Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Duck in the Iron Mask," part two

As before, Greg's comments are in boldface.

[Count Roy's evil twin] Count Ray is sleeping as Scrooge runs to him to greet him and Count Ray uses his webfeet to push him away. It's clear from the very start that this is Count Ray because Count Roy clearly sounds more like the Brain and this voice is far from close. Personally; Count Ray should have also been voiced by Maurice LaMarche; if only to reduce the clear signs that he isn't Count Roy to just one feature: The mustache.
Now here, I think Greg hits on a legitimate weakness. People (and ducks) do change over the years, so Roy might have let his mustache grow, but Arte Johnson (the voice of Ray) could have tried to sound a little more like LaMarche's voice for Roy. Or LaMarche might have been asked to do Roy with an "evil" twist. Perhaps if Johnson had dispensed with the cheesy Frenchified accent...

And here comes probably the silliest and as you will see; stupidest decision Count Ray makes as he doesn't want to put children in prison. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PUTTING CHILDREN IN PRISON?! I mean; what about Molly Cunningham in Flight of the Snowduck and Kit in Citizen Khan? Why are these two bears getting the adult treatment and yet Disney is protecting the nephews? I think they can handle prison time given Duckworth's Revolt. And it just kills Count Ray as a heel right out of the starting gate with the next sequence involving the nephews later on. Count Ray's image would be hurt see. Riiiiiggggghhhhhtttt. Tell that to “Get Tough On Crime” Republicans Count Ray. They get the uninvited guestroom of course as he has the evil laugh.

Honestly, comparing this situation to those found in the two TaleSpin episodes and "Duckworth's Revolt" is a case of juggling apples and oranges. In "Flight of the Snow Duck," Molly was imprisoned in Thembria, a totalitarian country where illogical things happen as a matter of course. In "Citizen Khan," Kit and Baloo were taken prisoner as part of a criminal enterprise. As for "Revolt," HD&L and Duckworth might have been kept in a prison-like cell when the Vegedonians made them slaves, but the imprisonment proceeded as a result of the slavery.

Ray's appeal to "protecting his image" is actually a very clever way of displaying his excessive self-regard (remember, Ray is playing the role that the notably immodest Louis XIV played in Dumas' MAN IN THE IRON MASK). We see later in the ep that the Monte Dumians are not fooled by such ruses. The fact that the "uninvited guest room" is the functional equivalent of a prison -- without admitting as much -- actually increases Roy's menace, making him seem more devious and sinister (a tough trick given the broad way in which Johnson plays him).

BTW, I don't think that Glut came up with the names "Roy" and "Ray" by accident. "Roi" is the French word for king.

So we head to the GUEST ROOM OF DEATH as the pig musketeer opens the door (the guest room looks really reasonable making the whole punishment even more absurd in hindsight.)

It may have furnishings, but the functional equivalent of a prison is still a prison.

LP then notices a brick coming out of the wall (which he confuses as the wall closing in which Scrooge gleefully corrects) and it gets pushed out and here comes the DUCK IN THE IRON MASK (the duck like MASK OF VULCAN gives it clear away)...

Here's the other (minor) flaw of the episode: Count Roy aka T.D.I.T.I.M. picks just this time to break through the wall and into Scrooge and Launchpad's cell. Perhaps no one had been held there previously, and so Roy was taking advantage of the situation, but you'd think Roy would have been trying to escape from the get-go. Judging by Roy's ragged clothes (which, as Greg correctly points out, do change color on either side of the commercial break), he's been there for a long while.

Scrooge blows him off because he doesn't scare him. Scrooge points the cane and then Maurice's voice beckons as it is clearly Count Roy in the iron mask. How obvious can you get?! See what not having Count Ray being voiced by Arte Johnson can do for you? It creates some suspense for this moment. Otherwise; there is nothing and the whole greeting becomes just there to suck. Then again; I should expect nothing less from Don Glut.
Well, Scrooge doesn't think it's Roy at first, which indicates that his memories of Roy's voice may be a bit fuzzy. So this exchange actually helps explain away the earlier logic break occasioned by the difference between the brothers' voices. This wasn't Glut's first attempt to sidestep an apparent logical impasse, as we'll see below.

The pig wakes up as Pietro asks if they have been fed and the pig proclaims that they have not. Pietro likes that; which makes him the best heel character by proxy. When a Pete clone is the best character of the episode; you know this episode is in trouble. Pietro opens the eye peeper and the nephews call him a big bully. That is sort of underestimating the thug isn't it guys?! Pietro blows them off because they are only here until they becomes adult and can be put in a real prison. Yeah; how contrived is that?! 

It's pretty disturbing, actually. It implies that they got "life" -- for bogus charges, no less. That's almost as bad as the way Molly, Baloo, and Wildcat got treated in "Flight of the Snow Duck."

The eye peeper of doom get closed as Louie proclaims that they need to get out of here and Dewey is good with escape plans. Dewey goes over to the mirror and has a MIMI JOKE ZONE PLAN in mind as he takes off his stupid outfit and tells the nephews to take off their hats so they look really alike. 

Believe it or not, Duck fans have studied Barks stories and come to the conclusion that Dewey is usually portrayed as being "the most imaginative, inquisitive, and crafty" of the Nephews. Not that I believe that Glut was consciously aware of this, but the gimmick ties in with one very important point: Dewey may be upset that he looks like his brothers, but his own personal talent for devising escape plans turns out to be key in the end. That's a neat way of pointing out the importance of individuality.

...the nephews run into action as they place three mirrors in front of the door (huh? I didn't see A mirror in the place let alone three; logic break #3 for the episode).

There are actually two mirrors next to the bed, and there was probably a third out of sight somewhere. Maybe it's the one Dewey is changing in front of (or not: I see a door in the background).

Louie then makes my day by pointing out the OBVIOUS LOGIC BREAK in the plan and Dewey blows it off because he's been on duty all night and doesn't care what they are wearing. Umm... no; it's because he would be REALLY STUPID. Only less stupid than Count Ray of course.

No, if the guard had been ALERT and FULLY AWAKE, then the plan would have relied on him being stupid. The "Have they been fed?" exchange establishes that the guard sleeps on the job (even when standing up!), so I count this as an ingenious way of counteracting the "obvious logic break," using a pre-established character trait (the guard's dozing). Barks would probably have been proud of this dodge.

Huey throws the HARPOON ROPE OF DOOM up the chimney and it latched onto the top of the roof with a thud as the pig musketeer wakes up and of course he goes to the eye peeper and sees three mirrors with Dewey waving at him. Now you would think that the MIRRORS OF VANITY would have given away the fact that there is something wrong with this picture. I mean; the mirrors are CLEARLY seen as such. And of course; the pig buys into it hook, line and sinker. Damn you to hell Don Glut!
If he's tired, he might just focus on DEWEY, rather than the mirrors.

Sadly; Huey backs up into the GARGOYLE STATUE OF GREEN FEAR and gets scared of it and they bump into each other and fall down the roof as the harpoon manages to latch onto the roof end gargoyle statue (in gold this time).

Forget about the pros and cons of "putting kids in prison"; the sequence on the roof shows that the creative powers behind DuckTales had no problem whatsoever with putting HD&L in jeopardy. I mean, Huey and Louie are stumbling around on a slanted roof at night and in clear danger of falling to the street below. It's not Kit Cloudkicker jumping or being thrown off the Iron Vulture, I'll admit, but I think I'd classify it as a pretty scary moment. In fact, it's scary enough that I doubt the good folks at BS&P would pass it nearly as easily today (sigh).

Stay tuned for the conclusion!

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