|He's a very happy, child-friendly terror, but still a terror.|
For you see, this episode is a Bushroot episode, which instantly makes it one of my favorite episodes on account Bushroot is as awesome as he is whiny and pantless, and it involves giant vampire potatoes that turn people into zombies. That idea alone, the fact that there are blood-sucking spuds that spread some weird plant-like infection around like a Left 4 Dead/Plants Vs. Zombies crossover instantly brightens up any Halloween. In fact, ever since I bought my DVD box set, I've made it my life's mission to never go through an October without watching this episode at least once, it's that magical.
That is why I went with this episode as opposed to say, any of Morgana's episodes. Sorry Morgana. I know you're supernatural and more traditionally Halloween-y than a hideous abomination that makes roots sprout out of people's brains, but I had to go with my gut and choose the episode that has used the "Night of the Living Dead" pun that every single 90's entity has to make at least once.
Also, some people will be quick to note that this episode, "Night of the Living Spud", comes right after "Getting Antsy", effectively making my three Darkwing Duck reviews in show run order and therefore making me look like a huge Darkwing Duck geek. I assure you, I didn't intend for that to happen. So don't expect the next Darkwing Duck post to be about "Apes of Wrath" because it's not. Probably because I intend my next episode of this show to cover one of the OTHER main villains lest this blog looks like it has a Bushroot bias.
...it does, but I'd rather not have it appear that I do.
Anyways, remove your pants and imitate your favorite duck as we dive into the spectacle of horrors that is...
Availability: On DVD
We start this grisly tale of vampire potatoes and cape-wearing fowl by opening on a raging inferno, with flames licking every side of the screen. Before I can question why this story is taking place in the pits of Hell instead of Saint Canard, it then pulls out to show not Darkwing Duck, but a bunch of young campers telling stories by a really huge campfire that one of them could easily trip and fall into. The subject of the story involves "Big Webfoot", because they're ducks! Get it?
I will say this. The kid actually telling the story really gets into his acting, because when he starts talking about the monster, he actually starts to shapeshift, with his head and eyes changing size and shape so he actually becomes a horrible webfoot just like in the story. Now that's dedication to his craft.
|I don't think that campfire is large enough.|
...unless we're not seeing the whole story here and these three are really notorious thieves that are a part of an underground Yu-Gi-Oh! counterfeiting ring.
|"Hello, kids! I'm here to rap with you on how it's uncool to do drugs!"|
Actually, I'm not sure why he's even in the woods in the first place, to be honest. Was he trying to thwart some evil scheme and then somehow got lead astray? My theory that he had a major argument with Launchpad while they were in the Thunderquack and Launchpad just dropped his pantless ass in the middle of nowhere and told him to walk home.
|And why do the kids only have one compass between the three of them? Some boy scouts.|
Personally, after seeing two Bushroot episodes in a row where the story involved doesn't actually happen in the timeline proper but is instead a story Darkwing Duck tells us, the audience, later, that leads me to wonder if there was a really long span of time where Bushroot just plain didn't commit any crimes. Bushroot's sensitive, after all; it wouldn't be out of character for him to be unmotivated to be rotten for a lengthy period of time.
Oh, and Darkwing Duck carries fake teeth with him at all times. Dude doesn't have enough pocket room to carry some sort of GPS or compass, and yet the plastic fangs are important. Darkwing Duck, reassess your priorities please.
|In the heart of Transylvania, |
In the Vampire Hall of Fame, yeah,
there's not a vampire zanier than... Duckula!
And oddly, despite the fact that I've said that they reuse the ever-familiar greenhouse shot a lot, it's NOT the same background used in Beauty and the Beet. It looks almost exactly the same, but notice when I place these two pictures side by side, you will see subtle differences. I'm not sure whether I should be happy that they're not reusing backgrounds or be sad that it looks almost exactly the same.
|And for those curious, the one to the left is from this episode and the one to the right is from "Beauty and the Beet".|
...and if you were curious, congratulations. You're a nerd.
Anyways, a greenhouse just appeared in Darkwing Duck, so that immediately means that the next living thing that we see is going to be our friendly neighborhood mad scientist, Dr. Reginald Bushroot. Strangely, Darkwing Duck via voiceover refers to Bushroot as his "archenemy", which means that Darkwing Duck just likes to say words because they sound cool, not because he actually knows the meaning behind them.
What's Bushroot's plan for today? He's going to use his scientific genius to make someone that will go out with him because he's constantly being rejected by real women. He's literally growing his own bride. I'm glad he's well aware of how pathetic this sounds, because good god, Bushroot. Have you no shame?
By the way, put on your seatbelts, boys and girls, because the next couple of minutes are Bushroot at his most psychotic and his most depraved. I've seen every Bushroot episode in this show's run and this is purest form of unadulterated crazy coming from this character. You'll see in a moment why this scene quickly goes from merely setting up the villain to showing us just how low Bushroot can sink.
|eHarmony was created for people like this.|
Spike's task in this scene is to hand Bushroot stuff like fertilizer because the scientist is too lazy to reach out and grab the ingredients himself. I always love it whenever cartoons do the whole "operating room" skit when Bushroot's clearly not in a situation where he can't just physically get everything himself. He's not elbow deep in someone's chest cavity; he's just next to some flower pot that has a little sign that says "bride" in it. It's hard to feel sorry for the guy when he keeps making stupid decisions like this.
|Previously on "Grey's Anatomy"...|
See, Bushroot? This is exactly what happens when you're lazy! Remember the last time you took shortcuts, Bushroot? Remember that plant experiment where you shot chloroplasts into your arm instead of testing it first?
|Although honestly, I'm surprised Spike is able to walk, being that top-heavy...|
|"I'm not even going to read the label and make sure that my bumbling sidekick got the right ingredient! SCIENCE!"|
Is it me, or do I find this entire situation just incredibly sad? Not only can Bushroot just not get a date on account of how hideous he is, but now he's sexually attracted to plants. I know, I know, he's a mutant plant duck, but he was just a normal duck for a good thirty/forty years (they never say how old this character is) before he made the switch. That'd be like me losing my left arm and then suddenly being attracted to amputees. It doesn't work that way.
...also, it's incredibly creepy that he's going to raise a plant entirely from conception into a bride. There's a name for a phenomenon like this, but if I start talking about it, I'm going to get flagged by at least twelve different government organizations. Let's just say Bushroot is being downright unpleasant right now, especially when he starts overdosing on the ingredient in order to make the sexiest possible outcome. Reggie, I ask this as a fan, but please seek help.
|The "All in the Golden Afternoon" sequence in Alice in Wonderland really turned him on.|
Oh, and he also screams "It's alive!" like in Frankenstein, but there's like a million other things in this scene that are wrong so I didn't mind too much. Why so crazy, Bushroot?
|"My happiness makes me homicidal!"|
Our villainous vegetable is mad about this for about five seconds before he just accepts it, because mood swings are awesome. After all, he is a freakish half-plant monster who's totally fine with dating newborns he himself created. He has to keep his options open. And thus, a scary, morally-wrong relationship is born.
...wait, how did Darkwing Duck even know this went on? This is a flashback he's telling some kids he just met in order for one of them to cough up a compass so he can go home. Did Bushroot seriously tell him all the juicy details while he was being carted off to jail? Because if I were Bushroot, I'd be embarrassed by this entire thing and pretend this never happened.
|And if I was a Fearsome Five member, I would constantly bring this up in conversations with Bushroot. |
He could be talking about the weather and I'd be all "So, have sex with any potatoes lately?"
Also, I know it's a little late in the game to be asking this, especially after gazing into the epicenter that is Bushroot's insanity, but shouldn't he wait a little bit and get to know her first before proposing to her? Especially if he's going to be spending the rest of his lonely, mutated existence with her.
|"I don't care about your personality. Since you're a plant and a female, we're instantly meant to be!"|
Also, what the everliving hell am I watching here!? How is this an appropriate story to tell to Boy Scouts, Darkwing?
|Bushroot has an irrational hatred of clothing in this show.|
...wait. I just realized why Bushroot is acting so strangely in this episode. It's because this is all a campfire story that Darkwing Duck is telling. He's probably embellishing this entire thing and just assumed this is what happened behind the scenes. This is seriously what Darkwing believes Bushroot does in his spare time.
|All the love is gone from their relationship.|
Although I have to admire Bushroot for somehow creating a mobile potato that can somehow stand even though its body looks like it should topple over any second now. Does that thing even have a skeletal system? Does it have organs made out of starch, or would it just look like an uncooked potato if you cut it open? Inquiring minds need to know, especially since if I dwell on this, my mind isn't thinking of what their honeymoon would look like.
|It's Premenstrual Potato Head!|
And his neighbors are the Muddlefoots. Drake hates them because they're annoying and overly chipper, but personally, he should be grateful that they don't ask questions like why Drake lives with one other male with no wife or fiance in sight.
...oh come on! I can't be the only one that views Drake and Launchpad's living situation that way. It's all "And Tango Makes Three" in that household.
|"Hey, Herb! It turns out I have super strength! Neat, huh?"|
|I would kill to have a shirt like Herb's shirt.|
Oh, and Drake argues for a bit, but then their argument kind of stops and we later see that Gosalyn gets to go along. Yeah sure, whatever. I guess Drake figures he gets a free weekend where he doesn't have to clean melted plastic off the ceilings and just let the brat go.
|"Don't have a cow, dad!"|
"Young lady, what have I told you about stealing catchphrases from other cartoons?"
Ever since I was a little kid, I loved that the reporter actually acknowledges Bushroot's occupation and first name in his report, because you don't hear this info anywhere else in the episode. Reggie spent over ten years in medical school, so by god, people better be referring to him as DOCTOR Bushroot.
|"Oh, Malcolm in the Middle. You're just the thing I need to make my child-rearing look better by comparison."|
|Next door is a 30-story shopping center dedicated entirely to paper clips.|
...how long was this conversation even going on? It'd be kind of funny if Bushroot finally found someone to talk to in the form of a snooty cashier. I bet they exchanged phone numbers before he asked his fabric question and then they became pen pals.
|"I can afford to buy this fabric, but the rules of supervillainy dictate that I have to |
steal everything. You know how it is."
|Leave it to Darkwing to disregard public smoking bans.|
I'm going to repeat this. He starts rubbing the top of his head until he shoots out pollen.
Now, a little backstory. Back when I was a kid, I just accepted this as one of Bushroot's powers and then wondered why he never used them in any future episodes. I mean, flowers fill the air with pollen during certain times of the year so what's the big deal? Now that I'm older and know exactly how plants reproduce, I just sit here, jaw agape, wondering how Disney was able to allow public masturbation to make it on air. Either the writers were just clueless or they knew exactly what they were doing, but either way, he only really used it in this episode so someone caught on.
But hey, at least now there's a pretty good reason as to why Bushroot used to wear pants when he was normal and now is totally fine with walking around naked. Because his genitals migrated north, if you catch my drift. He doesn't wear pants because there's nothing to hide.
|Why is he straining so hard...?|
Why didn't he do this back when he was trying to impress Rhoda? Was he saving it for the third date?
...oooor he's just clueless as to how wrong this entire thing looks, choosing not to draw the connection between pollen and plant reproductive cycles, but that's no fun. It's rare when something of this nature happens in a Disney cartoon and by god, I'm going to point it out!
|Bushroot's so virile that he can impregnate someone from across the room!|
|"Screw you, gravity! I'm writing my own rules!"|
Also, Herb Muddlefoot has an awesome camper. Herb is kind of the unsung hero of this series, one that's hiding the brain of a shrewd businessman under that obese exterior, because they establish that the man is clearly wealthy enough to afford really neat toys like this vehicle and a highly advanced sprinkler system. That's why he's totally fine with loading up the fridge and TV on a camping trip; he knows that he can just go out and replace them if something happens.
|Considering the volume of supervillains in Saint Canard, camping really isn't such a good idea.|
But this brings up a pretty important question. Did Bushroot really love Posie the way a man-plant loves a woman-plant, or did he just accept her and assumed he loved her because he really had no other choice on account he's a hideous plant monster? Man, cartoons about ducks are deep, man.
|"Aww man, my landlord's gonna kill me!"|
I love how this scene is staged, by the way. Considering the potato's size compared to Tank (that's seriously the kid's name by the way; his mom's that cruel), it seriously looks like she's going to devour the kid whole and present us our first onscreen death in Disney TV series history. It'd so work too because it's not like Tank has any fans. He's like a poor man's Nelson and for that, he should die.
|In Soviet Russia, potatoes eat you!|
|Optimus Prime claims another victim.|
...can we go back to the killer potato, please? At least you know her game; taking a ride from a complete stranger have several completely different outcomes. All of them bad.
|Oh yeah. Seems like a trustworthy fellow...|
Or, you know, deep-frying or mashing the potato would kill it too. There's no need to make things too complicated, DW. I'm pretty sure with a sharp enough blade and enough oil, you could have enough fries for the entire city. The phrase "kill it with fire" has never been more applicable or more delicious.
|"On this very night, ten years ago, along this very stretch of road in a dense fog just like this. I saw the worst accident I ever seen. There was this sound, like a garbage truck dropped off the Empire State Building..."|
...yep, that's really it. Pardon me for saying this, but I'm not at all frightened by the side-effects of this tuber and wouldn't really care if Darkwing took his time. Potato eating just isn't all that frightening, no matter how you slice it. At least the monstrosity that NOS-4-A2 created actually killed things!
...also, wait a second. Those aren't vampires! Those are zombies! Posie is a zombie potato! Man, they really labelled these monsters wrong.
|Big deal. I tend to look like that whenever I sit through the yearly Star Wars movie marathon.|
|"Grab the chives and sour cream, Honker! We're eating well tonight!"|
Therefore, we can assume that the outcome of the potato fight ended up with Gosalyn and Honker hopelessly slaughtered and Disney was kind enough not to show us the remains. I'm sure Darkwing can just move on and get another orphan. It worked for Batman after Jason Todd was murdered.
|"Duwayne, could you please change the radio?"|
"I don't take kindly to city folk that don't appreciate the holy teachings of Howard Stern."
|Wait, why are all the hillbillies in this show canids while the middle class is represented by ducks? |
Is there some sort of sociological commentary I'm not getting here?
|Do-It-Yourself belly button piercing!|
Wait. Why is Gosalyn here? The last time we saw her, she was fighting that potato! Why is she here?
...so let me get this straight, cartoon. You mean to tell me that Gosalyn saw a giant potato grab her best friend and was ready to eat him, and her first instinct was to run in the opposite direction until she just happened to run into a situation she can conveniently be a part of? Some friend she turned out to be!
Gosalyn, possibly after witnessing Honker getting torn apart by a vegetable, now proclaims herself as some sort of vampire genius and suggests that they do some vampire tests before they decide to kill him. After some vampire tests that exist only because the cartoon has yet to meet its physical comedy quota, the inbred country folk are finally convinced that Darkwing Duck isn't a vampire. Mostly because Darkwing said he knows Duwayne.
It's a good thing he said that too, because they were honestly going to set fire to him. Fun times.
Also, just saying, but you know what a vampire is? Something that sucks out blood and typically has sharp fangs. These tests seem needlessly complicated for a monster literally most of America knows all about. I mean, geez, at least pull out a mirror or some garlic or something. For an episode about vampires, I'm seeing an utter lack in vampire mythos.
|It's a beast! He's got fangs,|
Razor sharp ones!
Massive paws, killer claws for the feast...
"There are no vampire potatoes. Scientists who turn themselves into plants, yes, but vampire potatoes? That's ridiculous!"
For some reason, that line always stuck by me through the years, and I could somehow always recite it off the top of my head. I'm not even sure why it's such a cartoon-defining line for me when it's such a throwaway joke. It's probably the fact that the cartoon is well-aware of the fact that, when you take a step back and look at these events, they do look pretty weird.
Oh, and we find out just how much Darkwing and Gosalyn care about Launchpad when he gets attacked and later infected by the vampire potato without them even noticing. Hah hah, everyone's a horrible friend in this episode! Hilarious!
|"I'll take a potato chip...and EAT IT!"|
Is it just me, or is Darkwing Duck really terrible at his job? Let's just look at the set-up here. He's supposed to be after a plant-themed villain, and yet he isn't the least bit suspicious that people are growing roots out of their head and turning into a vegetative state. Do I need to draw a diagram for you, Darkwing? Does Bushroot need to leave a picket sign that says "BUSHROOT WAS HERE" before you get it?
...and how the hell was Bushroot able to create a vampire potato just by adding potato starch to a recipe instead of posie blossom? I love how the only way Bushroot can create a zombie plague is if he does it accidentally. Poor guy can't catch a break.
|So they just happened to have like ten bags of potato chips just lying around?|
|It's a shame this is a Disney cartoon and Darkwing doesn't carry a real gun, |
because I'm sure that would've destroyed the vampire potato...
Also, the size relationship between Darkwing and Posie keep radically changing throughout this entire episode. In one shot, she can hold him in his hand. In the next shot, she can hug him. I'm just going to chalk this one up to "science" and assume that her DNA is just so unstable that she changes sizes rapidly.
|I apologize in advance for the choice of screenshots.|
I'm glad Bushroot decided to wear that tuxedo for this entire episode, by the way. It always weirded me out that Spinachbutt here was absolutely comfortable with walking around stark naked all the time and this might be the only episode where he never goes nude. To be honest, Bushroot looks a lot better clothed.
Plus that red bow tie? Totally brings out his eyes.
|"It's my senior prom all over again!"|
...get it? Sprout? Don't give me that look, this is a 90's cartoon. You're going to suffer an onslaught of puns with me.
|Between this, the pollen, and the potato hug from earlier, I'm just tempted to write off this |
episode as one big Freudian metaphor.
|Bushroot is practicing in the off-chance that this show gets a kart racing videogame spinoff.|
Gee, our duck knight looks like he's in a real bind. I sure hope they don't undermine the dramatic commercial break by pulling a random solution out of their ass.
|Bushroot can drive a stick shift? Learn something new every day.|
Yes. Gopher holes. That's what saves Darkwing Duck. Pure dumb luck and the fact that gophers can apparently create tunnels big enough to fit a human-sized duck. Gopher holes.
...well, it's a good thing Darkwing Duck can rely on being on the right place at the right time instead of, oh I don't know, using actual skills to save himself!
|And no, not going to make a "left turn at Albuquerque" joke. It's been done.|
|Pictured: Compassion and nightmares.|
So yeah, some root-related stuff happens, but finally, Darkwing Duck decides he's had enough with plants for one day so he decides to follow the wise, truthful words of a drunken redneck by using a lyceum nycanthropus plant to strike down the beast while it's still vulnerable.
And wouldn't you know it, Bushroot's a lyceum nycanthropus plant because that's his scientific name! Hooray, cinematic payoff! You know, even though it makes no goddamn sense that a unique mutant would even have a scientific name, let alone one used in scary hillbilly legends. Seriously, how did he even get a scientific name? Has Bushroot's accident happened before and there's really a whole colony of lyceum nycanthropus plants somewhere in Eastern Europe? Did Rhoda win a Noble Peace prize over her research on him behind the scenes? I must know, Disney.
|Suddenly, earthworms! Earthworms everywhere!|
|Look at their faces. You know neither of them is going to speak of this ever again.|
Although, I have a question, Darkwing Duck. Suppose they didn't say the right words and Posie lived through this encounter. Does this mean Bushroot would've had kids? Man, Darkwing, way to ruin this guy's chances of ever starting a family, even if he does help the plant monster get laid in this episode.
|This is hot.|
Why, he's going to pull a bazooka out of nowhere and point it at our heroes of course!
...wait, WHAT. What. Okay, I'm going to need a moment, because somehow I can buy the tuxedo but not the bazooka for some reason. Seriously, Bushroot, you're really testing your status as the dogged nice guy "wouldn't hurt a fly" villain by pulling these stunts. This just isn't your night when it comes to character development.
|Man, Bushroot is really being sympathetic and docile in this episode, isn't he?|
Yes, after killing one of his creations through sex, Bushroot is now going to get lynched by a mob, one of them carrying a makeshift torch when he's made out of a very flammable material. This is a kid's show?
|"Yeah, I'm going to stand by and let them murder him. He deserves it for being a mutant!"|
Well, so ends the story on vampire but not really potatoes. I'm glad to see that Bushroot episodes follow the grand tradition of making sure that the hideous plant mutant gets horribly maimed for his crimes against normal people. Silly Bushroot, thinking you have human rights. Your forfeited that when you experimented on yourself!
...although they never say if Darkwing Duck ever got that compass from those kids. Ah well, we're getting the credits anyways.
The Moral of this Cartoon
Don't like sexual urges cloud your judgement, because you could end up in a very one-sided relationship where you significant other happens to be a grotesque vampire potato that turns all the neighbors into zombies.
Also, don't shoot your pollen in public. It's indecent.
In terms of Darkwing Duck, I'm unsure if I really like this episode or if I just find this episode weird.
The positive is that it's incredibly funny and well-animated, with quite a few gags working to the writing's favor and the characters just working really well off of one another. The hillbilly scenes where they do the vampire tests in particular were pretty funny, as were any scene with Bushroot in them. This was clearly an episode where the writers just went nuts and threw in everything they possibly can.
However, some things hurt it.
I feel that what's keeping this episode from being absolutely fantastic is mainly is the fact that the vampire potato just isn't as threatening as it could've been. They call it a vampire, they insist that it's a vampire, it even has an incantation to defeat it, but the victims are pretty harmless and aren't actually spreading anything. What the hell. It's a small thing, but it sort of bugs me. I understand this show puts comedy above action, but the zombies literally do nothing and I don't feel at all worried that beloved characters are turning into them. If there's a zombie plague, there should be some sense of urgency as far as the infection is concerned.
Plus, to be quite honest, Bushroot felt kind of off in this episode. I can probably contribute this to being a campfire tale and thus a complete fabrication, but Bushroot is a good deal nastier in this cartoon than in other episodes where he's borderline pathetic. I hate to say it, but it's really hard to buy the whole "Bushroot only attacks if you threaten him because he's normally a nice guy" rule if he starts pulling out bazookas and grinning like he's emulating the plant version of The Joker.
So all in all, it's a goofy episode. Comedy goes above characterization, which depending on your point of view, is either a good thing or a bad thing. It's basically an episode to exist just to be campy, not an episode to show the patheticness that is Bushroot. But hey, I really like it. Because it has Bushroot in it. He slays me every time even though he's going against his typical "sympathetic ineffectual villain" code here.
And with that, I leave you with a parting gift. Witness the glory that is Bushroot's pollinating face.
God, I love this show.