Monday, April 29, 2013

RR Duck Dodgers

Time for another cult favorite of mine even if it is sadly overlooked nowadays.

Here's another Looney Tunes-inspired TV series!

Name: Duck Dodgers - Season 1: Dark Side of the Duck 
Directed by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone
Original run 2003
Genre Animated science-fiction/comedy

In 1953, a classic Merry Melodies saw Daffy Duck play intergalactic super hero in the original animated short "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century".

The cartoon proved to be amongst the most popular ever produced, which warranted several sequels over the next decades, even if they never really captured the same quality of the original.

After the animation's revival in the early 90s that saw many successful animated series spin off the Looney Tunes - such as Tiny Toons - the toons sort of "died out". Warner focused mostly on their DC Comics superhero proprieties for a while. And reruns of the Golden Age cartoons.

That is... until 2003 when Warner Animation Studios decided to resurrect Daffy's alternate person in a brand new show.

Handled by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone, with epic music composed by Robert J. Kral...

Duck Dodgers is back!! In the 24½th Century!

The story follows Daffy and a bunch of other Looney Tunes characters starring in the role of these pulp-inspired characters.

This episodic series follow the adventures of a

Duck Edgar Dumas Aloysius Dodgers (!!) as just a waterboy for a footbal team. By some strange turn of events he was frozen in suspended animation!

Once waken up in the future (in the year 2350 AD to be precise!) by Dr. Ignatius Q "I.Q." Hi, he turned this situation to his advantage and pretended to be a hero back in his own era.

Now flying his own spaceship, alongside his Eager Young Space Cadet and exploring space where no man has gone before, Duck Dodgers must face the wrath of the Martians. The Martian Queen Queen Tyr'ahnee has sent her best man after Dodgers, Martian Commander X-2.

That's all the backstory you'll need! From now on the show is episodic but not on-going.

Duck Dodgers plays with the many, many tropes of the science-fiction genre, every episode being always completely different from the previous one!

This show came out from almost nowhere and surprised the few who happened to catch it.

Duck Dudgers features some impressive production values. It features an art style that really fits Cartoon Network's tone (back in the day, at least). Yet the animation is smooth and well done. The art direction reminds a lot of the old serial from the 50s-60s.

It's perhaps the best attempt to modernize Looney Tunes I've seen these past years. I mean, they were able to keep the signature brand humor and slapstick, with added fast paced scripts and well timed jokes.

Marvin the Martian "plays" obviously the Commander X-2 (his actual original name in the Merry Melodies cartoons before Warner licensing decided to give him a more trademark-able name). And Porky Pig plays the space cadet. Along Queen Tyr'ahnee (voiced by Tia Carrera no less!) and the other new characters appear several other Warner Bros cult toons every now, introduced in the world of Duck Dodger and then re-imagined to fit the setting.

You knew it wasn't going to be a show like any other whenever that theme song played, composed and sang by Tom Jones. How did they manage to get Tom Jones? They even got him to play a cameo role in a later season two episode.

Amongst the other Looney Tunes-inspired shows from the 2000s, this one was easily the best, and my favorite. It was certainly better than the awful Baby Looney Tunes.

The series ran for three seasons, from 2003 to 2005.

This volume "Dark Side of the Duck" represented here above collects the entire first season, 13 episodes originally aired in 2003.

The show is consistently very well written, with great plots and humor.

The show is a loving tribute to the old and silly scifi shows. Star Trek lore is often mocked around. A lot of influence seems to come directly from John Carter.

The first season features one of my all-time favorite episodes, a Green Lantern tribute! (hey, it's a classic science-fiction comic book series!)

The episode "K-9 Kaddy" tries a return to the old school animated short format, and it sees Commander X-2 walking his dog Commander K-9. And a bunch of space gophers happen...

There's also a really fun The Iron Giant parody!

The show was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award - which it totally deserved!

"In blackest day or brightest night…Watermelon, cantaloupe, yadda yadda…Erm…superstitious and cowardly lot…With liberty and justice for all!"

Overall, a fantastic short-lived series!

Really fun, totally recommended!

I personally really loved this show. It featured great animation, great dialogue and lots of references and love for old science-fiction serials from the mid-60s.

Duck Dodgers ran for three seasons. For now only Season One is available.

Warner Bros better speed up the release of these DVDs!

Good news in the meantime, the original "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" shorts is on the disc as a bonus feature. I can imagined Volume 2 will have the 1980s sequel "Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century". Volume 3, the last season, will either have "Marvin the Martian in the Third Dimension" or "Attack of the Drones"...both pretty bad attempts at a more modern sequel, unlike this TV series. I'd rather see the Duck Dodgers Tiny Toons episode instead...

Anyway, an hilarious series that everyone can enjoy!

I give it:
3 / 3 Felixes!

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