Back to the Klondike" was, at best, a mixed success... and pardon me for resorting to an obvious metaphor here, but the cracks in the foundation of "Earth Quack" seem to have grown wider over time. I pretty much concur with GeoX's assessment that the best thing about this rushed, relentlessly bland take on the tale of the Terries and Fermies (squashed into "Terri-Fermians" here for convenience's sake) is that it makes you appreciate just how clever and nuanced Barks' subterranean saga was. But a fresh-eyed viewing has also brought to light several irritating logical lapses that have caused me to slightly lower my initial rating of the episode. Even the animation lets us down at times; the spectacular "first reveal" of the Land Beneath the Ground is still quite arresting, but the earthquake scenes -- both the ones in the "dream sequence" at the beginning and the real quake that drains Scrooge's Money Bin near the end -- definitely could have been handled better. Coming off the visually impressive, if thematically dodgy, "Klondike," this ep has to be regarded as a disappointment.
How the Ducks should have traveled into the Terri-Fermians' lair?
(Cover of a South African DVD)
(Cover of a South African DVD)
Piles of moneybags abruptly jutting up like geysers and tidal waves of cash appearing OUT OF NOWHERE with no real physical buildup aside, the "dream sequence" is still a decent way to start the episode. But the existence of a real fault underneath Scrooge's bin inadvertently muddies up one of the most charming points in Barks' story: the fact that the Terries and Fermies, as opposed to "mere" physical processes, are responsible for making earthquakes. In "Land Beneath the Ground," Scrooge worries about the possible presence of "weak areas," "deep fissures" and "hollow places," but the actual processes that cause earthquakes are cleverly left unstated, allowing Barks to fill in with his delightful conceit of a subterranean land of creatures whose job it is to make quakes. By contrast, why would Fudderman's Fault be called a fault unless it were already understood that faults have something to do with the production of earthquakes? The Barks scenario of a paranoid Scrooge digging and digging despite the lack of pro-quake evidence -- and thereby discovering the existence of the "Land Beneath the Ground" -- is dropped in favor of a straight (or as straight as a Gyro Gearloose project can be, anyway) engineering exercise. Giving Gyro his first role of the series (and with a strangely strangulated voice, to boot; Hal Smith seems to have been feeling his way with character voices at this point) isn't worth undercutting the role of the Terri-Fermians in such a manner. The least that they could have done in exchange was to have given us a chance to have seen Gyro's giant shock absorber in the process of being built.
The Terri-Fermians acknowledge their newly created hierarchical social structure.
The climactic quake sequence, though it features some funky (as in: slightly off-odor) animation while Scrooge's limo races the crack through the streets of Duckburg, does deliver the goods when Scrooge's Bin is drained dry. I actually prefer the TV depiction of the money literally gushing out of the bottom of the Bin to Barks' comic-book crack at same. Here's the thing, though... why are the Terri-Fermians all rolling and crashing into the pillar in the first place? Since they now have Scrooge's top hat to use as a substitute for the Crackpot Trophy, they have no reason to try and "get their trophy back," right? So why not simply go back to their normal team competition, racially -- er, chromatically -- uniform roll-and-crash teams and all? Were they simply engaging in the Terri-Fermian equivalent of a hissy fit? I realize that the temptation was there to animate the Bin-busting quake in some form, but I just don't see the logic behind it here. Nor do I see why the quake, apart from that single crack running down the street (I thought the fault was right under Scrooge's bin?), leaves the rest of Duckburg completely untouched. This was like the paranoiac's version of an earthquake, one that targets one and only one location and/or person. At least the Terri-Fermians' description of the money as "worthless litter," which prompts them to defy physical logic and return it to Scrooge (I notice that Barks didn't even try to show how this actually happened), maintains their episode-long stance of obliviousness to the doings of the world outside. If they had started complaining about money being known to be worthless because it's given away on radio programs, then that would have been completely out of lack of character!
DuckBlurbs: A quick thank you is in order to everyone who commented on my "Klondike" post. I was really gratified to see that level of feedback.
[Greg] We zoom into the rope and then we cut to Gyro telling the boys to give more speed as the nephews pushes on the lever (WRONG LEVER) some more. We head back in as Scrooge is calling this good and then the transmitter goes dead since Scrooge is out of range. D'OH! Okay; here's the logic break; if the workers were four miles down; how come Scrooge's transmitter is getting static; while the workman's was clear?! [/Greg]
A good point. Physically speaking, I'm more intrigued by the workmen's amazing ability to run four miles uphill THAT quickly. What did they use, rocket boots?
[Greg] [T]he little one claims that the king is coming as the king blob and the circle coach along with his train arrive from the right corner of the arena. He's also carrying the Crack Pot Trophy. Okay; someone who had this idea is clearly on drugs. POW! OUCH! Ummm..Okay; Carl Barks is not on drugs.[/Greg]
I'd still like to know why the amphora was given a big crack and an official name. Granted, explaining where the trophy came from (including the fact that it proves that the Terri-Fermians date back to the time of the ancient Greeks) would have taken up even more air time that the episode didn't have.
[Greg] And then here comes Scrooge and the nephews tired beyond belief. Webby thought the earthquakes got him as Scrooge proclaims that there won't be any more quakes now that he has the trophy. [/Greg]
Well, there's still the little matter of Fudderman's Fault to consider. When's Gyro going to build that shock absorber, again?
Next: Episode 3, "Sweet Duck of Youth."