"Magica's Magic Mirror" (originally titled "The Mirror Quack'd" -- they should have kept the name) features the first "official" series appearance of Magica De Spell, and the first quasi-meaningful role for Doofus is tacked on for good measure. "Take Me Out of the Ballgame," meanwhile, features... features... well, um, features what at the time seemed to be (and probably still remains) the single DUMBEST moment of the series, the one moment when young and old viewers alike rolled their eyes in unison and would have "R'dOTFLTAO" if that expression had been in common use back then.
I wish I knew the true story behind the making (or would that be "the stitching together"?) of this rivet-necked monstrosity of an episode. Gummi Bears had a fair amount of success using this format, but for DT to employ it frankly smacks of desperation. Joe's and my "working theory" back in the day was that these eps were originally slated to be 22 minutes in length but were edited down after the writers and story editors encountered intractable development problems. In the case of "Magica's Magic Mirror," such problems honestly shouldn't have existed. Surely a bit more could have been mined out of the idea of Magica using trickery to convince Scrooge that he's "viewing the future" through the titular speculum and thereby get him to give up his Old #1 Dime? By contrast, I can't even comprehend the possibility that the simplistic plot of "Ballgame" was originally believed worthy of a full-length episode. Unfortunately, there's probably more evidence herein that "Ballgame" was shortened than there is evidence that "Mirror" was stripped down.
June Foray using her Natasha voice to give life to Magica. Sure, an Italian accent would have been more appropriate, but "generic European" is good enough for me, especially considering the source. Where an actress like Tress MacNeille might have done a better job was on those rare occasions when Magica had to disguise her voice to fool Scrooge. In this episode, as well as "Raiders of the Lost Harp" and "Duck to the Future," Scrooge's inability to recognize Magica's voice leaves the audience with the impression that he's a few shekels short of a quid -- so to speak.
Greg makes the interesting point that the saucy sorceress' dime-glomming gambit here involves "science" as much as it does magic. Of course, that's stretching the term "science" to cover an awful lot of ground. In truth, I would expect the Magica De Spell who displayed the ability to command comets and master meteors in one of Carl Barks' stories to do a little better than rely on fairly crude manipulatives and "simulations" that the Big Three Networks wouldn't have found acceptable during their coverage of the Apollo space missions in the 60s and 70s. GeoX's description of the ruses as "pretty dumb" is a bit harsh, but not entirely inaccurate...
I feel your apparent pain, Scrooge.
The best evidence that "Mirror" was a rush job has nothing at all to do with the "mirror trick." In one of his "stray observations" on this episode, GeoX asked, in his inimitably low-key way, "What the hell is the deal with the kid at the picnic dressed as Glomgold?" Greg thought that it was Flinty's son. Horrifying as the thought may be, I think that that was actually meant to BE Glomgold! I mean, just look at how poorly Gyro is drawn in the very same scene. I suppose that we should count ourselves fortunate that Mrs. Beakly wasn't drawn as thin and svelte here.
Take Me Out of the Ballgame," there is a clear cut in the scene in which "temporary coach" Duckworth is telling the Junior Woodchucks' baseball team to use golfing methods to hit the wibbly-wobbly "Beagle Ball." Right after Duckworth says "I'll tell you what I mean when it's our turn to bat again" and tells the kids to "give [the Beagle Brats] what for," the Woodchucks ARE up to bat again, and they've already mastered the golfing approach without Duckworth having "told them" anything. Could it be that "Ballgame" was trimmed in several places, not just this one, and "Magic Mirror" was quickly rushed into production at some point to fill the remaining air time? Say it ain't so, Jymn et al.
Webby goes the canted-capped boys one better with her memorable "Let's make the little creeps cry for their mommies!" rant. You're right, GeoX, Webby should have been given a few more somewhat-out-of-character moments like that. When would be the next truly memorable one? "The Good Muddahs," perhaps? (As for Ma Beagle being the "only mommy" of all those Beagles, Greg, I only hope for her sake that she wasn't.)
I knew that steroids were a problem in baseball, but I never
expected Webby's Quacky Patch Doll to get involved with them!
We also get some amusing moments as Duckworth's interference with the Woodchucks' game play "in the interests of promoting proper behavior" leads to mounting frustration on the part of the kids. It's especially fun to watch one of the Nephews finally snap and let Duckworth (verbally) have it. It's too bad that Dan Haley wasn't around to flag this moment as a case of a Nephew showing strong "leadership skills."
It's a legitimate surprise (shock, even) to see the Beagle Brats here, though I must say that I am impressed that writer Tedd Anasti knew about them. No amount of paging through Barks' collected works would have helped on that score. (We're fortunate that Anasti's knowledge of Beagle family history didn't descend to the depth of knowing about the original Beagle Babes, or else the Marcie clone who represented the Beagle team's gesture towards gender diversity would have had some rather unwelcome company.) A far more significant debut here is that of Ma Beagle, who makes a very good first impression. In his discussion of the DT cast, GeoX argued that Ma became more annoying the more she was used. I can certainly understand what he meant, especially when it comes to several of the flimsier 1989 episodes. Here, though, Ma functions exactly as a matriarch of the implausibly extended Beagle clan ought to function -- as a plugger of and enthusiast for "Beagle tradition," ignoble though it may seem to the outside world. She serves much the same purpose in the upcoming "Hero for Hire" and in several other eps. Granted, the Beagle Brats don't actually start to follow "Beagle tradition" and cheat until the game is well underway, but, hey, it's the thoughtlessness that counts.
(GeoX) "Great Grandma Tragica"
... goes in the pantheon with such ephemeral figures as Magica's niece Minima, who first appeared in a DT story in DISNEY ADVENTURES DIGEST and subsequently guested in a couple of lengthy Italian stories, with the last one being published in 2002. Then there are Magica's "older brother" Magico and Magica's mother, imaginatively named Mrs. De Spell, who appeared in "The Witch, the Dime, and an Old Friend," a lengthy DT fanfic that, alas, has recently been pulled from fanfiction.net. Since "Witch" (1) intimated that Magica was Polish and (2) featured Scrooge and a disguised Magica meeting at a bar, having a one-night stand, and GETTING MARRIED, perhaps it is all for the best that Tragica never made an on-screen appearance.
(Greg) [Magica] flings her cape and thanks to the Wii blue flash she turns into a vulture and flies away much to the shock of the Cosplay Spy Vs. Spy of Doom. He proclaims that the Gangster Guy Pizza Place doesn't pay him enough to put up with this. HAHA! Maybe it's time to take a job at a normal pizza place. I wondered where the Themed Pizza Place gimmick from The Weekenders came from?
I don't know, but "Gangster Guy Pizza" was more likely a takeoff on the Godfather's Pizza chain. Herman Cain would be proud.
(Greg) Huey asks if this what the future holds and in comes Doofus with the chili dog asking if they are ready for the picnic and the nephews scatter out like scalded ducks with the mirror. Huh? What was so scary about Doofus Drake? I don't get it at all.
This isn't hard to explain. HD&L were shocked that the mirror's prediction turned out to be correct!
(Greg) [N]ow Doofus wants to see into the future as Huey gives him the mirror and tells him how to do it as we cut back to Magica blowing off Doofus' face and remembering to call him a doofus in the process. HAHA!
This scene strikes me as somewhat weird. How would Magica even know about Doofus, especially at this early stage of the series -- and given that she spends most of her time on Mt. Vesuvius, anyway? But not only does Magica recognize Doofus on sight, she knows what pushes his buttons, so to speak: the sight of Launchpad in trouble.
(Greg) So we cut to the mirror shot as it sparkles and we see Magica trespassing on his property as it's the woman and then we see an inflatable Scrooge waddle in and give her a fake dime. She thanks him for the good decision. Geez [writer] Richard [Merwin]; that's foretelling Scrooge's sex life a wee bit too obvious now don't you think?
Not if you read "The Witch, the Dime, and an Old Friend." Seriously, it's VERY difficult to accept that Scrooge would surrender Old #1 for such a relatively petty reason as the loss of a few diamond mines. "Nothing to Fear" and "Send in the Clones" at least provided Scrooge with somewhat more imperative reasons to give up the dime.
(Greg) What kind of city allows convicted criminals to play baseball outside of a prison cell? And why are the Beagle Brats dressed up as mini versions of the Beagle Boys? Isn't that setting them up for a life of crime or something?
In the comics, the Brats have number plates with single-digit numbers on them (1, 2, 3, etc.). Here, their number plates are blank. So I guess that they haven't committed any actual crimes... yet. I agree that dressing the Beagle progeny (even the babies!) up in adult Beagle getup doesn't exactly qualify as responsible mentoring.
(Greg) Doofus get the football victory spot inside the baseball field from the babyfaces as they win 18-17 and thus make the [Duckburg] Mallards into bigger losers than they already are. They of course drop [Doofus and Duckworth] like bad habits as the nephew proclaim[s] that this is the first error made all day.
And we get a surprise foreshadowing of "Duck to the Future" as Webby congratulates Doofus by kissing him! I wonder whether Webby's expressed admiration for Honker Muddlefoot during the "Dangerous Currency" crossover has affected this "predicted future scenario" in any way.