I know that a number of folks (including some who haunt this blog) love "Island," and the story, considered strictly in context, is a fairly effective piece of sentimentality, with Scrooge demonstrating compassion for the humanoid aborigines onto whose Edenish planetoid the old miser originally planned to move his money for safekeeping. It's the context itself that bothers me -- this whole notion that Duckburg has suddenly become this off-the-wall foreshadowing of The Jetsons. At least in a story like "Monsterville," the "futurization" of Duckburg is carried out in a conscious fashion. In "Island," it just springs into existence from nowhere in particular. Where's the logic?
The situation in "The Right Duck" is slightly different, of course, arising out of a reasonable (if somewhat contrived) premise: Launchpad picks up on an offhand remark by Doofus and decides to become an astronaut to "prove to Mr. McDee what a great pilot [he is]." But Ken Koonce and David Wiemers then proceed to throw literally everything they know, or SHOULD know, about space travel right out the window and produce a script that, in its basic level of intelligence and respect for its audience, resembles nothing so much as the "childlike scrawl" that LP submitted to the Duckburg space agency as an application. GeoX's description of the resulting ep as "just plain dumb" seems a bit of an understatement, to be honest. Given that K&W will put forth an infinitely superior parody of another film genre just two episodes down the road, the lack of care with which "The Right Duck" was slapped together seems infuriatingly mystifying.
RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA?
a certain future President who once starred opposite a chimpanzee, especially since Ronnie winds up ruling Mars after Emperor Ping the Pitiless has been kicked to the celestial curb. The fact that the duo included an out-of-nowhere rib of George H.W. Bush ("Presidents have better things to do than play horseshoes!") in a Tale Spin episode lends further support to my hypothesis, I think.
The ep begins to fall fast, and hard, once LP and Doofus accidentally find themselves aboard a "Voyager probe" headed for Mars. Even BEFORE the episode presented us with the proposition of a stereotyped Martian civilization -- domed cities, green skins, antennae, and all -- I found myself tearing my hair out over K&W's complete and utter ignorance of what an unmanned space probe is supposed to look, behave, or move like. I'm not talking about piddly stuff, such as the historical fact that the Voyager craft were originally sent to explore the outer planets and enter interstellar space. No, K&W's "unmanned" probe has windows, seats, and a manual guidance system. Even if you allow for the fact that the robot probe belched out of the "Voyager"'s vitals is meant to "collect data und specimens" and return them to Earth, there would be NO NEED WHATSOEVER for the DT "Voyager" to look like anything remotely resembling one of the Apollo spacecraft that went to the Moon. (The really infuriating thing is that K&W's inclusion of the gags involving Von Geezer's recorded message suggests that they knew something about the details of the Voyager missions, so the silly simplifications may have been a result of willful neglect, as opposed to garden-variety benightedness.) Even the real Voyagers didn't travel as quickly as their DT equivalent, the speed of which allows Doofus to crack that lame gag about possibly missing supper. I mean, kids shooting off bottle rockets probably have more of a grasp of the elementary principles of space flight than K&W display here.
There's little I can say about DT's depiction of the Martians; it is every bit as cut and dried as that seen in the infamous Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. With the possible exception of the amusingly paranoid Ping the Pitiless, the sticky-fingered robot probe disgorged by the "Voyager" displays more personality than any other inhabitant of the Red Planet, surreptitiously swiping the clothes of the guards tasked with imprisoning it...
... and then showing out-of-the-blue consciousness by helping Launchpad, Doofus, and the "lifers" in "Ping's Pit for the Pitiful" to escape:
1. Doofus starts by backing LP's astronaut ambitions to the hilt, as you would expect. Check out the quasi-rapturous look on Doofus' face in the opening DASA scene:
3. Doofus is "glad" that Launchpad is a "smart pilot" when the two get caught in the "Voyager" probe.
4. Doofus reacts to LP's inept attempts to get them out of Ping's Pit by wondering aloud whether Von Geezer might have been right after all.
5. Doofus encourages his "hero" to ride the Martian bomb-rocket back to Earth and "warn them about Ping's attack."
7. Doofus claims that Launchpad will save the day because he's "the best."
8. Well, maybe not... (Plug your ears!)
10. The final embrace at the testimonial for Launchpad.
Doofus' "awful, passive-aggressive whining" may have been the single lowest point of all of this, but the overall lack of coherence is even more maddening. It would have been better had the episode followed the template of, say, "Merit-Time Adventure" and kept Doofus in consistent "rapture" mode until stage 8., at which time Doofus' sudden loss of faith in his "role model," as inexpertly acted as it might still have been, would have had more of a meaningful impact.
Scrooge's brief role is, as intimated by GeoX, in unfortunate line with the ep's dumbness as a whole: the business involving him hiding valuables from a Martian invasion (wouldn't he have prioritized securing his Money Bin above all else?) is embarrassing. Also, given that he apparently knows that Launchpad has taken a trip to Mars (his spies aren't just on Mount Vesuvius anymore, it would seem -- either that, or he finances DASA), Scrooge really ought to have considered the possibility that LP was responsible for the terrible "flying skills" displayed by the pilots of the Martian rocket. Scrooge does get one fairly clever bit, though, when he channels the radio announcer from Orson Welles' War of the Worlds (1938) while describing the opening of the rocket hatch.
Greg says, "The Right Duck" is certainly better than Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers "Out to Launch," if only because it ISN'T a total snoozefest. Its logic is equally as shaky, though the shambles probably could have been partially salvaged had Koonce and Wiemers deigned to do even a smidge more homework regarding space travel, had avoided falling back on lazy, out-of-date tropes about Mars, and had tried to characterize Doofus more in the "Hero for Hire" mode. "The Right Duck" isn't a complete disaster; like an ultramarathon race who's just finished a race, it's just sort of lame all over.
(GeoX) [In] the training sequence[,] Launchpad is judged to be incompetent even though it's obvious that all of his "failures" are mechanical in nature and not remotely his fault...
This logical breakdown is most apparent during the "simulated space-walk in water" test. Dr. V.G. and his assistant, looking down into the water as they are, should be able to see that Ronnie has deliberately sabotaged Launchpad's space suit.
(GeoX) Two Martians die offstage. Is this the first time death has occurred in a Ducktales episode?
Interestingly, the on-screen death we'll be seeing in two eps' time also occurs in an episode played for laughs. It's amazing what a difference some authorial care can make.
(Greg) So we logically go to the space building which is called D.A.S.A. (Take one guess what the D stands for.) as the male receptionist greets him to the Duckb[u]rg Aeronautics and Space Administration. Basically N.A.S.A in Duckb[u]rg which is funny considering that this takes place in America according to Carl Barks' vision. I guess Duckb[u]rg has a local space program. Wonder if Scrooge had anything to do with it? Hmmmm...
See my comment above. The notion that Duckburg runs some sort of quasi-independent space program has a long history: see, for example, Barks' story "Raven Mad" (WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #265, October 1962).
(Greg) So we go to a shot of the planet Mars as the space rocket lands down and Doofus realizes that he will miss supper. Okay; we then cut to a far shot of the alien city as we cut to inside the throne room of the King of Mars as we see green dogspeople wearing purple outfits. Man; even the aliens are like humans only greener... They spread out and form a line and then declare to their king who is a thinner dogsperson with the same purple outfit but with a red cape and a ruby crown on his head. I'm guessing the guards in question are Terry McGovern and Frank Welker. They call him Ping The Pitiless which absolutely sucks as a name and title. He is voiced by Ronnie Schell...
... and, Greg, you should immediately turn in your Canadian citizenship card for neglecting to mention that Schell was the voice of the immortal Peter Puck! (BTW, "Ping the Pitiless" wasn't plucked out of thin air; it is a riff on FLASH GORDON's Ming the Merciless.)
(Greg) After the commercial break; we return to the building of DASA as we head to Mission Control with Von Geezer pacing back and forth while the rest of the science guys are on the computers are having heart to heart talks. I wonder: dogspeople are the smart ones; ducks are the unemotional ones and the pigs are just pigs. What's wrong with this picture?
I think that Duckburg's equivalent of the Fair Employment Practices Commission might find something wrong with the fact that ALL of the employees of DASA appear to be dogfaces.
Next: Episode 49, "Scroogerello."