Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “A Fistful of Simoleans”

img_3409Episode Number:  2

Original Air Date:  September 15, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Toadborg, Al Negator, Bruiser, Commander Dogstar, Wolf, Andy Phibian

When we last checked in with the courageous mammals under the leadership of Captain Bucky O’Hare, they had just lost their chief engineer at a bad time. Their photon accelerator, their means of activating warp drive, had failed and they were under heavy fire from the entire Toad fleet. Then an unusual thing happened, when trying to restart the photon accelerator a great stasis field overtook the ship. It sapped their power and prevented them from leaving it, but also the Toads from entering. This occurred because young Willy DuWitt, a human boy from San Francisco, had just activated his own home constructed photon accelerator as part of a science experiment. He and Bucky had activated their respective machines at precisely the right time opening a rift between their two dimensions expressed by the presence of the stasis field and Willy’s own bedroom door appearing in the engineering bay of the Righteous Indignation.

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The Toads apparently broadcast up to the minute coverage of military operations.

Because of Willy’s knowledge gained from the construction of his own photon accelerator, he was equipped with the know-how to fix the one aboard the Righteous Indignation. If they could repair the accelerator it would enable them to utilize the warp drive function and ditch the Toads. If it failed, well then they’re all dead. One additional wrinkle is that Willy expects his door, his passageway back to his own dimension, to vanish once the warp drive is engaged and he doesn’t know if it will return once disengaged. There’s the very real possibility that he could be trapped in this universe completely foreign to him where humanity apparently doesn’t exist.

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Bucky is forced to put his faith in the human Willy to get out of a big mess.

Since this is episode two for the series, you’re probably not surprised to learn that despite all of the drama contained in that build-up, Willy’s repairs did indeed work and the heroes were able to escape certain destruction. Pinned down, the Toads were ordered to all fire at once. For some reason, this causes their many lasers to literally combine, it sort of resembles the laser from the Death Star in Star Wars right down to the color green. Dead-Eye’s twin M.A.S.E.R. (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation) canons are fired at this conjoined beam which apparently cancels the two out. The Righteous Indignation is then able to burst free from the asteroid it was on and escape into warp drive. Those damaged engines from before are apparently all fine now.

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Not enough Komplex monitors.

Aboard the Toad Mothership, the Air Marshall is incensed to find out that Bucky O’Hare escaped. He orders the fleet to pursue, but Komplex interrupts him. Komplex declares that the Air Marshall has wasted enough time on Bucky as it appears on a monitor that is affixed to a mechanical arm. Komplex is able to move it around at will, and the angry visage even bursts forth from the monitor screen in what is a really bizarre effect. Komplex doesn’t see how one frigate could possibly pose a problem for the Toad Empire and declares their real target is Genus. When the Air Marshall protests citing Genus’ formidable defense system, Komplex counters that they’ll need to hire a spy to steal the codes to the defense system in order to take it down.

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Al Negator sharpening his skills.

Enter Al Negator (Garry Chalk), the sleazasaur. What is a sleazasaur? It’s a bipedal, purple, crocodile with neon green teeth and eyes. Pretty interesting. To complete the look he wears gold-plated armor on his chest and tail and speaks with a Louisiana accent. When we see him, he’s attaching small cards to a wheel with each containing an image of one of the crew members of the Righteous Indignation. He receives a call from the Toad Air Marshall and as he speaks to him via video monitor he holds up a small mirror and uses it to aim over his shoulder. As the wheel spins, he picks off members of the crew in an impressive display of shooting accuracy. Despite that, I’m willing to bet when it comes time to fire upon the actual crew he’ll miss and miss often.

The Air Marshall wishes to hire Al to steal the defense codes. Al is intrigued, but will need a big payment for such a job. He requests 5,000 simoleons, which is apparently the currency in the Aniverse (Animated Universe, in case you were wondering). The Air Marshall balks declaring it extortion, but Al keeps his cool and reminds him that extortion is another one of his many specialties. He adds he’ll need half of the payment upfront and the Air Marshall reluctantly agrees to the deal. Their business concluded, the camera zooms in on Al’s spinning wheel to rest on an image of Bucky O’Hare with a laser hole through his head.

Aboard the Righteous Indignation, the crew congratulates Willy. Without his help, they’d all be dead and they know it. Bucky mentions they just lost their engineer Bruce, and also vows to find him when this business is concluded, and that they need a new one. Willy seems willing, but does cite the need to see his parents and go to school and such. Dead-Eye returns the weapon he confiscated from Willy’s room, which drips water to reveal it’s just a water gun. When Willy tries to explain it to Dead-Eye he refuses an explanation insisting he trusts Willy. Willy then inquires about the Toads – were they always this evil?

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The Toads back when they were harmless lovers of useless crap.

Blinky steps in to answer that question. It seems his giant eye also functions as a projector and he plays a brief video detailing the corruption of the Toads. Once upon a time, they were a harmless race mostly obsessed with watching television and acquiring shoddy merchandise (so they were boomers, essentially). Their scientists created Komplex, a program designed to handle all of the remedial tasks in their society that they were too lazy to do themselves. Like all good A.I. though, Komplex eventually went rogue and enslaved the entire population. Now their once swampy home is covered in factories which run seven layers deep. From space, it just looks like a big, metal, sphere. Komplex desires domination of the whole Aniverse and now whoever isn’t a part of the Toad Trooper Army is building ships for said army or working on new technology to improve it.

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Mini Golf is big business on Warren.

Willy is distressed to see this, but it is what it is. Bucky then retrieves an old battle suit that belonged to Bruce and instructs Willy to put it on in case things get rough where they’re going. When Willy inquires about that, Blinky pops in yet again to show a video on our next destination:  Warren, home planet of Bucky and the hares. The video shows lots of hares in varying colors doing happy things. The climate is described as perfect and there are carrots the size of trees. When the video ends a message is displayed reading “That’s It Furries,” which is a bit funny from today’s point of view given the term furries and the apparent attraction of Jenny towards Willy.

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Warren is now one big farty-butt of a planet.

With the Toads no longer pursuing them, the crew of the Righteous Indignation has no trouble heading for Warren. Bucky is dismayed to see how cloudy the atmosphere looks from space, and it gets worse at ground level. The whole planet has been turned into a swamp and appears deserted. Willy says it smells, and Blinky uses an instrument in his hand to detect high levels of methane in the air basically revealing that Warren smells like farts. The crew wonders how the Toads could have altered the entire planet’s climate with Willy declaring it impossible, but Jenny points out the evidence before them which suggests the Toads found a way. Willy finds some piece of Toad tech and feels the need to yell to the crew about his discovery despite being a mere 10 feet away. The device is mangled, but inside is a floppy disk (so dated) that Blinky is able to analyze. Toads apparently possess incredible floppy disks because Blinky finds a video on it and projects it. It’s of a Toad discussing the successful test of their new climate converter used on Warren, confirming what happened, and also makes mention of heading for Genus next. Bucky decides they must leave for Genus immediately and warn them of what’s coming.

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If your business is smuggling and spying then this is the shop for you.

In a dank shop, Al Negator is shown bargaining with a rat named Tinker (Scott McNeil). He’s getting some supplies for his new job and is preparing to leave when Tinker’s monitor clicks on suddenly. It’s Commander Dogstar (Chalk), who sounds similar to the Colonel from One-Hundred and One Dalmatians, and he’s here with a warrant for Tinker’s arrest. Tinker tries to flee through a secret passage, but Al knocks him aside and declares it’s more important that he gets out. He slams the door shut behind him as Dogstar and company break down the entrance door. Dogstar, along with Wolf (Richard Newman) and another dog-person enter and apprehend Tinker. Dogstar notices another scent in the air, and Wolf finds where it stops. Since their job was just to apprehend Tinker though, they leave without further investigation.

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Bruiser is pretty insistent about being allowed to join Bucky’s crew following the “death” of his brother, Bruce.

On Genus, Bucky and crew disembark as Willy insists he needs to get back to Earth soon. Bucky understands, but mentions they’ll need to hire a new warp drive mechanic. Willy, who is wearing Bruce’s suit, is sent back to the ship to retrieve his helmet by Bucky who says to Jenny that it’s probably best that they keep Willy a secret. Just then, a rather large, and angry, baboon shouts at him. It’s Bruiser (Dale Wilson), the younger brother of Bruce and a space marine. He somehow heard about what happened and is livid with the Toads. He demonstrates what he wants to do to them by crushing some helpless chair that was hanging around and insists that Bucky take him aboard his ship. Bucky is happy to have him, saying they need some muscle, and Bruiser calms down. Until Willy returns in his brother’s suit. With the mask on, he looks just like Bruce and Bruiser runs up and embraces him so hard that the mask pops off. He then becomes angry, and who can blame him, to find someone else in his brother’s suit. The others are able to calm him down insisting that Willy is a friend and Bruiser does indeed settle himself. All the while, Al Negator has been watching the events unfold.

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Well, the United Animal Fleet just doubled, at least.

Bucky, Jenny, and Blinky then address the council once again. Blinky plays a video he took of Warren demonstrating the effects of the Toad’s new climate converter. The pig guy is distressed, but when Bucky mentions they’re coming for Genus next he dismisses the possibility out of hand due to their defense system. He then tells Bucky the good news that they’ve decided to expand the fleet. Bucky’s enthusiasm is short-lived though when it’s revealed the fleet is being expanded by one additional frigate:  The Indefatigable. Bucky is underwhelmed.

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Everyone is suspicious of Al Negator except old, trusting, Bucky.

A raccoon is then headed for an interview for the open position of warp drive mechanic but is intercepted by Al Negator. He directs the raccoon to a doorway, and once opened we see the unconscious bodies of other apparent warp drive mechanics. Al knocks this raccoon unconscious and into the closet before heading over to the Righteous Indignation. There he presents himself to Bucky O’Hare as a warp drive mechanic. His phony credentials fool Bucky, but Jenny says something doesn’t feel right as Al stands there and whistles suspiciously. Dead-Eye then points out he’s a sleazasaur, who apparently have a bad reputation. Bucky points out that people say the same of pirates thus confirming that Dead-Eye either is or was a pirate himself. He hires Al and welcomes him aboard. Before they depart though, Dogstar comes running in. Bucky is happy to see him and Dogstar confirms he’ll be in charge of the new frigate. He then takes note of Al and mentions he’s smelled him somewhere before. Al insists all sleazasaurs smell the same and it’s enough to cover him for now.

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Al does what he can to shoo Blinky away. Stupid, helpful, robot.

Willy is then shown saying goodbye to the crew, but before he heads back to his dimension through his door he warns Bucky about Al. Bucky dismisses his warning and orders him to go back to school. Once gone, Blinky then takes to showing Al around who immediately starts nosing around. He slyly tosses some device into a compartment and then begins complaining about the excessive amounts of banana peels that are accumulating around Bruiser and orders Blinky to clean the place up. He snoops around some more and even finds Willy’s duffel bag, but Dead-Eye catches him and tells him to scram. He then sees the fake money in Willy’s bag and has a crisis of conscience. Apparently, it’s pirate code to take any money, but Dead-Eye doesn’t want to steal from his friend. He reasons he’ll just hold onto it for him, in case he never comes back. With his conscience satisfied, he stuffs the money into his belt.

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This is the part of the episode no one cares about.

On Earth, Willy is walking to school when he’s accosted by Doug and his two friends again. They enter on skateboard and start chasing Willy down the street. He runs, but ends up tripping on some trolley tracks and gets his hand stuck. Just before the trolley can smear him all over the road, he frees himself and gets out-of-the-way, but his victory is short-lived. Doug and his buddies surround him, and Willy throws down his books and faces him. He demands Doug meet him after school to do battle with his choice of weapons, and Doug is happy to oblige.

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Meet Toadborg, the most intimidating villain yet, but is he competent?

Aboard the Toad Mothership, Frix and Frax are once again watching Toad TV. This time it’s an ad for Warts Illustrated’s swimsuit issue featuring their favorite model Veruca from the first episode. This parody is actually genuinely amusing, but it’s short-lived as the TV gets smashed by another new face:  Toadborg (Richard Newman). Toadborg is essentially the Toad version of Darth Vader, only he’s mostly purple and yellow. He’s quite large and scary looking despite the abundance of purple, and Frix and Frax look like they’ve soiled themselves with terror. Toad Air Marshall enters the room and demands to know what’s going on and is just as terrified as the twins to see Toadborg. Toadborg informs the Air Marshall that Komplex sent him to oversee the invasion of Genus. Worse is that Komplex has lost confidence in the Air Marshall calling into question his job security. He demands an update on the smuggler Air Marshall hired, who in turn insists shall be returning with the codes soon.

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Ugh, should I even bother recapping the Earth stuff?

Back on Earth once again, Willy is in study hall waiting for Doug and his lackeys. When they show up he tells him what they’re doing:  building a computer-enhanced skateboard. He shows Doug the blueprints and he balks at doing any “sissy science stuff.” One of Doug’s friends takes a look at it though and says it looks kind of cool. Doug then gives in, but warns Willy that he better get an A for this. This Earth stuff just keeps getting worse.

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Bruiser has a rather potent dropkick.

Back aboard the Righteous Indignation, Al Negator returns to the engine room and informs Blinky and Bruiser that Dead-Eye wishes to speak with them. Once they leave he slams the door shut behind him and uses his rifle like a welding torch to seal it shut. He then inserts his snooper device into the ship’s computer. Immediately, Jenny notices the intrusion from the control deck and she and Bucky know who is to blame. Al is downloading all of the security codes and they need to stop him. Bucky orders Bruiser to break down the door and he does so with three running dropkicks, a pretty cool little visual. Once inside though they find Al is gone. He’s taken the Toad Croaker and is attempting to escape. Jenny pilots the ship after him while Bucky joins Dead-Eye at his gunner spot and orders him to open fire.

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That pesky Al Negator.

Back home, Willy wonders how things are going with the suspicious engineer and activates his photon accelerator. He then casually walks onto the Righteous Indignation and finds the crew in clean-up mode following Al Negator’s subterfuge. They’re still chasing the purple croc whose destination has been revealed:  the Toad Mothership. The bay door opens and Al heads for it as Dead-Eye lines up a shot. Al then pulls out a remote and presses a button which detonates all of the devices we saw him planting around the ship. Dead-Eye’s guns, the warp drive, even the command deck all explode. No one appears injured, but they’ve lost control of the ship. Bucky is happy to see Willy, but tells him he picked a bad time for a visit. The explosions also took out Willy’s door, and with no way to pilot the ship, they drift into the bay doors of the Toad Mothership. Meanwhile, the Air Marshall watches and howls with delight for he has finally captured Bucky O’Hare!

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I wonder what singed baboon ass smells like? Can’t be good.

Like the first episode, “A Fistful of Simoleons” packs a lot into its roughly 20 minute duration. New characters are introduced on both sides of the battle and an elaborate plot begins to take shape with the Toads targeting Genus. It’s not handled in a sophisticated manner, and Al’s antics are largely played for laughs, but it’s still interesting to see a subterfuge angle played out with Al gaining entry to the Righteous Indignation and sabotaging it. I wonder if kids in 91 were mostly confused over the whole “codes” thing. I know I had no frame of reference for such a plot device when I was a kid, but mostly just went along with everything. A code to me was something that made a video game easier. It’s another cliff-hanger of an ending with Bucky and his crew seemingly trapped aboard a Toad Mothership, but it’s a bit more exciting since this time they’ll likely need to resort to more conventional action hero antics to get out of that one.

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Bucky and Dead-Eye are not thrilled at how this episode ended.

Al Negator is a fun addition to the roster. He’s a slimy, creepy, greedy, villain and those types tend to be easy to write. It’s interesting to see how basically everyone is racist towards Al’s species, and Bucky is the only one who won’t hold it against him and yet he’s the one who ends up being wrong. Apparently, in the Aniverse not all racism is inherently wrong. Bruiser is another potentially fun addition. He appears to be a character of little brain, but plenty of braun and heart. On the one hand, I’m surprised he was added to the show since the baboons almost break the story since Toads have a paralyzing fear of them, but if you’re looking at things from an in universe perspective, wouldn’t Bucky absolutely want to get another baboon to replace Bruce for that very reason? Dogstar comes across as a bumbling sort of good guy. I don’t really like him, but my opinion isn’t fully formed at this point and I’m trying to remain open-minded. Toadborg though, despite being a pretty clear Darth Vader rip-off, is still undeniably bad ass and I look forward to seeing more from him. I like the effects used on his voice which really gives him a menacing presence.

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As for Toad Air Marshall, this may very well be the happiest we see him.

What I continue to not like are basically any of the scenes taking place on Earth. Willy’s trouble with bullies just doesn’t entertain me, and the rather drab setting even looks terrible. I appreciate the familiar sights establishing that we’re in San Francisco, but Willy looks out-of-place in that setting when compared with how he looks in the Aniverse. Skateboarding bullies are just a terrible cliché and Willy’s little scheme to avoid getting beat up would not have worked in a million years. No way those kids want to stay after school to work on a science project.

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Into the belly of the beast go our heroes.

Overall, the look of the episode is a slight downgrade from the first episode. Or it at least appears to be. I do like the look of both Al Negator and Toadborg, but there are some weird shots of Bruiser. His kicking down the door sequence was pretty neat though. What I am enjoying though is the score for the show which has a sci-fi feel for the space scenes and seems to always find the right tempo. It’s not something I really anticipated, but it’s definitely one of the show’s strengths and composer Doug Katsaros should be happy with how this show turned out, especially considering he probably composed it all from a synthesizer.

“A Fistful of Simoleons” is a successful episode 2 for Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars. Aside from the opening escape scene and the lame Earth segments, the episode is pretty engaging, sometimes humorous, and exciting while also further adding to the setting’s lore. The pacing is sometimes a bit sped up, but that’s because it’s trying to cram a lot in here. We learned about the history of the Toads and got a peek at Bucky’s home world pre and post Toad invasion. We’re set up for an exciting third episode next week with “The Good, the Bad, and the Warty.”

 


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