Friday, January 3, 2014

DUCKTALES RETROSPECTIVE: Episode 66, "Time is Money, Part One: Marking Time"

Welcome to DuckTales' second season!  Or, if you prefer, "season 2, part 1."  Such was the ever-so-slightly-nitpicky designation that I used in the introduction to these RETROSPECTIVES to describe the two serial stories which introduced viewers to the new characters of Bubba Duck and Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck during the 1988-89 television season.  In fact, an even subtler distinction can be crafted: the uncut, five-part version of "Time is Money" was broadcast during February 1989, technically making it part of "S2P1" as well, while the full-length "Super DuckTales" wasn't seen until November of that year, towards the end of "season 2, part 2."  Could it be that I'm making things too complicated at this point?


OK, then, I'll stick with the "S2P1" label for the ten half-hours that launched us into DuckTales' "second life."  Some, of course, might prefer the phrase "second childhood."  

The merits of DuckTales' 35 post-season 1 episodes have been debated for quite some time.  There's no doubt that the Bubba/Fenton era featured a noticeable paradigm shift: fewer adventures in the classic tradition of Carl Barks, more plots spun out of sitcom material.  The look of the series changed as well, with the "loosey-goosey" approach defined by director Terence Harrison becoming more or less codified as the "official house style" by Taiwan's Wang Film Productions.  In our DUCKTALES INDEX -- the part of it that wasn't printed in THE DUCKBURG TIMES #24/25 and thus was seen by only a privileged few who ordered it from us directly -- Joe Torcivia and I were generally complementary about the adjusted approaches, especially insofar as they sharpened the series' sense of humor.  (As we can only now fully appreciate, they also served as an important trial run of sorts for the creative sensibilities that later dominated Darkwing Duck.)  It must be admitted, however, that some of the series' most infamous "dogs" were let loose from the kennel during this less-buttoned-down era. "Time is Money" itself generated conflicted feelings right off the bat, not only because it introduced the series' most controversial original creation, but also because it was far more obviously flawed as a storyline than either "Treasure of the Golden Suns" or "Catch as Cash Can":  

(1)  The "feeling of an epic" that we got from the earlier multipart adventures simply isn't present here, primarily because of the lengthy Duckburg sequence ("Bubba Trubba" and "Ducks on the Lam") centering around the ups and downs of the relationship between Scrooge and Bubba.  The visit to the Oriental city of Toupay in "The Duck Who Would Be King" is the only part of the story that truly resembles any of the individual parts of "Golden Suns" or the "Firefly Fruit" serial.  Even the visits to Duckbill Island in "Marking Time" and "Ali Bubba's Cave" don't really measure up, because the scale of the overarching conflict never comes across as being particularly significant.
2.  Scrooge is far less likable here than at any point during the earlier serials -- yes, even during the infamous "Aqua Ducks" rants about the "morons on [his] team" or his notorious verbal undressing of HD&L in "Working for Scales."  Scrooge's nasty comments about "[his] own kin" in "Scales" may have been rawer in absolute terms, but, from the time he begins dickering with Flintheart Glomgold over Duckbill Island at the start of "Marking Time" to his belated acceptance of Bubba at the end of "Ducks on the Lam," the old miser generates a series of negative vibes the consistency and severity of which are virtually unprecedented.  Not that Scrooge doesn't have a couple of shining moments even during this lengthy period of unpleasantness -- this is the somewhat "kinder and gentler" TV Scrooge we're talking about, after all -- but the sheer pettiness and childishness of his animus towards the "jinx" Bubba, and the irrational behavior that such an attitude causes, are a major turn-off.  It's hard to get emotionally invested in the ultimate "victory" of a character if the character has spent most of the story pissing you off.

3.  For all of the talent that labored over "Time is Money," the storyline features what is arguably the series' biggest continuity gaffe.  Sure, the "Let's cancel every deal made by the Nephews and get Scrooge's money back!" conclusion to the mess that was "Yuppy Ducks" probably caused more consternation for its sheer idiocy, but the error that compromises the ending to "Ali Bubba's Cave" (and hence the entire enterprise) is a flat-out mistake that should have been caught by someone (I'm mostly looking at you, Jymn Magon).  Having a total of five different people working on the serials' five 22-minute teleplays couldn't have helped matters here.  Magon and Bruce Talkington, who came up with the story and also contributed to a number of the teleplays, may simply have found it more difficult than usual to maintain quality control with so many creators sticking their fingers into the pie.  "Super DuckTales" wasn't flawless by any means, but the fact that Ken Koonce and David Weimers carried the writing load (with Magon helping out with the teleplay for "Frozen Assets") helped keep the quality of the story's individual components reasonably consistent.  "Time is Money," like "Catch as Cash Can," tends to rise and fall on the strength of its parts, and it's the serial's cruel fate that the best parts are at the beginning, making the failings of the later segments all the harder to accept. 

The business deal between Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold that sets "Time is Money"'s clock running didn't seem "small-timey" at the time.  In retrospect, however, we can see that it was.  No mention whatsoever is made of the entirely relevant fact that whoever comes out ahead in the Duckbill Island deal will be (or, in Flinty's case, will become) the world's richest Duck.  The rivals' agreement is more on the level of their bet in "The Uncrashable Hindentanic," with the main difference being the elimination of the "I challenge you" angle.  The "Hindentanic" wager, of course, was only meant to sustain a single, not entirely serious episode, as opposed to a two-hour narrative.  Of course, we, like Scrooge, expect Flinty to engage in dishonest practices right from the get-go...

I guess this transaction really DID involve "big bucks"!

... but Scrooge's subsequent admission that he discovered the diamonds in (what once was) Bubba Duck's cave seriously muddies the moral waters.  Given that the diamonds must be "uncovered" with a tap of Scrooge's cane, one can surmise that his "checking out" of the island during the previous week involved more than simply looking at what would, on the surface, appear to be worthless lumps of coal.  Scrooge would have had to have actively investigated the cave in order to know that diamonds were hidden in it.  Even if you grant Scrooge the ability to identify diamond-bearing coal formations at a glance -- a pretty neat trick, given that the whole "coal turning into diamonds" meme is apparently rather shaky to begin with -- this would pretty clearly constitute illegal trespassing of some kind.  GeoX brings this point up as an example of an "ethical dilemma" at the heart of the story, and I would have to agree with him.  There seems to be an implicit assumption that Scrooge, being the "good guy" in any conflict with Glomgold, can't be criticized for skirting the law in order to exercise his quasi-supernatural wealth-finding powers.  Right off the bat, therefore, Scrooge starts the storyline in a morally questionable position, even though Magon and Talkington don't seem to regard it as such.

Flinty's blowing Duckbill Island in half, thereby forcing Scrooge to take the "worthless" westernmost piece of the attenuated atoll, seems to be a straightforward piece of Glomgoldian deviousness, but it will also turn out to be the logical "rock" on which the entire storyline will ultimately founder.  For the moment, note that, while gloating over the apparent success of his legal end-run, Glomgold mentions to Scrooge -- and the Beagle Boys and HD&L, for that matter -- that he knew about the diamonds in the cave all along! So, does Flinty have the same pelf-pinpointing powers as Scrooge, or has he just idiotically admitted in the presence of witnesses that he had a motive for altering the situation under which the deal was originally signed?  Er, yes.

Gyro is asked to provide the "convenient miracle" that will allow Scrooge to travel back in time and prevent Glomgold's sabotage... and all it takes is a quick dip into the "long box" of classic Barks adventures!  The use of bombastium from Barks' "A Cold Bargain" (UNCLE $CROOGE #17, March 1957) as the frozen fuel powering Gyro's "Millennium Shortcut" is the first example of the series' borrowing of an idea, as opposed to an entire plot, from "The Duck Master" and plugging it into an entirely different storyline.  The most notorious of these swipes, of course, is the pillaging of "Only a Poor Old Man" to provide the framework for "Liquid Assets," the first chapter of "Super DuckTales."  It's tempting to lump these borrowings into a single pile and indiscriminately shower them all with obloquy, but I prefer to take and analyze them as they come... and, to be honest, I didn't mind the hijacking of bombastium in the least.  It's not as if Magon and Talkington ignored the "true history" of the substance when they decided to use it.  Barks introduced bombastium as a newly discovered element (though one the uses of which had yet to be deciphered)...

... established a link between the stuff and frozen treats (both in taste and in actual function)...

... and made it clear that the element had to be kept cold in order to remain viable.

To this delicious "wintry mix," Magon and Talkington then added the notion of electrically charged bombastium allowing time travel.  Granted, they couldn't keep the details completely consistent.  In "The Duck Who Would Be King," for example, Louie travels to ancient Rome after merely licking a bar of bombastium.  It's also unclear as to whether bombastium is literally a "discovered" element (as Gyro suggests when he first describes it to the Ducks) or a "manufactured" one (we later see Gyro "cooking up" a batch of bombastium to allow the "Shortcut" to send Bubba back to the past; he presumably could do the same thing if Bubba ever wore out his welcome in Duckburg after the events of "Time is Money," but, thankfully, he was never put to the test).  Clearly, however, this borrowing was done with some care and imagination -- care and imagination that one can only wistfully wish could have been applied to the serial as a whole.  Being a known Barks fan, Magon is probably the most responsible party.

Another pleasant reminder of the quality of the season 1 serials lies in this episode's planting of "devices" that will have important roles to play later in the storyline.  Gyro's humble "laser pen" allows Scrooge to leave his markers in Bubba's cave but also will prompt Scrooge to go out and face the bandits in "The Duck Who Would Be King."  The "shinie" that a peeved Scrooge uses to "bribe" Bubba to go home will, of course, seal the deal of their friendship in "Ducks on the Lam."  Even the "Millennium Shortcut"'s arrival in 1,000,000 BC, with the time machine landing on the attacking T-Rex's tail and scaring it away, will be duplicated when Bubba returns to the present day in "Ali Bubba's Cave" just in time to save Scrooge and friends from the cave monster.  Compared to the use of "small details" in (for example) "Cold Duck," these foreshadowings are actually more impressive, since most of them don't pay off until a chapter or two down the road and therefore ask more of the viewer in terms of recall.

Ultimately, however, one's opinion of "Marking Time" (and, of course, of ALL subsequent Bubba episodes) comes down to a face-to-beak confrontation with Bubba himself.  Can you actually buy this guy as a viable character in the Duck "universe"?  The fan-consensus (always remembering, of course, that those who are actually "on record" on the subject constitute a rather small group) is that Bubba, though he might have been acceptable as a one-shot character, even an ambitious one (e.g. being sent home permanently at the end of "Time is Money"), should never have been turned into a regular cast member.  Even putting personal prejudices aside, it's VERY hard to argue against this view.  I've always believed that the world of DuckTales and the world of the comics should have as few "visible seams" as possible between them... and, if you feel that Bubba is out of place in a DuckTales ep, then the feeling will be monstrously magnified if you see the caveduck in a comic-book story.  Stories with Webby, like "The Arcadian Urn," took some getting used to, but I ultimately found that I could assimilate them with few difficulties, especially when Webby was characterized well and allowed to be both "her own Duckling" and a member of a functioning team with HD&L.  Those few instances in which Bubba appeared in the comics, by contrast, always seemed to have an "Elseworlds" feel to me.  One great Disney comics creator did manage to make a Bubba-like character reasonably viable for a short period of time -- we'll set a discussion of that affair aside until we get to "Bubba Trubba" -- but even he ultimately recognized that the creative "half-life" of such a character was severely limited and "got out from under" as gracefully as he could under the circs.  Denied a formal, dignified farewell, Bubba just sort of faded away from all Duck-related media over time, like some sort of bad dream.

The most unfortunate decision the DT creative team made regarding Bubba was the decision to turn him into a rock fan.  (I'm talking "rock" as in music, not as in... well, rocks.)  This notion, literally "present at the creation" of the character, forever doomed Bubba to be a non-serious player, a character who could only "work" if gimmicks were attached to his simplistic persona like tin cans to the rear bumper of a newlyweds' limo.  Forget "Bubba's Big Brainstorm"; the first time Bubba was obliged to say, "Get rude, dude!", he was basically cooked. 

Carl Barks probably wouldn't appreciate the credit, but I do have to give the man his props for, in a certain sense, anticipating what we saw here.  In the relatively obscure 1961 "ten-pager" "Lost Frontier" (WDC&S #246, March 1961), Donald and HD&L have a "close encounter" with caveman-like savages atop a remote mesa.  Physically speaking, the blocky brutes have more in common with the Plain Awfultonians of "Lost in the Andes" than they do with Bubba...

... but, in terms of their susceptibility to the blandishments of pop culture as presented through the medium of television, they prove every bit as capable of "falling under the spell" as does the denizen of Duckbill Island.  The tube even provides the cavefolk with a means of escaping the mesa, leaving the Ducks stranded in their wake.

Barks was evidently trying to make the point that one doesn't have to have any sort of intelligence at all in order to be entertained by TV -- a sentiment that one can easily imagine him spouting off in one of his more curmudgeonly moments.  Do note, however, that he uses his cave characters to make the jaundiced point and then shoves them off the stage, never to be seen again.  Bubba, by contrast, was expected to sustain audience interest through his adoption of modern mannerisms.

Bubba's amazing tracking ability -- the one facet of his personality (if one could exaggerate and call it that) that might have provided a legitimate hook for some interesting uses of the character -- is also introduced soon after his debut.  This skill will be referenced from time to time in future episodes, but I still get the feeling that something more could have been done with it.  Since HD&L, for some unfathomable reason, decided to make Bubba a Junior Woodchuck (I didn't know they had the power to do that?), why not take advantage of Bubba's, er, unique skill set and make him a Woodchuck tracking expert?  Imagine an ep in which HD&L and Bubba must teach a struggling Doofus (remember him?) how to become a first-class tracker.  OK, on second thought, don't imagine that specific one... but do consider that Bubba's Woodchuck membership was an avenue that was never fully explored.  It may not have saved Bubba's viability as a character, but at least the stories and situations that would have arisen from it would not have required such blatant gimmicks as the artificial elevation of Bubba's IQ, the donning of contemporary clothing, or other such dodges.

What else does Bubba bring to the table in his first bow?  Well, his doglike loyalty to Scrooge, though somewhat irritating, is also rather endearing.  The fact that Scrooge is so dismissive of Bubba from the get-go, calling him a "nosy Neanderthal" and the like, helps to make up for the cutesy, cloying nature of some of these early scenes.  The negative portrayal of Scrooge translates into sympathy for Bubba.  It also helps that Bubba's "quasi-worship" of Scrooge (which is no doubt affected by the dramatic manner in which the back-lit Scrooge emerges from the time machine) does seem like the sort of thing a prehistoric caveduck would do if suddenly confronted with a visitor from the future.  The specific scenarios presented in CHARIOTS OF THE GODS? and similar books and movies about supposed "ancient encounters" may be bogus, but the psychology behind their appeal seems relatively sound.

To his credit, as we near the end of the episode, Scrooge does appear to be softening towards Bubba.  Given that Scrooge has left his markers and that he is bringing home a hold-load of valuable dinosaur bones to boot, this generosity of spirit may simply be a result of the old miser mellowing in the light of a job well done, but Scrooge does seem just a bit conflicted about leaving Bubba when the time comes to do so.

The frantic climactic action, however, throws everything -- the Ducks' safe return to present-day Duckburg and Scrooge's relationship with stowaway Bubba -- into serious hotchpot. The characters aren't the only ones left flailing in the wake of the "Shortcut."  As Greg correctly notes, the exact manner in which Bubba and Tootsie wind up on board the time machine is horrendously botched.  I assume that it's at least possible that Scrooge, Launchpad, and HD&L, intent as they were on getting airborne, never thought to look down and to their left to see the T-Rex attempting to wrangle them out of the sky...

... but it's never made clear how Bubba and Tootsie managed to grab hold of the time machine (it must have occurred as the "Shortcut" passed in front of them in the scene below, but the exact details remain obscure)...

... and I defy anyone to explain the transition between the following two shots:

So... did Bubba literally fling Tootsie up and into the cargo hold with one hand, defying all knows laws of gravity and mass, prehistoric or otherwise?  Launchpad's version of the "long count" (the pause in his countdown to allow Scrooge to angrily remonstrate against Bubba for supposedly causing him to dump the bones), though not mentioned by Greg, also annoyed me here.  The oversight was so blatant that I felt as if Magon and Talkington were daring me not to notice and be irritated by it.

Despite the extremely awkward finish and the morally iffy nature of Scrooge's title to the diamond cave, "Marking Time" is one of the stronger components of "Time is Money."  It doesn't exactly have the feel of an adventure, but the Ducks are doing things that could be reasonably classified as adventurous, and the early exchanges involving Scrooge and Bubba do set the table for the subsequent development of their relationship.




New Subfeature Time!  As I collected my second-season screengrabs last month, I also took the time to search out grabs of the DuckTales bumper sequences.  Remember those "album snapshot" bits that transitioned us into and out of commercial breaks?  I'm not sure that I was able to track down all of them, but I certainly corralled a good many of them.  This seems like a good place to put them -- right after my comments and right before others' remarks.  Since Disney DVD never saw fit to include these bumpers as "extras" on any of the DuckTales DVD packages, I've decided to take up the slack and preserve them for posterity.

 Bumper 1: "Dolphin"




(GeoX) Okay okay, I guess I HAVE to say something about this development, though I don't really WANT to. Bubba (voiced, no surprise, by Frank Welker) is an embarrassingly stupid addition to the cast, and admittedly I'm writing this after only seeing him in one episode, but it's extremely difficult for me to imagine him engaging in a cessation of suckage. People are quick to call "Cousin Oliver" on him, but I dunno--the show has ALWAYS been gimmicky, and I don't necessarily object to that on principle. But I DO object to a friggin' caveduck who talks in monosyllables--I mean, this would be okay for a one-episode thing, but to make such an individual into a regular character? Oh, and also, like the Terminator, he learns contemporary catchphrases to spout. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at THAT creative meeting. Preferably a tsetse fly, so I could have given someone malaria. 

Other than that, Mr. GeoX, how did you like the teleplay?  I've already spilled the beans regarding my opinion of Bubba as a continuing character.  That's not to say, however, that he didn't have his moments, which I shall try my level best to spotlight.

(GeoX) "There aren't any diamonds here--only coal!" WHY NOT JUST GET ELEPHANTS TO STEP ON THEM THAT SEEMS TO DO THE TRICK? Okay, no fair using this entry to mock a previous episode

I'm decidedly disappointed in the normally sharp-witted Dewey (you know, the Nephew who is "the best at coming up with escape plans" and such) for being so slow on the uptake here.

(Greg) Scrooge wonders if he could go [back] in time and stop the explosion as we cut to Gyro and nephews looking through the history books as he shows a picture of the Ancient Egyptians worshiping a ice pop treat as their god (see the ice pop at the top of the picture) and Scrooge suddenly gets the LIGHTBULB OF BLOODY CLARITY. 

Two odd things about this scene: Gyro, who will be so quick to jump on Scrooge in "Bubba Trubba" for cavalierly "altering the past" by allowing Bubba to return to Duckburg with him, does not seem worried in the least about altering Egyptian (and, presumably, subsequent world) history with his little bombastium-powered clock gizmos... and Scrooge's "turkey-neck LIGHTBULB! moment" really has to be seen to be believed:

I mean, that's downright... disturbing.

(Greg) Launchpad actually flings the big hand on the magically appearing clock in the back of the cockpit about 1000 rotations. WHAT THE HELL? That makes no sense at all considering that the Shortcut didn't have any of that when we first saw it. That is logic break #2 for the episode and a big one at that. 

Actually, you can see the giant clock in the very first shot when Gyro pulls off the tarp to reveal the machine.  The problem is that Gyro originally sets the machine to go back three days using only the buttons on the control panel, so the effect of Launchpad's spinning of the clock hands comes OUT OF NOWHERE.

(Greg) So Bubba got pretty much a season to work with and as fans discovered for themselves; gimmicks sell T-shirts, characters sell tickets and Bubba was such a gimmick (and a major character from there on) that it made DuckTales jump the shark and they never recovered from it. Even when Gizmo Duck came; even when the GOLD WAVE OF DEATH two part episode came; even the Metal Mites; even the DuckTales Movie came, it was no good anymore.

Once "Time is Money" was completed, the DT crew seems to have realized its mistake regarding Bubba.  Bubba appeared only eight times the rest of the way, compared to 14 for Fenton Crackshell (not counting "Super DuckTales"), and in only two of those appearances -- "Bubbeo and Juliet" and "Bubba's Big Brainstorm" -- did he play a role that could fairly be described as major.  Nor did Disney enjoy the fringe benefit of "T-shirt sales" or their equivalent.  The only piece of Bubba-themed merchandise that I ever saw advertised was a clock-radio in a copy of the German comic magazine MICKY MAUS.  I'd like to believe that this choice of chatchka was a tribute to the caveduck's love of rock and roll, but, seeing as how Webby and Launchpad also rated face time on these items... So one could say that the "damage" caused by Bubba's presence was held to a relative minimum.  But damage was certainly done.

The Bubba radio is pictured at middle right, above Webby's head.

(Greg) So Scrooge tries to use the pen laser onto the conveniently placed rock and the rock turns into a dinosaur. Okay; that was pretty convincing as Tootsie holds [her] ass on that one. He goes into Bubba's arm and it's Scooby Doo scare spot time. Man; that is so uncanny to someone I know from a previous HB series. Oh wait; I know: Scrappy Doo. Bubba cuddles him like a mother hen as the nephews point out the obvious and LP hopes she has [had] her shots. And so Bubba punishes him by using Tootsie's foot to MURDER LP's foot. HAHA!...Launchpad does the foot grabbing spot as Launchpad proclaims that she smashed his tootsy. And of course Bubba didn't name his pet in advance; so he calls her Tootsie now (Frank Welker again).

The use of Launchpad as the source of Tootsie's name may not have been coincidental.  Terry McGovern, playing a minor role in George Lucas' feature film THX-1138 (1971), inadvertently gave a name to one of the Star Wars movies' most beloved creatures when he remarked, "I think I ran over a Wookiee back there."  Here, LP gets run over BY the critter he ultimately titles.  Ironic, isn't it?

(Greg) [Scrooge] asks for as many bananas as he can find as we go to the scene changer and see Launchpad near a tree of banana[s] as he is eating them one by one while peeling the peels so to speak. He throws the banana peel into the pile as he has had enough of eating them. HAHA! You didn't have to eat them; just un-peel them. Scrooge is right; you are now officially an airhead. And Louie gleefully states the obvious to him just to make it even more funny. Louie grabs the peels and walks off as LP throws one away and blows [Louie] off for not telling him. Somehow; he is completely immune to the obvious. 

Launchpad's role here is fairly low-key, but this is by far his most memorable contribution to the fun.  Between this massive act of noshing and his initial appearance searching through Gyro's icebox, are we witnessing the beginning of LP's transformation into the junk-food-scarfing sidekick of Darkwing Duck?  (Thankfully, he does have a few more meaty roles ahead of him before the books close on DT.)

(Greg) Despite the bad finish; Bubba actually did very well for himself; but that won't last long since the first two episodes were actually very well written. It is the third and fourth episodes where the real crap of Bubba starts.

I wouldn't use those precise words, but I do agree with the general sentiment.  It's only after Bubba comes to Duckburg that we begin to see just how limited a character he is.  In his own element, and later on in Toupay, he manages to hold his own.

Next: Episode 67, "Time is Money, part two: The Duck Who Would Be King."


Pan Miluś said...

I hope that was refrence to princess Oona back there. A more interesting version of Bubba that actually added something to the table in her apperances...

As for the moral delema : "Well, I think by now kids learned that Scrooge is good and Glomgold is evil so their ok with Scrooge stealing from Glomgold as much he wants!" That's the logic of the wirter's at least in my opinion...

Also - I find it amusing how they needed FIVE episode to introduce Bubbas complex character... :P

Anonymous said...

Did you notice the "deluxe sized" Junior Woodchuck Guidebook that one of the nephews pulls out - near the beginning on Duckbill Island? The one complete with red ribbon bookmarks? Later on, in 1 million BC, its back to normal pocket size.

"The Duck Who Would Be King" is good, but it seems like a reworked "Sphinx for the Memories" complete with prophecy, evil high priest/ruler, and attractive woman who faithfully believes in prophecy. I prefer Sphinx, but there's enough new material to justify another spin.

I never used to have a problem with Scrooge looking over the island - I always figured that he was allowed to - in the same way you're allowed to look over property in a normal real estate deal. Now I realize that, if that were true, Glomgold should have been spying on Scrooge before he sold it. Still, I'm more irritated that Gyro seems to have forgot about his time tub.

Joe Torcivia said...


Allow me to complement you on your great start to DuckTales Season Two… or whatever it's called! It’s as if you gave us a special Giant-Size comic, packed with goodies, to celebrate the occasion!

Bubba was DUCKTALES’ “Great Gazoo”, in that he was a character that DIDN’T BELONG in that world, but would have made for an interesting diversion as a one-shot visitor.

That was something Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera (or their masters at the American Broadcasting Company) failed to realize in their mad dash to conform what was perhaps H-B’s greatest creation, THE FLINTSTONES, to the MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, BEWITCHED, and newcomer for the 1965 season I DREAM OF JEANNIE template of having the comedy directed by the efforts and escapades of a supernatural "gimmick" character placed in the midst of otherwise ordinary folks – even if those folks were a “modern stone-age family”.

While Bubba possessed no actual supernatural abilities, he was other-worldly enough and a perfect “fish-out-of-water” to qualify as a gimmick character.

The key difference was that MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE were predicated on the presence of a gimmick character, while THE FLINTSTONES and DUCKTALES had the gimmick character inflicted upon them after undeniable periods of success.

You could make the case (and you probably will) that Bill Walsh and Floyd Gottfredson did the very same thing to the MICKEY MOUSE daily newspaper strip continuities when they introduced Eega Beeva (and Pflip) – but Eega took the strip into interesting and unexpected directions (which STILL influence modern Mouse comic book storytelling)… AND they knew when it was time to send him back!

As did Western Publishing’s editor Chase Craig and writer Vic Lockman, when they both introduced The Great Gazoo – AND SENT HIM BACK HOME – in Gold Key Comics’ THE FLINTSTONES # 34 (1966).

…If only Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera – and the producers of DUCKTALES, thought to do the same!

Additional comments to follow…

Joe Torcivia said...

Continuing with BUBBA comments:

You write:

“Barks was evidently trying to make the point that one doesn't have to have any sort of intelligence at all in order to be entertained by TV -- a sentiment that one can easily imagine him spouting off in one of his more curmudgeonly moments.”

And, in support of your assertion, we have THIS!

“The problem is that Gyro originally sets the machine to go back three days using only the buttons on the control panel, so the effect of Launchpad's spinning of the clock hands comes OUT OF NOWHERE.”

Though a seeming non-sequitur in “Time is Money”, this bit might have actually come from somewhere completely unexpected.

For the second and third seasons of Hanna-Barbera’s PETER POTAMUS (a series where Peter and his monkey pal So-So flew from one misadventure to another in an air ship which was a boat with a large balloon on top) they introduced Peter’s “Time and Space Machine” (that MAY have been what they called it), the primary feature of which was a “spin-dial” indicator.

Pete and So-So would spin the dial randomly, and end up anywhere in (as advertised) “time and space” that writer Warren Foster and company wished to send them for six minutes of fun.

Sometimes, they would do this purposefully, or as a lark – and other times they’d spin the dial in DESPERATION to escape the path of an oncoming meteor or jet plane. This seems to be what “Time is Money” was emulating, whether consciously – or otherwise (from childhood memories of PETER POTAMUS?).

Finally, when I first saw Scrooge riding “Porpy” in that still, I was waiting for the “Moby Duck episode” that never came!

Jason said...

For nostalgia's sake, I enclosed a screencap of the actual "Time is Money" title card. (I have the three Ducktales tele-movies in their original forms)

Pete Fernbaugh said...

Jason, you just got the attention of all of us DUCKTALES fanboys when you wrote, "(I have the three Ducktales tele-movies in their original forms.)"

As far as I know, you are one of a few to be in possession of these three versions...

...may I suggest YouTube without suggesting it? ;-)

Thanks for the screen-grab! I saw this telemovie on a Thanksgiving Day evening a long, long time ago!

Chris Barat said...


Yes, I did notice that the boys were using an "unabridged" version of the Guidebook at one point. Wonder where they kept it.

I'll be going into the relationship between "King" and "Sphinx" in the next entry.

Time tub? Perhaps Gyro turned it into a birdbath sooner than we suspected. :-)


Chris Barat said...


A connection to PETER POTAMUS seems a lot more far fetched than even the connection between Bubba and Gazoo, seeing as how POTAMUS was pretty obscure as 60's Hanna-Barbera shows went. But I suppose that it is possible.


Chris Barat said...

Jason (and Pete),

Dailymotion is another possible destination for those. :-)


kenisu said...

I didn't want to say anything because I was afraid I was being a bit selfish and entitled, but I definitely agree: my eyebrows perked up right away when I read Jason's remark about having all three DuckTales specials. Ever since starting up my music documentation for the series (see the link in my name), I've been dying to see the original specials again... especially since I hear the music was different from the serials in spots.

Jason, if you're reading this, if it's not any trouble at all, could you please share those specials with us fans, through YouTube or Dailymotion as Pete and Chris have suggested?

I don't care what anybody says about the serials being the "more complete" versions. Until I'm able to compare the two side-by-side, I remain convinced that there are a good number of cuts in the five-parters (see below)...

The ending to "Treasure of the Golden Suns" part 3 has a music cue which, although composed for this scene, has a part right at the very end that gets snipped - and by the sound of the cut music, I'm guessing the visual edit was a shot of Donald woozily trying to salute his superior officer.

There are also a couple of suspicious parts in "Time is Money". At the end of part 2, it seems to me that Scrooge tries to pawn Bubba off on Sen-Sen when he says "maybe he was meant to be here after all?" But after Bubba says "may-BE!" Sen-Sen immediately says farewell to "The Great One", oddly ignoring Scrooge's remark entirely, and that to me suggests a cut.

But the most obvious evidence I have of a cut comes at the beginning of part 4. When the Beagle Boys throw Scrooge and Bubba out of the Money Bin, you can hear the tail end of Bigtime shouting something at them. It's just too sudden and choppy for it not to be an edit.

Anyway, I'm not sure why I just now felt the need to go over all that (other than perhaps the rights to say "called it!" if proven true), but let's just say I *really* want to see the original airings again.