Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Darkwing Duck, Season One, Episode Thirty-Three: "The Secret Origins of Darkwing Duck"

Hokay.  This episode starts in The Future™, where Future Gosalyn and Future Honker (named "Gosaloid" and "Honkulon") are visiting a museum which features the costume of some old twentieth-century superhero named Darkwing Duck (or rather, "props from a massively popular cartoon series based on Darkwing's mythic exploits"--I can only grit my teeth and endure such facile self-referentiality).  The two of them end up accidentally getting whisked away to the basement, where Drake, in the role of Mysterious Old Janitor Guy, is working, an' he tells them Darkwing's SEKRIT ORIGIN STORY, a takeoff of Superman's.

Now obviously, the show's just messing around and thumbing its nose at continuity by giving DW multiple origins, but if there's one thing I like about this episode, it's that it never even tries to pretend that Drake is doing anything other than making up the nonsense that he's regaling the kid with.  That makes it funnier to me.

The idea is that baby DW gets rocketed to earth, yeah yeah, but so does his Evil Cousin, Negaduck.  He falls in with Gosalyn-as-masked-avenger and Launchpad; he gets some superhero training, but when Gosalyn DIES(!!!!!), it's up to him to save the day and stuff.  Seriously, it blow my mind that the writers were allowed to do that, even in an alternate-reality setting.  Cripes.

The episode certainly has its amusing moments, but in the above description I kinda glossed over some pretty dull stuff, like the business with DW's and Negaduck's respective parents back on the doomed planet and DW's kung fu training and Herb Muddlefoot as a genie.  Those drag the episode down a bit, and the writing really isn't all that.

Stray Observations

-Cute Sorcerer's-Apprentice riff with Drake-the-Janitor.

-"But if he was real, there'd be some record of it--there'd be a birth certificate or something!"  This is where a joke involving the phrase "long-form birth certificate" goes.

-"Haven't you forgotten something?"  "Yeah, like telling a story that makes sense?"


  1. I kind of liked Jim Cummings' attempt at a Marlon Brando voice - "Idz de and uh duh whorloild!" and Negaduck's parents fighting for a seat on the rocket and using a jack to lift it into position.

    - I always thought "It could come in handy, someday", was a riff on "I've got a bad feeling about this."

  2. I was in fourth grade (nine and then ten years old within that timeframe) during Darkwing's first season (and, yes, despite what the Internet says, every episode that premiered between fall 1991 and spring 1992 was part of the first season, damnit!). Already quite the continuity-minded fanboy, to say that I hated this epsiode with a passion only begins to describe how unacceptable I found it. Ah, the rashness of youth!

    I don't think I've seen it in over twenty years. And I'd like to revisit it with an open mind, and end up finding that I really appreciate its theoretical irreverence, absurdism, and satire. But your recounting of the supposed "humor" of "DW's kung fu training and Herb Muddlefoot as a genie" is actually making me cringe at the thought of watching it...

  3. I was probably harder on the Herb-as-genie bit than it really deserves. I didn't find it particularly inspiring, but okay, I suppose it was a bit clever. The kung fu segment I just found very tedious, though.