OK, about this "Catch as Cash Can" business... Not until very recently did I know that the four-part serial that Joe Torcivia and I had originally called "The Firefly Fruit Contest" (catchy, eh?) even had an "official" name. And to what purpose, might I ask? The phrase "Catch as Cash Can" doesn't seem to have any relevance whatsoever to the overarching plot of Scrooge and Glomgold having a money-weighing contest. By contrast, when Carl Barks wrote "The Money Champ," it was plain as day from the get-go what was at stake. However, I will admit that "Catch as Cash Can" does fit this story in a technical sense. The MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY's list of synonyms for the phrase "catch as catch can" includes such terms as "erratic," "slapdash," and "hit-or-miss," and the firefly-fruit serial definitely qualifies as any or all of these. Parts one and three are arguably weaker than parts two and four, but all four segments have both "up" and "down" moments, making for a real toboggan ride of a story.
A Whale of a Bad Time" is only the most noteworthy example of this tendency. Right out of the gate, in "A Drain on the Economy," we get more exaggerated, cartoony gags and situations in 22 minutes than we did in ALL of "Treasure of the Golden Suns." It almost seems as if writers Jymn Magon, Bruce Talkington, and Mark Zaslove wanted to unburden themselves of all the expected cartoon tropes that they had purposely suppressed in the action-dominated pilot story. When they tapped Len Uhley, late of "Where No Duck Has Gone Before," to do the teleplay of "Drain," they must have known what they were getting themselves into, but Len really went over the top here, giving us a Scrooge who suffers not one but two near-nervous breakdowns, a veritable plague of Beagle Boys attacking the Money Bin, HD&L sustaining a physical battering in the sewers of Duckburg, and enough leaps of logic to sustain an entire Triple Jump competition. It's enough to tucker out even the most dedicated of elderly multiquadzillionaires.
GeoX correctly pointed out in his reply to a comment on his review of the episode, "Drain"'s money-matching match actually makes LESS sense than did Barks' version of the same scenario. Barks, after all, had Glomgold propose that Flinty and Scrooge convert all their holdings to silver dollars in order for there to be a "like vs. like" comparison:
The alliance between Glomgold and the Beagle Boys (which will be resumed in "Working for Scales") is a precursor of a number of similar cooperative ventures to come, especially in the second and third seasons. Interestingly, Big Time doesn't show the same initial hostility to the idea here that he did when Magica asked for the B-Boys' help in "Send in the Clones." Once the ice is broken, however, the Beagles become "thugs for hire" to an extent they rarely were in the comics.
Time is Money" and "Super DuckTales" serials, the "ultimate Beagle Boy raid" that dominates the latter part of Act One might be considered a case of severe overkill. Of course, the Beagles used a frontal assault here, rather than chicanery, and any Barks fan will tell you that those seemingly silly signs posted on Killmotor Hill are there for a reason. The armor-suited Big Time's appeal to standard Toon operating procedure -- producing an oversized can opener from OUT OF NOWHERE to carve open the vault door -- isn't nearly enough to counteract the hailstorm of Warners-style pratfalls that rain upon the heads of his brothers, cousins, and such. Though some of the gags push the bounds of believability (for the quasi-realistic realm of DuckTales, that is), this is one instance in which the somewhat more exaggerated approach of "Catch as Cash Can" actually matches what we might expect (hope?) to "really" happen if the Beagles were to train all their forces on Scrooge's property.
Greg questioned the presence of a tank in the Money Bin. Frankly, I'd have been surprised if Scrooge hadn't had some kind of last-ditch defensive device stashed away in a corner somewhere, just as he had a Boer War cannon primed to fire in the 1951 Barks story that introduced the Beagle Boys. The later presence of "Bertha" is more problematic, given that HD&L, at the very least, would have had to have seen the giant gun brought from Scrooge's "warehouse" and assembled on the premises, and thus their "surprise" at its sudden presence rang false. The only reason that I can think of for the ordnance overkill is to make the ensuing "shell mishap" that cracks open the Bin a bit more "visually dramatic." Not that Barks' original depiction of the exact same scene was anything to scoff at, but it's easier to imagine a huge gun like "Bertha" causing such massive damage. (BTW, I don't recall this scene being cut in the aftermath of 9/11. Given that it would have been near-impossible to have explained the explosion of "Bertha" without showing the shell's progress, WDTVA would probably have had to deep-six the entire episode, an unlikely occurrence in a multi-part story.)
The "Bertha blast" is one of the first examples of a "grafting" of an incident or a device from a Barks story into an unrelated TV story line. "Time and Money" and "Super DuckTales" would later take this notion and run (if not sprint headlong) with it. Seeing as how the essential backstories of the two scenes are basically the same, the selective swiping works quite well here. Scrooge's comparative demeanor during the two scenes, on the other hand...
The Money Vanishes."
A Christmas for Shacktown" scenario of Scrooge's money caving in the Bin floor and falling "down, down" into a pit over a swamp of quicksand was positively... well, believable compared to what happens to the money after "Bertha"'s big blowup creates the floor fissure. Due to the nature of the disaster caused by Scrooge's addition of that "one coin too many" to the Bin in "Shacktown," it was easy to keep track of where "every penny" of Scrooge's fortune was ; the fortune's physical form (coins vs. bills vs. gold bars, etc.) made no difference. When Scrooge's money falls into the sewers, logic would seem to dictate that the bags full of greenbacks would float away, while the coins and similar heavy objects would sink to the bottom. (Indeed, the latter is exactly what Scrooge, Flinty, and HD&L assumed was the fate of the ship's treasure in "Wrongway in Ronguay.") Instead, the physical rule followed by the laundered loot here seems to be, "whatever makes for a good visual." Thus, for instance, there's no logical contradiction between money bags and piles of golden coins being piled up in various locations, despite the fact that it's easier to imagine the bags (if they're filled with banknotes, anyway) amassing in a pile. It's a short step from here to the risible scene of ice makers and ovens spitting out cash in the penthouse.
Robot Robbers" and "Magica's Shadow War," Scrooge (with the assistance of the Beagle Boys) causes a water pumping station to blow up here, inadvertently mauling HD&L in the process. (Lucky for the boys that their trip through the pipes was taken in accompaniment with only a dozen or so moneybags; otherwise the weight of Scrooge's fortune would have crushed and/or asphyxiated them.) Add payment for the damages to the station and the penthouse to the bills for buying the penthouse and fixing the Money Bin's floor, and it's a wonder that Scrooge didn't quit the contest by episode's end.
(GeoX) The central plot is painfully contrived: there's an India-ish country
called "Macaroon" that has a magic kind of fruit that can provide
illumination to replace lightbulbs and whatnot. But, according to the
country's risibly accented ruler, "the only person qualified to market
our fruit is the richest man in the world," which is about as flawed as
premises get. But alas, it turns out that Scrooge and Glomgold are, as
far as anyone can tell, equally rich, so the only way to tell which of
them is "the only person qualified" is to lug all that cash down and
weigh it. 'Cause it stands to reason that the one who has .001
milligrams more money is going to be qualified, whereas the other one
would fatally botch the operation, right? Of course.
Actually, the charming naivete reflected in the Grand Kishki's assumption here matches up quite well with the attitude he'll display at greater length in "Working for Scales." Risible it may be, but at least it's consistent.
Agreed. At least they balance out the moment of weakness by building a raft on short notice using a penknife and the Guidebook.
fluoridation, now alligators!" Um…what? I know it's at least
meant to be joke-y, but I feel about the same about this as I
would if the show just casually stuck in a reference to the fakeness of
the moon landings.
Strangely enough, this joke is arguably less dated NOW than it was in 1987, given the current anti-vaccination movement. I wonder why HD&L would be so concerned about fluoridation in the first place, given that they don't have teeth. (At least, most of the time. I remember the German "Donaldist" who crafted an elaborate theory as to where the Ducks' occasionally-seen teeth were "stored" when not in use. Among his arguments was the contention that the Ducks could only develop tooth decay if they ate sweets while they were "angry or stressed," since that was the only time that their teeth would be visible.)
(Greg) So we logically go to a look out tower
in a prison as three dogsperson guards in brown security uniforms are
guarding with billy clubs and the binoculars. We pan south east as
Bouncer Beagle (Chuck McCann) is telling Bigtime that they need to
get out of jail again as we see the Beagle Boys... walking around in a circle as Bigtime blows Bouncer off
because they are watching them like buzzards. Geez; I wonder why.
Stop the presses! The Duckburg police department finally shows some intelligence by keeping a special eye on the B-Boys. The extra vigilance doesn't prevent the Beagles from escaping, but, hey, you have to start somewhere.
This scene works rather well, starting with the Barksian bit of the bored fox playing jacks (wouldn't YOU find your work tedious if YOU worked for the Department of Water and Power?). It could just as easily have been a throwaway bit to help Scrooge get from Point A to Point B, but I appreciated the attempt to inject humor into the situation. The use of a fox as a one-shot character is also intriguing, and rare for the Duck "universe"; in the later "Down and Out in Duckburg," of course, Fritter O'Way (nee Chisel McSue) will simply be carried over from the Barks original.