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Final Thoughts on Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars

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Bucky O’Hare raced onto television screens in September of 1991.

Another series is in the bag as the past 13 weeks have covered 90s relic Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. As evidenced by my posting on the toy line by Boss Fight Studio as well as other pieces of Bucky media, this show has a special place in my heart. It was something I loved intensely as only a child can for a short duration that then broke my heart, but I got over it because for kids most things are short term. I found something else to obsess over and didn’t think about Bucky O’Hare much until I reached adulthood when suddenly looking back on childhood things held new meaning.

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The animation is sloppy and careless, such as with this scene in which Dogstar is mistakenly included as part of Bucky’s infiltration team when he’s actually piloting the ship.

I won’t lie to you all and say that Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars is a great television series. I’m not even sure I can say it’s a great children’s show. It does have things going for it, and then it doesn’t. It certainly suffered from a small budget, which isn’t a surprise as the property wasn’t exactly tried and true nor was it backed by a major studio. Those putting up the dollars to make the show likely viewed it as a toy commercial primarily with the hope it would find a footing so more money could be made off of it via other merchandise. Had the show arrived in the 80s it would have largely fit in with other shows on television, but for a 1991 show it was rather shoddy looking. The animation is choppy, there’s numerous visual errors, and few sequences that seemed to attempt anything truly artistic. The classic cartoon where a lavish intro serves as a red herring for what’s to follow.

In addition to the rather poor visual fidelity, the budget is further constrained in the sound department. A small cast of voice actors was forced to shoulder the load. When a new character shows up there wasn’t a thought to getting a guest voice actor (or if there was at the time of recording it was abandoned before release) so get used to a lot of characters sounding the same. This isn’t a knock on the cast, all of which I thought did a good job with the scripts provided, but a short-coming nonetheless. The music also suffers in the same manner. Doug Katsaros handled the music, including the memorable opening and closing number, and was apparently only hired to write and arrange about five tracks which are recycled through every episode. I like the music in the show and consider it perhaps the show’s greatest attribute, but it certainly was becoming repetitive by season’s end.

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Willy’s interactions with bullies in the early episodes are among the lowest points for the show.

Those are the show’s most obvious flaws production-wise. Serving as both a strength and weakness is the show’s writing. There are some early sequences, namely anything involving Willy DuWitt’s time on Earth, that are dreadful. Just pandering, talking down to the audience kind of stuff. The show also had pacing problems, particularly early on, where the episodes tried to cover too many things and never had a chance to breathe. The end of the first episode is supposed to be stressful so I don’t fault the writing there, but there were other episodes where plot points were basically glossed-over or the end felt rushed. The show is happy to use Willy’s genius as a deus ex machina to get the gang out of trouble on many occasions which probably won’t entertain an adult, but kids may have been more forgiving. I know for me personally as a kid characters like Willy and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles annoyed me a bit with how they could seemingly invent their way out of any problem, but I don’t know if I was the exception or the norm.

Another aspect of the show that works, but also doesn’t, is the nature in which Willy was approached. He’s clearly meant to be the audience stand-in. As more of this universe is unveiled, we experience it alongside Willy. Whenever the show takes us to another world, we experience that world via Willy who has to learn about the cat people on Jenny’s world and learn how to deal with pirates in the Dead-Eye episode. It’s the type of approach that probably sounds good on paper, but in practice it’s not as successful. Willy just isn’t interesting, and having almost every episode center around him in some way harms the show. The only episode I actually felt this approach worked was the finale, and that’s because the crew was hiding something from Willy and thereby hiding it from the viewer as well.

Otherwise, the writing for Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars could be really ambitious and even better than the average slop thrown at children in 1991. The first three episodes are serialized and even the fourth fits into that as well. For the rest of the season, the show often reflects back on past events and there’s a feeling of continuity throughout, for the most part. Networks were loathe to attempt this sort of thing with kids as many just don’t respect the intelligence of the audience. Serialized story-telling isn’t necessary for every show, but it is rewarding for viewers in the right setting and that’s true of adults and kids. It’s why I found the show riveting as a child, and I believed there were more stakes here than was the case with the other shows I watched.

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Mimi LaFloo was an excellent addition to the show, I just wish we saw more of her.

This show was also really good to its female characters. Females were often an afterthought for shows aimed at boys. At most, they were often someone who needed to be rescued. April O’Neil was the gold standard at this point, a character who was confident and fearless, but ultimately always ended up captured by Shredder. In this show, we have Jenny who is the second in command and a powerful telepath. When she gets captured in episode three, it’s in addition to Bucky and Dead-Eye. It’s she who takes charge in her own episode to save her people, and in the final episode she gets captured on purpose as part of a master plan. The other female is Mimi LaFloo, a character determined to save herself and the other slaves who isn’t going to wait around for a hero. She becomes a captain herself, though we only get to see her in this role in one episode. The only negative is that these two characters are quite “catty” towards each other which feels too stereotypical. The most frequently used writer on the show is a female, Christy Marx, who wrote or co-wrote both episodes featuring Mimi so this may have been a contribution on her part or she was instructed to put these two at odds with each other. That aside, it’s cool to see the females in a heroic role and equally cool that a woman got to write them and I think it’s something that should be talked about as part of the show’s legacy.

The show also can be funny, and it’s not the sort of stupid humor I was accustomed to seeing in action shows. The show did tone down on the political humor with the obtuse and budget conscious S.P.A.C.E. bureaucrats. Some of it was retained, but I’m not surprised that Willy wasn’t made to sign-up for company healthcare before going on his first mission. Even the incompetent villains manage to remain funny throughout the season. Perhaps some of that is due to it only lasting 13 episodes, but at least the bumbling Air Marshall had yet to ware out his welcome.

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The villains are predictable, but also often amusing.

I largely view Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars as a flawed series, but still worth watching. It’s definitely worth watching for kids of 1991 as there wasn’t much better on TV as far as action cartoons were concerned. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty dumb and The Real Ghostbusters was well past its prime. The Pirates of Dark Water might have been the best contemporary for the show, but I find Bucky O’Hare to be more interesting. Come 1992 the television landscape for this genre would be forever changed with Batman and X-Men, but for a brief period of time, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars was at least in the conversation for best children’s action adventure program. It’s a shame the show isn’t readily available on DVD or at least streaming somewhere. I suppose it’s never too late, but it definitely doesn’t feel like that is something that is going to change anytime soon.

With my final thoughts out-of-the-way, I felt it would make sense to close the book on this series with a ranking of the 13 episodes. Let’s start with the worst:

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The only thing “On the Blink” has going for it are the scenes shared by Al Negator and the Air Marshall.

13. On the Blink – the Blinky episode on the koala planet is my least favorite. It feels inconsequential, and is, and has a lame resolution. It also was the first episode to really look poor. It does score points for showing Al Negator and the Air Marshall in golf attire.

12. The Warriors – Kamikaze Kamo would have made for a good action figure, but as a character he’s pretty annoying. I like that the episode gave us a new villain in Sly Leezard, and seeing the Air Marshall fired was amusing, but it’s a pretty ugly episode that didn’t do much to further the overall narrative of season one.

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This episode is just awful to look at.

11. Corsair Canards – This episode is all right, and the overall plot is solid, though some of the execution is a bit off. Mostly, it’s ranked this low because it is absolutely the low point in terms of animation. So many errors and just plain ugly sequences. With some polish, this could have been one of the better episodes.

10. Bye Bye Berserker Baboon – Bruiser’s homeworld is surprisingly low key, but at least there’s some Toad ingenuity on display here. Plus, the Terror Toad looks pretty cool. The baboons just get pretty annoying though and Bucky’s Bugs Bunny impression felt really off for this show.

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Al Negator, perhaps second only to Toadborg in the villain rankings, debuts in “A Fistful of Simoleans”

9. A Fistful of Simoleans – Now the list gets a bit tricky. I’ll put episode 2 here as it’s a bit slow and yet also over-stuffed. Al Negator is introduced and Bucky’s naivety is on display, though the message of the episode is kind of that racism can be okay? Basically, Bucky should have known not to trust Al because of his species, which is pretty shitty, but he’s also part of a fictional race of crocodiles so I guess it’s possible that they are all greedy, shifty, pieces of crap. I don’t think it was malicious on the part of the writers, but it comes off weird.

8. The Kreation Konspiracy – The plot for this episode is pretty cool, and I like the added Toad lore. Really, what knocks this one down a few pegs is the resolution with Willy converting a planet into a giant ape. And yet, the actual ending is possibly the best ending of any episode of the show as it’s genuinely funny, if rushed. At least Blinky got to do something to make up for the lackluster “On the Blink” episode.

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It was Toadborg’s time to shine in this one.

7. The Artificers of Aldebaran – This episode helped clarify how Jenny and her kind get their powers, even if it was pretty crazy given it involved a moon-sized demon in outer space. Mostly though, I rank this one here because I love how ruthless Toadborg is when negotiating with Jenny. He’s such a good villain and I feel like similar villains are rarely allowed to be this nasty in children’s shows.

6. Komplex Caper – This is just a fun action-heavy episode. The plot is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on television and works well in this show which is full of that stuff via Toad TV gags. We get to see Bucky take the fight to Komplex and also Dogstar’s crew gets a moment to shine. The only real negative for me watching as an adult is how the Toad fleet is weakened. In the first few episodes, Bucky and his crew couldn’t possibly hope to go toe to toe with so many enemies, but Dogstar’s crew seems unphased. Bonus points go to the humorous confrontation between Dead-Eye and the Toad Master Spy.

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“War of the Warts” introduced us to Bucky O’Hare and his crew.

5. War of the Warts – The debut episode is very lore heavy, but it’s necessary to establish the world. Really, the only parts I don’t like are Willy’s experiences on Earth dealing with bullies who will thankfully not make it out of Episode 3. This is also the episode that “killed” Bruce forever creating stakes kid-me never knew existed in cartoons.

4. The Search for Bruce – The episode that brought Bruce back, albeit as a ghost of some sort. It does a good job of showing a character, in this case Bruiser, actually experience grief which is something “War of the Warts” didn’t have time to explore. It’s a bit sad, but there’s also some fun stuff in the middle as well as the show’s most violent sequence. The only real drag is the constant references to bananas by the two baboons. I get it, they love bananas, I don’t need the constant reminder.

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The finale even finds time for the unheralded to get a moment, though maybe not a “shining” moment as it were for Digger.

3. The Taking of Pilot Jenny – The series finale does its job. While it has a few warts, namely with how Komplex is finally defeated, it’s largely a satisfying conclusion to the first season. Bucky gets to play hero and the mammals pull off an inventive scheme. Past plot points are revisited and the whole thing is just very satisfying. That last scene is still able to hit me in the feels, cheesy as it may be.

2. The Good, the Bad and the Warty – The conclusion to the first arch brings about the show’s first action-heavy episode. We get to see Bucky and his crew captured by the Toads and forced to escape. During which we see Willy’s ingenuity and Jenny’s impressive powers. It’s also our first real look at Toadborg and what he’s capable of and makes for an entertaining episode. There’s some more junk with Willy on Earth, but at least it also marks the end of his conflict with the bullies, something that felt really tacked on to make the show more “relatable” to its audience. The show in general features too much Willy, but at least he ditched the Earth problems for the most part.

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A debut for Mimi plus a dramatic and heroic moment from Bucky contribute to make “Home, Swampy Home” my favorite of the bunch.

1. Home, Swampy Home –  I had a feeling this one would be my favorite and it remained so after all was said and done. It does have the one real strange sequence of Bucky meeting his off-camera mentor who had some really on-the-nose advice for the captain, but aside from that it’s pretty cool and a lot of fun. It showcases how the other hares idolize Bucky and view him as their Superman, in a way. He will save them, no questions asked. It also gives us Mimi LaFloo, who is a really interesting character for a 1991 cartoon aimed at boys. She’s an anti-princess, a female who isn’t going to wait around for someone to save her. She looks down on her fellow captives, the hares, because they’re just waiting for Bucky to save them while she intends to save herself. And while Bucky’s help is needed in the end, she’s rewarded for her efforts by being named captain of her own frigate. This was an era where pretty much every female cartoon character was just a damsel in distress, so seeing an empowered female character was pretty cool. Bucky’s dramatic reveal to Mimi and the hares is also my favorite moment from the show.

 

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Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Taking of Pilot Jenny”

img_3765Episode Number:  13

Original Air Date:  December 1, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Neal Adams, Peter Stone

First Appearance:  Komplex-2-Go, Cousin Jeffrey

After three months of blogging, we have arrived at the final episode of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. The show began aggressively, with a three-part story that also bled into several other episodes to follow before transitioning to a format of stand-alone episodes. Those episodes were utilized to flesh out the world and characters in the show, while this finale will largely return to plots from the earlier part of the season. While not every one of those stand-alone episodes felt entirely relevant, it was a solid approach to story-telling for a relatively short season of television. It might seem like nothing, but for children’s programming it’s fairly ambitious. Networks aren’t too fond of such methods. They think it’s easier to just present simple, concise stories. Missing an episode can be a burden on viewers, or so some would think. And if there are production delays on a particular episode that can pose a problem when something has to air out of order. X-Men encountered these problems just a year later allowing the network to mandate future seasons of that show abandon the serialized format of its first season. And while some still hold onto the belief that serialized story-telling does more harm than good, the incredible success of that show makes a case that it’s also what children want.

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Hopefully you remember what this thing is because it’s important to today’s episode.

Unfortunately for Bucky O’Hare, it did few favors here. Whether it hurt or helped is unknown, but what is known is that the show did not continue past this episode. This episode not only serves as a season finale, but also as a series finale. It’s unknown if the writers expected that outcome, but there is at least some finality here. To further add to the episode’s importance, the producers brought out the big guns. Comic artist Neal Adams co-wrote this one with Peter Stone. It’s the only writing credit for Adams on the show, though he probably has had input on it throughout the development process.

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The episode opens with Jenny and Blinky immediately running into trouble. Why isn’t it called “The Taking of Pilot Jenny and AFC Blinky”? Poor Blinky.

The finale begins with Jenny and Blinky piloting the Toad Croaker through an asteroid field. Jenny is making some daring maneuvers that appear to have the android unnerved. She assures him everything is fine, but they’re behind schedule and need to make up for lost time. Blinky isn’t the only nervous one as Bucky O’Hare radios for an update. She advises him to stop worrying as well but they soon run into trouble. Toads up ahead force Jenny to take evasive action. When she wonders why they don’t pursue Blinky points out the reason why. Up ahead are dozens of Double Bubbles waiting for them.

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Willy is met with bad news when he enters the Aniverse.

Willy DuWitt is at home looking rather bored. He says aloud to himself that he hasn’t seen Bucky and the others in days and tries contacting Jenny through the memory stone she gave him. When she doesn’t respond he gets worried and activates his photon accelerator. He enters through his door to find the Righteous Indignation rather quiet. He calls out to the others and eventually runs into Dead-Eye as he climbs down from the cockpit area. When Willy asks what’s going on he tells him “They got Jenny,” but he does it in such a manner that it sounds like he means she’s dead. Willy appears to get the meaning and he heads up to tell Bucky they have to get her back. Bucky agrees and he’s traced the Toads to a specific location:  Warren.

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The captured pilot. Blinky is allowed to just hang around.

The Righteous Indignation approaches the Toad Mothership which is surrounded by the entire Toad fleet. Toadborg speaks on behalf of the Toads to tell them they have their pilot (no one seems to care about Blinky) and he shows the confined Jenny on the video monitor. He threatens to “cybertize” her, or something, and I guess that means they intend to make her a cyborg. Bucky demands her release, but Toadborg wants to make a deal. One pilot for one climate converter. It would seem the Toads have wanted to reclaim the converter they lost to the mammals on Kinnear back in episode 4, but the hares hope to use that to restore the climate on their home planet of Warren which is still under Toad occupation. Willy insists Bucky would never make that trade and the writers use his explanation as a way to remind viewers of what Toadborg is talking about. To Willy’s surprise, Bucky agrees and he orders the ship to head for Kinnear. Willy tries to protest, but Bucky orders him to engineering. Willy tries reasoning with Dead-Eye once the two leave the cockpit area and Dead-Eye has a rather logical explanation for why Bucky is willing to deal:  there are multiple climate converters out there, but only one Jenny.

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Dead-Eye seems rather on edge for being on a friendly planet.

The crew arrive on Kinnear and Bucky heads inside to meet with the hares still there while the others wait on a bridge. While waiting, Bruiser enjoys a large bundle of purple bananas so apparently they grow in other places besides the planet his brother presently calls home. Willy thinks the hares will never agree to give up their lone climate converter, but Bucky emerges from the meeting with them and they’re all in agreement:  Bucky gets the converter. Willy is astounded as everyone heads back to the ship.

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Frix and Frax get a little taste of what Jenny is capable of.

On the Toad Mothership, Frix and Frax are enjoying taunting Jenny. They question if she actually believes that Toadborg will set her free once they make the trade and laugh at her when she indicates that she does. While the two howl with laughter, Jenny uses her psychic powers to control them. She has one slap the other and then return the gesture until Toadborg enters to break things up.

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Willy with the save!

The Righteous Indignation, along with the climate converter, enters the area and Willy asks Bruiser if he’s concerned about Bucky. It seems the captain hasn’t said a word since they left Kinnear and Willy is worried about him, but Bruiser just encourages him to have faith in their captain. Willy enters the cockpit area and speaks to Toadborg on behalf of the crew demanding the release of Jenny in exchange for the converter. In response, the Mothership fires on the Righteous Indignation striking Dead-Eye’s M.A.S.E.R. canons and knocking the duck from his seat. Willy is there to catch him and Dead-Eye compliments him on his reflexes, and justifiably since he went from the cockpit to the gunner position in seconds. A tractor beem then engulfs the Righteous Indignation and it’s pulled into the Toad Mothership.

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Captured again.

Aboard the Mothership, Bucky and the crew are lead into the same room as Jenny. Bruiser has his hands bound and a sack over his head, though they forgot to illustrate the sack in the establishing shot. Apparently that’s all that needs to happen to calm the other toads in his presence. How they actually got the restraints on him is not explained. As Toadborg celebrates his victory, he’s alerted that another mammal frigate has entered the picture. It’s the Indefatigable, and it has a message for Toadborg and that message comes from Captain Bucky O’Hare! It would seem he switched places with his cousin Jeffrey on Kinnear, which is why Bucky has been mute ever since and he also acquired a snazzy new space suit. They’re taking the fight to Warren, and it’s up to Toadborg to stop them. Toadborg is forced to summon a trio of spider-like androids (Tri-Bots) to serve as guards to watch the prisoners while he confers with Komplex. Before he leaves, Dead-Eye happily taunts Toadborg by relaying their plan to switch the climate converters and restore Warren’s natural climate. He then just runs from Toadborg and the whole sequence is rather amusing.

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Digger McSquint getting in on the action.

Aboard the Indefatigable, Rumble Bee and Digger McSquint get to have some dialogue of their own as they take up arms against the many Double Bubbles surrounding the Mothership. Rumble Bee fires from the customary gunner position while Digger has ports he can apparently shoot a rifle through. Dogstar pilots them to Warren and things get a bit confusing. They land on a climate converter and Bucky takes Dogstar’s crew with him leaving Dogstar aboard his ship. The climate converter appears to be in space, though establishing shots will make it look like it’s still on Warren, and Bucky and them emerge as if they’re floating in space.

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More Toad robots, nothing Jenny can’t handle.

Aboard the Toad Mothership, Bruiser has apparently grown sick of waiting around. He breaks his restraints and removes the bag on his head. He wants to squash toads, but the robots Toadborg left behind aren’t scared of him. They combine into a tower and blast Bruiser knocking him down taking out Dead-Eye and Jeffrey in the process. With those guys distracted, Jenny busts out her powers to destroy the Tri-Bots. She then urges everyone to follow her as they need to get back to the Righteous Indignation and retake the climate converter they launched from Kinnear, but before they can do that they need to sabotage this fleet.

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Even Blinky gets a moment to shine in this one.

They head for the command room and once there Bruiser peels back a piece of paneling and instructs Blinky to do his thing. There’s nothing behind the panel, leaving me to believe there should be circuitry of some kind. Blinky is able to seize control of the Toad Mothership’s many turrets and fires them at the surrounding Double Bubbles. The Toad pilots are shown to be both confused and reluctant to fire on their own Mothership. For some reaosn, the “K” emblem on their helmets has been replaced with a solid black oval. I’m guessing AKOM just got sick of drawing them.

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Komplex has a new trick to show off.

Toadborg is shown conferencing with Komplex. He’s forced to admit to mighty Komplex that he has been tricked by the mammals. He relays the mammal plan of switching the climate converter thus restoring Warren to its natural climate. Perhaps sick of Toad incompetence, Komplex tells Toadborg that it has a special surprise waiting for Bucky O’Hare and not to worry about the rabbit. We’re then shown a monitor aboard the climate converter with the Komplex visage upon it. The monitor removes itself from its housing and gathers up a bunch of stray parts to construct a body:  The Komplex-2-Go.

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Not wanting to be out done, Toadborg has a new trick as well.

Jenny leads the crew to the Righteous Indignation, Toadborg sees them and pursues. Jenny fires up the controls and the ship takes off, and so does Toadborg. Apparently he’s got some rockets of his own that we haven’t seen before and he blasts off after them. Frix and Frax see the mammal frigate heading for the exit and, fearing what Toadborg will do to them should they escape, they begin the door close sequence. Jenny calls down to Willy that she needs more power and he does as commanded. The ship barely squeaks by, but Toadborg gets caught in the closing doors. Frix and Frax are left to ponder if Toadborg knows it was them that closed the doors as he shouts to be set free. They decide to chance it that he did not, and leave him there. Jenny pilots the ship to the other climate converter and informs the others they need to get to Warren on the double – Bucky’s waiting for them!

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Time for Komplex to introduce itself to Bucky and…Dead-Eye?…Dogstar? Come on, AKOM…

Bucky leads Rumble Bee, Digger, and Wolf to the main hub of the climate converter. They intend to steal it, but will have an adversary they did not anticipate. As they get to work launching the converter from Warren, a gurney lifts up with Komplex-2-Go aboard it. It must have been waiting awhile for Bucky and decided to take a nap or something. The heroes are surprised to see this creation and are quick to take up arms against it. Komplex fires some missiles at Digger which destroy his gun and leave him looking comically charred. Komplex then targets Rumble Bee apparently damaging the android in the process. Wolf, climbing a tower-like structure, decides he’ll need to “take a hand.” He grabs some hanging wire and swings like a pirate calling out to Komplex a command to “Catch!” He tosses a spherical grenade which Komplex does indeed catch, only to have its arm blown off. Komplex then gives us the line of the season, “The filthy mammals blew off my arm!” The line reminds me of the famous Jack Nicholson line from Batman, “He took my balloons!” which amuses me since that film just turned 30.

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Wolf swinging into action!

It’s going to take more than that to take down Komplex. Bucky regroups with Digger and Rumble Bee and tells them they need more fire power. Rumble Bee agrees and changes modes in which he basically transforms into a turret. One blast from Rumble Bee like this is enough to knock Komplex down. Bucky then heads for the climate converter controls, which can be piloted like a ship. Bucky regains control of the converter, which has been flying around aimlessly since they launched it. He orders the other three to return to the Indefatigable. They try to talk him out of it but he says he needs to take this thing and destroy it. They then head out leaving Bucky to pilot the converter alone.

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And Komplex missing its arm.

The Indefatigable returns to the other climate converter where Jenny and the others await their arrival. Jenny has taken the pilot’s chair and orders Willy to join Dead-Eye below to learn how the thing functions. Bucky then appears in the stolen climate converter from Warren. As the two approach each other, Komplex begins to stir behind Bucky. Apparently it can self-repair, and as Bucky pilots the converter Komplex simply walks up behind him and blasts him. Unconscious, Komplex flings Bucky aside where he collapses in a heap.

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Dogstar and company have arrived. Nice to see Digger recovered.

Komplex uses the climate converter to shoot lightning bolts at the one piloted by the mammals. Under fire, Rumble Bee figures that Komplex must have taken out Bucky and retaken the converter in order for it to fire upon them. Jenny calls down to Willy that they need to return fire, but Willy claims he still needs a few minutes to figure things out. This is basically the first time Willy hasn’t been an instant genius with something. Since they don’t have two minutes, Jenny decides to take matters into her own hands. Commanding Dogstar to take over, she demonstrates another one of her special powers.

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It seems everyone has some new ability they want to show off today.

Jenny astral projects herself to the other converter. There she finds an unconscious Bucky. Initially, she tries to nudge him awake then admonishes herself for being a silly cat, she can’t touch anything in this ghost-like form. She then flits her fingers about and little colored lights flicker around them. I don’t know what they do, but it works and Bucky regains consciousness.

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Whatever Jenny did apparently worked.

Komplex turns around to regard the meddlesome mammal and fires away. Bucky admonishes Komplex for being too slow and bounds over it. From behind, Bucky can see a giant power supply feeding into Komplex via a simple wire. It didn’t appear to be in the machine prior to this moment, so this is quite convenient. Bucky simply rips the plug out and Komplex collapses.

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“I wonder what this will do?”

With Komplex dealt with, all that’s left is for Bucky to destroy the converter still laden with Toad programming. Willy helped get a start on that by getting the other converter to fire upon it and also create some sort of solar wind storm while Komplex still had control of it. Bucky places a detonator on the main console, then fastening on his space helmet, he takes off. As the device explodes, Bucky out runs the flames to safely arrive in space where the others can pick him up.

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Time for the heroic run away from disaster shot.

The new climate converter is then placed on Warren. As it’s being activated, there’s still the matter of the Toads on Warren to deal with. Harking back to “On the Blink,” the crew uses Bruiser once again to broadcast a message of violence towards the Toads. It gets picked up by the various monitors likely constantly tuned to Toad TV and has the desired effect. The Storm Toads flee the planet in terror leaving it once again toad free.

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It should be noted that Bucky never apologizes for keeping Willy in the dark.

Once reunited, it’s revealed to Willy that the whole thing was a setup. Jenny wanted to get captured so that they could switch out the climate converter on Kinnear with the one on Warren and restore the planet’s natural climate. They basically explained they knew they could outsmart the Toads. When Willy asks why they didn’t let him in on it, Bucky explains because the plan was already well underway when he arrived. They felt his sincerity would be an asset in getting the Toads to go along with the scheme so they ran with it. Willy is apparently fine with this, though I wouldn’t have blamed him for getting mad.

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Check out the happy rabbit family.

On Warren, the climate is restored thanks to the climate converter reprogrammed by the hares on Kinnear. The hare population is shown returning and a small family emerges from their spaceship for a look around. A little kid asks his dad if they can finally return home and his dad says they sure can, thanks to the members of S.P.A.C.E. and Captain Bucky O’Hare! We then get our requisite shot of the Righteous Indignation making a dramatic fly over and cut to the entire crew onboard with Bucky giving a wave to close out the series.

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And there goes the Righteous Indignation speeding out of my childhood.

And that’s how Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars ends. It’s a fitting and satisfying way to close out the season as it harkens back to the start. Bucky’s homeworld, Warren, is taken over and converted into a swamp by the Toads. The hares are then enslaved and put to work making another climate converter which Bucky is able to liberate. The hare scientists then convert the converter to their specifications, get rid of any pesky Komplex presence on it, and are able to use that to restore their planet by season’s end. It’s a nice through-line and makes me wonder if another one would have been established for a season two, but that was not to be.

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There’s some pretty odd visual blunders in this one. Someone obviously thought Digger was supposed to be Dead-Eye, even though a couple of arms are missing.

That may be a satisfying way for the season to be approached, though the episode itself is not without its problems. Willy is a bit annoying as he constantly questions Bucky throughout the episode. I think the audience is supposed to agree with his line of questioning, but I didn’t feel it. There’s some animation blunders as well, which we’ve come to expect from this show. In one shot aboard the climate converter, Digger McSquint is colored like Dead-Eye and then in another he is Dead-Eye. Dogstar also appears alongside that crew more than once further muddying things. It’s mostly par for the course, but I was hopeful the finale would be a little more polished.

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This ended up being the last shot of Toadborg in the series. How fitting.

A lot of the plot points in this episode are also quite convenient. Jenny has a power she’s never used which can awaken Bucky, and Komplex was felled by a simple power cord. Wouldn’t they have noticed that during the initial confrontation? Maybe they would have had it actually been drawn into any of those frames as opposed to just magically appearing when Bucky needed it to. Toadborg was also ultimately felled by a door, but also by Toad incompetence on the part of Frix and Frax. Though after the events of episode 3, you would think the Toads would know to keep their doors closed or maybe just empty the captured Righteous Indignation of fuel or whatever powers it. Toad Air Marshall is also no where to be found which is rather curious. I don’t know that I missed him, more just that I was surprised by his absence. Also absent is Pit Stop Pete who isn’t shown aboard the Indefatigable at all. And it would have been nice if the plan included the Screaming Mimi as well, just to get all three ships together for the first time.

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There’s still a lot to like about this one as a season finale. It brought together most of the show’s characters and even brought back Warren and the climate converter.

All in all though, this is a suitable way for the season to end. Had it been written as a series finale there may have been more finality to it. I don’t think we’re supposed to think Komplex has finally been defeated or anything, and obviously Toadborg will be just fine. Instead it was just an important, major, victory for the mammals and Bucky can rest easy knowing his home is back the way it used to be. It has imperfections as an episode (or should I say warts?), but they all do. I wanted this to be the best episode of the series, and it’s not, but it’s one of the better ones. I’ll reserve my final thoughts on the series for a follow-up post next week, but right now I mostly feel content with how the series ended.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “Bye Bye Berserker Baboon”

img_3742Episode Number:  12

Original Air Date:  November 24, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Roger Slifer

First Appearance:  Total Terror Toad, TJ, Mrs. B

If you were going to predict where episode 12 was going to take place, chances are you’d probably guess right. After all, we’ve been to Warren, home planet of Bucky O’Hare, Jenny’s home of Aldebaran, and we just saw Dead-Eye’s home planet of Canopis III and even saw the pirate ship he called home before joining up with Bucky back in “Corsair Canards.” That just leaves Blinky, who probably came from a factory, and Bruiser as the two characters who have yet to go home for an episode which is why this week’s episode, and penultimate one for the series, takes place on Beetlegeusia, home of the Beetlgeusian Berserker Baboons.

The baboons are actually tricky for the writers of the show. They seem to exist as a way for the heroes to escape the Toads quickly and easily and with minimal violence. The Toads are paralyzed with fear when they see a baboon and can only run. Only Toadborg can fight off that fear. As a result, the baboons get to live without fear of a Toad attack on their homeworld, but it’s also a wonder why there aren’t more fighting in The Toad Wars.

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The bad guys watching some of Bruiser’s greatest hits.

The episode opens on a Toad Mothership with Toadborg, Komplex, and the Air Marshall confronting that which plagues them:  baboons. They’re watching video from past episodes of Bruiser’s exploits, including a clip when he decapitated a Storm Toad in “The Search for Bruce.” Toadborg says he has developed a way for them to combat the baboons and turns his attention to a screening room. There a bunch of Storm Toads, as well as Frix who enjoys making faces at the one-way mirror, are expecting to see a movie, but instead are shown video of Bruiser. They panic and start piling up against the back wall. The Air Marshall is confused why Toadborg would bother with this demonstration, but he directs him to a second screening room. In this one, Storm Toads and Frax are all wearing goggles. When a video of Bruiser is shown they all start to laugh.

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Check out the fashionable new goggles.

The goggles Toadborg developed (or likely had a Toad scientist develop and he’s taking credit for it) make all baboons look like scrawny chimps. This should allow the Storm Toads to stand-up to the baboons, and since Bruiser seems to rarely carry a weapon, that might be all they need. Toadborg also informs Komplex that he’s developed some weapons that will aid their forces and allow them to invade Beetlegeusia. Komplex is pleased with this development. Toadborg then turns to the Air Marshall and gives him an assignment as well:  he’s to journey to the White Cliffs of Cahill to acquire a secret weapon. Air Marshall apparently knows what Toadborg is after and is terrified. He doesn’t want to go, but Komplex orders him to do as Toadborg commands.

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The goggles in action.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a scene on Earth, and here we are at Willy’s school. Susie is with him as he’s putting some books in his locker when another girl shows up. Her name is TJ, and she asks Willy if she can borrow his notes from class. Willy, clearly charmed by this girl, hands them over. Susie then scolds him telling him she’s just using his notes to cheat on the test. Willy doesn’t want to believe her, but sure enough during the test he sees TJ looking at his notes. After class, Susie confronts Willy and asks him if he saw and he plays dumb which only irritates Susie more. He returns home to his bedroom, and there he receives a “call” from Jenny. Normally this means bad news, but this time Jenny is contacting him to tell him they’re heading to Bruiser’s home where he’s to receive an award. She thought he might like to come along.

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It would appear Willy isn’t just into cats after all.

Willy enters the Righteous Indignation and heads right for the cockpit. There he spots a weird looking planet and Bruiser tells him it’s called Bog and is swarming with flies. He assumes the Toad’s would love to get their hands on it, but since it’s so close to Beetlegeusia they probably stay away. The ships head down to ground-level and Willy remarks how Bruiser’s world looks like a giant treehouse.

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This might be the Air Marshall’s least favorite task thus far.

On a snowy mountainside, the Air Marshall along with Frix and Frax are trying to find their way in a blizzard. They’re shaking with cold, but also probably fear, as they are looking for a “him” and not a “what,” indicating this Toad secret weapon is a living being. They stumble down a bluff and out of frame. The camera holds on this shot as we hear the trio encounter their target and it sounds like things aren’t going well. Air Marshall can be heard shouting to throw the meat as cartoonish beat-up sounds continue to play.

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Bruiser’s mom is so proud of him. Meanwhile, the marine on the left seems to be enjoying the view.

We’re taken to the ceremony in which Bruiser receives his medal. It’s banana-shaped. Bucky and the others then get to meet Bruiser’s mom, who is simply referred to as Mrs. B, who is overcome with emotion over her son’s award. Bruiser is then asked by the general if he wouldn’t mind serving as an instructor while he’s there and Bruiser is happy to help. Willy asks if he can come too and Bruiser says sure, suggesting Willy can handle the training he’s about to put these other baboons through. He asks Bucky if he wouldn’t mind escorting his mother home and Bucky obliges.

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Willy’s baboon yell.

Bruiser heads to a hut full of cadets. He starts into a typical drill sergeant routine which ends with him demonstrating the baboon yell, that “AYE-YOO-GAH” thing he’s so fond of. Bruiser demands the cadets return his yell and they give it a shot. It sounds awful prompting Bruiser to declare that even Willy could do better than that. Seeking to prove his point, he turns to Willy and commands him to give it a shot. Willy belts out a perfect yell (Bruiser’s voice actor Dale Wilson’s yell was dubbed in) to upstage the actual baboons.

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Willy’s attempt at fisticuffs starts promising, but doesn’t end well.

On Beetlegeusia, Storm Toads gather for their invasion. They can hear the yelling exercise and one toad seems nervous, but he’s told they can handle it. They apparently have no idea what planet they’re on or what they’re up against. With their goggles on, they storm into the training hut where Bruiser, Willy, and the cadets are and fire a series of gas canisters into it. Bruiser, thinking he can just scare them, does his usual routine, but it’s not working. The gas doesn’t seem to knock out the baboons, but it does appear to slow them down. The Storm Toads then fire nets at the stunned baboons and start dragging them out, remarking to each other they’re pretty heavy for a bunch of scrawny-looking wimps. Willy, unaffected by the gas, gets a bit violent and punches a Storm Toad right in the face. He tackles him, but the other Storm Toads then pile on him ultimately capturing him.

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Mrs. B is informed of what happened to her son. Considering she’s already lost one, this is probably pretty stressful for her.

Over at Mrs. B’s home, Bucky and the others are helping Bruiser’s mother gather bananas when they receive word of Bruiser’s capture. Bucky can hardly believe that the Toads would dare attack Beetlegeusia. More Storm Toads then enter the picture as they attack the various villages of Beetlegeusia. The inhabitants are shocked to see Toads attacking them, and they’re apparently not at all prepared. Most are farmers and counter with pitchforks and hoes and the Storm Toads have little issue with them.

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Well doesn’t this guy look fancy.

Bruiser and the others are taken to a Toad outpost where they’re all tossed in a cage. A slightly new character model is shown that’s basically a Storm Toad in something akin to an officer’s uniform. He enjoys talking down to his captors as he preens outside the cell. On the Toad Mothership, the Air Marshall has returned with his subordinates and a rather large cage. They look like they’ve been through hell, but he informs Toadborg that their mission was a success. A large, pink, arm is shown stretching out of from the colossal cage forcing nearby toads to take cover. Toadborg then breaks the Air Marshall’s heart by telling him the invasion is going so well they won’t need their secret weapon causing the Air Marshall to nearly faint.

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Even Blinky wants in on this.

On Beetlegeusia, Bucky O’Hare and his crew finally see the Storm Toads approaching the trees and they get involved. Utilizing their weaponry, they drive back the Storm Toads which are mostly armed with gas-canister guns and nets. Even Blinky is shown firing a pistol. This gets Toadborg’s attention and he’s irritated to see Bucky O’Hare and decides he will deploy the secret weapon after all:  the Total Terror Toad.

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The Terror Toad begins its rampage and for some reason Bruiser is there as well.

The giant cage is dropped onto Beetlegeusia right in front of Bucky and the gang. It immediately opens up and a giant, pink, toad emerges wielding a pair of over-sized hatchets. It’s a mindless, horrible, beast that even towers over a baboon and displays no fear of them as well. It rampages through the villages hacking down the trees that hold the homes of baboons causing total destruction. Bucky and the others try shooting at it and even kicking it, but nothing seems to phase the creature. Bucky them demonstrates that he shares a talent with Bugs Bunny by jumping into the ground and tunneling away, even going through the Terror Toad’s legs. Bucky then returns in the Righteous Indignation, but he flies away. The other baboons are shocked to see the once courageous Bucky O’Hare flee in fear.

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The tough guys have done their job, now Willy gets to science it up again.

At the holding cell, a Storm Toad gets too close to bruiser and he grabs him through the cage. His goggles pop off and he panics at the sight of a baboon, which just confuses his comrades. He opens fire on the cage, inadvertently freeing the captive baboons and Willy, who has now figured out what’s going on. He tells Bruiser and the others to go for the goggles, and as they start breaking them or yanking them off the Storm Toads continue to flip out and run away. Willy then inspects them and tells Bruiser he can create a device to reverse the polarity of the goggles (basically the same thing he did to take down the forcefield on the satellite in “The Komplex Caper”) and Bruiser is excited to get back to his mother.

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Well that isn’t where Jenny would like to be.

As the other baboons struggle with the Toads and the Terror Toad, Bruiser and Willy return armed with Willy’s new weapon. This boxy-looking gun may be ugly, but it’s effective, and soon the Storm Toads start fleeing in terror back to the Mothership via a classic tractor beem. That’s all fine and good, but the others still have the Terror Toad to contend with. It’s knocked out Dead-Eye, and now has Jenny in its clutches. Bucky then returns, this time on the Toad Croaker, and he’s got his own secret weapon. He begins pelting the Terror Toad with jars of flies (no, not Alice in Chains EPs) which shatter on impact. The Terror Toad reacts by dropping Jenny and trying to consume all of the flies that break out as Bucky keeps hitting him with more leading him towards the Toad Mothership’s tractor beem. He then tosses a knapsack apparently full of flies into the beem, and the Terror Toad goes after it. Aboard the ship, a Storm Toad sees the approaching Terror Toad and calls out to shut the bay door, but it’s too late. The Terror Toad rampages through the ship, and Toadborg demands that the Air Marshall deal with it as the Mothership flees Beetlegeusia.

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Bucky gets to be the hero this time, something he really hasn’t done in awhile.

On Beetlegeusia, the baboons apologize to Bucky for thinking he was a coward. Bucky explains he just needed to make a quick trip to Bog to gather some flies, thinking it was the only chance they had to lure the Terror Toad away. Willy is congratulated for his contribution by Bruiser, who seems to think the Toads are now more scared of them than ever. Bucky then makes a comment about the Toads having to face reality, which just so happens to line up with the earlier plot from Earth. Willy is once again at school and at his locker. TJ tries to get his notes once again, but this time Willy declines. TJ even offers to go to some dance with him, but Willy holds firm and TJ leaves. Susie then approaches and congratulates Willy for finally seeing reality for what it is. She then asks Willy if he’d like to go to the dance with her, and Willy is surprised as he thought she didn’t even like him. She corrects him, though while still remarking that he can “be a brain” sometimes, and the two walk off apparently with a date for the weekend.

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And the Toads now have a new problem.

“Bye Bye Berserker Baboon” is another late season episode of little consequence, a far cry from the earlier episodes which mostly related to each other in some fashion. It’s a clever plot, though it also points out how without fear the Toads would have little issue conquering their ultimate foe. The Berserker Baboons don’t seem to possess much technology, their primary weapons being their brawn and their bark, so if the Toads were to overcome their fear it would serve them well. It’s apparently a visual fear, not auditory or anything fancy, which is probably the easiest fear to overcome. It’s just a cartoon, but it sure seems like a minor obstacle. Maybe this episode would have served as a start for the Toads overcoming that fear had a season two happened.

As for the world itself, it’s not terribly interesting. A lot of farmland and tree houses. It basically looks like the world Bruce is trapped on. All of the baboons basically speak with the same voice, which gets a little annoying. There’s basically a male voice and a female voice. The credits being what they are, I don’t know if Dale Wilson voiced all of the males or not. He definitely didn’t voice the general who is clearly Garry Chalk. The female voice sounds different enough that it might be Margot Pinvidic imitating Wilson’s baboon dialect, or it could be Wilson using a higher voice.

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This maneuver by Bucky caught me by surprise, and it’s pretty lame.

The Total Terror Toad is a rather interesting creature. Is there a race of gigantic, berserker, toads out there or is he one of a kind? He is the most formidable physical adversary thus far, and if not for his limited brains, he might have taken out all of the heroes. I kept waiting for the planet Bog to enter the plot in some fashion, since it was pointed out early in the episode, and I suppose that was a suitable way for that to happen. The best way to deal with a beast is to go for its stomach. Maybe the Toads should try hurling bananas at Bruiser? It would have been interesting to see if the Terror Toad was utilized in future episodes. So often it seems when a powerful foe is introduced in a cartoon it’s only powerful for that debut episode, then the heroes dispatch of it rather easily. This show hasn’t really done that with Toadborg, though Toadborg also rarely places himself on the front lines, so maybe he would have remained a force to be reckoned with.

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This kid, man, always getting the ladies.

The Terror Toad is well-animated, and it could be his presence that helped make this episode look a little better than the average one. There’s still some awkward animation, as this show is terrible with running, and one obvious gaffe with Bruiser and the Terror Toad I pointed out. The animation of Bucky tunneling looks pretty bad as he just kind of disappears into the ground without it really looking disturbed. That sequence in general was rather dumb, and I wonder if the TV people came up with that on their own or if that’s something Larry Hama intended for Bucky to be able to do. It’s quite possibly the most cartoonish thing we’ve seen in this show. The episode also reuses the same baboon over and over, a stereotypical farmer in a straw hat. I wouldn’t have expected dozens of unique designs foe one episode, but there is one sequence that looks rather bad when the same guy keeps emerging from every home.

“Bye Bye Berserker Baboon” may seem small in the grand scheme, but largely I found the episode fine. I have no strong feelings for it one way or another. Even the scenes on Earth, something I hated about the earlier episodes, I felt indifferent towards. I suppose some episodes need to impart a clear message to the younger viewers and this was just one of those episodes. It at least looks good, relatively speaking, and at no point was I really bored or anything. I suppose Willy saving the day with some invention has definitely gotten old at this point, but in this case it didn’t bother me much because the obstacle to overcome was fairly simple. They could have just gone after the glasses, but Willy’s gun was just a quicker way to achieve the same goal. For a show that struggled with pacing early, that’s probably the right call. This is the penultimate episode though, which is somewhat sad. Next week we look at the series finale, “The Taking of Pilot Jenny” so hopefully it’s a good one.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Warriors”

img_3714Episode Number:  11

Original Air Date:  November 17, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  George Arthur Bloom

First Appearance:  Kamikaze Kamo, Sly Leezard

Reminding us that this show was created in the 90s, episode 11 brings us the requisite ninja episode. Likely owing to the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the rise in popularity of ninja characters in general. It wasn’t all TMNT, but ninjas felt like they were everywhere. And since young boys especially seemed to dig them (and what’s not to like – cool clothes, big swords, throwing stars, etc) they were often good guys rather than bad guys, which isn’t where you would typically expect a character that is essentially an assassin to reside.

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Are you ready for Kamikaze Kamo and Sly Leezard?

The cast of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars may have contained some bad ass characters, but it lacked ninjas. No longer! Enter Kamikaze Kamo (Garry Chalk), an old friend of Dead-Eye’s and fellow member of the four-armed duck race (which is referred to simply as the four-armed ducks, so apparently that’s their official name). Kamo dresses in an all black standard ninja costume that only reveals his eyes. Surprisingly, AKOM went through the trouble of animating his mouth movements beneath his mask so he actually looks relatively good. He’s got a neon green belt, which probably isn’t very stealthy, and his two lower arms are actually cybernetic so he’s a ninja-cyborg which just maximizes his coolness factor. And to top it off, he not only has a big katana on his back but a pair of white nunchaku as well. Now they’ve just gone too far.

Every ninja needs a mortal enemy, and for Kamikaze Kamo that enemy is Sly Leezard (Scott McNeil). Sly is a samurai and a member of a reptilian race from the planet Saurion. He dresses all in red and appears to lead a band of fellow samurai that all basically look exactly like him. Even though he’s a samurai, he’s a true bad guy out to take over the homeworld of Kamikaze Kamo and the four-armed ducks:  Canopis III. His race sounds like brutal conquerors as he explains he won’t be recognized as a true samurai until he conquers another world. He is a bit more developed than other one-shot characters we’ve seen on this show which helps to make him stand out.

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This can’t be Toadborg’s favorite assignment.

The episode opens on the planet Crystal where the Toads are forcing a race of beaver-people to mine (what else?) crystals. Toadborg is overseeing the mining at ground level while the Air Marshall is providing air support from a new fully functional Toad Mothership. We haven’t seen but a few shots of a Mothership since the original one was destroyed a while back so apparently the Toads are fully recovered from the events of the first three episodes. The Righteous Indignation bursts onto the scene and they’re here to free the beavers from Toad enslavement. An eager Dead-Eye is advised to flex his phalanges by Bucky who is always looking to expand the vocabulary of the viewing audience.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve seen one of these.

The Air Marshall is excited to see his old nemesis make an appearance. He commands the Toad fleet to perform the double-helix maneuver. Frix and Frax caution him because the maneuver is difficult to pull off, but the Air Marshall doesn’t care. He’s not just looking to take out Bucky, he wants to earn some style points while doing it. The Double Bubbles take off towards the Righteous Indignation and the ship loses its engines once again (it’s a piece of junk). They’re helpless as the Toads go into their maneuver which involves them elaborately circling the ship. Of course, the Toad ships collide and the whole thing is ruined. The ship is back up and running and Dead-Eye blasts Toadborg with the ship’s M.A.S.E.R. canons. Even that isn’t enough to stop him, but the distraction created by the Righteous Indignation allows the beavers to revolt and steel the Toad tanker they were loading the crystals on. They flee with a wave of thanks towards the Righteous Indignation which too flees the scene.

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The Air Marshall weeps over the loss of his medals.

Following his latest blunder, the Air Marshall is dressed-down by Komplex. A series of insults beginning with the prefix “in” are directed at the Air Marshall (inept, incompetent, etc.) by Komplex before the A.I. commands Toadborg to strip him of his beloved medals, all except one that is. That one lone remaining medal is intended to remind the Air Marshall of what he once had. Komplex banishes the Air Marshall from the premises and demotes him to a rank not specified. When Toadborg questions who will succeed him, Komplex suggests anyone and follows through on that proclamation by apparently promoting Frix and Frax to assume the position of Air Marshall. Air Marshall sadly exits the room, but since we have no idea what his actual name is, I’m going to just refer to him as Air Marshall despite the demotion.

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Where do you go when you get fired? The bar.

The Air Marshall winds up at some dive where he’s drinking some green water and bemoaning his fate. A sympathetic ear in the form of Sly Leezard indulges him. It would seem Sly has a problem too. If he wants to earn the respect of his peers and be considered a true samurai he needs to conquer a planet. He had set his sights on Canopis III, home of the four-armed ducks, and even devised a plan to use a series of satellites to evaporate the water on the planet’s surface which would render the ducks helpless, apparently. Sly even had a scientist lined-up to help him, but something happened and he basically suggests that he murdered the scientist instead. The Air Marshall is intrigued by this story though. Reasoning he could get back into Komplex’s good graces by conquering Canopis III himself, he mentions he knows of a scientist that may be able to help them:  Willy DuWitt.

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Sly knows how to travel in style.

Dead-Eye Duck and Willy are shown making repairs to the Righteous Indignation. They’re in some kind of external hangar on a space station and are just out in space. This seems dangerous, but it also is convenient for Sly and the Air Marshall who show up unannounced in Sly’s spaceship which looks like a lizard (lizards and toads apparently share similar philosophies on spaceship aesthetics). They’re able to effortlessly abduct Willy, and despite them being in space, Dead-Eye’s jump after him is limited by gravity. Dead-Eye heads inside to inform Bucky about Willy’s kidnapping, and that he has a lead. He was able to see Sly Leezard in the spaceship as well as the Air Marshall. He knows Sly and he also knows of someone who could help them. With the Righteous Indignation out of commission, Dead-Eye takes a spare spaceship just hanging around that only fits one person to seek out the aid of Kamikaze Kamo.

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It’s the latest craze:  Pirates vs Ninjas!

Dead-Eye arrives at a forest presumably on Canopis III. A legion of crimson-clad ducks drop in on him and he quickly puts his hands up to indicate he’s just here to see Kamikaze Kamo. Kamo approaches and recognizes him immediately. Before they can get to reminiscing, Dead-Eye informs Kamo he needs his help in tracking Sly Leezard down so save his buddy Willy. Kamo agrees to help and the two hop into Kamo’s goofy-looking duck spaceship and head for Saurion.

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Willy does not wish to help, but you know he’s going to.

At the base of Sly Leezard, Willy is being bullied into helping Sly complete his water-desolving satellites. Willy is unwilling to help him, but Sly tells him if he doesn’t then he’ll detonate a bomb he planted on the Righteous Indignation killing all aboard. He promises to release Willy when the job is done, and gives him his word as a samurai. Willy reluctantly agrees and gets to work.

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These are odds Kamikaze Kamo apparently enjoys.

Kamo and Dead-Eye arrive at Sly’s planet and disembark from Kamo’s spaceship. They continue on via hangglider which unnerves Dead-Eye somewhat. Apparently this race of duck does not fly. They land and are almost immediately set upon by Sly Leezard’s men. When Dead-Eye questions where’s the honor in ganging up on the two of them, Kamo reminds him that the odds are in their favor. He’s apparently a bad ass and whips out his nunchaku and starts taking out the enemies. Dead-Eye is impressed and whips out his pistols to help, but really it’s not needed as Kamo seems to have things under control. As the lizards flee, Kamo throws a ninja star at one and actually hits him in the tail with it which becomes lodged in his flesh (there’s no blood or anything, but still surprising). They interrogate this lone samurai to find out where Sly’s base is. Unfortunately, getting there will require scaling a mountain.

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Willy is some kind of genius, and yet he fell for the old candy-as-a-bomb-detonator trick.

Willy finishes the work on the satellites, and to no one’s surprise, is not set free. Willy gets a lesson on trusting others as he’s hauled off to a dungeon. Air Marshall is impressed with Sly’s ruthlessness and inquires about the detonator for the bomb on the Righteous Indignation. Sly pulls it out and tells him it’s just candy before tossing it to him. Sly apparently deals in lies. Air Marshall is even more delighted with Sly once he tastes the candy – cherry.

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Kamikaze Kamo is very image-conscious.

Dead-Eye and Kamikaze reach the mountain’s summit and find it’s open at the top. There they can look down into Sly’s lab before getting the drop on him. Sly Leezard is surprised, but angry, to see his mortal enemy Kamikaze Kamo and the two square-off. Dead-Eye is forced to deal with the stragglers. Kamo does some fancy moves with his nunchaku before finally removing the sword from his back to have a proper ninja fight. As the two battle, there’s some countdown going on in the background that will apparently ready the satellites. Air Marshall decides this is no place for him and takes off in one of Sly’s spaceships which the satellites have been loaded onto. He heads for Canopis III to oversee the deployment of the satellites.

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Sly threw his only weapon at Kamikaze, what a dope.

Kamo eventually gets the better of Sly disarming him in the process. With him at his mercy, Sly once again turns to his samurai code of honor to get Kamo to back off. Claiming he’s going to shut down the satellites, he instead activates them then laughs as Kamo futily tries to undo what’s been done. It apparently can’t be, and Sly flees. Seeing no sign of Willy, Dead-Eye contacts Bucky. The ship has been repaired and Bucky is just awaiting word from Dead-Eye on what’s going on. He instructs Bucky to head for Canopis III and fast.

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Everything is actually going according to plan for a change.

From space, the Air Marshall watches the satellites switch on. He laughs gleefully as they go to work sucking up the water from Canopis III. The plan has worked, and he openly wonders what rank Komplex will bestow upon him for helping to conquer the duck homeworld.

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Frix and Frax have done some stupid things, but nothing quite this stupid.

As the Righteous Indignation emerges from hyperspace, Frix and Frax are there in a Toad tanker hauling crystals. They were assigned to oversee the mining on Crystal and apparently they’ve gathered enough to fill a tanker. Frix sees the appearance of the mammal frigate as an opportunity to achieve something even the Air Marshall failed to do, while Frax reminds him they’re in a tanker which isn’t even armed. Frix doesn’t see the problem since their ship is ten times the size of the Righteous Indignation. Frax cautions him by reminding him of Air Marshall’s failed double-helix, but Frix orders the pilots to ram the ship. The Toad Tanker is detected by the Righteous Indignation’s sensors, and they easily avoid the attack. The tanker misses, smashing into a nearby asteroid or moon or something. Frix and Frax are immediately shown in an escape vessel openly hoping Komplex won’t ask about the cargo they just lost.

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Kamo can’t stop the satellites by simply pulling the lever again.

Bucky and the Righteous Indignation arrive at Canopis III and find that the satellites have been deployed and activated. With Bruiser behind the guns this time, they soon discover the satellites have a forcefield on them and can’t be destroyed. On Saurion, Dead-Eye and Kamo find Willy in a stalagmite prison and Dead-Eye blasts them out. He tells Willy what happened and Willy advises him not to worry because he built a fail-safe into the satellites. Then head back for Sly’s lab where Willy pulls out a remote he had stashed which, when activated, will cause the satellites to self-destruct. He activates it and Dead-Eye reaches out to Bucky for confirmation. The Air Marshall watches the satellites explode from the ship he commandeered and bemoans another failure. A Storm Toad is on the ship with him for some reason, which must be an animation mistake.

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Sly Leezard ready for his crowning achievement.

Dead-Eye, Willy, and Kamikaze Kamo head for the mountain top. Below them, Sly Leezard emerges with his men ready to lead the attack on Canopis III that will end with him crowned emperor. The good guys drop a net on him and haul him up to their level. They let him know his plan has failed and they vow to take him to Canopis III as a prisoner. Suddenly, a legion of other samurai lizards show up. They look more like Roman gladiators complete with gold underwear. The leader, dubbed Supreme Commander, demands to know what is going on, and the heroes explain that Sly broke his word as a samurai. This displeases the Commander, who demands that Sly be handed over to them. Sly cries out that he’d rather be a duck prisoner as they turn him over. The Supreme Commander then tells them to leave, and if they ever return to Saurion they can expect to be attacked. No one doubts this samurai’s word.

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Check out these dudes.

Having no where else to turn to, Air Marshall requests an audience with Komplex. He intends to grovel and beg for forgiveness in hopes of being reassigned. He says to himself he’d accept any demotion except to that of Storm Toad, but then backtracks and decides he’d even take that. As he enters a room for his conference, Komplex comes onto the various monitors and has surprising news:  the Air Marshall is having his rank restored and his first assignment is to return to Crystal. When Air Marshall asks what has become of Frix and Frax, Komplex lets him know that the two are waiting for him. We then cut to the two who are all alone mining for crystals unhappily. Frax pauses for an “I told you so” directed at Frix while Frix just tells him to shut up and get back to digging.

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You were so close Sly, so close.

“The Warriors” feels like a very unnecessary episode. It doesn’t provide additional backstory for any of the usual characters and is just a stand-alone story. It does somewhat address the ineffectiveness of Toad Air Marshall, but it also just returns everything to the status quo when all is said and done.

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I suppose it’s no big surprise to learn that the Air Marshall had his rank restored in the end.

The introduction of Kamikaze Kamo and Sly Leezard is welcomed since the roster of characters on this show is a bit thin. They fail to be more than just action figure ideas brought to life though. Well, I will say Sly is somewhat interesting even if he is just another version of Al Negator. Kamo though is downright annoying with his constant “Quack-quack-quack,” battle cry. Both guys also speak with bad, fake, Japanese accents. I’m not surprised Sunbow didn’t hire actual Japanese voice actors for the role, but they could have toned it down or something or just not done it. They don’t say anything offensive at least, though Sly does go with the cliché “Sayonara suckers” line.

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Likely the only hard labor these two have experienced.

With so few episodes remaining, it’s disappointing to get one so inconsequential as this. It’s not terrible, but it does feel like it’s not aiming particularly high. I probably liked this episode as a kid since it involved Dead-Eye teaming up with a ninja, but as an adult it feels like a toy commercial. New, neat looking characters and vehicles with no real stakes. I guess I should care about the planet of the ducks, but there’s no built-in attachment there to make me care. It’s also not a great-looking episode as the animation is quite choppy in the fight scenes. The showdown between Sly and Kamikaze is especially underwhelming, not that I expected greatness. No aspect of this episode marks a low point for the series, but it’s definitely not a highlight. Next week’s episode takes us to the home of the berserker baboons so hopefully that’s a bit more exciting than seeing Dead-Eye’s planet.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Artificers of Aldebaran”

img_3687Episode Number:  10

Original Air Date:  November 10, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx, Bridget McKenna

First Appearance:  Princess Felicia, High Artificer

Last week on Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars, we met the Corsair Canards and by doing so gained a little insight into Dead-Eye Duck’s past. This week, it’s all about Jenny and her home world of Aldebaran. We know it’s a world with a secret as Jenny has been forced to hide the extent of her powers from her comrades. Back in the episode “The Good, the Bad, and the Warty” we saw her telepathically confer with a character she referred to as Mother Aldebaran as she sought permission to use her powers in front of her friends to get them out of a potentially fatal situation. And even though not using her powers meant death, this superior did not really give her permission to go all out, but did suggest a maneuver she thought would go undetected that ended up working.

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This episode introduces Jenny’s apprentice, Princess Felicia.

In the comics, Dead-Eye refers to Jenny as a witch, though I don’t recall such terminology being utilized in this series. As far as we know, the Sisters of Aldebaran are a bunch of psychics – essentially a planet of Jean Greys. We’ll get more of an understanding in this episode on what goes on there, but there are still a lot of questions left unanswered. Interestingly, we don’t see a single male amongst their people so how they reproduce is a mystery (there is a shot of a female rocking a cradle so they do indeed reproduce somehow). It’s also a big planet, so maybe we just saw a tiny piece in which only females reside. I think it’s definitely safe to assume that only females possess these wondrous powers.

The episode begins with Jenny combating a droid of some kind. She’s jumping and flipping and doing all kinds of impressive things before destroying it with her powers. Nearby, Princess Felicia (presumably Margot Pinvidic. Cast info on this show isn’t great, but no women other than her appear in the credits so I’m left to assume she handles all of the female voices in this episode) is watching and is impressed with the abilities of Master Jenny. It seems Felicia is Jenny’s apprentice and Jenny has returned to give her some training as she nears an important milestone in her young life. It’s then we see the two turn to a training device that is apparently the source of their powers. It’s a little, greenish, ball of light that the two refer to as a Quark demon. Jenny releases it into the air and Felicia is supposed to try and corral it.

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It’s tea time with the High Artificer of Aldebaran.

Nearby, Bucky O’Hare and the others are enjoying tea with the High Artificer. She’s an older cat who is also the grandmother of Princess Felicia. She does not resemble the individual Jenny referred to as Mother Aldebaran back in episode 3, so either that’s a different character or they just decided to change the appearance of that character and give her a new name. As far as we’re lead to believe, the High Artificer is the one who runs the show.

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Willy encountering what powers Aldebaran sensors:  a Quark demon

The High Artificer thanks Bucky for bringing Jenny back to their world to train Felicia. Some interest in what they’re doing is expressed, but the High Artificer informs them she can’t reveal the nature of the training to outsiders. Willy is seated by what looks like a koi pond when the Quark demon comes over the wall and buzzes by his head. He’s startled, but the scientist within him is also really intrigued. It flies back over the wall to where Felicia’s training is taking place and Willy decides to investigate by scaling a nearby tree. When he reaches the apex he’s able to see Felicia using her powers to try and catch the little ball of light. It returns to Willy, causing him to fall from the tree over the wall.

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Felicia does not appear to be too impressed with Willy DuWitt.

Felicia is then able to snatch the Quark with her powers and return it to the containment vessel it came from while Jenny checks on Willy. He’s extremely apologetic, while Felicia seems accusatory towards him. Jenny vouches for Willy and thinks he meant no harm. Willy, perhaps not thinking things through, demonstrates he understands what he saw and realizes the little Quark is the source of their power and their Aldebaran sensors. Jenny tells Felicia she trusts him and that he won’t reveal their secrets. Felicia then receives some bad news from her master that she is not deemed ready to undertake her Soul Quest. With more practice though, Jenny is confident she’ll get there. Felicia is dismissive of her master’s concerns, and like most teenagers, is resistant to hearing any criticism.

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Electric Space Yam

Possibly nearby in space, a Toad ship has made an interesting discovery. A nearby nebula, that kind of looks like a giant space yam, contains an extraordinary amount of energy within it. Toadborg is in charge of this vessel, and he seems quite intrigued by this so-called Dark Heart Nebula. Whatever is in there is too much for their sensors to handle, but this just causes Toadborg to remember that Bucky O’Hare has an Aldebaran as part of his crew. Apparently, Aldebarans have a reputation for having incredibly powerful sensors, but due to their secrecy, this is obviously technology not available to the rest of the galaxy. Toadborg heads to his private chambers to search his memory banks for more info since he’s had a previous encounter with Jenny. Recalling his fights with her, he concludes he’ll need the aid of an Aldebaran to navigate this nebula.

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Teenagers…

With Felicia’s session complete, the High Artificer thanks Jenny for her help. She also thanks Bucky and the crew for taking the time to come out. As they leave, we pivot to Felicia. Dressed in a flight suit, she’s determined to undertake her quest whether or not Jenny thinks she’s ready. She hops into a sleek-looking spaceship and takes off, apparently unnoticed. This puts her in direct conflict with Toadborg’s ship. They’re in the area in search of an Aldebaran and it looks like they found one. They ensnare Felicia’s ship in a tractor beam and she immediately reaches out to her grandmother to inform her what happened. Her grandmother quickly reminds her of her obligation to protect their secrets by destroying all of the sensors in her ship. She does as she’s told as her ship is boarded by Storm Troopers.

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Mimi is back and as flirtatious as ever.

At a cafeteria (possibly on Genus, or just a random space station), the crew of the Righteous Indignation is getting some lunch. Bruiser wants banana everything and the writers apparently are still entertained by this bit. Jenny is back aboard the ship recalibrating the Aldebaran sensors on it and Bucky tells Willy no one is allowed onboard until she’s finished. Mimi LaFloo then pops in. She’s quite happy to see Bucky again and tells him she’s got something on her ship to show him as she pulls him away. Oh boy!

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Willy just can’t be defeated in a deabte, it would seem.

Willy and Blinky are outside the doors of the Righteous Indignation when Jenny is just about finishing up. Jenny receives word from the High Artificer about Felicia, and it falls on Jenny to attempt a rescue. Jenny makes the call to go alone, the problem is she’ll need to take Bucky’s ship. She orders Willy and Blinky off the ship, but Willy protests. While the two argue, Blinky appears to plant a device on the ship, likely some way to track it and Willy is able to convince Jenny to take him along since his door is on the ship.

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I’m tough on the show’s visuals at times, but this is a nice-looking still.

Aboard Toadborg’s ship, we get our required dose of Toad TV. It’s both a Charles Atlas parody and an Arnold Schwarzenegger one (Arnold Wartnegger). You know the one; a bully picks on a skinny kid at the beach. The twist with this one is that Wartnegger isn’t looking to pump you up, but just supply giant, bully-swatting, mallets. Surprisingly, we’re not experiencing Toad TV via Frix and Frax but actually via Felicia who is being tortured with it. She yawns indicating its effectiveness when an angry Toadborg barges in. He dismisses the tech administering the torture and then grabs Felicia and demands she take him into the Dark Heart Nebula.

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“Help me Obi…I mean Bucky…I mean just forget it. I’ll be back. Dinner’s in the fridge.”

At the space station, Bucky and Mimi are apparently done with their tryst and Blinky informs him what happened. Before she left, Jenny had Blinky record a message which he plays for Bucky. Mimi turns her nose up at “the cat” so apparently this rivalry is going to go both ways. Blinky tells Bucky about the tracking device, and he commends his android and declares they’re going after Jenny. As they all run down a corridor, Bucky stops in his tracks when he and the others realize they don’t have a ship. Mimi then strolls by and, somewhat reluctantly, tells them to come join her on her frigate.

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Toadborg is rather viscious in this episode and shrewd negotiator. He’s blossomed into a pretty fantastic villain.

Jenny and Willy then head out towards Felicia’s last known location and find Toadborg’s ship. Jenny, with Willy at Dead-Eye’s gunner position, demands the release of Felicia. Since the princess is onboard the ship, Toadborg knows she won’t actually fire upon him. They’re on video conference, and he demands she back off as he intends to have Felicia take him into the Dark Heart Nebula. When Felicia refers to Jenny as “Master,” Toadborg decides he’d rather have Jenny take him instead. For a brief moment, Toadborg gains eyeballs so we can see him “thinking” things through. Jenny agrees to take him as long as Felicia is unharmed. Toadborg tosses Felicia around, which really causes Jenny to get mad. He reminds her that he’s in control and dismisses her threats before terminating the transmission. That was actually a well-done and rather intense exchange.

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Toadborg needs Jenny to lead him through the nebula, or else he’d get lost forever. Felicia is his insurance that Jenny won’t betray him.

Jenny and Willy pilot the Toad Croaker into the nebula with Toadborg and Felicia following. Jenny tries to tell Toadborg this is a bad idea but he won’t hear it. As they enter the nebula they reach its center, a large grayish sphere. Toadborg can sense incredible power and is eager to taste it. Jenny tries to discourage him once more, but he tosses Felicia to shut her up. As Willy and Jenny fly off after Felicia, Toadborg shoots out this two-pronged device (insert robot penis joke here) that jabs into the gray sphere. As electricity courses through him, the sphere begins to move. It actually opens revealing that the outer layer we were looking at were actually giant bat-like wings. The sphere is a towering, naked, demon and it apparently does not like what Toadborg is doing to it. It swats the cyborg away, but it’s awake and angry and apparently not willing to go quietly.

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Now this is unexpected.

After securing Felicia, Jenny has Willy pilot the Croaker back towards this demonic being. She bombards it with her powers, but she’s going to need some help. She mentally reaches out to her Aldebaran sisters requesting they lend her their power. We get cuts of various cat-people in their day-to-day lives pausing to lend their aid to their sister. It’s very “Spirit Bomb” like. It’s not enough though, and Jenny continues to ask for more. Part of the problem seems to be one holdout:  Felicia.

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The ancient father of all demons does not go down without a fight.

Felicia gets knocked from the croaker as the ancient Quark tries to grab it. Jenny has to use her powers to keep it from crushing them while calling out to Felicia for help. When Jenny convinces the young princess to lend them her powers it’s suddenly enough and the demon goes to back to sleep. Felicia is astounded, yet confused, at what happened (aren’t we all?). Jenny tells her this is the lesson she must learn, that it’s the sum of the whole that can make a difference and sometimes it comes down to just one person making a choice. Felicia takes this in, then is instructed by Jenny to do what she came here for. Thousands of little Quark demons are flitting about and Felicia basically sucks some into the crystal on her tiara. This apparently ends her quest.

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And he’s back to sleep. No harm no foul, I guess.

The Screaming Mimi, with a new orange paint-job to make it resemble the other frigates in the United Animal Fleet, shows up and drives Toadborg’s ship away. Dead-Eye is shown behind the canon, only it looks like they forgot to actually illustrate canon controls. It would also seem Mimi doesn’t have a crew of her own if Bucky’s gunner is taking the lead. The Toad ship, under heavy fire, has a reading on Toadborg’s location and retreats to rescue its captain. Aboard the Toad ship, Toadborg has been collected. He awakens with no memory of what happened. When the navigator inquires about the nebula, Toadborg snaps and says his instruments must have been wrong about it. He orders him to fix them as he stumbles off to his private quarters, presumably. Jenny then returns to the Righteous Indignation as Bucky’s voice comes over her radio. He’s curt, and orders her to pilot the ship to Aldebaran while Willy assures Jenny it’s all right and that Bucky will understand why she took the ship.

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And it’s ceremony time, which means more Star Wars reminders.

On Aldebaran, a ceremony officially welcoming Princess Felicia into the sisterhood is underway. She’s awarded this title by her grandmother, while Jenny, Willy, and Bucky look on. Felicia turns to Willy to thank him and even gives him a little peck on the cheek. What’s with this kid and cats? With that concluded, Jenny then turns to Bucky to apologize for making off with his ship. He says nothing, causing her to ramble on and on. Eventually she implores him to say something and he responds with a simple “How about ‘Welcome back?'” Jenny happily embraces him and a wink from Bucky ushers us out of the episode.

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Cats really seem to love this kid.

Well, that was certainly a trip. I did not expect the source of Jenny’s powers to essentially be demonic in nature. It’s certainly imaginative, and I can see why they would want to keep that a secret. Jenny and Felicia have a solid dynamic and it’s hard not to get a Star Wars vibe from their training. The return of Toadborg is welcomed as well as he is probably my favorite antagonist at this point. This is the first episode to not feature the Air Marshall and just the second to not feature Komplex. Komplex was also missing from last week’s episode making me wish the order of episodes had been mixed up a bit. Komplex was partially taken down in “The Komplex Caper” but appeared to be back up and running in the following episode “The Search for Bruce.” Had that episode followed this one instead it would have been a nice piece of continuity to have Komplex out of action for two weeks. It’s not important in the grand scheme, but little touches like that are some of the things I appreciate most.

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Really the only blatant visual gaffe, though it’s a pretty big one with Dead-Eye firing invisible canons.

Thankfully, this episode is much improved in the animation department over last week’s episode. I was fearful the shoddy work found in “Corsair Canards” was a harbinger of things to come, but this is a nice rebound. There’s still some errors and ugly shots, but nothing on the level of the previous episode. Toadborg looks plenty menacing when he’s on-screen, so  perhaps it’s partly due to his presence that more resources were devoted to this one. He’s the most complex character model in the show, so it would make sense if more time was allocated to episodes he’s featured in, which is something I hadn’t considered previously. If that’s true well then that’s good news for us as the final three episodes all feature Toadborg in some capacity.

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This is the last appearance of Mimi in this show.

Since there are only three episodes left, it probably is not surprising then to hear that the Aldebaran characters won’t be seen again. This is also the final appearance of Mimi LaFloo, so whatever conflict she and Jenny seem to have with each other will remain unresolved. Jenny seemed to just not like how forward Mimi is with Bucky, possibly feeling she’s slept her way to the top. Mimi, for her part, seems to simply view Jenny as a threat. It’s rather sad that the two most prominent females on the show are played that way. I’m also still unclear if Jenny harbors feelings for Bucky or something. The two keep things professional, giving that embrace a little extra meaning at the end of the episode.

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Bucky getting cheeky with the camera.

Even with the weird demon thing, “The Artificers of Aldebaran” is a good episode of the show. I like seeing where Jenny came from, though their world could have been more interesting to look at. Felicia could have been a really annoying character, but instead she comes across as naive more than anything and perhaps a bit too confident in herself. And if my guess is correct and voice actress Margot Pinvidic did indeed perform all of the female voices in this episode, then major props go to her. She manages to come up with four mostly distinct voices for Jenny, Mimi, Felicia, and High Artificer so I wanted to give her a special acknowledgement. Hopefully the remaining three episodes are similar to this in quality. Next week’s episode, “The Warriors,” is one I have little recollection of outside of the debut of more new characters so I’m eager to check it out. See you then.


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “Corsair Canards”

img_3661Episode Number:  9

Original Air Date:  November 3, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Captain Lanelle, Redjack, Blackbeak, Grebb, Harman

Episode 9 introduces the viewer to Dead-Eye’s past:  The Corsair Canards. The Canards are a group of space pirates. They basically look like typical pirates and even pilot spaceships that look like a stereotypical pirate ship, masts and all which seems unnecessary for a spaceship. Interestingly, they all appear to be ducks and in particular the same species of four-armed duck that Dead-Eye belongs to. Are all ducks in the Aniverse pirates? It would seem so. Even though they’re thieving pirates, the Corsair Canards are potential allies for the United Animal Fleet against the Toads and that’s what’s going to draw them into our story.

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They should call this thing the SS Pirate Bait.

The episode opens on a luxury space cruiser. It’s either like a cruise liner in our world, or just an upscale restaurant. The only important thing about it is that it attracts wealthy patrons, so naturally it makes sense that it would be a target for pirates. The Corsair Canards do not disappoint and they hit it. Captain Lanelle (I assume she is voiced by Margot Pinvidic since she’s done all of the female voices up to this point) leads a band of armed and flamboyantly dressed pirates. Her eyes are drawn to a group off to the side and it’s pretty obvious one of the patrons is Bucky O’Hare in drag. When Bucky calls out to them to not hurt them, Lanelle informs us that the Corsair Canards never harm any of their victims unless they first try do them harm. How noble.

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Dressing in drag is something that comes natural to animated rabbits.

A crotchety old duck starts interjecting into the conversation, and it’s Dead-Eye in disguise. He soon goes on the offensive, knocking the guns away from one duck to rest in his own hands. Bucky then reveals himself and the rest of the crew appears, including Willy who pops out of a piano dual-wielding some red guns (notable because he’s only carried a water pistol thus far). Lanelle is surprised to see Bucky O’Hare, but he informs them they’re not here to arrest the pirates. They want the help of the pirates in dealing with the Toad menace, and in return, Bucky promises to get the UAF Security Council to forgive the transgressions of the pirates which gets Lanelle’s attention.

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Some new faces on the council, Grebb and Harman.

Bucky and the pirates head to Genus to see if he can make such a promise come true. The Secretary General from the earlier season episodes is no where to be found, in his place is Harman (Gary Chalk), a walrus who seems receptive to Bucky’s proposal. Someone who is not is Grebb (Scott McNeil, I think), a jackal who does not appear to have much confidence in Captain O’Hare and even less in the pirates. He’ll only go along with Bucky’s proposal if there is an amendment in the agreement with the Canards that allows them to back out should any of them return to their pirating ways. Harman is agreeable to that inclusion and the rest of the council is in agreement as well. For the pirates though, they’ve only agreed to propose it at their next clan meeting. In order to go along with it, they’ll need a majority of pirates to agree to it.

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It’s in this episode we learn Willy has a real thing for pirates.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, Willy is cheerily chatting up Dead-Eye about pirates. It would seem he’s quite interested in the life of a pirate and he’s excited about seeing a real pirate meeting. Dead-Eye has to burst his bubble a bit to inform him they’re only heading to a pre-meeting gathering, and that from there only the pirates will be heading to the actual meeting which is held in secret. Willy’s a little disappointed, but he’s at least still looking forward to the initial gathering.

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Willy gets a taste of what real pirates drink. And I always thought they drank rum, what a fool I was.

That initial gathering is held on Rigel VII at what is basically a pirate dive bar. There Willy is introduced to the preferred drink of pirates, ground swamp grass served in swamp water. He’s not a fan. He also sees how the pirates like to play games of skill, which Dead-Eye informs him is their way of training their young. There’s even a little diaper-clad toddler duck running around to drive that point home. Willy then introduces Dead-Eye to a game he likes to play:  Frisbee. Of course, he just calls it a flying disc and demonstrates his considerable skill with the toy. When the toddler from before steps on a switch that activates a knife-toss game, Willy uses the disc to swat the flying knife away which was heading right for the kid. All of the pirates are impressed, especially Dead-Eye.

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Blackbeak, Captain Lanelle (who’s catching flies this whole scene, apparently), and Redjack.

During this scene we’re also introduced to Redjack. He’s a pirate after the heart of Captain Lanelle, but she’s got eyes for Dead-Eye. He needs a way to impress her, and by standing up to Dead-Eye he thinks he has a shot.

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It’s Redjack who views Dead-Eye as a rival. Dead-Eye though, doesn’t seem interested.

As the pirates get ready to depart, Dead-Eye huddles-up with a few others then returns from the huddle to tell Willy he’s been invited to attend thanks to demonstrating the wonders of his flying disc. Dead-Eye thinks they could use it as part of their arsenal and apparently he was able to convince the others as well. Willy is happy to tag-along, and all of the pirate ships head for the location. It’s basically a giant domed stadium in the middle of space, and there the deal extended by the UAF is shared with the gathering. Redjack emerges as a voice opposed to the deal citing they can’t abandon their pirating ways. Dead-Eye tries to reason with him, but he’s just doing what Redjack hoped he would. He challenges Dead-Eye to a duel. Should he win, the deal is rejected, if Dead-Eye wins then it’s accepted. Dead-Eye insists this isn’t the proper way to hash out such an important agreement, but Redjack won’t back down. Dead-Eye relents, and the other pirates immediately take cover while Willy protests. He thinks they’re going to duel to the death, but Lanelle tells him to not be so stupid – pirates would never intentionally harm one another. Instead, a robotic device emerges from the center of the arena. It’s got several appendages on it and they all fire skeet discs that Dead-Eye and Redjack are expected to shoot.

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I think this is my favorite Toad ship thus far.

Aboard a rather interesting looking Toad ship, the Air Marshall is seated on a bridge and entertaining another old friend – Al Negator. Al has information concerning the Corsair Canards and the courtship going on between the pirates and UAF. He also reveals he has a spy in the Security Council and Air Marshall is expected to promote him to Dictator of Genus once they take over the planet. Air Marshall is dismissive of the promise, but quite alarmed at the thought of the Corsair Canards joining up with the UAF. Al Negator assures him he has a way to make sure that doesn’t happen. Curiously, there’s no mention of payment by Al so what he’s gaining isn’t explicitly stated, but maybe at this point the writers felt we didn’t need to be reminded about Al’s motivation and we can just assume he’s being paid for information.

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Fake Dead-Eye in action. How a Toad is able to manage a four-armed costume is never explained.

The same luxury spaceship from earlier is then shown (it might even be a repeat shot) only this time it’s Harman and Grebb that’s aboard. They’re having dinner and Grebb is concerned because they’re in the same area of space where Bucky was able to lure out the Corsair Canards. Harman tries to assuage his concerns, but then he’s made to look like a fool when the ship is boarded by the Canards once again. Surprisingly, this band of pirates is being led by Dead-Eye, and he demands they hand over their valuables. Grebb and Harman are shocked and appalled by the presence of Dead-Eye, but do as he commands.

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Dogstar feeling a bit smug thanks to his fancy new duds.

Bucky and his crew are then called before the Security Council. Harman and Grebb inform Bucky of what happened, and he refuses to believe that Dead-Eye could have done that. He promises to investigate, but refuses to arrest his gunner. Grebb is angered by Bucky’s disobedience and summons Commander Dogstar. Dogstar has a slightly redesigned costume that seems rather regal, though it will be really inconsistent (more on that later) throughout the episode. It’s basically just more blue and looks less like a metal onesie. Dogstar agrees to the order, but informs Grebb he’ll be performing his duty under protest.

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Four-armed wrestling.

Bucky returns to the tavern where the pirates gathered and tries to get info out of the bartender concerning the location of the pirates. He literally says nothing and Jenny is forced to use her powers to contact Willy. She relays what has happened and implores Willy to return with Dead-Eye. As for him, he and Redjack tied the shooting game and were forced to arm wrestle, which they tied at that as well. Willy pulls Dead-Eye aside and tells him they need to get back, but Dead-Eye can’t forfeit his contest with Redjack because it’s too important. When he asks how he can get this over with quickly, Willy says he has an idea, only the pirates won’t accept a suggestion from an outside. Captain Lanelle, apparently eavesdropping, steps in to say they’ll accept a proposal from her and Willy tells her his idea.

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This shit is embarassing.

Lanelle says the next competition will utilize Willy’s flying disc. Dead-Eye and Redjack stand opposite her for a fairly long shot that’s notable because both Lanelle and Dead-Eye are horribly discolored with orange faces. This seems as good a time as any to say that this episode is a new low in terms of visuals. It looks like shit, to put it bluntly. Lots of discolored characters and ugly framing. Dogstar’s uniform will change practically from shot to shot when he’s around. It’s embarrassing.

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Frisbee making friends out of enemies.

The ducks agree to the duel of Frisbee. Blackbeak will hold a mug of swamp water in each hand and Redjack and Dead-Eye are charged with knocking one out of his hands. First one to do so wins. Both characters fail in their first attempt and Redjack fails his second as well, hitting Blackbeak by mistake which he does not enjoy. Dead-Eye’s second shot is the one that wins it, and Redjack concedes with no animosity towards him marking a rather abrupt turn. They then head back to the dive on Rigel VII. There they regroup with Bucky to find out what’s happened in their absence. Dogstar is there as well to make his arrest, but informs Bucky that if he has a plan to catch the real culprits he’ll go along with it in lieu of making an immediate arrest.

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What the heck is going on with Jenny in this shot?

Back aboard the apparent same luxury ship, everyone is back in their disguises waiting for another pirate attack. Sure enough, “Dead-Eye” shows up with his group of Corsair Canards to hit the same ship again (I’m getting some real Roberto from Futurama vibes from this crew). One of the pirates is drawn to a golden sculpture of a berserker baboon which he’s apparently frightened by. Dead-Eye assures him it’s just a statue and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. When he gives it a pat, it starts to crack and out comes Bruiser. He apprehends the fake pirates quite easily.

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And now Jenny again, in the correct costume this time.

We’re then shown Al Negator, who’s on a pirate ship waiting for the return of his pirates. When Dead-Eye pops in with the Canards it’s the real Dead-Eye, and Al is forced to put his hands up. He swats an offguard Dead-Eye with his tail and pulls his own gun on them, but Lanelle and the real Canards swing in like the dashing buccaneers they are to take him down. Back on the cruise ship, Bruiser rips the Dead-Eye costume apart to reveal a toad underneath, who is oddly dressed in a fine suit. The other pirates are toads as well, and the only thing remaining is to return to the council to share their findings. Before they do so though, Al Negator proposes they make a deal. In exchange for his freedom, he’ll tell Bucky about his spy on the council. Bucky agrees to a deal before hearing Al’s evidence, and once he does he reluctantly sticks to his word and let him go. It seems he could have just taken the info and kept Al Negator, but whatever. The others protest a bit, but when Bucky says he knows about a traitor they apparently shut up.

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Al Negator only looks out for one guy: Al Negator.

In front of the Security Council, Bucky shows off the toads they captured in order to clear the Corsair Canards and Dead-Eye. Grebb is practically angered by this development, but then shocked and afraid when he hears from Bucky there’s a spy among them. Bucky then commands his crew to capture the traitor, and we’re supposed to think he means Grebb, but it’s actually Harman who is trying to run away. He’s cornered, and then his head actually opens to reveal he’s an android being piloted by a small newt. The newt then takes off and he’s so fast that no one can get a hand on him. Redjack then pulls out his Frisbee, which Willy had gifted him after the competition had ended, and whips it at the fleeing newt knocking him out. Captain Lanelle is impressed, and she now apparently has the hots for Redjack. Willy apologizes to Dead-Eye for playing a role in him losing his girl, but he says she was never his girl. Plus he has no time for a lass. Lanelle then invites Willy to join the Corsair Canards. He’s tempted and turns to Dead-Eye for advice who simply reminds him that he voluntarily left the pirate life to join a higher cause with Bucky and his crew.

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Ever see a newt piloting a walrus?

Back aboard the Righteous Indignation, Bucky O’Hare enthusiastically informs the rest of the crew that it’s time to go croak some toads. Dead-Eye likes this, and Willy is shown right behind his gunner’s chair. You didn’t really think he would leave, right? They take off as the episode ends.

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Looks like Redjack got what he wanted out this one.

“Corsair Canards” is an interesting diversion episode. It gives us a peek at what Dead-Eye’s life was like before he joined up with Bucky O’Hare and it’s always nice to get a little back story on the normal characters. The whole pirate culture created by the show isn’t exactly inventive. It’s also careful to paint them in a more heroic light, as opposed to the classic pirates who rape and pillage. Obviously, Bucky can’t seek the help of murderers and it is interesting to see Bucky trying to recruit allies since the fleet he’s a part of is so woefully underfunded. The episode makes no attempt to fool the viewer into thinking Dead-Eye has flipped, given the arrangement of the scenes. It does use Grebb as a red-herring for the traitor, and in doing so it’s probably pretty successful with younger viewers. The newt reveal is fun and it makes me want to know more about the newt race in the Aniverse. Bucky letting Al Negator off the hook made little sense, but I guess someone felt it was important for Bucky to stay true to his word even when dealing with a criminal like Al. As for what he did with his freedom, we don’t know as this is his final appearance in the show.

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Willy and Dead-Eye bright eyed and ready to bond by killing some amphibians.

I alluded to it during the write-up, but this episode looks like trash. There are so many bad colorization parts and awkward pieces of animation. When the setting returns to the cruise ship for the final time, Jenny is even in the establishing shot even though she’s supposed to be in disguise and will be when next shown. There’s some real ugly images of Bucky where his face is scrunched and one instance of Lanelle speaking with some other pirates where her mouth is hanging open like she’s shocked for no reason. About the only positive I can give is that there are at least a lot of new character designs. The pirates, while cliché, look fine and interesting. I do like the newt and his Total Recall-like reveal. That’s about it though, and given how poor the previous episode looked, I’m a bit concerned it’s all downhill from here. Was the show already declared dead on arrival and the budget slashed during the latter stages of production? It’s also possible that more resources were simply devoted to the earlier episodes in hopes they’d hook viewers there and then coast. I’m hoping there is at least an uptick for the finale, but I’m not holding my breath either.

 


Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Search for Bruce”

img_3598Episode Number:  8

Original Air Date:  October 27, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Richard Merwin

First Appearance:  None

After several episodes that basically exist on their own, we have another episode that refers back to the events of the first one. This was an episode I was waiting for as a kid, though I obviously didn’t know if it would happen or not. Back in episode one, an attack by the Toads caused a malfunction with the proton accelerator of the Righteous Indignation. That malfunction claimed the life of chief engineer Bruce, who we would come to find out is the older brother of Bruiser who would join the crew in the next episode. Bruce’s demise was very much a cartoon one, where rather than actually die he was sucked into the photon accelerator itself. This had been telegraphed by Bruce mentioning the thing partially existed in another dimension. At the time, it was unknown what happened to him. Was he basically sucked into a black hole, which would kill him? Blinky remarked he had either gone off to another dimension or was indeed dead, but answers would have to wait.

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The band is back together in this one. Sort of.

The “death” of Bruce very much caught my attention as a young viewer. Prior to that event I had never seen a character die in a cartoon show. My only experience with death had been Bambi’s mother. Had I been a Transformers fan I probably would have seen the death of Optimus Prime in the Transformers movie, but for whatever reason that franchise never got its claws in me so I didn’t have that shared, traumatic, experience with many of my peers. Instead I had Bruce, and not being accustomed to seeing death in a show I held out hope he’d come back. Him being taken away like that added intrigue to the character. He didn’t really do much in that premiere episode so it wasn’t as if I had any attachment to him. Just the act of him being taken away was enough to create an attachment.

This episode is basically the return of Bruce, but in an unconventional sense. Still, considering this is the first time the baboon brothers will share screen time, this episode has the potential to be the most captivating one yet. This show hasn’t really played up the mushy stuff, as Dead-Eye would call it, and this is a chance to do so. How will Bruiser react to seeing his brother again? And what role will the Toads play in all of it?

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Bucky’s weird sideburns make drawing him at this angle pretty awkward.

The episode opens with the heroes in a familiar situation:  under heavy Toad pursuit. To try and shake the numerous Double Bubbles on their tail, Bucky pulls a Han Solo and steers the Righteous Indignation into an asteroid field. Dead-Eye then, laughing maniacally all the while, makes it tougher on their pursuers by blasting as many asteroids as he can sending debris flying past them. Numerous Toad Double Bubbles meet their end at the hands of the asteroid belt and interestingly not a single ejection is seen. Bucky’s fancy flying is taking a toll on the engines as Blinky gets knocked around, but they still have enough power for a hyper space jump. As they exit the asteroids and ready the warp drive, one of the Double Bubbles fires a tracking device. One of the claws rockets forward and is able to attach itself to the rear of the Righteous Indignation just before it enters hyper space.

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Someone needs to give Blinky a gun.

The crew gathers in the cockpit to celebrate another successful escape from Toad forces. All except Blinky, who is still down in the engine room. Suddenly, a trio of Storm Troopers materialize right inside in the engine room! Blinky tries to run, but ends up in the clutches of the trio as they bang his head against the floor. During which, he adds another new catchphrase to go along with “Calamity and woe,” and that’s “Misery and wretchedness.” He is able to alert the others via what is apparently an intercom system, but I think someone missed the note because it just looks like a wall. The others race down there and Bruiser is particularly agitated to find Toads beating up on his little buddy. The Storm Troopers do what Storm Troopers often do and attempt to flee in panic.

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The Toads actually have a plan for once.

As the Toads back off, they demonstrate what terrible shots they are by failing to hit Bruiser with their gun-fire. As Bruiser closes in, another Toad calls out from above to Bucky. Three more apparently appeared in the cockpit and they have Jenny. One tells Bucky to order Bruiser to back-off, which is when Bruce appears. He’s dressed in some new armor with a primitive do-it-yourself vibe. Most curious though is that he appears to be intangible, real ghost-like. Bucky and Dead-Eye can hardly believe their eyes, but Bruce speaks and tells him not to worry.

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The latest in Toad technology.

On a metallic-looking moon not unlike the Toad home world, a strange device is in operation. Toad scientists man the controls while worker toads turn a large device in the center of the room that is apparently generating the power. It’s a transport device, and four more Storm Troopers are being readied in it. Suddenly, Bruce appears and his mere presence causes the Toads present to recoil in fear. He orders the scientists to “rip out them wires,” and they do as they’re told, causing all of the Toad forces on the Righteous Indignation to vanish.

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Fancy seeing you here, Bruce.

Bucky and the others are left puzzled by what just happened, but right now they need to get working on repairs. Jenny calls Willy, and we’re spared a scene of her interrupting him doing something menial in his world. His door just appears immediately and he comes aboard to help out. Meanwhile, the Air Marshall drags some white-coated scientists back to the scene of the ghost baboon demanding they get back to work. Bruce appears and everyone panics once more, including the Air Marshall who hides under a command console. Komplex then appears on a giant monitor and zaps the Air Marshall’s hiding placing with an electric bolt. The Air Marshall stumbles out with tales of ghost baboons and Komplex responds that it’s aware of this supposed ghost before saying there may be a way to utilize this unexpected development to their advantage. Bruce is shown looking on.

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Air Marshall is often incompetent, but at least in this episode his scenes are genuinely amusing.

On the Righteous Indignation, everyone is working on repairs while Jenny pilots the ship. She radios down to Bucky that a priority message from an unknown sender is trying to contact them. He instructs her to accept and heads for a monitor. On the other end is Bruce, only he doesn’t look like a ghost this time. he provides instructions on where he can be found. Bruiser is naturally overjoyed to see his “brudder,” but before they can get too excited the ghost version of Bruce appears once again. He warns them not to follow the instructions they just got, but before he can say more he’s practically mauled by his excited little brother causing both of them to disappear. This just further confuses Bucky, and citing no other lead to go off of, he decides to head to the obvious trap the fake Bruce provided.

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Bucky seems to love traps.

They head for Quadrant 15, and wouldn’t you know, the Righteous Indignation winds up surrounded by Toads. Quadrant 15 happens to be where the moon containing this new Toad device, the matter transporter, is located and for some reason Bucky doesn’t find the giant structure protruding from it curious. On that very moon, the Air Marshall is returning back to the scene of the ghost baboon attack very nervously. There’s no one around and he yells out to any ghost baboons hiding in there that he has Bucky O’Hare in a trap and if he doesn’t want him destroyed he better stop haunting the machinery. Bruce then appears, causing the Air Marshall to freak out and hight-tail it out of there. As he spins and runs, he collides with Bruiser practically knocking himself out. Bruiser and Bruce then agree they need to go help Bucky and the others.

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This episode does drive home how overpowered the berserker baboons are. Bruce can’t even touch them, he’s a living hologram, but that will be enough to get them to flee.

On an airstrip, Bruce and Bruiser spy two patrolmen and a bunch of Double Bubbles. When the patrolmen see the two baboons, they drop their rifles (blue ones instead of the customary hot pink) and run. One trooper basically runs across a Double Bubble so either it was part of the background and they messed up or they actually overlapped the running Toad over the wrong cell when animating it. Anyway, Bruce and Bruiser hop into a Double Bubble and take off.

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Bruce at home on Baboon Heaven.

While traveling to the action, Bruiser asks Bruce where he’s been this whole time. Bruce then explains that the photon accelerator blasted him across the Aniverse to a strange planet he describes as Baboon Heaven. The area appears to be inhabited by small monkeys of normal monkey intelligence. There’s a village though, and Bruce settled there and started working on a matter transmitter of his own. While trying to get it working, the Toads built their own, and in a similar case to what happened with Willy’s photon accelerator the activation of the Toad one somehow interfered with Bruce’s. It warped him to their location, but in this weird ghost-like form. Bruce says he thinks he’s basically trapped between worlds, which only further enrages his little brother.

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They appear to be having some problems.

The two then come upon the Righteous Indignation which is being attacked by free-floating Storm Troopers in space suits. The matter transporter is apparently back up and running as more keep phasing in and out. Some try getting the jump on Bucky in the cockpit, but it doesn’t work too well. The Air Marshall is shown getting angry every time a Storm Trooper gets kicked back to them, and a Toad Tech says the machine is still a work-in-progress, not that Air Marshall cares.

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There’s a tag team you don’t want to mess with.

Bruiser and Bruce eject from the Double Bubble to go cause some trouble. Bruiser is actually armed this time, but Bruce advises that he not fire at the Righteous Indignation for obvious reasons. Bruce then goes around scaring toads, which is pretty effective, while Bruiser grabs and crushes them. He even squeezes the head of one hard enough to crack his space helmet.

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Even with the ability to appear wherever they want out of nothing, the Air Marshall’s forces still fail over and over.

With his forces driven back, the Air Marshall is shown once again to be quite irritated. Frix and Frax are able to get in some one-liners as the Air Marshall rants and raves about hating losing. Aboard the Righteous Indignation, Bruce directs Bucky to head for that moon as it’s where the matter transporter is operating from. He reasons they need to destroy it to put an end to this madness. Strangely, while they were fighting all around the ship itself no one noticed the tracking device which must be working in tandem with the matter transporter.

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That certainly looks inviting.

Bucky takes the ship down to the moon and the base on it is rather colossal. They land amid heavy fire from Storm Troopers and race inside the factory. There they encounter another old friend, the Void Droid, and the Toads have made one important upgrade. Willy’s water pistol no longer works, and while the others try to think of a way past this thing, Jenny goes off on her own. She drops through a grate in the floor and is able to run under the robot and emerge behind it. From there she jumps on it and uses her psychic powers to destroy it. No one else was able to see her do this and they just think the thing exploded or something.

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Jenny proving to be quite resourceful.

A discouraged Air Marshall is not happy to see the force heading for him on the monitors. Knowing that his Storm Troopers are useless thanks to the presence of the two baboons, he decides it’s time for him to go. As he hops onto the transporter, Frix and Frax go running after him. He tells them to back off as their last minute addition apparently will result in unexpected consequences, but they don’t care as the trio vanish.

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Air Marshall is always willing to run.

With the Void Droid destroyed, Bucky takes the baboons with him into the main room where the matter transporter is operating from. Bruce then instructs Bucky to destroy the matter transporter so that the Toads can no longer make use of it. As he prepares to do so, Bruiser interjects to lodge a protest. He’s apparently not as dim as he appears since he’s able to figure out on his own that it’s the Toad machine keeping Bruce there with him. He doesn’t want to see his brother fade away, but Bruce dismisses his concerns because they need to take it out. Bucky agrees, but before he can do anything stray enemy fire from the corridor hits a pipe above his head causing it to dislodge and come crashing down on Bucky.

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Bruce advising his brother to do the right thing.

With Bucky rendered unconscious, and Bruce intangible, it falls on Bruiser to do the right thing and destroy the matter transporter. He doesn’t want to do it, but relents when Bruce insists. He smashes the thing up quite well and Bruce lavishes praise upon his little brother for doing so. As the two do their little celebratory dance, Bruce starts to fade away. Before he disappears he tells his brother not to be sad and he’ll come back some day. Losing his brother for the second time goes over about as well with the berserker baboon as you would expect. An irate Bruiser stomps off into the corridor after the Storm Troopers firing at them and apparently gets ahold of them off-screen. Helmets and even one Toad jaw come comically flying into view as a now conscious Bucky and Jenny look on, not with a comical reaction, but a more sympathetic one.

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For someone advising another to not be sad, he sure looks sad.

Air Marshall, along with the duo of Frix and Frax, are on some mysterious planet all alone. The twins bemoan the absence of any kind of swamp nearby as the surface of this planet is nothing but red rock. Air Marshall stomps around in a rage that soon turns to tears. He pounds the ground and has himself a good cry. Maybe now he’ll be used to losing.

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Bruiser taking his anger out on some Storm Troopers. That’s either a head or a helmet with an eyeball left behind. No wonder why most of the carnage is off-screen.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, a sullen Bruiser is seated beside Blinky. Blinky tries to cheer up the baboon with a video he was able to capture of Bruce’s goodbye to his brother. It does help some, and Bruiser thanks him while hoping his brother is okay. On the planet dubbed Baboon Heaven, Bruce is indeed fine as a little monkey brings him some more purple bananas. He insists they taste great despite the odd color and resumes work on his own matter transporter. He’s optimistic that he’ll one day have it working. Back on the Righteous Indignation, everyone resumes assuring Bruiser that everything will be okay. He’s receptive to their words while remarking his mother would be so proud of Bruce, and Bucky reminds him she’d think the same of him. Dead-Eye then chimes in from his guns in a defeated tone. He wants to know when they can cut out this mushy stuff and go back to croaking toads taking us out on a bit of a joke.

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Blinky managed to capture a Kodak moment for Bruiser.

“The Search for Bruce” is a satisfying follow-up to the very first episode. Bruce’s reappearance is a bit confusing, but a lot of the lore in this show is. It’s not too foreign a concept for kids raised on comic books though and it wasn’t surprising to find out that Bruce is indeed all right following the events of the first episode. I suppose the show leaves open though what did happen to him. After all, Bruce does refer to his new home as Baboon Heaven. Maybe he is dead and found a way to return to the world of the living briefly? I don’t think that’s the intent, but it is an interesting thing to ponder.

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Bruce, back to work with purple banana in hand.

Putting the focus of the episode on the relationship of the baboon brothers is fitting and the right choice. Perhaps fearing it would get too heavy, a lot of the sequences involving the Toads are played for laughs leading up to the climax. Both Bruiser and Bruce are voiced by Dale Wilson and they essentially sound the same. Their tendency to refer to each other simply as “brother” certainly conjured memories of 80s wrestling promos for me, particularly Hogan and the Macho Man. They both have a tendency to say “banana oil” when irritated by something, and they basically relate everything back to bananas. It gets a little annoying by the episode’s end.

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It’s rather sweet seeing everyone try to cheer up old Bruiser.

The emotional hook is handled pretty well. It’s assumed that something will happen to keep Bruce away in the end, and putting his dismissal in the hands of his brother works well to add drama to the scene. If Bucky did it then it would seem less heart-breaking. Bucky and Jenny looking on with sadness as Bruiser rampages is a simple way to convey the emotion of the scene, and the episode left enough time at the end to let it all sink in with the characters and the viewer. Dead-Eye’s closing remarks are basically an acknowledgement that shows with this target audience don’t often stick with the “mushy stuff” this long and is an appropriate way to try to sneak in a quick moment of levity to close things out.

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And lets not forget about what happened to these three. Maybe Komplex will leave them there awhile.

Visually, this episode is a disappointment. It almost seems like another team at AKOM worked on it because both Jenny and Dead-Eye sport different guns than we’re used to seeing. They’re very generic and plain looking. There’s also the color switch on the Toad weaponry from pink to blue. In general, the animation is also exceptionally poor. It’s very jittery and looks like they were trying to save money by reducing the amount of frames they typically illustrate. Some of the infiltration sequence is downright ugly as is Bruiser and Bruce’s attack on the Toads who were pestering the Righteous Indignation. There are some nice lighting effects with the teleportation animation and the matter transporter itself, but all in all this might be the worst looking episode so far. Hopefully it’s not indicative of what’s to come. There are some loose ends created by the plot too as they never address the Toad tracking device affixed to the Righteous Indignation nor is it explained how Komplex was able to create a “Bruce” for the fake video. There’s a lot to cram into this episode so I guess they just didn’t have the time for any of that, not that it’s an excuse.

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It was nice seeing these two get to pair-up. Had this show continued, I’m sure we would have seen more from Bruce.

“The Search for Bruce” is the most emotionally ambitious episode of the show thus far, and likely will remain that way given the subject matter. We won’t hear from Bruce again, which isn’t a surprise considering the short season. Had there been another season I’m guessing Bruce would have returned in some form. This episode is actually pretty well-written with Bucky getting some clever lines and good comedy writing with the Air Marshall. The emotional stuff is also handled well and I genuinely felt sympathy for Bruiser. It probably won’t make you cry or anything, but I found it actually more effective than the death of Morph from X-Men. If it weren’t for the mostly horrendous animation here, this might have been the best episode yet, but instead it may have to settle for second or third best when all is said and done.