Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Darkwing Duck, Season One, Episode Fifty-Six: "The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain"

I've been reading Boom's DW comics, and, noting the appearance of the one-shot villain known as Paddywhack, I decided to see the episode where he originates.  'Course, there's no denying that some of the comic's potential impact is gonna be lost on me: if you'd seen this episode back in the day, you'd read the comic and think, dude--that guy's back! COOOL!  Whereas for me, it's just, wow, some guy I'd never heard of is now in a comic; let us see where he first appeared.  Huh.  So that's where he first appeared.


So the plot of this episode is that this toy museum has a jack-in-the-box containing an evil spirit (how did they obtain this thing?  Stop asking dumb questions).  Ultimately, it escapes from the box and possesses Quackerjack's Mr. Banana Brain doll; they work together for a while, but then the spirit--Paddywhack--decides that there must be more than this provincial life, and turns on QJ.  Ultimately, he and DW have to work together to defeat it.

I had mixed feelings about this episode.  I liked some things about it, but I also feel like it missed its share of opportunities.  There's an obvious story here: I've always said that Quackerjack is the most "evil" of the recurring DW villains, so what we have here is the opportunity to show that Paddywhack is a REAL badass by showing that Quackerjack is only a piker compared to him.  

But the thing is, in spite of its intentions, the episode doesn't *really* show that Paddywhack is uniquely evil.  He basically thinks and behaves in standard-villain mode.  The writers try to differentiate him from Quackerjack by having QJ assert that "Darkwing Duck always ruins things! It's no big deal; it's just part of the game," which in a way is kind of interesting, but in another way shortchanges his character a bit.  The idea being, at any rate, that QJ is not *that* bad, so PW can be worse--if you have to play down the initial villain to make this conception work, you're not doing it right.  And in any case, Paddywhack really is NOT all that horrific.  He uses the same sort of slapstick-y methods that any villain does, and although the way DW and QJ team up to beat him is kind of amusing, it's not really any more difficult or climactic than the way any OTHER villain goes down.  Mah.  The guy's ably voiced by Phil Hartman, which lends him a certain amount of gravitas, but to me, he does not go down in the annals of great villains.  Also, I think it would be cooler if we only ever saw him as a shadow, rather than his "true form" actually manifesting itself.

Still, there's a somewhat amusing framing device where Drake, LP, and Gosalyn are each competing to tell the story in their own way.

Stray Observations

-Quackerjack gets pissed off when Gosalyn gets bored of the toys and wants to go play videogames--I like that the writers remembered QJ's origin story.

-"Mr. Banana Brain! Your voice has changed!"  I also like the fact that he apparently doesn't realize that the doll's normal "voice" is just himself talking squeakily.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Darkwing Duck, Season One, Episode Thirty-Eight: "Disguise the Limit"

Hmph!  I wait two months between watching episodes, and THIS is what I come back to?  Dick move, show.  Or maybe I'm just being punished for my tardiness.  Who can say?  But in any case, I was decidedly not enamored of this episode.  The idea is that, oh no, Negaduck is dressing as DW and committing crimes to frame him, a pretty banal idea, really, but okay.  So SHUSH uses a special ray to disguise DW, since now he's wanted for crimes, but it turns out the ray transforms him into people he looks at.  Only sometimes, though; it seems to happen only it's convenient for the writers.  And when I say "transformed," I don't just mean appearance; he actually takes on the personality of the people he's changed into and thinks he's them.

Hijinx ensue, but they're not really all that wacky.  Thing is, most of DW's transformations are apparently meant to be funny, but if so, they're jokes without punchlines: the writers seem to think that merely the fact of the transformation will be amusing.  It's really not, though.  I like how when transformed, his voice changes into a DW-voice imitation of the people he's being, but that's about it.  It would've been more interesting, and made more sense, if the idea were that he changes into his conception of Launchpad, Gosalyn, etc.  Then we could get some good character depth going.  But as it stands: bah.  There IS one sight gag I liked, where DW and Negaduck are falling off a cliff on DW's motorcycle thing and DW's all, relax!  I'll just put this parachute on the cycle, and he does and, sure enough, the cycle slows its fall, only the two of them immediately fall off.  Mebbe you had to see it.

Anyway, show, you gotta try harder than this.