Normally I won't go back to a topic I had just recently covered in order to give other cartoons their chance to shine, but I'm going to make an exception with Darkwing Duck just because that first post was sort of a "test the waters, do I really have the capability to write a blog" sort of deal. It was fun to see what worked and what didn't work about my own blog writing, and for that it was a decent learning experience.
But there was one problem. I was covering an episode that I've watched over and over and over as a kid, one that had a well-loved place in a recorded VHS and I can practically recite by memory now. Because of that, I could instantly make reference about things that always bothered me as a kid, stuff that I would write in my diary next to a crude drawing of Bushroot and Rhoda riding off into the sunset riding the T-Rex from We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story. Suppose I covered an episode that I didn't like and therefore couldn't draw upon childhood frustrations?
Luckily for me, one such episode comes right after Beauty and the Beet, making it pretty convenient for a lazy person like me who feels like a winner when I don't have to switch DVDs. Darkwing Duck had been going good with both its two-parter TV movie and the introduction of one of the most memorable villains on the show, so what came next? A one-shot villain that's more annoying than endearing, one that a lot of people, when questioned about the show, usually have no recollection of the guy because not only is he annoying but he's also kind of forgettable.
All superhero shows have these lowly one-shot villains that no one cares about, the ones that aren't even lucky enough to get nonspeaking cameos in one of the movies later down the line. If Bushroot is Darkwing Duck's version of Poison Ivy, what's Darkwing Duck's version of The Ratcatcher or The Minstrel? Let's find out.
Airdate: September 10th, 1991
Availability: On DVD.
The episode starts with Darkwing Duck on patrol, listing off the bad guys he thwarted tantalizingly off-screen, leaving everything to imagination. The list includes car thieves, kidnappers, international terrorists, and a voodoo king with an army of zombies. Hey Darkwing, I have a great idea. Why not show us, the audience, how you fought off the voodoo king with the army of zombies? I'm sure if you run a poll with kids between the ages of five and fifteen, they will always list zombies as more interesting than ants and golf courses. But that's me.
|"Hey, DW! If you go on this side of the building, you can watch|
the local drive-in movie theater for free!"
|You know what's missing? A voodoo king with an army of zombies.|
Meanwhile, Launchpad orders two cheese food product burgers with fries, a hippo shake, and an apple flavored pie substitute. You gotta admire a place with enough balls to not even hide the fact that its food is made of additives. Hamburger Hippo scoffs at McDonald's Get Active campaign. To hell with you, McDonald's, we're proud that our food is full of artificial chemicals and we're going to say it right on the menu!
|And then Launchpad's heart explodes.|
Instead of finding the iconic hippo standing there, mouth agape and breathing out cholesterol fumes for the world to enjoy, they find a Hamburger Hippo-sized hole in the ground and a traumatized fry cook. Not as impressive as a zombie attack led by a voodoo king, but it'll have to do. Buildings disappear as Darkwing Duck chews the scenery and hams it up to his fullest, leading the audience to wonder why there isn't more of a public outburst when this is going on. Saint Canard is a pretty sizeable city. Surely enough people are awake and are going "Holy crap, that building just vaporized!" right about now.
|Pictured: The most unobservant city ever.|
|If it doesn't get all over the place...|
|I've seen cardboard with more real food.|
Prepared to be disappointed, ladies and gentlemen. There is really nothing that can prepare you for this!
|Wonder Twin powers activate! Form of...plummeting expectations!|
When the ants show up, Lilliput yells at them in a voice that sounds like...I can't even describe it. Frank Welker gave him a voice that fits, at least. Too bad a fitting voice for a derpy dwarf duck means he's going to sound like they took all the Looney Tunes characters with speech impediments, mixed them in a blender, and then castrated whatever abomination pops out of said blender. He complains to the ants that he doesn't want them to lead Darkwing to him, because he invented that headgear just to talk to them! Random exposition is amazing!
|You can still use the voodoo zombie king instead of this guy, Disney! |
It's not too late to change your mind!
|Great truck design, Disney! Clearly this is the chariot of gods!|
Also please tell me that thing gets wrapped around a telephone pole...
|Those pants have an extremely low crotch.|
|Shooting the audience would be an act of mercy, actually.|
|"I love ripping off of plots from TMNT!"|
|Anyone who's been to college has had this |
happen to them after Finals.
Since Darkwing wants his house in one piece, we find the family at Goony Golf, and absolutely no terror is happening on the streets even after like 20 buildings disappeared overnight and a lot of people now have no place to go to their jobs. While they walk there, Launchpad notices that some of the model buildings look exactly like the buildings he sees downtown. Yeah, you can see where this is going from a mile away. Disney writers are not known for their subtlety and twist endings. Whatever, I just hope we don't have to run into-
|"What, me worry?"|
Darkwing pays for everyone and Launchpad orders a hot dog to celebrate his last successful triple bypass surgery. Lilliput places the hot dog on the table when all of a sudden, it starts to get carted off by ants. Lilliput, knowing that no health inspectors are around, just scrapes off the ants in front of Launchpad and hands him the hot dog. Disgusting. Launchpad just eats it anyways because he's that much of a slave to his food cravings. Pray for this poor man, viewers.
|They broke the #1 rule of hot dogs: Don't think about what's in them.|
|Two months later, Darkwing Duck woke up from his coma, his cognitive|
abilities damaged and his motor skills severely weakened.
While Darkwing sleeps, he rolls down the hill and hits the now shrunken down Hamburger Hippo and finds Launchpad's scarf. Now that it all clicks in place for our hero, he decides to change into his Darkwing Duck costume. With Darkwing already at Lilliput's hideout, this plot was foiled right away. He marched up to Lilliput's booth, soundly handed his ass to him, and carted him off to jail, right?
Hey, wait a minute, we're only 10 minutes in. Something needs to happen to add more padding!
|Man, I wish we had zombies and a voodoo king instead of this plot...|
|Weird plant structures, Yoshis, strangely colored skies...obviously |
Darkwing's in Super Mario World.
|"My colony is in trouble! Grasshoppers are coming! We've been forced to prepare all this food!"|
|So prepare for the coup of the century,|
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
|"Hooray, now my golf course is full of glass and metal structures that can |
be destroyed very easily by a golf ball! I'm a genius!"
|The ants are all "That's okay, you keep them. We'll walk."|
|So...were the ants in those things crushed too...?|
But somehow, the forty story drop jarred an emo node in his brain because then he starts moping about how he'll never get back to normal and how he's doomed to be forever tiny, emulating our good friend Dr. Bushroot in the whine category.
|I don’t want to be the one |
The battles always choose
‘Cause inside I realize
That I’m the one confused
|"Hey, uh, Bill?"|
"How the hell do we know how to drive? We're ANTS."
|"Om nom nom nom my shrink ray is delicious!"|
|This is the money you could save by switching to Geico.|
|Holy merciful god, what's wrong with your faaaaaace!?|
|I've seen gobstoppers that were more competent supervillains.|
|Good job, Disney! Now do something about the tooth and those eyebrows |
and you might be onto something.
Well, I guess this means this episode's climax is upon us. Because the one thing I need right now is more of that vile gnome Lilliput. But alas, it's no use fighting back, because Disney is going to force him upon us whether we like it or not. Now we get to see Lilliput's base of operations' exterior at its fullest for the first time...
|Sigmund Freud would have a field day.|
Luckily, the door bursts open and reveals three people that honestly look like they're about ready to beat the living crap out Lilliput. I've never seen such intense ferocious faces on these characters before and it's kind of scary.
|They don't even need Launchpad. I'm pretty sure the kids could beat this guy up.|
|Behold, the only man born without any shred of dignity.|
The ball gets rid of the gun, but Lilliput, undeterred, shouts that he's gonna sic his ants on them. Oh no, not the ants! Throughout this entire episode, we've only seen about twenty at the most. That's not a lot...
|Great job keeping the character designs consistent, animators!|
You know what? Hand over the hat. You don't deserve that ant-controlling hat. You clearly can't use it correctly.
|Also, Lilliput makes the ants do this. That's just creepy, dude.|
|Lilliput's enjoying this way too much.|
|"Beam me up, Mr. Scott!"|
|Pictured: The Ant Massacre of 1991.|
Anyways, right after he mentions germs, he starts coughing and sneezing violently. You can guess what happens next.
|My eyes! The goggles do nothing!|
So anyways, Gosalyn grabs Lilliput's shrinking/growing ray, sets it to grow, and uses it on Lilliput right as he sneezes. Lilliput, despite being caught in the ray's beams, doesn't grow an inch taller. Which is good, because the last thing we need is Attack of the 50 Foot Lilliput. However, Darkwing appears along with what looks to be Gumby after spending too long in the sun.
|And this was around the time that the writers just stopped giving a crap.|
So that ends this episode right? Nah, we need one last scene to wrap up a loose end; did Darkwing Duck ever get some sleep? Before you're confused, Darkwing Duck was struggling with sleep deprivation and they just sort of dropped it midway through the episode. We zoom into the house and it turns out everyone is sick! Even Blob and Ray!
By the way, whatever happened to Blob and Ray after this episode? How well can two giant germs adjust to city life, anyways? Were they labelled as monsters and shunned by normal society just like most of the other characters in this show, or do they have a successful job? Tell us, Disney!
|And then they singlehandedly caused an epidemic that wiped out thousands of|
innocent people and forced a city-wide quarantine.
It's a good thing the supervillains were courteous enough to not cause any crime while Darkwing was sick in bed. I mean, who's going to stop them? The police?
The Moral of this Cartoon
Don't tease the audience with the notion of a voodoo king with an army of zombies and then go "I was joking, have some midget that controls ants in his psychotic golf course". Because that's just mean.
Despite the many, many things I've pointed out with this episode, this episode isn't entirely horrible. Darkwing Duck and his relationships with the other characters is automatically fun to watch, and you can tell that they put some thought into the episode as far as animation, inbetweening, layouts, and production values go. The best parts of the episode were clearly the parts where Darkwing Duck and Launchpad were just being goofballs, or Darkwing Duck is getting beat up by Gosalyn's golf-related antics.
Too bad Lilliput just isn't that interesting of a character. His voice, design, and villain gimmick are annoying instead of interesting and he doesn't give a good reason as to why he does the crime he does. Did he just decide one day to be an evil little snot? Does he have the Freudian Excuse that his golf course is failing or his wife is in a car accident and he needs the money that badly? No, he's just doing it because he's...evil I guess. He's a character that adds absolutely no characterization and personality to this episode. I just watched this episode twice to do this analysis and still can't tell you what this goblin's personality is beyond "he likes money and ants".
Plus it doesn't help that the whole "Darkwing is the size of a bug!" plot feels, well, cliche. It's like its written somewhere that all cartoon shows have to have some episode involving shrink rays. The conclusion, where Darkwing shrinks again and becomes a germ, is sort of cool, but that doesn't excuse the fact that a golf course supposedly teaming with ants had at most like five ants on screen when the climax showed Lilliput had millions at his disposal.
Bottom line: This episode is "Meh" at best and I'd really only recommend it if you're a Darkwing Duck completionist. It's not the worst episode in the show, but there are a bunch of other episodes a lot better than this one.
My next blog post will NOT be Darkwing Duck, of course. I should probably give this show a break for a while.