Sunday, March 31, 2013

Darkwing Duck, Season the Second One, Episode Thirteen: "The Merchant of Menace"

Ever wonder what Herb Muddlefoot does for a living?  It's an obvious question.  Turns out he sells "Quackerware" (ie, Tupperware) door-to-door.  And not only that, but he's the best salesman ever, with all kinds of trophies and people willing to buy all his stuff just because they're starstruck by his awesomeness.  I really like the idea that this doofus should turn out to be really good at something--though I'd also like to note that I was contemplating what the DW version of Death of a Salesman would look like well before it transpired that the villain's name was "Weasel Loman."  Hell, Herb and Binkie have two sons, so most of the cast is in place.  Hey!  I think I just came up with the perfect story arc for the next Darkwing Duck comic!

Anyway, what happens is that SHUSH has determined that a jewel thief who's just hit St. Canard is actually--dramatic music--HERB HIMSELF!  OMG!  Drake doesn't believe it, so when Grizzlikoff is put on the case, he goes with Herb on his rounds to protect him--and turns out, naturally, to be a monumentally shitty salesman.  

This takes up the first two acts, which I quite liked; I was a bit less enamored of the third bit, where, having been unmasked, it's necessary to do a fairly standard villain stand-off with Weasel (who, in an Herb disguise, was stealing stuff by secretly selling people robotic Quackerware that takes the loot and brings it back to him).  Also, if the episode's going to feature Grizzlikoff, it really should've made the villain look less ursine; I didn't know he was meant to be a weasel until his name was mentioned.  I had assumed there would be mistaken-identity hijink here to go along with the ones surrounding Herb, but nope.  Still, we do get to see Herb in his "One-Man-Quackerware-Defense Squad" outfit, which is kinda great.  

Generally, this was good; I like the fact that we get to see more of Herb's character.  The idea that he's unaware of Drake's secret identity becomes less and less plausible by the minute, however.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Darkwing Duck, Season One, Episode Forty: "Darkwing Doubloon"

This episode doesn't even try to frame its events in some way: Darkwing just tells us, hey, kids, now for something completely different!  This takes place three hundred-years ago, when there was a pirate version of me!  Let's check out his shit.  I may be paraphrasing.  Nothing intrinsically wrong with a whimsical change of setting like this; it's just that in practice, it often leads to laziness, as the writers, not feeling any need to dig at all deeply, just rely on the laziest of genre tropes.  To use an analogy that no one will get, it's why Startropics is a better game than Startropics II.  It's also summed up in this classic Onion short.

Past Darkwing is named--well, what the title says, and I immediately got hung up on that: why "doubloon?"  What do doubloons have to do with anything?  Well, clearly, the answer is that "doubloon" is an old-timey word, and this is an old-timey setting, QED.  Not the show's most brilliant moment, surely.  But that's neither here nor there.  The episode as a whole is almost a redux of "Just Us Justice Ducks," but not quite: it does feature Megavolt, Liquidator, Bushroot, and Quackerjack working under Negaduck, but as for the good guys, there's no Morgana or Neptunia.  They're replaced with plain ol' Launchpad and Gosalyn.  Man…I actually liked Neptunia, but do we get to see her again?  Nooooo…we're stuck with the craptastic and instantly forgettable Stegmutt, whose name I always want to mistype as "Smegmutt."  We do get  Fenton (unrecognizable except by voice when he's not wearing the Gizmosuit), but as much as I love Ducktales Fenton, I'm pretty disillusioned with the DW version.  I would also note that apparently his secret identity is common knowledge to everyone in seventeenth-century-DW-world.

I guess I haven't said much about the plot itself.  Once again, I just don't find it that memorable.  The characters clash, but none of them really get a chance to shine or show off their idiosyncrasies.  I need a really good episode to come up in the near future, so I can remember what it is that I like about this show.  It's true that it's never exactly egregiously dumb in the way that the worst Ducktales episodes are, but it is too-frequently lazy lazy lazy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Darkwing Duck, Season One, Episode Thirty-Nine: "Planet of the Capes"

Okay, thanks to some prodding from Ryan Wynns, I shall try to resume DW entries.  Okay, "prodding" is an overstatement, but really, if I've set myself to do something, I bloody well ought to do it--though I don't suppose anyone would be too upset if I bailed on Quack Pack (though I'm not going to--oh no; my masochism is FAR too great).  It's not like watching DW episodes is a chore or anything; I just get into a rut of not watching a thing, and…

…well but anyway, this episode marks the triumphant (?) return of Comet Guy, and if he still has the uncontrollable dancing thing, we don't see it here.  He shows up to recruit DW for a SPECIAL TASK back on his home planet.  It turns out that everyone on Mertz is a square-jawed superhero (shades of Monty Python's Bicycle Repair Man).  There's one Ordinary Guy they spend all their time rescuing, but now he's gone missing, so DW's been bought in to sub for him.  DW angrily protests that he does too have superpowers, but, of course, he doesn't--though really, I still maintain that there's no way that teleporting thing he does isn't a superpower of some sort.

It's one of these premises that's kind of clever, but in the context of being clever is also kind of facile, if you know what I mean.  You sort of expect things like this from DW, and I think as far as these things go, this episode is kind of mediocre.  On a number of occasions, we see egregious examples--and I know I've pointed out before how the show does this, but it just keeps doing it and it keeps showing what I think is the fundamental flaw here--of characters remarking how horrific and fatal it would be if something happened, and then the thing happens, and it's not even a tiny bit fatal and, in fact, barely even inconveniencing.  Obviously you don't expect people to actually die in this show, but at least in Ducktales there was a sense that the world was such that somebody potentially could.

Anyway, the climax is when the erstwhile Ordinary Guy shows up, having become heartily sick of being "saved" all the time (as well one might), decides to be a supervillain.  He and DW keep alternately hitting themselves with his expanding ray, and become giant, eventually to the point where they barely fit on the planet (reminding me of the time when Calvin started to become giant for no clear reason), and they fight by throwing stars at one another and whatnot.  And the whole thing just ends with giant DW, having beaten OG, just standing there on the planet (which you would assume at this point must be fucked beyond repair, if not for, you know, DW logic).  Not even any kind of conclusion with Comet Guy and company.  Kind of an anti-climactic way for the character to bow out of the series, really.

OH WELL!  More SOON, and this time I MEAN it!