I have a suspicion that "First Crash" experienced a rather rough gestation period, simply because Anthony Adams and Michael Keyes are credited as co-writers. Apart from their assistance in writing teleplays for several chapters of "Catch as Cash Can," these two gentlemen typically worked alone, so what could have brought them together here? Did one begin writing the episode, only to run into difficulty, leaving the other to clean up the mess? Whatever "the story behind the story" was here, it seems quite remarkable that two writers who have long since amply demonstrated their ability to craft high-quality Duck tales would put their heads together and come up with something as pallid as this to fete such a fateful first encounter.
Wages of Fear-flavored setup for the flashback is a solid one, though Scrooge and Launchpad should probably have been giving profound thanks that their planeload of TNT turned out to be so... um, well-behaved. It's understandable that the initial lightning strike, hitting as it did one of the plane engines, wouldn't have set off the explosives right away, but the headlong crash onto the mesa was surely more than severe enough to trigger something...
Top Duck." That episode's flashback to the Flying McQuacks' show "out on the coast" doesn't give us a truly clear picture of the young Launchpad -- all of the shots in which he appears are medium to long in nature -- but it seems fairly obvious that he is rather more chunkily built than the stripling who strikes that "soft (headed) bargain" with Scrooge. I don't agree with GeoX that the "First Crash" LP "appears to be about 12," but, if you showed me these two images "cold" and asked me to pick the one showing the older LP, I would pick the "Top Duck" pic without hesitation.
Linda Gary's dialogue is so difficult to understand. (BTW, Greg, that's why I misidentified Queen Oofa as "Queen Pupa.") These characters are supposed to be subliterate savages, but one could say that Gary did her job too well here.
Treasure of the Golden Suns" when he triggered that self-destruct mechanism; here, he just seems to have had a temporary short circuit in his brain pan.
Scrooge's Pet" -- which, let it not be forgotten, also provided fodder for a surfing gag involving Launchpad -- don't seem quite so annoying.
Scrooge and Launchpad's return to the outside world is probably the best action featured in the episode. Even before the repaired Sunchaser gets off the ground, we get the priceless sequence in which Scrooge desperately tries to "lighten the load" by any means other than the disposal of his haul of diamonds -- up to and including the jettisoning of Launchpad! Obviously, this comes off as pretty cold-blooded on Scrooge's part, but one must admit that, if Scrooge would ever have been tempted to cast LP aside for profit's sake, then it would have been on this mission, when the ties between the two characters are not yet so tight. Just as S&L's being sucked into the subterranean world through a hole in a volcano was lifted from a scene in The Empire Strikes Back, so the duo's escape to safety through an erupting volcano has a parallel in The Millennium Falcon's escape from "Death Star II" in Return of the Jedi. (Too bad that Adams and Keyes couldn't have had the Sunchaser traveling down a narrow trench at some point; that would have finished off the "original-Star-Wars-trilogy straight.") The whole hollow-Earth scenario may have been a silly one, but this closing sequence gets as much out of the idea as could reasonably be expected. The only major problem is that Scrooge winds up only one diamond to the good. Would that one stone be enough to make him the world's richest Duck? If not, then wouldn't this "first mission" with Launchpad have to be classified as a failure?
It is made tolerably clear [in "First Crash"] that Launchpad is a post-Barks creation in both artistic and "realistic" terms. The young Launchpad seems to be in his teens; presumably, his hiring by Scrooge (his "first job") came very soon after his leaving The Flying McQuacks. Assuming he's now in his late 20s or early 30s, his first crash would seem to date from the mid- to late 70s, well past the end of Barks' working career -- a neat explanation of why Launchpad never could have appeared in a Barks story (except perhaps as a crash-prone infant). Scrooge and Launchpad may then have dropped out of contact, only to be reunited by Gyro in "Three Ducks of the Condor" (in which the two do not seem to be strangers to one another). The only problem with this theory is that Scrooge says that finding the Lost City WILL make him the richest Duck in the world. Our only possible explanation (assuming Scrooge didn't misspeak himself): as Scrooge's adventures dwindled to almost nothing in the post-Barks, reprint-dominated 70s, Glomgold may have temporarily edged ahead of him in money count, prompting him to resume his globetrotting with this quest. If this idea is too heretical to accept, you can always blame Adams and Keyes.
Knowing what I know now about Scrooge's few original "adventures" during the barren era in question, I honestly have to channel Greg and say: Damn, Joe and I were good! Mild domestic conflicts with the Beagle Boys, Donald and HD&L generally left out of the picture... it's extremely easy to imagine this version of Scrooge losing his position, if only temporarily, at the top of the "slippery pole." I will slightly qualify what Joe and I said above and leave open the possibility that S&L may have had a few dual adventures between the time of "First Crash" and that of "Three Ducks." Considering that "Don't Give Up the Ship" suggests that Scrooge, Donald, and HD&L may have been on the outs for some time before Donald joined the Navy and HD&L came to live with Scrooge, it would make perfect sense for Scrooge to "restart" his adventuring career through some other avenue, even a treacherous (by which I mean, crash-prone) one.
It was a bad era for a lot of people -- Scrooge not excepted.
"First Crash" certainly isn't a dreadful episode, merely a forgettable one. Most of the fun that Joe and I had with it arose from our attempts to entwine it in established Duck continuity... and even those who disagree with our hypotheses must admit that, if you can mine such deep musings out of a decidedly mediocre episode, then you're talking about one outstanding series.
(GeoX) …or, per the title card, "Launchpads First Crash," clearly a Finnegans Wake reference, or else grammatical dumbness.
Funny, I don't recall ever seeing a title card with a missing apostrophe...
(GeoX) Yes, diamonds are hard, but that doesn't mean you can just cut through metal by rubbing them against it. Jeez.
Yes, it appears as though, even under the most favorable of circumstances -- namely, under controlled conditions in the factory -- this operation would be much harder (heh) than Scrooge and Launchpad make it out to be. It's shocking, I know.
(Greg) We begin this one in the desert complete with lots of CACTUS JACKS OF DOOM and we pan up to see the white plane as Launchpad is flying it (duh); informing Scrooge that they will reach the copper mine before AFTER HAPPY HOUR (dark). We then cut to the cockpit as Scrooge is worried stiff because there are explosives (!!!) in the plane. Man; if there is one episode that is just begging to be black balled after 9/11; this one is it.
If it was shelved post-9/11, I'm unaware of that fact. I rather doubt it, because this is simply a "transportation job," unlike the scenario of, say, "Flying Dupes."
(Greg) Man; the Sun Chaser looks like a big ass model airplane. I wonder if Launchpad had a hobby and it just went out of control now?
Or perhaps he fashioned the Sunchaser out of the bag of wreckage and oddments that he carried away with him at the end of the flashback scene in "Top Duck"? If I were a struggling young pilot on a strict budget, that's what I would do.
(Greg) Launchpad gets forced down [by the octopus] as apparently they have stop[ped] selling the fact that the lake is BOILING HOT~!
Yes, by all rights, Launchpad ought to have been nicely parboiled here.
I'm willing to grant Launchpad a pass, since it was literally his first adventure. Scrooge? Not so much. He must have been way out of practice at this treasure-hunting business.
Next: Episode 56, "The Uncrashable Hindentanic."