Saturday, October 15, 2011

Darkwing Duck - Night of the Living Spud

Halloween month continues and it's time to revisit an old friend of mine, one that helped me form this blog in the first place. Time for the terror that flaps in the night!

He's a very happy, child-friendly terror, but still a terror.
This is one of those shows where you can pick practically any episode and have loads to talk about, but you have no idea how excited I am to talk about this episode in particular. This is one of those episodes I just have to cover because it's just so insane, so unbelievably out there that I'm getting giddy just talking about it.

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. 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...

Night of the Living Spud

...aren't spuds technically already living?
Airdate: September 11, 1991

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.
But then it takes a turn for the creepy when who else but Darkwing Duck bursts out of the bushes in a puff of his trademark smoke and starts reciting a "I am the terror" speech right then and there. Now, Darkwing aficionados know the terror speeches as something Darkwing uses to psych out his villains and make them afraid of him, because DC is choosing to look the other way when it comes to this show. So...why is he using it on a flock of boy scouts, children who aren't even breaking any laws? That'd be like Batman just strolling into a Boy Scout camp and leveling children with his Batarang because he felt like it.

...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!"
Want to know why Darkwing Duck is in the middle of the woods, just walking into random strangers' campgrounds uninvited and saying that he flaps in the night? Because he's lost. That's right, our caped crusader, the person we're supposed to be rooting for, got lost in the woods. Cue the sitcom laughter!

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.
One of the kids, who I'm now assuming is going to grow up to be a fine supervillain one day on account of his attitude and theatrics, refuses to give Darkwing Duck a compass until he gets something in return. Since Darkwing Duck never brings his wallet when he's out fighting crime, he decides to offer a scary story in return. Here is when the observant members of the audience can detect that this camp scene will not actually be important in the main storyline, but is rather another wraparound designed to present the actual story. Darkwing knew that he already used the Darkwing files in another episode and by god he's going to make sure this framing device is different!

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!
He tells the kids that he's going to tell them about the story of a vampire potato he fought. This gets the expected reaction of blank stares and disbelieving laughter, but Darkwing Duck quickly shrugs it off and continues with his story and how it happened not too long ago, prompting a flashback dissolve. What do they decide to use to change shots? That poor, understaffed greenhouse that somehow always ends up as Bushroot's hideout in every single damn episode that he's in. That's instantly means that we're going into a Bushroot episode, because Disney was never clever enough to show the greenhouse and then go "oh, we're just kidding, have Megavolt instead".

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.
Our horny little plant calls for his trusty companion Spike, who turns out wasn't just a one-time obstacle Darkwing Duck thwarted in his origin episode, but rather a full-blown minion he's going to keep with him throughout the show's run. Plant-themed villains need a venus fly trap monster lying around at all times, after all. I just wish Disney was more adventurous and named the plant monster Rhoda II in honor of that character that was a key element in Bushroot's transformation but never appeared again.

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"...
And really, Bushroot should've just done all of this himself, because Spike ends up breaking the key ingredient. Yep, he doesn't break the fertilizer and he doesn't break the tube of toothpaste (yes, Bushroot used toothpaste), but somehow Spike ends up breaking the only jar of "posie blossom" in the entire greenhouse. In fairness to Spike, they never really establish if the plant even has eyes, let alone enough dexterity to carry a glass jar anywhere.

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...
Luckily, there's an identical jar of a completely different substance laying around (because, like all cartoon scientists, Bushroot stores all of his important, plot-device chemicals in bottles that have the same color, size, and shape) so Spike hands Bushroot that instead. There's no way this can go wrong!

"I'm not even going to read the label and make sure that my bumbling sidekick got the right ingredient! SCIENCE!"
Bushroot goes nuts over the jar of "posie blossom" because it's the very thing that will make his bride smoking hot. We even dive into a little fantasy he has about a curvy flower that has sexy saxophones surrounding her, just like a certain Rhoda he knew and worshiped.

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.
Bushroot pours water on the powdery mass of mental issues, sits there waiting for a couple seconds with a lustful look in his eyes, a giant potato explodes out of the pot, and psychiatrists everywhere started shaking their heads and phoning Disney in order to give the writers a stern talking to. To top this carousel of issues with some whipped cream of insanity, Bushroot is so excited over his new bride that he actually starts strangling Spike.

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!"
We see our potato-based bad guy, a living spud if you will, and Bushroot's response is merely a stunned "She's a potato". Thanks for cluing us in Bushroot! Couldn't have figured that out without you!

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?"
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the first thing Bushroot does once he sees that he created a monster with sharp vampire fangs is propose to the giant potato and, since the potato snarled at him, he takes that as a yes. Because being a supervillain, Bushroot chooses to ignore consent laws.

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!"
And, to make things worse, as if this thing can't get any worse already, the moment he thinks that he's wed to the giant spud (even though there was no priest or judge in sight, meaning that this union isn't recognized by any state government), he rips his labcoat right off of his body, revealing that he has a tuxedo right underneath his clothing. Hey, it was chilly and he decided to dress in layers.

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.
He then puts a dress on the goddamn potato and starts describing all the luxuries present in the greenhouse, all while his bride just kind of sits there and allows this stuff to happen. So this is what it's like to see a character go completely and utterly insane. Shame it had to be Bushroot.

...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.

"And then the hideous monster was so stupid that he didn't even know the repulsive sin against nature he just created was a vampire because he was too blinded by his own sexual urges. Luckily, a handsome, intelligent god among men named Darkwing Awesome McAwesome Duck sent him to jail. The End."
Finally, after all of that, Bushroot decides that his bride isn't happy so he decides to run into the city and get her some presents. And by "get", he means "steal", because the shop owners certainly aren't going to accept money from someone who eats cow excrement to get nourishment. Instantly, from Bushroot's fear of his spouse's anger, we see just who wears the pants in the relationship. Metaphorically of course, because in this universe, wearing pants means you're overdressing. 

All the love is gone from their relationship.
The moment Bushy McIssues runs off-screen to cause some wacky mayhem in a helpless city, the hideous tuber smashes through a glass wall and starts wandering the streets of Saint Canard. Oh gee, thanks, Bushroot. Thanks for unleashing a scientific horror upon an unsuspecting populace. Didn't you cause enough damage when you tried to turn your coworker into a plant?

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!
Meanwhile, we find Batman Darkwing Duck in his normal civilian persona, Bruce Wayne Drake Mallard, completely unaware that Poison Ivy Bushroot is back in town. And we find that he's having the time of his life on account it looks like his horrible neighbors are moving. For those not in the know, when Darkwing Duck isn't out fighting crime in Gotham City Saint Canard, he lives in a perfect little suburban neighborhood with his sidekick Robin Launchpad and his adopted daughter.

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?"
Anyways, the punchline is that the Muddlefoots are not moving, they're just overpacking their RV for a camping trip. This joke tends to come up a lot in Disney productions, because I'm positive I've seen this happen in A Goofy Movie and in at least one Mickey Mouse short. I guess Disney writers just happen to find this joke hilarious or something. Hah hah, Americans and their inability to get away from modern conveniences, amiright? And what is the deal with airline food?

I would kill to have a shirt like Herb's shirt.
While characters are busy lifting entire pieces of furniture like it's no problem (man, where were they during my college dorm's moving day?) and stuffing them into the TARDIS that is Herb Muddlefoot's RV, Gosalyn wants to go because she wants to capture Big Webfoot. I'm sure this won't later involve a certain giant carbohydrate-packed vegetable, right?

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?"
Drake decides that he's just gives up as far as his insane neighbors are concerned and decides instead to watch TV. And, again, since he's in a cartoon, the moment he turns on the television, he sees one of his gimmicky supervillains causing crime in his fair city, therefore advancing the plot further. I personally always wanted a cartoon to psyche the viewers out by setting up some supervillain's scheme, and then have the TV report a different villain's crime. But nah, we're going to follow this cliche by the book and learn that Bushroot is robbing a store.

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."
Anyways, where did Bushroot strike? A themed store called Fabric King. And apparently there's a crapload of fabric in Saint Canard because the building that houses the store resembles The Flatiron Building from New York City in both size and shape.

Next door is a 30-story shopping center dedicated entirely to paper clips.
Inside, we find that Bushroot is really casual about his hostile takeovers because he carries on a conversation about fabric with the store owner, who looks like she's read the manual on how to look like a stereotypical rich person, and they just carry on like nothing's wrong. I was going to comment on how calm the hostage is, but then again, she's in a superhero cartoon. I like to imagine that she's really grateful that Bushroot isn't the "shoot first, ask questions later" type like the villains in the comics tend to be. 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."
But then, Darkwing Duck ruins their discussion by showing up and, after Launchpad uses a roll of fabric as a club, Darkwing utters his trademark "suck gas, evildoer!" line. But there's just one problem. Gas apparently has no affect on Bushroot. Because he's a mutant or something, I guess. They never explain why. Unfortunately, that only opens up further questions as to how Bushroot really breathes and gives future episodes enough room to conveniently ignore this.

Leave it to Darkwing to disregard public smoking bans.
And then, something wonderful, something magical happens. Possibly one of the weirdest things to be in a Disney cartoon occurs, a moment that will live on forever in infamy and is constantly brought up among Darkwing Duck circles because it's that crazy. Why? Because Bushroot, after demonstrating that he no longer possesses a set of lungs, happily jumps onto a pile of rolled up fabric, bends over, and starts rubbing his head until pollen comes out of the top.

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...?
He doesn't just squirt out a little bit of pollen either. No. Bushroot has enough endurance to make enough pollen to cloud the air, distract his enemies, and make his getaway with the power of non-consentual male/male bukkake. Eww.

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!
But Bushroot is not through spitting in the face of nature and human decency. He has to also spit in the face of physics by, I'm not kidding you, jumping on a bed of ivy and commanding it to fly through the air like a magic carpet. Because, since plants are involved, he can do whatever the hell he wants! Levitation is a plant-related superpower now, of course. I know he said he had a telepathic link to plants but I didn't know he was that telepathic!
"Screw you, gravity! I'm writing my own rules!"
Darkwing and Launchpad end up losing him because Darkwing was dumb enough to follow instructions from Launchpad and because Bushroot's attack sperm blinded them, but before we can dwell too long on how a supervillain is still on the prowl, we get epic camping shenanigans from the Muddlefoots and Gosalyn. This scene basically establishes two things; that we're looking at our victims for the vampire potato and that Big Webfoot is going to be an important plot point when really, the pun couldn't even hold up for one joke, let alone a joke stretched for an entire episode.

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.
Back at Bushroot manor, Bushroot returns home after successfully robbing a grocery store off-screen and finally discovers that the love of his life, his starch-filled Posie, has flown the coop. He goes out to look for her because, even though he's kind of terrified of her, she's really all he has. Awww, that's just pathetic.

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!"
But we can't focus too long on Bushroot's terrifying relationship issues, issues that will probably make some psychiatrist's career once he writes a book about it. First we have to establish the fact that Bushroot's blushing bride is both a threat and a vampire potato, as promised by Darkwing Duck earlier, by having her attack one of the Muddlefoots. Luckily, she picks off one of the Muddlefoots no one cares about. Hah hah, bully. Nobody likes you because you're mean!

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!
Wanting to top itself with horrors, after we see Tank get snatched off by a giant vampiric monster, we get to see Darkwing Duck, after his attempts at hitchhiking go dreadfully awry, get run over by a semi for his efforts. Hooray for cartoon violence!
Optimus Prime claims another victim.
But don't worry, viewers. A colorful character that will never appear again in this series helpfully pulls DW's crushed body out from between his tires and offers them a ride on account he found that stunt absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, Duwayne (or Dwayne, but I'm choosing to spell his name how the hicks say it) is about as cheery as a knife to the kidney and decides to lighten the mood by saying how "he likes company" and how he sometimes "sees things". And yet Darkwing and Launchpad choose to get into his semi anyways.

...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...
Think this character only exists to be creepy? Actually, he's the one that provides the solution to this episode's problem, surprisingly enough. After he nearly runs over the giant potato while it's crossing the road (which probably could've solved this problem in like two seconds, since I'm sure a speeding semi could flatten even a eight foot vampire potato), we learn that in order to defeat a russet potato, you have to say potato backwards while shaking the pollen off a lyceum nycanthropus plant. Just look at the scientific name of that plant and how it looks similar to lycanthrope; that should be all you need in order to guess where (or in this case, who) the plant is.

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..."
After we learn how to defeat a potato, because our hero seriously needs instructions on how to beat something millions of households across America tackle every night, we learn the symptoms of the potato's victims. It turns out if you're bitten by a vampire potato, you end up craving products with potatoes in them, you enter a trance-like state, your eyes turn swirly, and roots grow out of your head.

...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.
Since this infection is really lame, this quickly escalates into Honker and Gosalyn being cornered by the giant potato monster after they, of course, mistake it for Big Webfoot. Oh, those little scamps, getting themselves into trouble on account they want to make it into the tabloids. I like how Gosalyn's net radically grows in size and circumference the moment she places it around the potato's head too. Cartoon physics!

"Grab the chives and sour cream, Honker! We're eating well tonight!"
A commercial break flashes, but in a bizarre twist on the normal formula, we don't return and see the outcome of the potato fight. Instead, it cuts to black while the potato is snarling, but when we come back, we see Launchpad and DW still on the road with their friendly weasel (dog? rat? What is he?) companion.

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."
Duwayne, after driving them for who knows how many miles, finally drops them off in Middle of Freaking Nowhere, where there's a Hamburger Hippo filled with murderous hillbillies. I say "murderous" because the moment they see Darkwing Duck, they assume he's the vampire and try to kill him.

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?
 I'm not kidding when I say they try to kill him either. They seriously wrestle him to the ground and get out a stake, ready to drive it straight into his heart. Man, cartoons were hardcore back then.

Do-It-Yourself belly button piercing!
But then, Gosalyn runs up out of nowhere and stops them just in time before this cartoon ends on a grim, bloody note, shouting that this is Darkwing Duck, not some sort of sparkling demon who stars in Joel Schumacher films.

Wait. Why is Gosalyn here? The last time we saw her, she was fighting that potato! Why is she here? 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...
After multiple near death experiences, Darkwing is convinced that everyone in the outskirts of the city has gone completely insane with their talk of vampires and potatoes. I mean, geez, it's not like he knows any villains who have the scientific know-how to create a giant potato monster or anything! He even gets into an argument with his daughter over the possibility that she saw a vampire, choosing to utter what is possibly one of the more memorable lines in this series.

"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!"
They head back to the Muddlefoot camp, where every last member of this poor doomed family has been turned into mindless zombies, devouring potato chips and watching white static on their idiot box. Darkwing, being the observant superhero and defender of the weak that he is, instantly disregards the roots, the swirly dead eyes, and the fact that none of them are saying a word by just saying that there's a reasonable explanation for all of this.

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?
Luckily, since Drake here just plain isn't doing what he's supposed to be doing, the potato monster shows up and grabs Darkwing. And, since today just isn't Darkwing's day, he tries to fight off the giant plant with his gas gun even though it was previously established that the gas gun just doesn't work on plant monsters in this episode. Geez, dude. Pay attention! Or at least load your gun with some weed killer.

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...
Gosalyn shows up and tries to help with a potato peeler (thanks for not doing that when Honker was captured, Gosalyn!), but a question lingers on everyone's minds. Just where the hell is Bushroot while all of this is going on? Luckily, he finally manages to catch up, probably because he ran out of beds of ivy to levitate, and, in a bizarre twist of fate, he shows up right when Darkwing and Posie look like they're exchanging DNA instead of, you know, trying to kill one another. Uh oh, the feathers are really going to fly now that Bushroot has had his chloroplast-filled heart broken!

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.
Naturally, this sets off our giant walking piece of celery (with his shocked face later making it into the theme song) and he decides that he's going to turn from "not quite evil; just misunderstood" bad guy he normally is into a murderous onslaught of duck-killing wrath. Because hell hath no fury like a flower scorned or something.

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!"
Darkwing manages to escape the root-like clutches of the Bride of Bushroot, but since he can't shut the hell up (he actually stops running in order to brag), he's quickly caught by Posie's roots. See, because she can extend her roots underground and ensnare her prey even though she didn't do that anywhere else in this episode. Isn't it fun when your monsters can just sprout abilities completely out of nowhere?

...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.
But then, Bushroot to the rescue! With his triumphant metal steed, The Root of Bush drives away the evil potato away from Darkwing Duck before the potato can destroy our purple-wearing hero!

Bushroot is practicing in the off-chance that this show gets a kart racing videogame spinoff.
...wait, huh? Nevermind, I got that mixed up. It looks like Bushroot is going to mow Darkwing Duck down for stealing the heart of the woman he loves, using a lawnmower that literally just appeared out of nowhere. I'm just going to comment on the massive irony in place here, because using a giant rideable lawnmower is exactly how Darkwing Duck killed Bushroot in his previous appearance. Looks like Bushroot remembers that incident all too well and wants to show Darkwing just how it feels to have a bunch of rotating blades shred you into gooey paste.

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.
But unfortunately, they do just that. The writers wrote themselves into a corner, what with everyone either a zombie or a hick, so Darkwing Duck says one of the most awkward lines in the history of the show. With a "Hey, there's a gopher hole down here!", it turns out he can just pop underground and avoid the grass-cutting power of modern industry.

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.
But this temporary lapse in writing is quickly excused because then we see just how gentle and loving and misunderstood Bushroot is when we see him on the lawnmower. BEHOLD!

Pictured: Compassion and nightmares.
Yeah, misunderstood my ass, Bushroot. You're just as bloodthirsty as the other villains in this town. Stop trying to write yourself off as meek, placid, and gentle when you're gleefully trying to turn someone into mushy red goo with a rideable lawnmower.

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!
Finally, we get one of the dodgiest scenes in a Disney production. With a "Grab him, Gos!", the father and daughter team grab Bushroot by the waist, hold him tight enough so he can't struggle, and start shaking him violently until he starts to fill the air with his potent pollen. Just dwell on that for a moment there because I'm not going to fill in the blanks for you.
Look at their faces. You know neither of them is going to speak of this ever again.
And yes. This is seriously how they kill the plant monster, folks. By cross-pollinating it. Bushroot kills his bride by having sex with her just because someone happened to say the right incantation. Truly this is one of the greatest things we as a species have ever produced with this medium.

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.
The potato monster is gone thanks to the healing magic of Bushroot's spunk, everyone is cured from their harmless zombie potato curse, and the day looks to be saved, but what about our exhausted plant mutant? What's he going to do now that his girlfriend suffered death from snu-snu?

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?
But don't worry, who else but those hillbillies from earlier show up, they think Bushroot's a vampire on account he looks different from everyone else (hah hah, racism metaphor), and then they try to perform the vampire test where they set him on fire.

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!"
And that's really how the episode ends. With Bushroot possibly getting killed by rednecks. Sure, this character in particular can return from the dead, but that's not what's being discussed here.

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.

Final Verdict

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.