By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The future is doomed if Duck Dodgers has anything to say about it. Abandoned into a cryogenic stasis for an unknown reason and later discovered in the 24½ Century by the meticulous Dr. Ignatius Q Hi, the only one to blame is but himself. All the tomfoolery that Dodgers engages in this future world could have resulted in seeing him permanently put in the freezer forever, but the people in this era must be extremely patient and forgiving. And fans of this series can finally watch the second season set, Duck Dodgers: Deep Space Duck, that’s set for July 23rd release.
A few people were fortunate to find this two-disc release defrosting a day early. And it is worth playing right away to recall all the idiocy that this duck represents. Eight years may seem long for those fans waiting for this video release (which began back in February) but the wait is certainly worth it. Hopefully the third season will not be too long in coming.
The original broadcast met with great reception. Throughout the thee year run, it poked fun at nearly everything that was current in pop culture and one particular character did a great job at breaking the fourth wall to add to some chuckle worthy moments. But eventually, this cartoon would run out of fresh ideas. From Iron Giant to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, there were numerous episodes that poked fun at moviedom, and there was an unspoken story-arc where Dodgers (voiced by Joe Alaskey) has this on-again off-again relationship with Tyr’ahnee, the Queen of Mars (Tia Carrere). From her perspective, she has this love-hate schism with the duck. The key episodes to watch here is “To Love a Duck,” “Deconstructing Dodgers” and “The Queen is Wild.”
One really good episode is when Dodgers dons the Green Lantern suit in season one. The title “The Green Loontern” says it all. The duck does a good job at playing hero until Hal Jordan tracks him down and requests the return of his costume. Although the reason why he left the ring in the suit is never explained, that oversight does not detract from the plotting of this fun episode.
When season two rolled into broadcast, the breakout gems are when certain episodes poked fun at Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode “Deathmatch Duck” pays homage to “Arena.” It had fun recasting the Tasmanian Devil as the angry adversary. Not to be forgotten, Star Trek Next Generation’s Michael Dorn has a recurring role voicing all the Martian Centurion Robots and fans may well notice this detail more than the consistent Star Trek theme throughout the series. Although the original cartoon was meant to parody Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Flash, the 2003 TV series made more references to Star Trek than with any other show.
A fair number of characters from the Warner Brothers cartoon lineup are re-imagined for the Dodger-verse. Yosemite Sam is very fitting as a Klingon-type of character and “The Fudd” is just a way out there episode with Elmer clones (aka The Borg). And fans of Tom Jones will find “Talent Show A-Go-Go” hilarious. This musician sings the title song with all the Vegas panache that is characteristic of him and the episode is a gas to see how the Martian Queen can swoon over the duck. Even she takes the stage to sing. Tia Carrere has a great voice and to follow her work in animation is a must. Other works she has done includes all of the North American Lilo & Stitch spinoff products.
Even Alaskey deserves praise for his work in the series. Not only does he provide the voice of Dodgers, he also pulls extra duty as Martian Commander X-2, Beaky Buzzard, Drake Darkstar, Hubie & Bertie, and Rocky & Muttley. His uncanny ability to recreate the voices Mel Blanc once performed is very notable.
Unfortunately, the only item that is not is in how Warner Brothers released the second volume. The first season included the original short, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, that started the craze. If volume two included the sequel, Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century, that would have put this release right on par with the first. Otherwise this release is very bare bones. The video encoding and color retention is very good. No visible video artifacting can be seen. However, the dvd menu interface is far too simplistic. It looks like something that a 5-year-old would produce. Although the lack of extras will not deter fans from owning the series, hopefully the release of the third season will treat fans to a better product. No Duck Dodgers collection is complete without the aforementioned title along with Tiny Toons follow-up to this saga, “Duck Dodgers Jr.”