Sunday, September 7, 2014

DUCKTALES RETROSPECTIVE: Episode 100, "The Golden Goose, Part 2"

All good things, etc. and so on... And what better way to close the book on DuckTales: The Series than with a "battle to save the planet" that doesn't involve invading aliens or sketchy science?

If we attend to GeoX's suggestion about the title, then that really should read "The Golden Goose Part I, Part 2."  Under the extra-special circs, I'm willing to let that slide.

"The Golden Goose" was, of course, one of two two-part stories that closed out "Golden Age" WDTVA series, the other being Gummi Bears' "King Igthorn."  It's worth pausing for a moment to compare the approaches taken by these two productions and to consider how -- in my opinion, at least -- "Goose" managed to do right what "King" did wrong.  Now, there's no denying that "King"'s narrative had the massive sweep that Gummis fans had been expecting ever since the Great Gummis' potential return, the city of Ursalia, and the Barbic Bears had been introduced as side elements of the series.  We got payoffs on just about everything (though the still-unseen Great Gummis' vague final promise to return "soon" did disappoint some folks), and virtually every major character of the series got something to do during the course of the 45 minutes.  And that was the problem.  "King" was so ambitious that a good deal of the dialogue was of the "directional" type that you might have heard in an old-time movie serial ("we're going to go with X and rescue Y while you do Z"), and such dramatic moments as the destruction of Gummi Glen by the wood-eating bug Big Tooth, the villains' acquisition of massive quantities of Gummiberry Juice, and Duke Igthorn's long-awaited takeover of Dunwyn Castle whizzed by too quickly to have the walloping impact that they should have. "King" was still an enjoyable ride, but, despite the praiseworthy ambition of the undertaking, a "Peggy Lee" sort of feeling ("Is that all there is?") nonetheless lingered in its wake.

At first glance, "The Golden Goose" seems to suffer from a problem diametrically opposite to that of "King Igthorn" -- not "Is that all there is?" so much as "Is there any THERE there?".  A year before Darkwing Duck's debut, the strangely depopulated Duckburg of "Goose" seems more like the bare-streeted St. Canard during a battle between DW and one of his supervillain foes.  There's no sign of Bubba Duck, Fenton Crackshell, or Gizmoduck.  The minimalist approach seems completely at odds with the apocalyptic vision of the narrative, leaching away a great deal of the "epic scope" that we would normally hope to see in such a tale.  And yet, I would argue that the scantily-furnished stage is actually appropriate here, given that the script chooses to focus on characters' inner turmoil just as much as it does their external challenges.  The decision to strip down to the basics makes the characters' feelings and decisions -- Scrooge's concern for his Nephews, Scrooge's choice to put the fate of the world ahead of any personal considerations, Dijon's fall and subsequent redemption -- seem to carry all the more weight.  Not that there isn't a healthy helping of action, humor, and suspense in this concluding chapter, but we're more inclined to remember the moral dilemmas (there's that phrase again...) and, in Scrooge's case, the satisfying conclusion of a character journey that began with a cranky old Duck swiping cheese samples and ends with a similarly old, but wiser, Duck demonstrating that he has thoroughly internalized all of those proclamations about the value of family and has gained sufficient largeness of soul to extend his vision of "family" to the worldwide community.  There are a few annoying logical hiccups in the story as a whole, but they are not enough to overcome the overflowing feeling of "Heart" that makes "Goose" a classic, almost in spite of itself.

After Frank Welker provides an appropriately non-fruity, on-point summation of the events of Part 1, we cut to the discovery of the statuefied HD&L.  While the reactions of Webby, Duckworth, and Mrs. Beakley are pretty much what we might have expected of them -- actually, Webby manages to keep her cool a bit better than did her gramma, which is pretty remarkable -- Scrooge's is both dramatic and symbolically significant.  He immediately blames his own "greed for gold" for the boys' fate, even though he is clearly not responsible for what has happened to them.  His quick assumption of liability is even more impressive than his shaking-off of the "Gold Fever" in "Too Much of a Gold Thing."  In that case, it took the intervention of Mrs. Beakley reminding him of "what's important" to jolt him out of his obsession.  Here, Scrooge makes the pivot all by himself, with no hesitation whatsoever.  The solution to Moral Dilemma Number 2 (as I described it in my review of Part 1) is already clear: no matter what happens in the future, Scrooge will unquestionably put the welfare of his Nephews ahead of any potential monetary gain.  Incidentally, I think that this lends some credence to my earlier speculation that Scrooge might have been able to maintain some "control" and use the Golden Goose in a more rational and responsible manner after a night of (literally) sleeping on the matter.  When Flintheart Glomgold and the Beagle Boys have their chances to use and/or take control of the Goose, they will demonstrate no such restraint.

In order to set up the remainder of the ep, we're going to have to get an info dump at some point, and Poupon provides one as soon as he arrives at the Mansion, with Dijon in reluctant tow.  Poupon's explanation of the Goose's transformative powers and the possible fate of the world lasts for about one minute and 45 seconds, which wouldn't bother me so much, except for the occasional shots of a frozen Mrs. Beakley and Duckworth staring off into space like goons as he does so.  They should care about the fate of HD&L, too, so this was extremely bad form by Wang Films.  Thankfully, the scene is redeemed by Poupon's dramatic description of the effects of "The Golden Death" ("And all life will be ending... for little golden Ducks... for everyone!") and, of course, Scrooge's decision to let Poupon have the vial of "mystical water" to neutralize the Goose and save the world, as opposed to using it on HD&L right then and there.  Moral Dilemma Number 3 is thereby resolved with crystal clarity, and our opinion of Scrooge as a moral being can't help but be improved as a result.  It's essentially the DT version of Scrooge's dramatic decision to help the outer-space aborigines in Carl Barks' "Island in the Sky," but with considerably more global import involved.

Evidently on something of a roll, Scrooge resorts to some ingenious reverse psychology to keep Webby out of harm's way.  Far from another example of the DT writers showing contempt for Webby -- much less an example of what GeoX called "sub-TOM SAWYER horseshit" -- this exchange shows how much respect Scrooge has gained for Webby's maturity level.  His approach is based on the belief that Webby is responsible enough to willingly take on the task of keeping HD&L safe from further harm (and thereby be protected from harm herself), provided that the offer is tendered in the proper manner.  Scrooge evidently knows enough about the wee lassie to gauge that she isn't likely to resort to, you know, "Plan B" (except under atypical circumstances, such as kidnapping).

The balance of Act One is taken up with some wacky slapstick doings at Glomgold's "abandoned" auto factory.  You'll understand the quote marks when you take a very close look at the upper portion of the following screenshot...

... and, true to this somewhat dubious beginning, the rest of the sequence can fairly be said to be Part 2's weak point.  Granted, there are some decent moments, such as Launchpad's last (real) crash (for a while, anyway)...

... and Dijon's complete cock-up of Moral Dilemma Number 4, in which he opts to indulge his petty kleptomania rather than "dogface up" and deliver the Goose to his brother.  Based on this incident, I guess that we DO have to regard "Attack of the Metal Mites" as canon.  How would Glomgold have known about Dijon's propensity to steal unless Flinty had had some kind of dealings with him in the past?

In between these high points, however, comes... wait for it... yet ANOTHER conveyor-belt sequence.  Sigh.  A little bit of originality, especially in a climactic adventure like this, doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?  As to how the machinery in this supposedly "abandoned" factory suddenly can operate like (extremely snarky) clockwork...well, to borrow a line of Scrooge's in the DuckTales Remastered video game, "I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."


The conclusion of Act One, with Glomgold advancing on the captured heroes while holding out the Goose, quickly brings the goofiness to a halt and warns the viewer that some serious stuff is about to go down.  And so it does, as the Goose begins its sequence of transformations, first taking on a life of its own and turning on those who would manipulate it.  The climax of these attacks is chilling in its stark simplicity, with the cornered, cringing Glomgold meeting his fate (which will, of course, implicitly be reversed once "The Golden Death" is overcome, but it's what we SEE that is remembered) and the Goose then flying away, emitting only a few lonely caws.  Leave it to Wang to then muddy the moment a bit by having Poupon speak what is clearly Dijon's line, "Poor Mr. Gloomduck!"  (There's no question that this was a goof, as the voice is definitely that of Richard Libertini, the voice of Dijon.)

Now that the Goose is sentient, I should point out that the creature, far from being some sort of mechanical MacGuffin, is very much of a personality in its own right.  A cranky, somewhat obnoxious personality, but a personality nonetheless.  Such small touches as the Goose charging or lunging madly at various characters, reacting quizzically to Scrooge's use of a goose call in the park, and, later, trying to dope out Dijon's intentions inside the roadside bush, go well beyond what one might have expected here.

Poupon, aggrieved by Dijon's failure at the factory, dismisses Moral Dilemma Number 5 in a heartbeat, brushing aside any notion of forgiveness and angrily demanding that Dijon leave his sight forevermore.  Harsh, to be sure, but not entirely unjustified, given that keeping the world safe from "The Golden Death" is the Brotherhood of the Goose's first and foremost function.  (In Part 1, Poupon mentioned that the Brotherhood also acts "in service to others," but we never do get any details as to what that might entail.  As long as "service" doesn't involve serving the Goose "with gravy and stuffing," as Burger might suggest, I'm OK with the vagueness.)

Following that extremely strange detour to Launchpad's hangar -- surely, they could have pursued the Goose into downtown Duckburg while looking out for a place to get nets at the same time? And why are they watching TV at a time like this, since Scrooge has already pointed out where the Goose was heading? -- Scrooge, LP, and Poupon chase their elusive quarry through an all-but-desolate city setting, winding up at the park.  The slapstick gags here are decidedly muted, an appropriate approach in light of the fact that the crisis is getting graver.  The Beagle Boys' destruction of the water vial is the perfect capper, demonstrating that the Beagles, like Glomgold, are enmeshed in the tendrils of greed, completely heedless of the potential consequences.  Poupon doesn't cover himself in glory in this scene, either; his unnecessary description of what the water will do to the Goose gives the Beagles enough time to stop him before he can actually pour the water.  You already covered this subject back at the Mansion, Poupon; time to be "up 'n doon" instead.

And then... (it is still spine-tingling, no matter how hard-bitten you have become in the quarter-century since then...)

Of course, "The Golden Death" disseminates itself around the world with an exquisite sense of dramatic timing.  It starts off at a crawl, quickly picks up steam, is moving at a sufficiently fast clip to keep up with Launchpad's Joyrider as the latter flies across the ocean, can visibly be seen moving across the globe in the long shot from space, buzzes through Barkladesh like a house afire, and then slows down right before it reaches the door to the temple's fountain room, just long enough to allow Scrooge to save the day.  A very accommodating sort of apocalypse, I must say.  Despite the inconsistency, the mere fact that the "Death" is progressing through what appears to be a completely lifeless landscape makes a signature moment like the loss of Poupon seem all the more compelling and meaningful.  It's like the opposite of a zombie movie or TV show, in that there are very few characters here as opposed to hordes of shambling dead-walkers, but the end results of the two approaches are the same -- they help us to invest all the more in the characters on the side of good.

The rest of Scrooge's family, of course, is caught up in the golden wave along the way.  I like to think of the episode's occasional cutbacks to the Mansion -- and to Gyro's futile efforts to turn the boys back to normal -- as a subtle comment on the vanity of human endeavors in the face of overpowering forces beyond human understanding.  Or, perhaps, it's simply a reflection of the fact that Gyro Gearloose is having an EXTREMELY bad day.  An unfortunate circumstance, given that this is the character's last animated appearance, but it's not as if Gyro hasn't already experienced more than his share of failures during the course of the series.

Thankfully, the forsaken Dijon passes Moral Dilemma Number 6 with flying colors when he decides that he owes it to his brother to return the captured Goose.  As GeoX notes, it is kind of unlikely that Dijon would instantly, and correctly, recognize this generic-looking white goose as THE Goose, and we never do find out when and where Dijon managed to swipe Scrooge's cane, but... poetic license.  I can live with it.  (It would be nice to think that Dijon recognized the Goose's personality, based on what he had seen of it at the factory.  That would have been a worthy justification of the decision to depict the Goose as more than just an anonymous mayhem-maker.)

The climax cannot honestly be faulted.  Oh, it can be flyspecked, since (1) Launchpad magically has enough gas in his Joyrider to fly across a good portion of the Earth's surface without stopping to refuel, and (2) despite LP's claim and Scrooge's subsequent order to crash, there does seem to be enough of a flat surface on the temple mount for LP to make a normal landing.  But you definitely can't say that the episode doesn't drag all of us through a very rough knothole before salvation arrives.

The Mansion wrap-up scene is a bit truncated, but we do get to see all of our principals (save Gyro, for some reason) alive and happy again.  Best of all, we get the concluding hug between Scrooge and HD&L, which it would have been a positive crime to have omitted.  Regarding the rehashing of the ending of DuckTales: The Movie, I didn't have any issue with it back in 1990, but I have to admit that I'm somewhat less enamored of it now.  We know that Dijon, thanks to his decision to return the Goose, now possesses a sense of responsibility and "connectedness" to others that he never had before and, needless to say, did not have at the conclusion of DT:TM.  Why compromise that moral advance for the sake of a cheap gag?  This is one area in which I think "King Igthorn" has the advantage over "The Golden Goose."  The ending of "King" may have fallen short of satisfying the wishes of viewers for all of the loose ends of the series to be completely knotted, but it did possess a certain appropriateness that a fadeout chase does not deliver.  Even rerunning the ending of "Once Upon a Dime" and setting the final scene in the Money Bin would have been better than this.

I can't rank "The Golden Goose" with the very best episodes of DuckTales' first season.  The stripped-down approach may make sense in this context, but it pales in comparison to the richness on display in "Treasure of the Golden Suns" and such half-hours as "Raiders of the Lost Harp" and "The Uncrashable Hindentanic."  One might compare it to "Hero for Hire," which used a not-entirely-dissimilar straightforward approach to make some fairly profound points about Launchpad's character, but you then come up against the undeniable fact that the animation of "Goose" simply doesn't measure up to that of "Hire."  I think that it is fair to say, though, that "Goose" ranks as the second-best of DT's multi-part story lines, carrying more emotional punch than "Catch as Cash Can," avoiding the "falling-off" and "too much slapstick" issues that affected "Super DuckTales," and... well, let's leave "Time in Money" to rest in pieces, shall we?  A solid enough adventure, with equally solid character development -- and, oh, yes, that bit about saving the world... that's a thoroughly respectable way in which to draw the curtain on the series.

.

.

.

I can't recall who drew this family portrait, but it's a nice one!

.

.

.

"DuckBlurbs"

(GeoX) As I said about gold…Scrooge is trapped in this gold sack, but then it cracks open like an egg when it's struck with a gold statuette. I just do not think gold works remotely in that fashion…
("Christopher") The Golden Goose doesn't seem to change the thickness of substances, so if the bedsheet-turned into a sack was turned, it probably was like a few thickness[es] of aluminum foil- too tough for Scrooge to punch through, but easily punctured and then ripped apart once the thick, solid gold statue hit it. I'd need to watch the episode in slow-motion, but I don't think it cracked so much as tore. 


I'll accept Christopher's argument on this issue.  BTW, Geo... note that yet another statue of Scrooge makes its appearance.  Perhaps Scrooge has a higher self-regard than even we realize? 

(GeoX) In spite of the decidedly inconsistent nature of the show, I feel vaguely bereft. 

You can only imagine how I feel.

("Christopher")   Anyway, most of the episodes are all about locating a lost treasure or learning just how important family and friends are in a way that is so heartwarming you want to throw up. Most of the time, Scrooge is just adding more cash to the money bin. Now, he's SAVING THE ENTIRE WORLD. Rag on multi-quadrillionaires all you want, but all of the living creatures on earth owe Scrooge (and Launchpad, Dijon, and Poupon) their lives. This is the biggest thing they've ever done, and notice that Scrooge is [so] happy that HDL can move that he never thinks of using the fact that he's a savior of the world as [a] way to get the upper hand on business deals.

Exactly, exactly, exactlyGive that man a cheroot.

(Greg) Interesting Moment #1: We get the preview of the episode from part one...IN A TWO PARTER! Something TaleSpin and Darkwing Duck never got in their two parters. I believe the narrator for this is Frank Welker [Ed. - yes] since he sounds like Poupon without the accent. Anyhow; at the end of the preview; it's clear there is a Toon Disney edit because when Big Time is about to touch the nephews, he yells gold, then the screen freezes and the scene quickly cuts to the STOCK FOOTAGE OF DOOM. Whoever thought it was a good idea to cut out the nephews turning to gold is on something and they should CUT THE F'N DOSE! Even more so when the scene was completely UNCUT the day before on TOON DISNEY no less. Idiots!

This was clearly a very conscious decision to maintain a bit of suspense for those viewers who might not have seen the transformation because they hadn't seen Part 1. Which makes little sense, actually, because the narration had already TOLD us about "the Golden Goose's golden touch," and the flashback ended with Big Time about to touch Louie on the head.  Simply showing the transformation at the end of the flashback might, in fact, have been the smarter choice here.  (BTW, I don't believe that there was any cut here.)

(Greg) So we cut back to the golden mansion and head to the office as Gyro is running tests on the golden statues of the nephews. Sadly; the numbers do not look good for the nephews as the computer laser doesn't work. G[yr]o checks the printer paper coming out of the printer and speaks some of the most absurd science talk ever that no scientist would be caught dead saying.

Based on the appearance of Gyro's... machine... thingy, it appears that Helper/Little Bulb, or at least part of him, managed to wangle a cameo of sorts.

Psst, Duckworth, Mrs. B... Over here!  Over here!!

(Greg) [The conveyor-belt sequence] IS the Satanic version of How It's Made. AHHAHAHAHAHA!

Except that we START in an "abandoned" factory in this case.  In How It's Made, they typically display the item of interest IN a desolate warehouse, junk-filled basement, weed-strewn back lot, etc. before cutting to the real factory where the manufacturing process takes place.

(Greg) [Dijon] peeps under the bushes and ponders over if he should touch the goose because if he touches wrong he turns to gold. However; he at least must redeem himself even if his brother doesn't want any part of him again thus showing that Dijon is not really a heel; but a misguided soul.

I think that this sums Dijon up pretty well.

Next: Some final thoughts, and a look ahead.

7 comments:

Pan MiluĊ› said...

I recall an interview (I read it translated into Polish years ago on some Polish Disney afternoon fan page) with the creators of Gummi Bears, where they mentioned that if they ever would made a movie version of the Gummi Bears it would revolve around the gang finaly meeting with The Great Gummis. It think it's a shame they didn't manage to make one. I'll always picture if they made a Gummi Bears movie it would be a Tolkienish type quest.


BTW -> Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember the ony thing I hated back in the day about the "King Ightorn" finally is that it totally ignored the "you can only drink Gummiberry juice one a day rule".


As for the "Goolden Goose" :

Yes, the golden shadow part creep me out. There! I said it!

The whole object that can turn into gold made me think of Magica's oryginal "Middas Touch" goal. I wish she got a part in some multi-part episode, but what you gona do?


I think it was a good decision to ignore Fenton or Bubba and focus only on character's form "Treasure of the golden sun" movie... Even if some cameo of various beloved supporting characters from Duckburg being turn into gold would be a nice touch - Doofus, Ma Beagles, maybe Gladstone or Vacation Van Honk ("That's it! I'm moving to St. Canard!") Apperance by Donald would be nice as well, but what you gona do?


One mist gag opertunity - I remember the first time I saw this episode I was hoping they would make a joke when Gyro spray HD&L and actually turn it back to normal and then the golden shadow would turn them all into gold...



ANY WAY - IT WAS WONDERFULL TO READ ALL THOSE REVIEWS OVER THE YEARS :D I will be happy to re-read them as soon I get hungry for some Disney Afternoon style nostalgia! THANKS FOR THE RIDE CHRIS!!!!!!!!

Hope you will try it agian with Gummi Bears or Darkwing Duck or The Rescue Rengers, or Minnies Bowtiqe or.. or... Whatever your hearth desires :D

Anonymous said...

I believe King Igthorn should have been a three, four or five parter. I would have gladly sacrificed some of the lesser sixth season episodes to see a fuller story.

I believe the Golden Goose is a great end to a series that started with the hunt for the Treasure of the Golden Suns.
In my opinion, DuckTales doesn't need a finale that "wraps things up" as there's no series long task that Scrooge and the nephews ever had to accomplish (i.e. like being rescued from Gilligan's Island). Thanks for pointing out that this story cements Scrooge's moral development regarding the importance of family v. money.

I never noticed the empty streets either, but I think they can be easily justified. After all Duckburg watched Webra Walters turned to gold on their T.V. screens, everyone barricaded themselves indoors (you see a few, scared people furtively looking around).

If you give it any thought, the fate of the live goose is gruesome - permanently forced to sit upon magical waters as a gold statue, lest the world come to an end. It makes me think that the Golden Goose was created or cursed by Merlock or some other evil sorcerer.

Jason said...

Dijon does ask if that goose is the same one he stole from the temple, so the writers did put some doubt in Dijon’s mind.

I taped The Golden Goose Part 2 from The Disney Channel and I didn’t see a cut before Big Time uses the goose on HD&L, so I’m inclined to say there wasn’t a censor there.

Also, would this make Dijon the only example of a recurring DT villain that got redeemed? Okay, he still makes off with Scrooge’s wallet at the end, but that’s just a cheap gag.

Chris Barat said...

Pan,

I am sorry we never got to see that GUMMIS movie. That plot had the makings of an epic.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember the ony thing I hated back in the day about the "King Ightorn" finally is that it totally ignored the "you can only drink Gummiberry juice one a day rule"."

I seem to recall that the ogres attacking Dunwyn were guzzling down the Juice like nobody's business, so, yes, they did seem to ignore that point.

"The whole object that can turn into gold made me think of Magica's oryginal "Middas Touch" goal. I wish she got a part in some multi-part episode, but what you gona do?"

The "Midas Touch" in the Barks story wasn't meant to be taken literally, I don't think. From the start, Magica wanted a rich man's coin to make a lucky amulet.

Magica DID get a sort of a chance to participate in an epic adventure in the revamped DT video game. She was cooperating with Glomgold. Non-canonical, I know, but...

"I remember the first time I saw this episode I was hoping they would make a joke when Gyro spray HD&L and actually turn it back to normal and then the golden shadow would turn them all into gold..."

That actually might have worked nicely, but, oh, the cruelty...

"ANY WAY - IT WAS WONDERFULL TO READ ALL THOSE REVIEWS OVER THE YEARS :D I will be happy to re-read them as soon I get hungry for some Disney Afternoon style nostalgia! THANKS FOR THE RIDE CHRIS!!!!!!!!"

Thanks as well for your frequent comments. I'll continue to keep my hand in with other DT-related stuff, but, as for future DAFT related episode reviews, I'm going to take a break for now. :-)

Chris





Chris Barat said...

Anon,

"I never noticed the empty streets either, but I think they can be easily justified. After all Duckburg watched Webra Walters turned to gold on their T.V. screens, everyone barricaded themselves indoors (you see a few, scared people furtively looking around)."

This is certainly possible, and I do remember seeing the few furtive figures scurrying around the streets. But even when Webra did her interview, she could find only ONE victim of the Goose!

"If you give it any thought, the fate of the live goose is gruesome - permanently forced to sit upon magical waters as a gold statue, lest the world come to an end."

No wonder it is so cranky when it comes to life. :-)

Chris

Chris Barat said...

Jason,

"Dijon does ask if that goose is the same one he stole from the temple, so the writers did put some doubt in Dijon’s mind."

Which he instantly seems to overcome, since he begins to wonder about the dangers of touching it to retrieve it and possibly turning to gold himself.

Chris

Yossi Horowitz said...

Bravo, bravo! Encore!