Judge Jim Thomas finds the gadgetry around him more Duck Dodgers than Buck Rogers.
"In blackest day or brightest night…Watermelon, cantaloupe, yadda yadda…Erm…superstitious and cowardly lot…With liberty and justice for all!"
And you thought things got out of hand when they gave Guy Gardner a power ring…
In the dark days of 1953, a new Merry Melodies cartoon escaped into the wild, featuring that most glorious of oxymorons, a heroic Daffy Duck. True to his nature, Daffy screwed up pretty much everything he touches in the short, producing an instant classic.
In 2003, the Warner Animation Studios brought forth the continuing mission of that worthy spaceman, er, spaceduck, with Duck Dodgers (typing "in the 24th and a half century" gets old fast). Like another well-known science fiction show, this series lasted a mere three seasons, but its impact has been…well, no, it hasn't been on par with Star Trek: The Original Series, but it's still a cool little series, and Warner Bros. has thoughtfully released Duck Dodgers: Season One on an unsuspecting twenty-first century.
Duck Edgar Dumas Aloysius Dodgers is a hapless schlep whose only real claim to fame was being the waterboy for the Midstate U football team. Through a sequence of events never fully explained, he gets frozen in suspended animation, remaining there until revived by the brilliant Dr. I.Q. Hi in the 24½th century. Dodgers manages to convince everyone that he was a hero in his own time, and thus he is given a commission as a captain in the Galactic Protectorate, accompanied by the ever-loyal Cadet. Together they combat the forces of Martian tyranny—specifically, Queen Tyr'ahnee (Tia Carrera, Wayne's World) and her Commander (Marvin the Martian), along with a hoard of Martian Centurions (all voiced by Michael Dorn, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
You get all thirteen episodes from the first season:
• "The Trial of Duck Dodgers / Big Bug Mamas"
One of the most enjoyable things about this series is that the writers know not just the Looney Toons conventions, but also the conventions from just about everything else, and they're not afraid to throw it all in a blender at the drop of a hat. So you get things like "The Fowl Friend," a parody of The Iron Giant in which Daffy gets a robotic assistant; "The Wrath of Canasta," in which classic Looney Toons heavy Nasty Canasta turns up as a bounty hunter who tracks Dodgers down on his vacation—which just happens to be a parody of Westworld; or, sweet mother of Chuck Jones, "The Green Lantoon," in which a dry cleaning mixup leaves Dodgers fighting alongside the entire Green Lantern Corps to defeat the evil Sinestro (John de Lancie, Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Is it great? Well, that might be pushing it a bit. While Daffy/Dodgers is at his sniveling, conniving best, the stories aren't always quite up—or maybe that should be down—to his level. The initial episodes with Queen Tyr'ahnee are a little weak, but once the show develops the relationship between her and Dodgers, things really start to pick up. As with most current cartoons, the animation simply isn't on the same level as the original classics, and some of the jokes wear thin over time, and plots that don't reference other shows or movies drag a bit. Still, even the episodes that don't quite work have their moments, while the episodes that do work, work in a big way. The visual design is great fun, liberally borrowing from other science fiction shows, Star Trek in particular. On top of it all is the over-the-top theme song, performed by The Flaming Lips and sung by the uber-cool Tom Jones in full-bore Thunderball mode.
Technically, the disc is good, with bright, vibrant colors. Audio is crisp and clear, though
The only real extra is the original 1953 short, Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half Century. There's also a trailer for the Warner Bros. 90 Anniversary Collections.
Not guilty. I'm definitely looking forward to more of these continuing voyages.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Vintage Cartoon
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