Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dwelling on Ducks #3: Send in the Clones (Sept. 21, 1987)

Note: I apologize for the odd formatting in places on this post. Blogger has given me many trials and tribulations with this entry. I'm hoping to figure out how to fix them soon... 
And so it begins--our official lookback at DuckTales on its 25th anniversary. During the course of this God-knows-how-long project, we'll examine each of the 100 episodes, the movie, the comics, and spring several other "blog extras"  on you.
Up first, "Send in the Clones," from Monday, Sept. 21, 1987. Although the five-part, two-and-one-half hour introductory miniseries, "Treasure of the Golden Suns," debuted on the weekend of Sept. 18, 1987, as an edited two-hour TV movie prior to the daily premiere of DuckTales, "Golden Suns" would not appear in the "official" episode rotation until November 9-13, 1987. On that occasion, it would be broadcast in its unedited form for the first time. 

Given that I did not see the five-parter in full until several years after initially viewing "Back to the Klondike," I have thus elected to start our retrospective of the series with "Send in the Clones," the first syndicated half-hour episode aired.

I have to admit that I've had some Writer's Block when it comes to how I should draft these installments. I started out by composing a scene-by-scene breakdown of "Send in the Clones," but Gregory Weagle has already established his own unique voice when it comes to that format.
I could do a critical analysis of each episode, but that isn't my strong suit, especially in comparison to Chris Barat, who is looking to start his own retrospective of the series. Plus, he and Joe Torcivia have already written the definitive critical DT analysis...

...that I will be referencing as I write these entries. You can find a scan of the above magazine hiding in various Web crevices, but you'll have to do your own browsing, digging, and spelunking to find it. :-)

(Aside: Hey, guys! Was that an original Van Horn cover?!)

So, honestly, after writing the rough version of this first review, it languished in my draft box for a few weeks (as you may have noticed) simply because it didn't "feel" right and because life had amped up to hurricane-like levels by that point. 

What you're about to read still doesn't "feel" right, but at least I "feel" it more than what I had initially written. Which is the tack that I have decided to take. 

I have concluded that my goal in this project is a wee bit different from writing straight-up reviews, either critical or academical, of each episode. I have no desire to tell you that such-and-such an episode is good or bad or mediocre. That's subjective anyway, and as GeoX can tell you, I often disagreed with him on his evaluation of the series. Beyond general criticism, though, I really suck at academic criticism. I tried it once upon a time for a pop-culture convention, and I bombed royally. I don't know academic jargon, and I don't have the desire to learn academic jargon either. There's nothing wrong with the academic approach. It's just not where my talents lie. 

Therefore, what you'll be reading is largely feelings-based. I do know how to write about my feelings, and I know how DuckTales affected me creatively and intellectually. So, good or bad, that's what you're gonna get over the next 100 or so installments.

With that unnecessary prologue out of the way, let's begin...

Of Clones and Clowns

"Send in the Clones" was a dynamic way to begin DuckTales' syndicated run. Combining action, adventure, comedy, and values, it effectively showcased each of the elements that made DuckTales quality entertainment. 

Featuring Magica De Spell in her series debut as one of Scrooge's recurring antagonists, the sorceress hatches a perfectly kooky plan to steal Scrooge McDuck's No. 1 Dime. 

First, she springs the Beagle Boys from the slammer...

Second, using a tinkling pink potion...

...she turns them into clones of Scrooge McDuck's nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie...

Finally, she has them infiltrate McDuck's mansion to search for the Dime...

Of course, because she made the mistake of relying on the Beagles, her scheme goes haywire, and the Beagle Nephews soon find themselves grounded...

...after freaking poor Mrs. Beakley out...

To fix their bungling, Magica assumes the guise of "fat ol' Beakley"...

...but Magica Beakley only makes matters worse, as her grand divinations end up on a collision course with an interview Scrooge is giving to Duckweek Magazine...

...an interview that is meant to showcase him and his brood as a sane and happy family...

Naturally, a farce of British proportions ensues that leads to a final showdown in Magica's lair on Mt. Vesuvius where Mrs. Beakley plays amateur sorceress...

...Huey plays bullfighter...

 ...and Magica plays Scrooge. Or Scrooge plays Magica. Or they both play each other...

Like Magica, this episode gets pretty carried away...

...in a very good way.

A Sorceress Established

First things first, "Send in the Clones" is a stand-out episode in every respect. Even though it was the debut episode, I would wager that "Clones" was actually produced about midway through the first season's 65 episodes. It shows a polish and a familiarity with the characters that wasn't always present in the initial offerings (or as I call them, the "black-shaded baseball hat" episodes...I'll explain this eventually).

Second, this episode is important because, as noted above, it establishes Magica De Spell as a recurring villain (at least during the first season). The Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold were already introduced in "Treasure of the Golden Suns." With Magica's debut, Scrooge's Trinity of Terror is completed. Other villains came and went throughout the series' run, but the Beagles, Flintheart, and Magica came, went, and came back for more.

I'll have an article later on in this series with some thoughts on the importance that this Trinity of Terror played in defining Scrooge as a character.

Everything the viewer needs to know about Magica is established in her opening monologue, which, I must note with great grovel, is expertly performed by legendary voice actress June Foray...
This time, nothing will stand in the way of what I want most in the world...Scrooge McDuck's Old Number One Dime. It's the first dime Scrooge ever made. It contains the psychic vibrations of every deal, every decision, every dollar Scrooge has ever made. Once I melt that dime and pour it into my amulet, I will be so powerful, not only will I turn you back into my brother, but the world will be mine as well. 

The brother of whom she speaks is Mr. Poe, her henchraven. In the Barks' comics, he was known as Ratface. Giving him the name Mr. Poe is fun, and the idea that he is a raven because of a spell that only Scrooge's Dime can break is intriguing, but alas, never explored further in the series. Too bad.

Some folks may quibble about Foray's Russian-esque accent for Magica. After all, Barks did establish Magica as Italian and even modeled her after sultry Italian actresses Gina Lollobrigida...

...and Sophia Loren...

Foray's Magica doesn't carry herself in a seductive way that would bring these sultry screen sirens to mind. (Heh. Watch out for that alliteration, kids!) In fact, this Magica simply sounds too old to be a siren. I don't believe this is Foray's fault, however. I never picked up on the enchantress vibe from Barks' Magica or any other Duck writer's Magica, for that matter.

I have to say...if I were writing Magica, I'd be tempted to run with the sultry aspect. I know this is "just a kids' show/comic," but Don Rosa has shown that a little bit of subtle sexuality in a Duck comic isn't necessarily a bad thing.

In spite of the legitimate criticisms, I've always enjoyed Foray's characterization of Magica, but I was familiar with her Magica before I was familiar with Barks'. To be fair to the critics, her acting choices do sound like a variation on Natasha Fatale from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show...

Whether the accent is what it should be or not, Foray's performance as Magica is compelling, especially in this episode. The cackling alone is to be relished. Foray takes the character on the comics page and brings her to three-dimensional life. 

That she can play a witch is not shocking. Foray is well-known for assuming the personality of devilish women...

Hex, she just won her first Emmy (at 94) for playing Mrs. Cauldron on The Garfield Show...

But of all the magical wizzes Foray has played, I still love her take on Magica the best. Magica gave Foray an opportunity to perfect her "witchy" characterization and add layers to it. What she may not captured in Magica's accent, she rectifies by imbuing Magica with maniacal mania and fumbled flamboyance. The character is believable and enjoyable, and her evil, while not greatly threatening, is certainly there. 

I don't know which Magica episode is the best ("Raiders of the Lost Harp" is my off-the-top-of-the-head guess), but "Send in the Clones" certainly lays a solid foundation for the character's future appearances, future appearances that would become all-too-rare as the series progressed.

A Domestic McDuck

Do you remember that scene in Part One of "Treasure of the Golden Suns" where Scrooge is venting to Duckworth about Donald sticking him with the Nephews? Then, do you remember the scene at the end of the episode where the news reporter asks Scrooge about his family, and he's caught off-guard, eventually admitting that he's lonely?

Of course you don't. We haven't covered "Don't Give Up the Ship" yet. But you'll understand when we get there.

This episode shows just how much Scrooge has developed as a person since those first DT eps. Not only has he grown accustomed to his newly acquired role of patriarch, but he's using it to his advantage, as only Scrooge would, by having a reporter from Duckweek Magazine interview him about family, no doubt in an effort to solidify his image in the eyes of a public that is always wary of the McDuck name.

The only tranquil moments in the episode are when Scrooge is shown at home, eating breakfast with the boys and giving them money for popcorn and the movies (but stopping short at buying them new bicycles).

Now, granted, Dewey does have to play the game a bit  in order to persuade Scrooge to let the Boys leave as such an important media appearance looms...

"Then we'll be back in time to tell the reporter how our nice Unca Scrooge gave us money to go to the movies."

But, as with most men who are surrounded by family on a daily basis, this Scrooge is softer, his miserliness toned down, at least toward his family. As you may imagine, this caused controversy with the Barks purists when DuckTales first debuted. Some fans still haven't accepted the toning down of Scrooge's edginess. The always underrated actor Alan Young, who captures all of the nuance and dimensionality of McDuck as only an expert performer can, has openly spoken of toning down the character.  

Perhaps it's because my Duck fandom started with DuckTales, but I've never minded the Softer Scrooge. I think it's only logical that Scrooge would soften. When you read Barks' stories (and even Rosa's stories), Scrooge always seems to take a (continuing to use the word) softer approach towards the Nephews. Donald raises his ire, but Huey, Dewey, and Louie rarely do. Although I can't remember it ever being explicitly stated in the comics, Scrooge sees himself in the Boys, something DT establishes in "Don't Give Up the Ship." (Scrooge should also see himself in Donald, but that's another analysis for another time.) He sees himself in their curiosity, in their derring-do, in their mischieviousness, resourcefulness, etc. 

Being their guardian would only soften him more. Now, instead of providing periodic guidance for them, he is responsible for their upbringing. This can't be overlooked by even the purists who see the DuckTales' Scrooge as less than the Barks' Scrooge. To have something as life-changing as "adopting" three precocious boys occur and for it not to change a character in some way would be a disservice to the development of that character.

Plus, there's the element of Webbigail. Webbigail is hated by many, but she's integral to the series, as is Mrs. Beakley. I'll be touching on the importance of these characters later on. Hate them if you will; but deny their significance you cannot.

When the showdown in this episode happens, Magica challenges Scrooge to put family ahead of his No. 1 Dime. Although there's a twist here that I won't reveal, Scrooge chooses family. This is a decision that he is consistently faced with throughout the series. And he always chooses family. Not only is it an important value to communicate to the audience, this family element is important in keeping Scrooge grounded and centered as a character.

Moreso than Barks, I would say that Rosa dribbled the family ball even farther down the court. After years of loneliness, Scrooge would never squander his family for his fortune. Never. He values them too much.  He may never verbally express it, but it's there. But once again, that's another analysis for another time.

Why the Dime?

Yes. Magica wants Scrooge's No. 1 Dime. But why the Dime? Barks established that she wanted to melt it down into an amulet that would give her the Midas Touch. I think the DT explanation for Magica's dime lust is basically the same. It contains the psychic vibrations of every deal, every decision, every dollar Scrooge has ever made. 

If only the series writers had stuck with that explanation. But as we'll see, this motivation became muddled as the show progressed. Sometimes, Scrooge earned his fortune through hard work. Sometimes, he earned it through luck. Magica sometimes wanted Scrooge's fortune because of the psychic vibrations from this work ethic, and other times, she wanted it because he was "lucky."

Wait until we get to the Gladstone Gander episode. I love that one, but the luck rut is dug even deeper.

Unfortunately, this was a carryover from the comic books where the writers were just as confused about how Scrooge came about his fantastic wealth. Even Barks himself occasionally tripped and fell into the luck rut. Sometimes, it seems that the writers can't bring themselves to believe that Scrooge advanced as far as he did through hard work alone. 

But he did. Scrooge's individualism is core to his character, and the Dime is a symbol of Scrooge's work ethic. It inspired him to pursue his dreams and to be tougher than the toughies, smarter than the smarties, etc.

Thank Monsignor Don Rosa for drilling this into my head as a lad...

Magica's motive for wanting the Dime will always be a point of contention as we wade deeper into the series. Remember "Send in the Clones." For this particular take on the Ducks, it defines her motivations best.

A Tight Plot, A Few Loose Strands

"Send in the Clones" is well-played all around. There are a few loose strands, but they're minor. How does Magica know Scrooge's No. 1 Dime is at his mansion? (It isn't always there, as will be shown in other episodes.) That's never explained, but perhaps her divinations in the beginning helped her locate it. Also, why does she need Scrooge's Dime to turn her brother back into a man/duck? It didn't have to be answered in this episode, but the truth is, it's never answered in the series. Oh, well. That's one that will have to be left to the fans.

The pace of "Send in the Clones" is fast and furious. (Memo to Eric Holder.) Some of the earlier produced episodes don't achieve this pace. DuckTales at its fastest and most furious with a smattering of sentimentality is my favorite recipe for a delectable episode. This pace anticipates many Season Two episodes where one event happens after another, with barely a breath breathed in-between. Also, the animation is a bit looser and goosier than in the earlier-produced stories. It is also prescient of the more cartoony animation that the series would adopt in the second season. 
In spite of the one or two hanging threads, the story is also tightly plotted and executed with maximum results. No surprise. It was adapted by Ken Koonce and David Wiemers from a story by Astrid Ryterband.  You'll be hearing about those first two gents again and again and again and again. They may have been DT's most consistent and greatest writers.
Hands-down the best scene takes place in Mt. Vesuvius where Mrs. Beakley is testing her arm at potion-throwing. The menagerie that results is summed up in this aerial shot...

Also, gaze upon Magica One. I don't recall ever seeing her plane again...

I can't help but note that the title of this episode is a riff on one of my favorite musical-theatre numbers...

         That's Glynis Johns from the greatest Disney movie of all time...

"Send in the Clones" is available on the DuckTales Volume One DVD collection available here. It's a lousy 15 bucks, and maybe Disney will take notice if you buy a few dozen or so of them...

Next: He may be gone, but he's not forgotten. Donald is granted shore leave. He proceeds to become demon-possessed and must undergo an exorcism. His beak doesn't spin, though...

...of course, my synopsis of the episode isn't the official Disney version, but when it's in Hindi, who can tell?


  1. Great job on this, Pete!

    Oddly, I have occasional issues with “Blogger” too. I just can’t understand WHY it isn’t more compatible with MS Word! Do they REALLY expect us to write and edit massive entries in that “little box” they provide? I won’t do it, and have suffered all sorts of formatting inconveniences because of that!

    Yes, William Van Horn did the cover for the Duckburg Times edition of the Ducktales Index. What a great guy, to do that for us!

    I still can’t get used to June Foray’s “Natasha voice” as Magica DeSpell!

    This was a case of the voice talent coming before the character! No matter HOW talented the “voice talent” is (…and Ms. Foray is one of the MOST talented!), that should never be the case!

    If they couldn’t have made her more “Italiano”, then the voice Tress MacNielle used for “Circe” (in “Home Sweet Homer”) would have been a more suitable voice for Magica!

    Think of it… Blustery, volatile… Everything Barks’ Magica should be!

    1. Actually, Joe, I've heard Tress' "Italiano" voice in an episode of The Simpsons, where she played Mama Celeste. Homer was dreaming about making out with her, to which she responded with a raised knife and said "You toucha' me and I cut you!"...

      BTW, does anyone know why June was not the voice of Witch Hazel in The Looney Tunes Show and they changed the name of the character to Witch Lezah and Roz Ryan do the voice instead?

  2. Hey Joe!

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has problems with Blogger. I've had posts take twice the time they should have taken just because of Blogger's quirks. I'm thinking about switching to WordPress if these issues continue. We're both very visual in how we approach our blogs, employing both words and pictures. It's makes for a more interesting layout, but sometimes, I wonder if that's where some of the HTML problems stem from.

    That was darn nice of Van Horn! It's a terrific cover!

    As I was writing this, I realized that I'm actually better-versed in Rosa's Magica than I am in Barks'. In fact, I'm not sure how many of Barks' Magicas I've even read! That will be rectified this weekend. I'm going to pursue this topic of Foray's Magica vs. Barks' Magica in an upcoming separate article.

    I find the idea of using Tress MacNeille as the voice of Magica intriguing. She has that ability to be quirky and sexy at the same time. Like I wrote, I'd like to see more of the enchantress in Magica's character than DT saw fit to use.

    I also think I can accept Foray's Magica more easily because this was my introduction to the character. I'm also sure that's why I could accept Hal Smith's take on Gyro more readily. In fact, I had a hard time reconciling Barks' Magica and Gyro with DUCKTALES when I first started reading the comics!

    Thanks again, Joe!

  3. Pete:

    No idea if WordPress is better or worse than Blogger… Probably “similar but different”. Any WordPress users out there to say differently?

    I’ve managed to negotiate Blogger’s failings – even though they cause more effort on my part than need be! I have more issues with TEXT, than with illustrations, because I prepare my posts in MS Word.

    Never mind Foray’s Magica… Hal Smith’s GYRO was as wrong-as-wrong-could-be!

    At least the TONE AND PITCH of what Foray was doing fit Magica (at least somewhat). Smith did not – AT ALL – reflect Barks’ creation!

    My vote? When I first heard Harvey Korman’s voice for “The Great Gazoo” in 1965, I felt THAT (or some slight variation on it) should be the voice for Gyro! A fussy (though goodhearted) isolated loner, who CAN be above it all – or otherwise out of touch with the masses. Smith did too much “country/folksy”. His Gyro was not from Duckburg, that’s for sure!

    What say the rest of you?


    1. Hey Joe,

      I'll admit to having difficulty "hearing" Smith's Gyro in Barks' Gyro. Ironically, though, (and let's keep this from him, because it might send him to his grave early) I hear Smith's Gyro in Rosa's Gyro. The "country/folksy" approach, at least to me, comes through more in Rosa's Gyro than in Barks'.

      Once again, though, I have no problem with Smith's Gyro, because DT is how I was introduced to the character.

      Isn't that interesting how first impressions shape our take on even fictional characters? No doubt, some urchin right now has just watched Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes and has picked up the original Conan Doyle Holmes stories and is thinking to himself, "This is all wrong. This isn't how Holmes is supposed to be. Why isn't he kicking more ass?"

  4. Pete,

    I'm checking in late on this one because we just got power back after a storm hit on Friday night. I'm exhausted because my CPAP couldn't function and my sleep over the past six days could charitably be described as "broken." Needless to say, I will need some time to get back up to speed on my planned DT retro. Still, a few comments on your excellent review of "Clones"...

    [PF]Even though it was the debut episode, I would wager that "Clones" was actually produced about midway through the first season's 65 episodes. It shows a polish and a familiarity with the characters that wasn't always present in the initial offerings (or as I call them, the "black-shaded baseball hat" episodes...I'll explain this eventually).[PF]

    The info I have on broadcast order says that "Clones" was produced about a third of the way through the first 65. You can tell, it's definitely livelier than such earlier eps as "Back to the Klondike".

    [PF] Although I can't remember it ever being explicitly stated in the comics, Scrooge sees himself in the Boys, something DT establishes in "Don't Give Up the Ship." (Scrooge should also see himself in Donald, but that's another analysis for another time.) He sees himself in their curiosity, in their derring-do, in their mischieviousness, resourcefulness, etc.[PF]

    I suppose that if you take Rosa's LATOSM as being at least an APPROXIMATION of the truth, then it's not hard to understand why Scrooge had it in for Donald from way back. Scrooge probably still remembers that kick and that raspberry that the pint-sized Donald gave him. It is actually MORE intriguing to speculate as to why Scrooge and HD&L are so "at daggers drawn" in part one of "Golden Suns," at least until the candy factory scene. In the pre-series world of "DT," it doesn't appear as though the Ducks got to HAVE many adventures together. Otherwise, Scrooge would certainly have known that HD&L were far more than mere "brats." It's funny how the critics of the "softer", "domesticated" Scrooge failed to see that a less adventurous Scrooge (and Duck family) is practically POSTULATED by the setup of "Don't Give Up the Ship." That would presumably be even more shocking to the "old sourdoughs." It's almost as if Koonce and Wiemers are anticipating the final chapter of LATOSM here. The "Ship" Scrooge is nowhere near as unpleasant as Rosa's Scrooge in that last chapter, but the intimation is clear in both cases... here is where the Ducks' adventures BEGAN.

    {PF] gaze upon Magica One. I don't recall ever seeing her plane again...[PF]

    She used a helicopter with claw feet in "Raiders of the Lost Harp," but I don't think she used the plane again.

    [PF] I find the idea of using Tress MacNeille as the voice of Magica intriguing. She has that ability to be quirky and sexy at the same time. Like I wrote, I'd like to see more of the enchantress in Magica's character than DT saw fit to use.[PF]

    Either Circe or Millionaira Vanderbucks (sans accent) would have been a great twist on Magica. It's not as if Barks packed Magica's dialogue with Italian-isms, after all, not even in the very earliest stories.

    As for Gyro... I have to disagree with Joe here and say that I thought Hal Smith's voice was wonderful for Gyro. This probably has at least something to do with my very limited pre-"DT" exposure to the inventor. Tabula rasa, and all that. I was less enamored of Foray's Natasha/Magica mash-up because I had already associated that voice with some other character and would have preferred to start "clean." Foray did do a good job with Magica, and I can understand why "DT" jumped at the chance to use her.


    1. Hey Chris,

      Glad to hear the lights came back. There were place in the Tri-State that were without power for something like 132 hours. Here's hoping you can "rest up" and get back to full working order, both physically and mentally. Those of us who don't have certain physical ailments tend to take power outages for granted. We see them as annoyances, but I can only imagine how trying they can be when certain medical devices are dependent on that power.

      I'm not sure that I've ever seen a production-order list of DT eps. Do you know where I can get a copy?

      When I get to "Don't Give Up the Ship," I'm planning to write a rigorous defense of DUCKTALES being not a continuation, but an adaptation of Barks stories. We know this as fans. But I think the purists tend to forget that. This is a different universe where Scrooge (as you explained) has not had much association with Donald or the Nephews.

      If anything, they're picking up where the DONALD DUCK shorts left off. Sort of.

      Very smart move on the part of the DT team, I think. Too much baggage trying to continue Barks.

      Looking forward to your retrospective, Chris! Take care!


    2. Pete,

      Jeff Lenburg's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANIMATED SERIES has a production-order list, and some of the DT production materials that I've seen over the years have the same list.


  5. Pete and Chris:

    I guess not spending a lifetime reading Barks comics might make you more charitable regarding certain character voices. I’ll never think that a “correct” voice for Gyro.

    On the plus-side for Hal Smith was his voice for Flintheart Glomgold!

    That was better than I could have imagined! I never even thought of him as a fellow Scot, at the time. Nice touch!


    1. Yeah, that's all it is, Joe. I came to Barks after-DT. I think you're right, though, especially when you read the earlier (chunkier) Gyro appearances. Your description of him in the previous reply certainly fits that Gyro and would call for more of a Gazoo voice. The later Barks Gyros might give some wiggle room for a more bumpkin-ish interpretation (perhaps the Gyro back-up stories).

      Did you have any other misgivings about character voices? I know some people REALLY object to the Beagles' treatment.

      Yes, Hal Smith's Flinty was brilliant. What a great counterpoint to Scrooge.

      Still. Isn't it a testament to the talent behind the DT voice cast that we can have this debate? It's not that these guys did a bad job at all. It's that we disagree with their interpretation.

      That alone says something...

    2. Pete,

      It would have been tough to handle the DT Beagles WITHOUT using different voices for the different characters. Even "Sport Goofy in Soccermania," which used the identical Beagles of the comics, gave the B-Boys different voices. I think that most people's objection to the DT B-Boys lies in the distinct CHARACTERIZATIONS that accompanied those voices... and some did work better than others.


  6. That’s exactly it, Pete! Attaching voices to long-running comic-book characters can be a tricky business – and there’s no way you can please everyone.

    It’s not as if any of them are “bad voices”… just not always what you’d expect after a lifetime of their dialogue echoing in your mind’s ear.

    Magica and (especially) Gyro fell short. Gladstone was not arrogant enough. Pete was just right. (…And would get better still in the “Mouseworks / House of Mouse Version”). Scrooge and the nephews were perfect, and Glomgold exceeded my wildest dreams.

    The Phantom Blot was an interesting case. His DuckTales voice was perfect for his portrayal on that show – but not at all for Gottfredson. YET, go read Gold Key’s Phantom Blot # 2, where he goes on about how great a western bad man he can be, and the DT voice works THERE too! The “Mouseworks / House of Mouse Version” is better applied to Gottfredson – and works better still in the “Boom! Version”, where he’s more egotistical and bombastic – but not the over-the-top DT version.

    No one could be all that critical of Launchpad’s voice, because there was no personal standard set by years of individualized comics reading. It was what it was – and it was great!

    Even the Beagle Boys were fine with me… because they WERE NOT the “Barks-Grinning-Clone-Beagles”, nor were they the “Strobl /Lockman-Alternately-Brutish-and-Pathetic-Beagles”.

    THESE Beagles had not appeared before, therefore there was no vocal expectation attached to them.

    It’s no different with the DC Animated Series. Like Glomgold, Ra’s Al Ghul was also better than I ever imagined – and Lobo was different than I’d “heard”, but was WONDERFUL, nonetheless!

    Batman, by either Conroy or Bader, and Superman, by either Daly or Newbern, were as perfect as could be. Same for Clancy Brown’s Luthor! I can’t really think of a DC Voice that fell more than slightly short. They were almost always right-on!

    Anyone wanna guess what Groo might sound like?

    1. Great rundown, Joe! Thanks for taking the time to write it!

      I would also add Bruce Greenwood to the list of great Batman Animated voices, and I didn't mind Rino Romano as a younger Batman.

      Christian Bale...well, he is what he is, and I'm f'ing stoked for July 20. I'll be plying my body with tons of coffee for two days straight just to see the midnight showing of that movie.

      I agree with you about the Blot. Man, do I love the sixties comic series. The crossovers. The campiness. It's solidly sixties. And Paul Murry's art is at its best.

      Groo...Groo...Groo...maybe a Frank Welker-type voice? Not exactly Bubba...but a rougher, gruffer, more prehistoric voice. Where are my Groos when I need to study them?! Ten hours and thousands of miles away, that's where!

  7. Pete, Joe, Chris, and all:

    Beautiful job, Pete! Yours and Chris' retrospectives will go a long way to "fix" DuckTales' presence on the Internet.

    My lasting impression of this episode has been dominated by the tight plotting (as opposed to "plot", I'd suggest) and the "fast and furious" pacing. But revisiting it via your overview, I kind of cringed, thinking, "Oh, yeesh, it revolved around the old 'body switch' mishaps motif? Yikes..." But in its execution -- again, due to the "tightness" and business that you were attuned to -- it's a solid, likable effort.

    As you know, like you, I was a child when DuckTales premiered. I was watching it on Day One, and it led me to discovering Barks and duck comics in general. I grew up loving Barks and DuckTales ... but the more time has passed, I find myself more and more feeling like what I imagine older, longtime Barks fans felt when DuckTales arrived on the scene. Particularly, Magica's Russian accent and Glomgold being Scottish gradually has sat less and less well with me(*). Because I was exposed to Magica and Glomgold (and several other of Barks' original characters) through the show, when reading the comics, my brain has always reflexively tried to "hear" Magica's and Glomgold's dialogue in their TV voices, even though it never quite works! But I agree with you that Foray's performance as Magica was great. As was Hal Smith's as Glomgold, even. If only the show's creative team had made more of an effort to be faithful to the comics, and worked with the same voice actors to achieve that end while still giving a great performance.

    (*) And I now consider Magica's super-villain "Fortress" and the whole "Mr. Poe" thing are absurd frivolities. Same with the "Magica One", which is just plain ugly!

    I may come off as though I'm bashing the series. But though I find faults with it that I once doesn't, it will always be important to me, and I will always defend what I feel are its good points. I'm very glad you're doing this retrospective (and I've got to make a point to plug it on my blog!), this was a fine inaugural entry, and as it proceeds, I'll have your back!

    -- Ryan

    1. Ryan,

      I can follow your logic re: the changes in Magica's voice and environs -- there's something charming about the "shack on the slopes of Vesuvius" that the "Fortress" of DT just can't match -- but what's your objection to Glomgold being Scottish?


    2. Chris,

      On the third page of "The Second-Richest Duck", as Scrooge learns of Glomgold's existence from a newspaper article, Scrooge's thought balloon relays what he's reading: "Flintheart Glomgold, the fabulous South African mine owner..."

      I just see having Glomgold be of Scottish descent was a hokey attempt at making him "Nega-Scrooge". :)

      -- Ryan

  8. Great inaugural post, Pete; it has me looking forward eagerly to the rest of the series. As to the voice debate, put me in the column that likes Hal Smith's Gyro voice, and actually thinks it's suited to the Barks character. Barks' Gyro can be stubborn and conceited at times, but he never comes off as pompous or "fussy" to me. He's still a "regular guy" in many respects (in some Barks stories we see him socializing with Donald in friendly fashion--witness the end of "Capn' Blight's Mystery Ship" where he asks Don to go fishing with him). Thus, I see Smith's absent-minded but slightly rustic-sounding voice as a perfect fit for the character--and he does work a fussy, flustered element into the voice from time to time (as when he beats Scrooge to the umpteenth destruction of the control board in "Where No Duck Has Gone Before.")

    As for Magica, I enjoy Foray's voice in the part very much, although I do agree a more Italian accent would have been nice. Foray could do Italian, easily--seek out her hilarious turn as Lucretia Borgia in one of Jay Ward's "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" episodes. I think that the producers opted to have her use the Natasha voice because of the ongoing popularity of Bullwinkle; I also wonder if Ma Beagle was created specifically to give Foray another running character to voice.

    Speaking of Bullwinkle, is that a Beagle Boy version of him in that frame-grab of Mrs. Beakley's magical mashups? I've always thought so, and also thought that the big purple dragon is an outsize version of Epcot's Figment.