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Darkwing Duck
Volume 2

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 612 minutes

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $34.99

Features: None

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital Stereo, French Stereo, English Subtitles, Scenes (5 per episode), Three-Disc Set

Released: August 7th, 2007

 

As a main staple on the beloved "The Disney Afternoon" cartoon block in the early 1990s, "Darkwing Duck" is a pretty inspired animated series: not only does it lampoon comic book archetypes and superheroes alike, but yes, the show is in fact a spin-off the mega-successful "Ducktales." (Launchpad McQuack is a featured player, and GizmoDuck pops up in a few episodes.) The show follows Darkwing Duck, who keeps the streets of St. Canard safe from such evil-doers as NegaDuck, Bushroot, Quackerjack, Megavolt and The Liquidator. But there's also a focus on Drake Mallard, Darkwing's everyday world identity. In addition to saving the world, our hero also juggles being a father to his adoptive daughter Gosalyn. Quite often actually, Gosalyn and her friend Honker join in on Darkwing's adventures. And you also have Launchpad as the sidekick. Bless that Disney synergy.

"Darkwing Duck" follows the formula of other popular Disney animated shows that came before it, namely "Chip n Dale's Rescue Rangers" and "Talespin": animal characters with their own personality traits and saving the world from your rogue's gallery of supervillains - complete with typical plotlines (something gets stolen, someone wants to take over the world, etc.). But whereas "Chip n Dale" thrived on the bickering brothers and slapstick comedy in its mysteries, and "Talespin" emphasized the drama in its action and adventure (despite its comedic sidekicks and that bumbling Baloo), "Darkwing Duck" is an evolution: the show is much looser in tone, and goes in all sorts of directions.

With that said, the fun of "Darkwing Duck" is that for a superhero show aimed at kids, it doesn't take itself too seriously. Clearly the behind-the-scenes talent had a love of comics, and that's all reflected in the show: there are a good number of allusions and downright mockery of the superhero genre - a decent amount of which I am sure will be familiar to younger viewers, maybe even more currently given the explosion of comic book based movies at the multiplex. You have your over-the-top villains, array of gadgets and vehicles, secret identities... the list goes on. But the show isn't mean-spirited, but rather, kind of a loving tribute to the genre.

But the series does even go deeper, as taking a page from "Tiny Toon Adventures" (which debuted about a year before "Darkwing"), there are some pretty droll parodies and references that mock contemporary pop culture. These kinds of jokes will be sure to go over the heads of the kiddies, but will surely entertain older viewers or adults who watch it with their kids. These jokes aren't stuck from the early 90s, either - for example, Oprah will probably always be fair game. A highly amusing episode that showcases the show's tone on this set is "The Secret Origins Of Darkwing Duck." Not only does it parody the "Superman" origin story, but the show's creators poke fun at themselves.

But what might be lost in all that "Darkwing Duck" is mainly noted for is that the series did have a bit of a heart in. Darkwing is indeed a family man - and his love of his child, and his willingness to protect her, is often show and explored somewhat thoroughly the series. No, this isn't Bergman when it comes to exploring the dynamics of parental-child relationships, but the show can have a sweet touch - something you don't always think of for a series like this. Then again, I'm sure kids couldn't have cared less about Darkwing being a single dad (let alone him dating Morgana) - just like they couldn't care less about Kit realizing he had an adoptive father in Baloo on "Tailspin."

This second volume of "Darkwing Duck" collects another 27 episodes of the series, that originally aired during the fall of 1991. For you nostalgic buffs who want to re-live the glory of The Disney Afternoon, or introduce the show to a new generation of viewers, this will probably be a hard set for you to ignore.

 

All 27 episodes of "Darkwing Duck" on this set are presented in 1.33:1 full screen, just as they aired on television. The episodes are in more-than-decent shape, as the only real flaws on the transfers are that the prints used are a bit dirty (with some specks and blemishes), the image quality is a bit on the soft side and there's a bit of noise. Otherwise, everything looks pretty nice: detail is strong, there isn't any artifacting or edge enhancement, and while the colors don't come off as spectacular vibrant, their saturation is pretty solid overall. Given that some of Disney's other animated TV titles from the late 1980s/early 1990s have looked a lot less flattering on DVD, this should be pretty pleasing to all audiences - just don't expect perfection.

 

All the episodes also include Dolby Digital stereo tracks. The dynamic range is pretty limited, but the tracks do sound pretty good: fidelity is rather high, and everything sounds clean and remarkably crisp. The show is pretty action-packed, but unfortunately, the sound effects don't really stand out here. Nonetheless, these are fine straightforward mixes that suit the show well, and don't take away any of the enjoyment. (I get the feeling if Disney did spring for 5.1 remixes, they would go toward the artificial side.)

French audio tracks and English subtitles are also included.

 

No extras (boo), unless you count the standard Disney sneak peeks on the first disc.

 

"Darkwing Duck" is still an entertaining show for kids and older viewers, and has stood the test of time pretty impressively. In fact, given the current overdrive and popularity of superheroes in pop culture and how the series can be considered an anagram of comic book lore, it just might be more relevant today. There are no supplements unfortunately, but the episodes look and sound more than decent, so if you're itching to re-visit the show or introduce it to a newer generation, don't have any qualms in picking this set up.