Sunday, November 5, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Eight: "The Living Mummies of Toth Ra"

I'll tell you why it took me so long to get around to this one: because the title and premise filled me with apathy, that's why. Blah blah mummies, blah. Blah! Makes me think of Original Ducktales in a nonspecific but kind of boring way.

Anyway, now I've seen it, and...I'm STILL kinda filled with apathy. I mean, I guess it's not awful, as these things go, but it kinda feels like an Original Ducktales episode. The character stuff with Webby and Louie is fine, I guess, and the whole set up is at least potentially interesting, but the reality is a bunch of lame jokes about burritos. And then the mummy's real for no reason except that we need to have some kind of climax to all this nonsense? Bah. Seriously. Generally, the whole thing's pitched a little too dumb, the writers are a little too willing to sacrifice character in the name of lame jokes, and I really hope the next one is better.  Otherwise, I may lose faith.  Do we know when the show's returning?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Seven: "The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks"

Oh wow, this one was remarkably shitty. I, as the kids may or may not say, can't even. Let's just start with the number one thing on my--and surely everyone's--mind throughout: Louie is the only one who, given his given personality, would be likely to actually idolize Beaks. So why do they instead fling the personalities they've given Huey and Dewey to the winds for the sake of a really lame plot? Mystifyingly ill-thought-out and half-assed.

Mark Beaks. Unless that name is a play on "Mark of the Beast," I don't know what it's meant to be parodying. Fortunately, I don't care. What I DO sort of care about is that he's incredibly grating in a non-fun way, and all the social media/tech billionaire satire is just incredibly limp.  I WOULD say "Good thing he's apparently going to die horribly soon after the episode closes," but that whole thing just feels jarringly tonally off.  There's the germ of a good idea buried somewhere in here: Scrooge is, after all, quite the anachronism in this day and age, so why not have a more modern kind of plutocrat? But the way they've done it in this episode really isn't good at all. It's boring and risible and bad. Easily the worst yet. Bah.

Oh, and let's not forget about that abortion of a subplot with Scrooge and Glomgold (actually, let's). The episode ALSO amply demonstrates their inability to do Glomgold in a remotely interesting way; I have ACCEPTED that the Barksian version of the character is not really a thing anymore, but in that case he should at least be formidable and menacing. Here he's just bumbling and useless. Though I suppose I must admit that their glowering contest at the beginning was slightly amusing. Also, is the fact that Glomgold's beard is fake actually mean anything? Another question I don't care about!

"Where did the sharks come from?"
"I've got a great shark guy."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Six: "House of the Lucky Gander"

Welp. I'm not gonna lie to you people: for whatever reason, I just found this more boring than anything else. I mean, there's nothing egregiously bad about it, but eh, whatever.

Gladstone's fine, I guess. On the whole not as insufferable as in Barks,'s not a bad portrayal. I'm a fan of Paul F Tompkins, and I was worried before watching it that his voice would be overly distracting, but it was actually less of a problem than I feared. It's good casting. I won't deny it.

Um...what else? So is the idea that Gladstone was ever actually a casino owner, or was he a slave right from the start? 'Cause I'm definitely not buying that the former is something he would ever be. WAY too much work.

Also, what the heck is the deal with Donald repeatedly shouting TWENTY-SEVEN when trying to guess how many fingers the guy was holding up? How dumb is he meant to BE, anyway?

Shit, I wish I felt I had more to say about this episode, but I'm afraid I don't. Okay: I guess Louie's inspirational speech to Donald in the end about his endless persistence was pretty good, as was Gladstone's flash of self-awareness at the end. But really. No one's done anything wrong; I'm not mad at them. I'm just...blah.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Five: "Terror of the Terra-Firmians"

So, like, the kind of surprising question that immediately comes to mind is: so are we ever going to get an ACTUAL terrie fermie episode? 'Cause this one wasn't it, was it? I mean, okay, the depiction of them seems fine (though why no ties?), but still. They're more a macguffin than anything else.

Again, there's a lot to like here. The episode works well as an ensemble piece, and I'm definitely all about Badass Magic Lena and her evil shadow. are the issues I had:

1. The whole conflict between Lena and Beakley doesn't really seem to be either here or there. She's just mad at her due to fairly mild teenage-rebellion-y stuff. The episode description says "Beakley does not trust Lena," which kinda makes you think it's going to be because she suspects The Truth, but far from it. Lena is cool for sure, but that seemed a bit mishandled.

2. The idea that the existence of the Junior Woodchucks Handbook has the effect of making Huey dull and incurious? That...kinda seems like the opposite of how a Junior Woodchuck should be portrayed, ever. And, for the record, I'm still not over the idea that only ONE of them is part of the organization. A big part of the whole POINT is TEAMWORK, dammit! I mean, it's okay if they want to have diverging Woodchuck philosophies, but there should be a basic commonality here.

3. Launchpad. I liked him in the first episode, but although he had amusing moments here, I feel that the episode went overboard in emphasizing his incredibly stupidity. I re-ask the question that I asked before: is he ever going to receive any of the surprising depth that he did in Original Ducktales' first season?

Still, the episode was basically fine.

-"Hey! You know what we should talk about? Another subject!"

"And then I can hunt down your attackers and avenge your death!" So...apparently it's okay to specifically reference death, but the word "kill" is a bridge too far? Am I correctly understanding this?

-Even though this show is a bit wobbly (still trying to find its footing, we could optimistically suggest), I still like the fact that we get to discover it together. Obviously, it's a significantly different dynamic than when I was watching Original Ducktales, which everyone else was already familiar with.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Four: "The Beagle Birthday Massacre"

Okay...well, yes, okay, as cynical as I want to be, I have no choice but to give in to this episode's considerable charms. I like Lena the hipster, and I REALLY hope that the last-second reveal doesn't mean that she's going to be an unambiguous villain. Probably not. The show is, I would hope, a little more clever than that. Her interactions with Webby are consistently charming, and this gives the show an opportunity to show us something that we have, like, NEVER EVER seen in the Disneyverse, and that is FEMALE FRIENDSHIP. The milieu is, let's face it, sufficiently male-centric that we've never really had the chance, and I don't think you can, in good faith, really count the occasional Minnie/Clarabelle or Daisy/Grandma bit. They're very attenuated and mostly written by chauvanistic male writers. This is something genuinely different and positive and cool and furthermore there are HELLA dramatic possibilities for a Lena torn between family and friends. Whether they'll actually be able to do that EFFECTIVELY...well, that's a question for another day, but I have to admit: for the first time ever with this show, I'm actually sorta kinda excited to see what happens next.

The Beagles! Hmm...well, what the hell, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: I like these Beagles, with their incongruous groups. I wonder whether we'll actually see more of the more outre ones, or whether they were just one-offs for this episode. Admittedly, there are a lot of one-note jokes, but what the hell, the Sixth Avenue Friendlies crack me the heck up, and the Tumblebums--the grotesque circus-themed ones--add a totally unexpected but upon reflection welcome element of horror to the proceedings. Here's the difference between these guys and the Original Ducktales Beagles: the old ones were close enough to the originals that I could only ever read them as tacky, badly-done burlesques. But these new ones that we see this week are so utterly removed from anything Barksian that I don't make the instinctive comparisons and can enjoy them in their own right. Though, granted, they could easily return to much-less-weird form in future.

-An entirely Scrooge-less episode. How about that?

-Huh--I didn't even realize that Ma Beagle was voiced by the great Margo Martindale. Not that she really makes that much impact in the role, and okay, it's not the MOST creative casting, but WHATEVER.  This does raise the question, though: is getting so many relatively high-profile people to play recurring but not regular characters (I know Paul F Tompkins are Lin Manuel Miranda are coming up) really the all-time greatest plan? Like, they could be BUSY, and you have to plan episodes around their availability. Difficult to say.

-"Are you saying Dewey would rather eat US than hotdogs?"
"I DO hate hotdogs."

-Webby's vision of continental sophistication: "I've always wanted to go to Paris...crawl around in the catacombs...maybe touch a skull..."

-"I didn't hear an American accent until I was like seven." ...and she's STILL exposed to UK accents on a daily basis. So what possible justification can there be for her not even having a trace of one herself?   Don't bring up linguistic concepts you don't understand, show!

-"I promise we'll never leave you off the boat again. We'll leave Louie--he's bad at most things."

-WHO CAN FORGET the powerful story told by the acts in Pac-Man Jr where Jr falls in love with Blinky's daughter Yum-Yum, in spite of both their parents' disapproval, and then they elope together? Yup, that happened. Here's a Wiki page describing Yum-Yum as "beautiful," though I have no notion of how you'd tell. Anyway, that came to mind when seeing Webby and Lena. Except, presumably, their relationship lacks the romantic element. Wouldn't THAT be a helluva thing, though?

-Let's just hope the show doesn't squander the good will its earned here with its portrayal of the Terries and Fermies this weekend.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Three: "The Great Dime Chase"

Wait are ALL these titles supposed to have exclamation points?  No, I say!  You can't force me to act excited!

Um. Well, I liked the "Ottoman Empire" joke. But otherwise, man, I just can't fuckin' deal.

This episode though man, I don't know. I would not hesitate to call it the weakest of the three so far, and I'll readily admit that I may just be acting like a socially maladjusted, impossible-to-please comic book NERD, but this whole thing I do not like it and coherent sentences cannot I write dammit.

Okay, so I knew from comments here and there that Gyro's characterization would be, ah, distinct from the one we know and love. And yes, I have read this. But, uh, I mean, COME ON, do I really have to express my feelings here? I think it's not fair that this show keeps demanding I get mad as hell at its bullshit. I'm just trying to keep body and soul together here, man. I don't need this. Let me just quote this bit: "We have a lot of love for original, kind-hearted, absent-minded Gyro (who, in the comics, COULD go pretty dark or deadpan when an invention went awry)." I'm going to go ahead and, you don't. Otherwise you wouldn't have DONE this. Feel the force of my ineluctable logic. And fuck that parenthetical, by the way. Yes, Real Gyro could get annoyed when inventions didn't pan out, but that has NOTHING to do with anything YOU'RE trying to do, so lay off the weak tea justifications. Dammit. I mean, I guess there's nothing to say, but, I mean, they try to pander in the most mortifying way to comics fans ("Dawson, Lillehammer, El Dorado, and Culebra" YES WE GET IT you've read some Don Rosa comics you want a medal or what), and yet when it comes to shit that ACTUALLY MATTERS...jeez. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ENJOY THIS? HOW?

I suppose I could also complain that it's kinda weird that Ms Quackfaster is deranged, but I don't suppose anyone has any great store of emotional attachment to the character, so WHATEVER. But the thing I REALLY don't like is, oh gawd, ALL the business with Della. It's like, motherfuckers, what the hell gives you the RIGHT to just clomp on in with your half-ass fan-fictional "solving" of something that didn't need to be solved? In what sense have you earned that? I mean, I could MAYBE see this as being borderline okay if the show went on a few years and proved itself, but this? BAH. BAH BAH BAH. And we KNOW Della's going to appear as a character real soon, considering that she's going to be in next month's DT comic.

Argh I can't, as the kids say, even. I mean, there's admirable shit about this whole venture, sure. Plenty of it (and okay okay granted the character arc with Louie was okay)! But it's all just mixed up with other shit that I CANNOT ABIDE. I guess it's the age-old problem: you get emotionally invested in characters and feel a sense of ownership that isn't at all supported by the facts of the situation and then when people do something you don't like you feel more upset than you should BUT SERIOUSLY WHO ARE THESE FRIGGIN PARVENUS MAKE THEM STOP FUCKING WITH MY CHARACTERS.

And FUCK ME maybe it's just an artistic vision that's different than what I envision but it's totally legitimate and I just respect them for following their muse and shut the hell up or at least try to appreciate it for what it is. But shutting the hell up is not what this blog is about! Nor is appreciating things! It's about intemperate moaning about stuff I can't control! So there!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode Two: "Daytrip of Doom"

I'll tell you one thing: I'm glad that--so early, yet!--they're willing to do an episode where Scrooge plays almost no role. That seems to bode well for the show's future.

You know, I have to admit, in many ways, this is really...good. But it's always something, innit? So let me get this out of the way first: HOLY EVERLOVING FUCK do I hate what they've done with Louie.  This whole fucking hustler thing is an ABOMINATION BEFORE GOD AND MAN. You FUCKING people. Jeez. You may have noticed my blog posts lately are a little bit toned down (not from any intention; it's just something that gradually happened) and I'm a bit less likely to say "fuck" than I once was and NOTICE HOW MANY TIMES I'M SAYING FUCK IN THIS PARAGRAPH. WHAT A FUCKING DISASTROUS MISCALCULATION.  Dammit. Fuckit.  

Ahem. Well, I guess that's not the main point of the episode. It's all about Webby, pretty much, and it's smartly done, too. The idea is that she's always all cool and hypercompetent, but in the context of being totally sheltered and unequipped to deal with the outside world. With a character like her, you sort of run into the problem that when pitted against HDL, she's kind of always going to win, and you can't exactly complain about it, but the deck does seem a bit stacked. So I think it's good if her character is tempered by naivete--it evens things out a bit.

So anyway, it's off to a place that may or may not be called Funco's Funzone, depending on whether I wrote the name down right or not, and Webby is amusingly clueless until the time comes for her to, inevitably, shine. And there's also Beagles! Um...whatever. I mean, you know what I think of the DT Beagles. I guess these are okay for what they are; I did kinda like their voices. Why do they just have B's on their chest instead of numbers? It's an abiding mystery, but they're so far away from the classix anyway that it doesn't much matter to me. Ma Beagle, on the other hand, somehow makes little impact; I was not impressed. I kinda liked her brassiness in the original.

And there's also a subplot where Donald and Mrs Beakley are at loggerheads but then they have to team up to rescue the captured children, which is pretty good. I like Donald's berserker rage at the idea of his nephews being captured. It fits the character as we like to see it--although I STILL can't be having with Donald's voice. Even when I CAN understand it, it just requires more effort than I feel ought to be necessary. Anyway, in the end, Beakley jokes that "I'm a spy," and everyone laughs uproariously and it's obvious that they're setting something up. Which is fine with me.

Also, a kid drowns in the ball pit while his mother idly messes around with her phone. Or so I choose to believe.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Ducktales, Season One, Episode One: "Woo-oo!"

Chris Barat, thou shouldst be living at this hour. All New Ducktales reviews are dedicated to your memory.

My thoughts on this are extremely scattered. I don't know that I can provide a coherent critique. That said, THIS:

Now...there's just no use quibbling here; from this image, you can see how much the producers care about cramming obscure duck lore and history into this show (if anyone wants to speculate in comments as to what some of the more obscure stuff means, feel free). My initial fear was that it would kinda look like a copy of a copy--ie, Original Ducktales (OD) is based, sort of, on Barks; New Ducktales (ND) is based mainly on...OD. That's not nearly as interesting to me! But this shows that they really, really care, and regardless of the execution, they have to get a shitload of points for that. Right. So. I have various opinions and observations about the episode, so I will share them in scattershot form.

-By the end of the episode, it had become slightly less jarring that HDL talk like regular adults. But...only slightly. I dunno. I don't think I'm ever going to be totally sold on this. Also--and this is my biggest problem with the show as a whole--their sort of breezy, bantery, millenial-irony-ish dialogue...well, it's not exactly bad or poorly executed. It's just that...well, maybe I've just watched too many MCU movies, but I feel like it's a bit played out; a bit creatively fatigued. I mean, I guess I shouldn't complain too much; we can't forget how utterly fucking dreadful the writing in the original show could be. Maybe it just needs to find its groove a bit. Whatever. It's fine, I guess. Although I really must note that they very clearly refer to their uncles as uncle. Someone needs to have a quiet word with the voice actors about that.  As Joe Torvicia notes, the same thing appears in the first ND comic.  Surprisingly sloppy, given how careful they're trying to be to honor the duck legacy.

-Also re HDL, unlike OD, ND makes a very clear point of giving them the traditional nomenclature--Huey Red, Dewey, Blue, Louie green. I know they're trying to give them at least somewhat distinct personalities, but I think it's gonna take a few episodes for this to really coalesce.

-Webby: even though the above complaint re dialogue also applies to her, she's a <i>whole</i> fucking lot better than you could ever fuckin' have imagined based on the original. Again, this does illustrate the amount of care that went into the whole thing: the producers realized that Webby was an awful, condescending sop to a putative female audience, and they made damn sure they would not make that mistake again. She's a much stronger character, and the episode is refreshingly devoid of any of the boy/girl fight stuff in OD. I like.

-Donald: I'll be thrilled if he takes a bigger role in this series, as seems likely. I do have a pretty big complaint, though, which seems like a small thing but isn't: if he's gonna be around a lot and do a lot of talking, they should really make his voice clearer. I mean, maybe you are so acclimated to Donaldspeak that it's totally lucid to you, but I sure ain't and it sure ain't to me. Yeah, it's similar to how he sounded in the old cartoons, but in those, he didn't talk that much, and it wasn't really important to fully understand most of what he said. In those same vintage shorts, HDL talked more or less the same as Donald did; wisely, the producers of OD realized that this wasn't really tenable in a show that relied on them talking a lot and being understood, and so we got the pretty-good compromise we did. I'm not saying Donald's voice needs to be quite that clear, but I really wish it were a bit clearer.

-Glomgold: He sure is short and round. Given how much care they've taken to provide bait for classic comics fans, I'm almost surprised they didn't let him go back to being South African. Just "almost," though. It would obviously be a pretty hard sell; even if you assume for the sake of argument that the apartheid associations are no longer an issue, how do you indicate "South African" to a wide American audience via quick short-hand? Not too easy. Also, I'll admit it's kinda funny that the two characters vying for a surprisingly specific title both just happen to be Scottish. In either case, though, the character's pretty bland and doesn't make much of an impression beyond "generic baddie."

-Mrs. Beakley: They're clearly trying to toughen her up in the manner of Webby, but she doesn't do much to establish herself as a character here. I don't think her name is even used. Hmmm.

-Launchpad: Pretty much perfect, I must say. The only question is whether the show will remember that in the early days of OD, Launchpad had hidden depths, or if they'll just stick with his sole character trait being "dumb." That would be a bit disappointing.

-Scrooge: is the big one, of course. But honestly, I don't have that much to say. They begin with a sort of light riffing on "The Richest Duck in the World," where he's seeing Donald for the first time in a long time and HDL for the first time ever, only the explanation is pretty light: "Family is nothing but trouble." Okay! I dunno; he seems basically fine.

-There's not that much point in talking about the plot, I think; it feels more like a proof-of-concept--here's the kind of thing we're going to do!--than a fleshed-out thing in itself. The Atlantean ruins are certainly more thought-out than most of what you'd've seen in OD, though.

-Characters we're looking forward to seeing: Fenton, Magica, Daisy (probably?), Goldie (probably?), Gyro, Gladstone, Von Drake (HOPEFULLY!!! SERIOUSLY GUYS PLEASE DO THIS I WANT IT SO BADLY), Cinnamon Teal (GREAT IDEA!!!), the Phantom Blot (likewise!), Bubba.

-Character whose return I'm vaguely curious about but really don't care much about either way: Duckworth.

-C' didn't think I was <i>serious</i> about that Bubba thing, do you? Let's hope the producers realize that NO ONE LIKES BUBBA and let his long retirement continue unabated. I'll accept a one-shot appearance if they MUST, but that's all.

-Given how concerned they are that we know that they know the comics, one can easily imagine a surprise appearance by someone like Rockerduck or Brigitta.

-And speaking of Daisy, as much as it pains everyone to hear Quack Pack mentioned, the one good thing about it was Daisy, so it would be cool to see that version of the character. As we all know, Donald and Daisy's relationship is often fraught in ways rife with dubious gender politics, so it would be REAL nice if they did this right.

-Oh, THE ART STYLE. Well, it's a clear artistic choice. I do find the ducklings' rectangular heads a little peculiar, but they're doing them, and I could certainly grow to like it very much.

-Yeah, so that's that. I kind of wish the kids were more kiddish, but that is my only major complaint...a big one, admittedly, but I'll definitely keep watching. SOMEONE has to keep an eye on these people! If they play their cards right, they will definitely have a superior show to OD.

-Oh yeah, and that ending. I dunno, people. I know how eager you are to polish your duckfan bona fides, but don't you think teasing Della RIGHT THE HELL THERE in the first episode is a bit precipitous? Also, let's face it, as much as I basically liked this episode...I don't think you've quite earned that yet. Let's wait 'til we've seen if you can keep this up.

-Donald has a smartphone; Scrooge has an old clamshell thing (and I'm not quite sure what that thing Webby has is). I can't tell if this was a conscious choice or not. You'd think having a high-tech phone would be essential for Scrooge's business, but this may be one of those penny-wise-pound-foolish things.

-"Family truly is the greatest adventure of all OH NO THE GROUND"

"Even a basic death trap still has the word 'death' in the title."