Disney's DuckTales, Volume 2 (1987 - DVD)

The reason I started with watching Volume 2 of DuckTales instead of Volume 1 first is because for some reason, the five-part mini-series (or pilot episode) that serves as the introduction, explaining why Donald Duck's nephews went to live with Scrooge McDuck, is on Volume 2, and I wanted to start from the beginning.

Anyway, as any child of the 1980s can tell you, this cartoon is extraordinarily iconic of the era. Ask us to think of an 80s cartoon with a lot of adventure, excitement, humor, memorable characters, and a wildly catchy theme song, and DuckTales will be one of the first responses. But has it stood the test of time?

I will say that DuckTales is first and foremost a kid's show. There are some jokes and references for adults (I love the meta-jokes involving Donald's incomprehensible speech), but you can tell it's mostly intended for kids. But at least it's intelligent kids' entertainment and has some elements that are rather unusual - such as a main hero who exhibits traits that aren't necessarily considered "desirable" - Scrooge is miserly, greedy, stubborn, trash-talks his enemies (and sometimes even his friends), and is prone to flipping out in the most bizarre ways, and yet the writing always favors him in the end no matter what. Also unusual is how, rather than being preachy as many cartoons would be, the writing will often take the nephews' point of view in situations that aren't beneficial to them. The main example is when Scrooge obtains a magic harp that always tells him when someone is lying and the nephews want to get rid of it.

If you generally don't like cartoons, I doubt this show would change your mind. But if you love cartoons, it's hard to think of many from the era (maybe even many at all) that are better than this one. My only real gripe is that episodes that focus on Webby (a female child duck who wears a pink dress and bows presumably added to give young girls a character to latch onto) tend to feel aimed at an even lower target audience than usual.

Rating: 4/5

Transformers Energon: The Battle For Energon (2004 - DVD)

This is a DVD with the first four episodes of the Transformers Energon cartoon series on it. While I thought the TF Wiki's article on this show was freakin' hilarious, you cannot truly appreciate just how awful it is without seeing it for yourself. The beginning starts out with a little bit of promise of a Transformers storyline with episode-to-episode continuity, but holy moly, does it ever drop the ball faster than Times Square on New Year's Eve!

Right off the bat, you might notice the complexity of the character artwork, which doesn't come without problems - the first is that hardly anything is animated at all. Optimus Prime's faceplate isn't even animated when he talks, so he almost never moves. Unless a stock animation is used, robots pop instantly from one form to the other when they transform, not at all like the older shows. Nowhere does this become more painfully obvious then when we're introduced to Alpha Q - a Quintesson-like character who has multiple faces - none of which are animated at all! The second problem with the art style is that the blockiness of the character designs makes fight scenes confusing, and the characters run like Alex Kidd.

One of the main characters is a human teenager named Kicker who is the perfect example of a fanfictiony "Canon Sue", - he's angsty, has magical powers that make him more special than anyone else, no one really "understands" him, and he's more the main character than anyone else, despite not being a Transformer. Yeah, Spike was a major character in the G1 series, but Optimus Prime was still the main hero. Even worse is that Energon's "Ironhide" is also an angsty teenager-type personality who vies for the spotlight, as though one of these types of characters wasn't more than enough.

And about that storyline continuity? Four episodes in and nothing much has happened. Terrorcons are sent from somewhere to attack things. Autobots fight and win. That's it. For four episodes.

And WTF is up with this kinky "Superlink" shit?? Yes, I know the G1 series had combiners like Devastator and Bruticus, etc., but the characters that formed them didn't say bizarre things like, "You have to synchronize your breathing with mine!" If that isn't a crazy euphemism for robot sex, I don't know what is.

Rating: 1/5



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