Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quack Pack, Episode One: "The Really Mighty Ducks"

Surprise!  Since DW episodes are, let's face it, a bit samey, I thought it might be fun (or at least different) to alternate between episodes of that and this. 

Now, I feel like I have a reputation as being excessively harsh on comics/cartoons I don't like in general and on Ducktales in particular.  Of course, this is nothing but vicious calumny, but I will allow that I have been known to state my opinions perhaps more vehemently than some.  So when people who are generally a bit more circumspect than I am have no problem more or less calling Quack Pack complete garbage, it's hard to see how any good is going to come of me watching it--especially given that I more or less vomit in sheer rage at the very thought of HDL portrayed as disaffected teenagers.

So…I don't know.  I feel that, given this blog's charter, I have some sort of duty to check it out nonetheless, but we'll have to see.  If I can't find any redeeming features here, there may be no point in me watching the entire run, abbreviated though it is: if it's uniformly shit, repeating that over and over might well get old fast.

Let's first talk about the opening, shall we?  I really like the first seven or eight seconds about it, as Donald is setting up a projector to watch some of his old-school cartoons.  And then…HDL come onto the scene with bigger screens and loud music to watch their own, more X-TREME!!! cartoons.  The message here is obvious: this AIN'T YOUR DADDY'S DISNEY SHOW!  Which message I find distasteful enough; it would, however, perhaps be a bit more coherent if the music were something other than sixties-garage-rock-sounding stuff, which is sorta kinda exactly the sort of theme song you'd expect Your Daddy's Disney Show to have.

On to the show itself.  The idea is that HDL refuse to clean their room, to Donald's irritation.  They go to see Von Drake to find a way to do it easily, but get sidetracked by his superhero-making machine.  Naturally, they just have to turn into superheroes themselves--one is smart, one is strong, one is fast--after which they form some sorta special squad thing to right injustices and things.  But then Donald turns into a supervillain and goes after them.

Now, the thing is, there's actually a fair bit to like here.  Von Drake, for instance!  Not exactly as well-characterized as he was in "The Golden Fleecing," but still, I'll take it.  I also quite like the portrayal of old-school Donald.  As for things specific to this episode, the conflict between uncle and nephews reaches amusingly enormous proportions, culminating in Donald using Saturn's rings as a slingshot to blast planets and things at HDL and destroying the entire universe until Von Drake fixes things by moving time backwards (it's not yet clear whether or not the entire show's gonna have so cavalier an attitude towards realism).  There's also a funny thing where the stentorian narrator keeps actually appearing on-screen and annoying the characters.  Yes, it is absolutely the case that the writing is excessively impressed by how clever it thinks it is when it really isn't, but, you know…nothing unforgivable.

Thing is, though, this is all obviated to a substantial degree by how absolutely, vomitously awful the nephews are.  I suppose the idea was that the Disney shows would grow up with the viewers, so that ten-year-olds would be able to identify with them in Ducktales and those same ten-year-olds, now sixteenish, would be able to in Quack Pack.  But their supercilious, too-cool-for-school, way-less-clever-than-they-think-they-are characterization (if we're supposed to differentiate among them to a greater degree than we were in Ducktales, it's not apparent from this first episode) is just unforgivably shit.  Their horrible douchiness makes me think of Ferris Bueller or John Connor in Terminator 2.  Granted!  Granted granted granted!  This is just the first episode.  They may later on demonstrate redeeming qualities that make me hate them less than I do those guys.  But it's gonna be hard.  And that fucking sucks, because, as I noted, there are things here that are/have the potential to be extremely worthwhile and really don't deserve to be buried underneath a mountain of suckitude.  But here is Louie, sotto voce, when it transpires that Von Drake's machine won't work because it's unplugged, in a brainlessly snide tone: "And there's [sic--also, suck] people who question his genius!"  How does that inspire anything in the viewer other than a hearty fuck you?

Stray Observations

-"Fear not, super siblings: I will subdue the brute with my magnificent mammoth muscles!"  "You let him borrow your thesaurus again, didn't ya?"  Seriously, what words in there are meant to be difficult/exotic?  "Siblings?"  "Subdue?"  "Mammoth?"  If you can't do this half-assed pseudo-clever bullshit competently even in its own terms…

-Huey can't think of a good superhero name, so he just goes as "The Really Incredibly Fast Guy."  Granted, thirteen-year-old me would probably have found this facile shit hilarious, but please don't pander to that asshole, show: he had a terrible sense of humor!  No good can come of that!

-People say that Daisy is the best aspect of the show.  She only briefly appears here, so it's difficult to judge.  She's a reporter, but when she realizes that no one's watching because all the TVs have been stolen…she decides to fulfill her lifelong dream of playing bagpipes?  Guh?


  1. I only saw one episode of Quack Pack (not this one, I believe it was about something called Tasty Paste), and I never watched it again because I HATED what they did with HDL. The show was going for "cool" and all they did was make them annoying. Apparently the main differentiations between them (besides color) is that one's into sports, another's great at computers, and I don't know what the third is and I don't care.

  2. Certainly no arguing with that so far. But, masochistic though it may be, I will forge on at least for a time.

    "We can't! You destroyed it!"
    "Oh, excuses, excuses!"

    One of the few memorable gags from the show, for me.

    Hope you stay tuned for "Can't Take A Yolk"; Donald's in great shape in that episode. "All Ducks On Deck" doesn't feature the nephews at all, btw, and it's the closest you'll find to an episode acknowledging Ducktales.

  4. GeoX: In the opening where Donald Duck appears on multiple screens laughing like an evil bastard; the nephews push the red panic button. And everything turns to crap; so every time I see these nephews doing something on screen; I call it pushing the crappy button.

    Originally; this series was supposed to be supervised by Jymn Magon and Toby Shelton; but it later became Toby's project by divine right. Toby hated the Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comic with a passion; and he hated "dog noses" too which caused the original project to be changed into the complete 39 episode mess of crap we got now.

    Even in 1996 (I was 19 at the time); I did not like this show, the best episode was Transmission Impossible which I gave *** back then; and now it's barely a ** episode. There is some Agony Booth bad episodes in this show and Ducks By Nature is a prime example of what happens when you have ZERO idea of what you are doing. The writers even apologized and explain why it was crap too. Hallow; but at least they had the guts to do it instead of ignoring it and hope it would go away even though it stuck out like a sore thumb.

    It was also in 1996 when I realized that Disney was now becoming like everyone else in going after what was cool and edgy and hip; instead of going for quality and staying power. DTVA went into hell for quite a while and didn't really come back until Kim Possible quite frankly. It also shows that the whole new Disney hate is just the echo chamber because compared to Quack Pack; I would rather watch Kick Buttowski and Fish Hooks. At least Jackie Whackerman and Milo/Shellsea provide me some entertainment to work with. Quack Pack simply doesn't mostly because of those damn nephews.

  5. I saw this episode as a kid, like 7–8 years old, and had it recorded on VHS somehow. I had no idea it was the first episode of Quack Pack, in that regard it sets up the relationship between the caracters nicely.

    I'd argue this is not meant for teenagers, but rather tweens (no older). I loved this episode as a child. Now, I can see as an adult that it is not that great. Nostaliga has tainted this episode for me, though. I found the idea of Donald being equal and even better than the three kids, to be interesting and unusual.