants to be reminded of, but seriously: naked Scrooge moving to cover his nonexistent genitalia. Jeez, writers, what did we ever do to YOU that you hate us so?

-Is that vulture teacher the same one who appeared in "evil" form in "Nothing to Fear?" She's certainly much jollier this time around.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode Two: "Time Is Money," part two: "The Duck Who Would Be King"

"Luckily, Gyro discovered bombastium, a substance that made time travel possible!" sez the opening voiceover. The show appears to forget that there have already been multiple time travel episodes.

Anyway, no surprise, really, but there's very little semblance of continuity between parts of this multi-part thing. I mean, I know why they DID this multi-part business: it's so they could first market the whole thing as a big TV MOVIE EVENT! and then have a bunch of regular episodes on their hands into the bargain. Still, a little more narrative ambition would not come amiss.

Well so but anyway, here our heroes and also Bubba end up in "Toupai," an Eastern-styled place that looks sorta like Barks' "City of Golden Roofs." There's an evil dude, Mung Ho, oppressing the people, but when Bubba appears, he supposedly fulfills some kind of prophesy-type thing, so Mung Ho's grip on power is jeopardized. Oh, and also, there's a good princess or priestess or something, Sen Sen, who helps our guys out. Meanwhile, it is also necessary to find a way to refreeze the defrosted bombastium--the stuff's much more durable than it ever was in the Barks story, it would appear.

Shrug. This is one of those episodes that just doesn't evoke much of a reaction from me one way or another. Pretty standard. Bubba doesn't get any less risible. Nice to see Launchpad get to briefly make out with Sen Sen at the end, although the idea that he has NO PROBLEM immediately going from that to, whoops, bye, never gonna see YOU again! seems psychologically inastute.

Anyway, back the present next time, I think.

Stray Observations

-"Sorry, boss, but time machines don't have breaks!" Really. Gyro designed a time machine to fly, like a plane, but included no way to stop. Okay. No, really, that's fine. Swell idea. Carry on.

-Funny bit where Dewey licks the newly-refrozen bombastium and immediately disappears and reappears in a suit of armor.

"Wait a minute! If this is the great one's treasure, where did it all come from?" "Mung Ho took it from the people of Toupai!" "You mean he didn't earn it square?!?" My inner Marxist is unsure whether to laugh or scream at this. But either way, he's gonna do it hysterically.

-HIGHLY dubious recurring joke about the natives being unable to pronounce the 'r' in Scrooge (they have no trouble with any OTHER 'r's).

Ducktales, Season Two, Episode One: "Time Is Money," part one: "Making Time"

Okay! It's a brave new world in Ducktalesland, as demonstrated by the fact that the opening credits have been altered to include scenes of our, uh, new character--why, it's just like he was always there! Very Orwellian.

So the idea is that Scrooge wants to buy an island from Glomgold, 'cause he knows--don't ask any stupid questions, okay? He just KNOWS--that it's lousy with chunks of coal that you can tap very lightly to reveal perfectly cut and polished diamonds. Getting wind of this, Glomgold decides to use the letter of the law to his advantage by blowing the island in half and leaving Scrooge with the lame, stupid, diamond-less half. Eye Eh En Eh El, but I kinda don't think contract law is gonna work even remotely like that, especially when a canny businessman like Scrooge is involved, but WHATEVER. Look, shut up, okay?

So Scrooge comes up with the brilliant idea of going a little ways back in time in a machine of Gyro's to prevent this bad juju from going down (using "bombastium," a reference to Barks' "Cold Bargain" if only in name). But, surprisingly enough, they get transported into the distant past, and then more stuff happens.

Actually, in spite of what the somewhat jaundiced description above might indicate, I didn't REALLY hate this set-up, particularly. I just roll my eyes and let it wash over me, and it gets the job done to send our heroes back in time, I suppose, if a little inelegantly.

So now we're in the past. And now, a nephew-sized caveduck named Bubba, along with his pet triceratops, will join the cast. And that is all. See you next time, folks.

Stray Observations

-Okay okay, I guess I HAVE to say something about this development, though I don't really WANT to. Bubba (voiced, no surprise, by Frank Welker) is an embarrassingly stupid addition to the cast, and admittedly I'm writing this after only seeing him in one episode, but it's extremely difficult for me to imagine him engaging in a cessation of suckage. People are quick to call "Cousin Oliver" on him, but I dunno--the show has ALWAYS been gimmicky, and I don't necessarily object to that on principle. But I DO object to a friggin' caveduck who talks in monosyllables--I mean, this would be okay for a one-episode thing, but to make such an individual into a regular character? Oh, and also, like the Terminator, he learns contemporary catchphrases to spout. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at THAT creative meeting. Preferably a tsetse fly, so I could have given someone malaria.

-Can I take this opportunity to reiterate how much I HATE HATE HATE the Ducktales Beagle Boys? Well, I am, because I'm afraid that if I didn't, you might forget this vital fact about me, and that would be no good at all.

"There aren't any diamonds here--only coal!" WHY NOT JUST GET ELEPHANTS TO STEP ON THEM THAT SEEMS TO DO THE TRICK? Okay, no fair using this entry to mock a previous episode.

-To end on a positive note, I am hoping--and, really, expecting; how could it be otherwise?--that Fenton proves to be a better late cast-addition.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Sixty: "Till Nephews Do Us Part"

Well! The season closer is...interesting. Good? Let's stick with "interesting." Certainly one of your more bizarre episodes; but not in so half-assed a way as many a Ducktales joint. That's not to say it's DEVOID of half-assed elements: for instance, there's this dumb thing where apparently nobody knows what ASAP stands for, resulting in this dialogue between Scrooge and Duckworth: "ASAP?" "As soon as possible!" "Oh, of course, sir! For a moment I thought you were calling me a sap!" Seriously, people, that would barely be acceptable coming from Launchpad. But Duckworth? Now granted, this episode is goofy in some intentional ways, but that doesn't entirely obviate the need to keep characters acting in believable ways. We never really enter "Uncrashable Hindentanic" territory here. Also: "'Trespassing?' What does 'trespassing' mean?" Come the fuck ON.

So anyway, the plot: Scrooge falls in love with a rich woman, Millionaira Vanderbucks, who looks like the lady from "Spies in Their Eyes," and they have a courtship filled with a non-stop cavalcade of money-related terms of endearment. But oh no! She just wants his money! And…she's really, really obvious about this, and the kids find out, but Scrooge will not be turned from his purpose of marrying her! They try, but fail, to scare her off with a treasure-hunting trip to Malaysia, in a sequence that's sort of misogynistic but also sort of amusing but, on the third hand, also sorta dumb: like, they convince her that there's a Terrible Creature after them, and the only way she can ward it off is by…carrying all their luggage? Really, now.

In any case, all this amounts to nothing, because Scrooge is still determined to marry her. There's a big wedding scene, which features cameos from fuckloads of prior Ducktales characters, whom I didn't keep track of due to honestly not caring that much (though I was certainly glad to see Donald make a brief appearance); then there's the most surreal ending I could've imagined, in which Goldie bursts out of a cake and chases Millionaira off with a shotgun. Really truly. And then she attempts to murder Scrooge for "two-timing," which I tend to feel tarnishes the Goldie mystique a little bit. The idea that he's required to remain eternally faithful to her, in spite of having left her fifty-odd years ago, is a bit much. I mean, even Florentino Ariza in Love in the Time of Cholera had his flings. Crikey.

The season certainly could've ended in a worse fashion, but I won't say this was any kind of series highlight either. The second "season" is just straight-up two five-part episodes in a row. My experiences with multi-part Ducktales episodes have been mixed at best, so we'll just have to hope for the best.

Stray Observations

-The bit where the kids are incapable of pronouncing "relics" correctly ("relish") is pretty dumb, but it DOES have a good pay-off in the Malaysia segment. Scrooge: "I found the relics!" [brandishing a jar] "And it IS relish!"

-Beakley is totally blasé about the kids being sent off to military/finishing school, but when it's suggested that SHE might be fired, hoo boy, look out! This strikes me as a mean and not-too-believable interpretation of her character.

-The romance would be better with a medley set to "Daisy Bell." Just sayin.'

Ducktales, Season One, Episode Fifty-Nine: "Ducky Horror Picture Show"

And we're back.

Um...so Scrooge has an old convention center he's fixing up, and a convention of people who turn out to be movie monsters want to use it to hold their annual meeting. There's the usual "do you believe in monsters?" "Oh, there's no such thing as monsters!" song and dance, and then, a third of the way in, they go to stay in Scrooge's "hotel," which turns out to just be his mansion, because the writer is a hack of the first order and didn't CARE if it made sense. Also, because to this point there wasn't really much of a plot, per se, and it was felt there had to be SOME conflict (conflict=the monsters fuck up his house). Then the episode sort of gets bored with this, so the monsters leave and hold a monster-rights demonstration, which is resolved when it turns out that kids LOVE monsters, so evidently they have nothing more to demonstrate for! Instead, they engage in a monster-minstrel-show for the kids. It's clear that the author didn't think about what this "demonstration" actually meant, and so saw no problem in resolving it in this pat, not-really-much-of-a-resolution way. Blah.

Seriously, man, this episode is the sort of half-assed bullshit that makes the instantly-infamous third issue of Boom's Ducktales comic look like a perfectly accurate translation of the show itself. The episode is nothing but a lazy cavalcade of stupid monster-related jokes with very little plot holding it together, none of it worthy of existing. Seriously, man, fuck THIS episode. Let's hope the next one is able to at least close out the season on a half-way respectable note.

Stray Observations

-Okay, I'll admit I kind of liked the sad-sack, Steve-Buscemi-esque human (duck) form of the werewolf. But that's all.

-"Ping Pong:" he's like King Kong, but he has a giant ping-pong paddle. See? This is what happens when you let six-year-olds write Ducktales episodes.