Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Duck in the Iron Mask," part one

Here's part one of my response to Gregory Weagle's review of "Duck in the Iron Mask". Greg's comments are boldfaced.

This episode is written by Don Glut (?!!)...After he went through his stint in writing animation episodes; he went on to do documentaries and Agony Booth bad horror flicks including Countess Dracula's Orgy of Blood, The Mummy's Kiss (and its sequel), The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula, Dinosaur Valley Girls, Blood Scarab and the Vampire Hunters Club. Umm; yeah...These movies are stuff that I'll let Albert Walker and his gaggle of ranters at the Agony Booth touch because they are the experts and I'm not see. I agree with Chris Barat: What in the world was Disney's hiring practices back then to get these kind of writers on board?

I think the more relevant point regarding Glut's participation here is his long career as a comic-book writer for such titles as CAPTAIN AMERICA and VAMPIRELLA. He was quite active as a comics fan during the "Silver Age" and therefore must have had some exposure to Carl Barks' work. I don't know the precise backgrounds of a lot of the freelancers who provided scripts for DuckTales' first season -- though I know more than I did 10-15 years ago -- but I'd be pretty confident that a majority of them read and enjoyed Duck comics. In that sense, folks like Glut were good choices to help adapt Barks' world to TV.

The nephew on first base calls for time and the nephews have a conference at the plate as the pig fan cannot tell them apart. Funny since they had zero trouble figuring it out in Take Me Out Of The Ball Game. Then again; I'm dealing with the same writer who wrote [and directed] Dinosaur Valley Girls; so I shouldn't be surprised.
The Junior Woodchucks' ballgame here isn't quite like the match against the Beagle Brats. The stadium's bigger and the fans are further from the action, so it's not surprising that they can't pick up what Greg notices next...

Dewey looks out as I see logic break #1 for the episode already. In Take Me Out of The Ball Game; they were wearing the same red sleeves on their shirts. In this episode; Dewey has blue sleeves, Huey has red sleeves and Louie has green. And the crowd and announcer somehow cannot tell them apart. Oh; this is going to be a fun episode to mock; I just know it. 

I never noticed this myself until now, so I wouldn't "pile on" the fans and announcer for missing it too.

Dewey is sick of people getting them confused all the time. Funny since this wasn't a real problem until now. Sure; I have my problems telling them apart in Time Merit [sic] Adventures; but that was the exception. 

My longstanding take on the decision to focus an ep on HD&L's identical nature: Why hadn't someone thought of it before? It's a perfectly legitimate springboard for a character-driven subplot. Barks never called attention to it, and Don Rosa's "An Eye for Detail" (WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #622, March 1998) -- in which we learn about Donald's uncanny ability to tell the boys apart (without the benefit of "officially" color-coded clothing, that is) -- was still 10 years away. The real stroke of genius was Glut's embedding of the "why do we look alike" subplot in a larger plot based on Dumas' novel THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, which pivoted on the supposed existence of a twin brother of Louis XIV, whose existence had to be concealed from the public. Had the idea popped up in a completely unrelated story, then the claim of contrivance would have been much more solid.

So we head to Scrooge's Mansion as the nephews whine about the loss as Dewey still thinks it's unfair that they look alike. Geez; can this get any more contrived. I mean who cares? Yeah; I made fun of the nephews for not being nearly as cool as Kit [Cloudkicker]; but the Ducktales nephews are still good enough. Besides; I think the DT nephews should watch their Quack Pack counterparts and I think that alone will change their tune. No matter how moronic Mr. Glut gets. And I see mistake #2 for the episode as Louie calls them twins. Um; no, it's triplets. Unless Triplets is copyrighted for some reason. 

One important point here is that the boys are several years younger than Kit. I've always thought of them as being in the 10-11 year old range. Kids who are that young and are identical triplets (Louie's "The three of us are twins!" is pretty clearly a joke [and a funny one]) might well have a dispute of some sort over the issue. And if it's a choice between some mild bickering and the boys splitting into the threesome seen on Quack Pack, then I'll take the bickering every time.

Oh lord; if Glut makes it to have Scrooge not tell them apart; I'm going to strangle him. Thank goodness Don Glut didn't go there; yet. 

And he never does. Scrooge may not have Donald's "eye for detail" regarding HD&L, but at least he knows enough to crib by peeking at their sleeves.

Scrooge and [Count] Roy are kissing cousins it seems as [Scrooge] flips onto the staircases and demonstrates his sword slashing skills because they didn't have a worry in the world. I guess Scrooge was a child back then.

It'd really be a challenge, I think, to fit Scrooge's friendship with Count Roy into the popularly accepted "timeline" of Scrooge's life and times (thank you, Mr. Rosa). Scrooge has his spectacles in the fencing scene, so it couldn't have been that long ago.

So Huey and Louie are on the platform waiting for Dewey and here comes Dewey wearing the most absurd outfit in history; before we saw Kit wearing a pickle and seal outfit. Dewey is merely a clown who is trying to convince me in a contrived way that he stands out in a crowd. Kit wore the seal and pickle outfit because he's an animal lover and an insane sadist. I mean that outfit would be outlawed by the FASHION POLICE OF LAW; not to mention that this whole thing is seriously out of character for the nephews in general.

It'd definitely be out of character for Kit to wear Dewey's disguise, but remember, Dewey is several years younger. The boys are intelligent and mature for their years, it's true, but if Gosalyn Mallard can obsess over zombie movies and essay silly disguises, then Dewey's capable of wearing a silly outfit as well. The spats and bow tie are a bit of overkill, though.  I should point out at this juncture that Russi Taylor's voice acting for HD&L in this ep is among her best efforts of the series. She had to switch emotions off and on time and again and did a superb job of it.

Scrooge tells Launchpad to be careful because the kingdom is so small; he might miss it. I think Scrooge should be careful in asking to Launchpad to land the helicopter period. Of course; I guess Scrooge assumes that the helicopter has no wings; so LP cannot crash it. That kind of logic died a long time ago Scroogie. We do a cockpit shot as Launchpad tells him not to worry because he won't miss it by much. 

I can think of several "helicopter crashes" for Launchpad during the series, such as the near-operatic crash that destroyed Scrooge's new bank near the beginning of "Hero for Hire." It wasn't a lapse of logic so much as Scrooge "teeing it up" for LP to deliver one of his best one-liners.

And then we go to the side shot outside and of course the engine starts to sputter. Why is it that when something crashes in this show; it's NOT because LP is trying to crash it on purpose and it's some stupid mechanical failure?

Uh... LP tries to crash on purpose? Granted, he has a fatalistic streak about his crashing (from "Top Duck": "The ground and I are like two irresistible forces, destined to keep meetin' again and again!"), and sometimes he takes over the controls when a crash seems inevitable (as in "Duck to the Future"), but LP's ineptness isn't purposeful, I don't think.

Scrooge tells him to do something and Launchpad is doing something which is what he does best: crash. See; this is why I think the fuel line clogging is an obvious hoax.
Sounds like LP's fatalistic streak is kicking in to me.

Everyone pops out from their hiding places and somehow; the helicopter lands without any damage to it whatsoever. I see Scrooge has invested in LP crash proof materials. 

Can you blame him, really?

The platform opens with a thud as Pietro's (Will Ryan I bet since it sounds like Dogface Pete and probably looks like Dogface Pete only in Muskerteer [sic] gear.) voice beckons and the nephews look out. And it does look like Dogface Pete (plus purple feather of doom which is dangerously close to sending Michael Eisner out of the Phantom Zone.) as he is writing a ticket of charges on his scroll. He demands to see the driver of this contraption. Launchpad and Scrooge walk out as LP blows Pietro off (I'm guessing Chris Barat would have him as Petero which makes the pun better I do believe.) and Pietro stuffs tickets into his mouth to shut him up.
It's Captain Pietro, all right, and a great "costumed role" for Pete, one which puts his current "Doc Ock" turn in WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES' "Ultraheroes" story arc to shame. They even give him a darker tint to fit into the Iberian/Italian/??? milieu. Will Ryan, being a big Barks fan, really puts his all into his few appearances as Pete, though Jim Cummings created a more memorable persona for the character in Goof Troop and House of Mouse.

Only three charges against LP as Scrooge reads them from his mouth. Okay; the disturbing the peace one is understandable; operating an illegal contraption is a bit of an ass and crashing in a no crashing zone is redundant. The fine is only $2000 which is pretty generous actually. And knowing Don Glut; I'm betting Scrooge gets pissed off big time on that. And damn you Don Glut as Scrooge get stuffed another 500 bones for squawking which is also redundant since disturbing the peace would cover that charge.

As we quickly see, the "zone" thing is a running gag. And why shouldn't Scrooge squawk over a $2000 fine -- he's gotten bent out of shape over far smaller sums than this. If he didn't, he wouldn't be Scrooge. "Contraption" relates to the fact that Monte Dumas is a backwards (in terms of technology) country, and it, too, pops up again before the episode is over.

Part two upcoming!

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