Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “The Good, the Bad, and the Warty”

img_3437Episode Number:  3

Original Air Date:  September 22, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  Christy Marx

First Appearance:  Mother Aldebaran

It seems our animal friends can’t stay out of trouble. At the end of the first episode it looked like Bucky and his crew would be annihilated by the entire Toad fleet. They escaped destruction there with the help of the recently displaced Willy DuWitt. Victory was short-lived as episode two ended with the sleazasaur spy, Al Negator, making off with the codes to the defense system of the capital planet in the United Animal Security Council. He managed to escape capture by Bucky O’Hare and was safely in the confines of the Toad Mothership. Worse, the Righteous Indignation was in turn captured by the Toad Empire and we’ll begin episode three with Bucky and his crew inside the Toad Mothership as well.

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It’s action time!

Our episode begins as the second did with a broadcast from Toad TV. Andy Phibian is broadcasting from inside the Toad Mothership to report on the imminent capture of Bucky O’Hare, until Toadborg strolls into the picture. Phibian is the same reporter featured in the opening credits, and given how the last two episodes begin, it makes me wonder if the show was supposed to feature him in most episodes giving a news broadcast. If so, it’s abandoned quickly as this is Phibian’s last official appearance. His character model will be re-used as a generic background character, but he won’t be giving any more broadcasts. Toadborg is apparently camera-shy, putting an end to that transmission. Bucky and the rest are grouped on the Righteous Indignation as Toad Storm Troopers blast it from outside. They can’t hide forever as the ship can’t take much so they do the only thing they can:  they fight!

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Guns? Bruiser doesn’t need guns.

Bucky, Jenny, Dead-Eye and Willy burst through the laser fire and head in different directions. Despite being severely out-numbered, they escape harm. Dead-Eye and Willy climb aboard the Toad Croaker that Al Negator abandoned while Bucky and Jenny duck into a corridor, eventually splitting up. Bruiser is left to guard the ship while Blinky remains aboard, presumably to make repairs. Bruiser has little trouble with his task as the Toad Storm Troopers are paralyzed with fear at the sight of him. He squishes one into a ball and has fun jumping up and down on the others.

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Dogstar looks like he’s taking a snooze while Wolf looks stoned. Good allies.

The Mothership is heading for Genus accompanied by the Toad fleet of Double Bubbles. Commander Dogstar and Wolf are shown from the Indefatigable when Dogstar realizes where he recognized Al Negator’s scent from. Theorizing that Bucky is in trouble, they activate their warp drive to zero in on Bucky’s last known position. Bucky is shown running through a corridor being chased by Storm Troopers. He shoots up some pipes along the walls releasing steam, allowing for a “steamed” pun (sadly, no pigs are present for a Steamed Ham pun). Jenny is also shown making the rounds taking out security cameras wherever she finds them.

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The latest Toad mechanical monstrosity.

Dead-Eye and Willy are soon shown being chased by a rather nasty looking Toad robot. Air Marshall seems to refer to it as a Void Droid, and Toadborg will make a reference to it later. Dead-Eye’s lasers do nothing to it, and as it gains on he and Willy in the Toad Croaker he insists Willy use his secret weapon. Willy tries to protest as he knows his gun is just a water pistol, but he gives it a shot when Dead-Eye insists. It turns out the machine is not waterproof and one squirt from Willy’s gun takes it out. The Air Marshall, watching via a security monitor, is enraged at this deficiency while Frix and Frax seem to be amused. Dead-Eye congratulates Willy and then makes a confession. He hands over the play money he swiped from Willy’s bag, and Willy tries to tell him what it is. Dead-Eye instead is rather impressed that he considers a stack of cash of that size “play money,” but a hard turn of the Croaker causes Willy to tumble out and into a laundry chute of some kind which causes his helmet to pop off. When Willy looks up, he’s face to face with Al Negator.

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Bucky’s initial shot makes a dent, but none of the others will.

Bucky enters a prison yard in hopes of freeing his fellow hares, but all he finds are empty shackles. He soon comes face to face with Toadborg. He informs Bucky that all of the hares have already been moved to slave factories and there’s nothing he can do about it. Bucky, taking Toadborg to just be another robot, fires his gun at him and chips away at Toadborg’s frame. Repeated blasts have no effect though and he’s forced to crank his gun up to full power, but even that fails. He then tries to jump away (and the episode uses a silly spring sound effect for Bucky’s leaps), but Toadborg is a pretty fine jumper himself and is able to grab Bucky by the ears. He then deploys some kind of gas from his fingers that knocks him out. He then heads off with his prize.

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Jenny’s powers prove to be just as “effective” as Bucky’s pistol.

Jenny soon breaks into an area of the Mothership and too comes face to face with Toadborg and the unconscious Bucky. She uses her powers on him thinking he’ll crumble like the droid she encountered in the previous episode, but Toadborg returns fire knocking her over. She remarks that he’s not actually a robot and Toadborg is impressed she could detect that. He picks her up by the hair and uses the same gas that he used on Bucky to knock her unconscious. Toadborg then orders some troopers around him to throw she and Bucky into some “jettison tubes.”

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Al and his “Willies”

Al Negator is pretty puzzled by the sight of Willy. Not really knowing what he is, he tries to figure out a way to make use of him. Willy demands Al return the codes he stole, and to his surprise, Al Negator is willing to do so – for a price. Willy gets resourceful and pulls out the stack of play money. Al Negator has never seen currency like that before, though he seems to recognize it as some kind of currency. Willy calls his play money “Willies” and says they’re a new currency backed by the United Mammal Fleet. His fib fools the purple lizard and he agrees to deal for the codes, but he wants all of Willy’s Willies. Willy acts like the request is outrageous, then feigns acceptance as he hands over the play money in exchange for the disk. Al Negator then walks away counting his Willies.

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You would think Dead-Eye would have better luck than the others with these canons.

Toadborg then confronts Dead-Eye who is still flying around in the Toad Croaker. He tries blasting Toadborg with the Croaker’s canons at close range but they’re just as ineffective as a pistol. He then resorts to just trying to run him over, but Toadborg grabs the Croaker and swings it causing Dead-Eye to crash into a wall.

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Not the place to be.

With Bucky, Jenny, and Dead-Eye captured, Toadborg places all three into clear cylindrical tubes. They’re airlocks of some kind and Toadborg intends to torture his captives to get some information. He starts with Bucky, and he causes the tube to empty its oxygen while demanding Bucky tell him the status of the United Animal Fleet. Bucky won’t talk though, and Komplex interjects that Bucky won’t be broken (Komplex is rather impatient). Komplex goes on to say it doesn’t matter, they’ll soon have the codes to attack Genus as they currently wait just outside the defense perimeter. Willy then enters and attempts to use his squirt gun against Toadborg. Dressed in his baboon outfit, Toadborg initially recoils in fear before reminding himself that he’s now far beyond the power of a baboon. When Willy blasts him he acts insulted that he thinks a small amount of water could harm him. Realizing he can’t stop Toadborg, he whips out the disk he purchased from Al Negator and uses it to demand the release of his friends. Bucky orders Willy to destroy the codes reasoning his life, and the that of the others, is not as important as protecting Genus. Willy is hesitant to do so, and there are repeated shots of his face with a worried look even though in every other shot he’s wearing his baboon mask. I can’t tell if this is an error or if its intentional to show us Willy’s anguish. At the urging of his friends, Willy does indeed smash the disk preventing Toadborg from getting the codes.

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Jenny has some explaining to do.

At least, that’s what Willy thought he was doing. Al Negator comes strolling in to let Toadborg know he didn’t fail in his mission. He made a copy, as he should have, and happily hands it over to Toadborg in exchange for his payment. Toadborg then grabs Willy and tosses him in another pod before inserting the disk into his own mainframe. He and Al leave with the console controlling the tubes switched on. The oxygen is leaving the tubes and soon Bucky and his friends will be launched into space. As things look dire, Jenny kneels down and reaches out to her Aldebaran sisters. The gem on her helmet then changes to display a green-furred cat she refers to as Mother Aldebaran. She asks for her permission to use her secret powers in the presence of outsiders. The Mother reminds her that such an act is forbidden, but then suggests a Level 3 psychic blast would likely go unnoticed. She thanks the feline, and a beam shoots forth from Jenny that destroys the console and frees them all. When Bucky questions what happened, Jenny simply reasons that they don’t build them like they used to.

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Something weird is going on with Toadborg here.

On the bridge, Toadborg strolls in to declare that he possesses the codes to Genus’ defense system. When Air Marshall requests he hand them over, he refuses saying he’ll broadcast them. He seats himself in a throne-like chair as radio waves seem to transmit the codes to the orbiting satellites. They go into an idle mode and Toadborg then ejects himself from the controls of the Toad Climate Converter. The saucer-like vessel then heads for the surface world.

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While the others ran around, Blinky was busy making repairs.

Bucky and the others return to the Righteous Indignation. Bruiser had kept the Toads at bay while Blinky made repairs and reports the ship is at a functional 70%. Upon leaving the Mothership they encounter Dogstar and the Indefatigable. Dogstar agrees to do what he can with the many Toad ships surrounding Genus while Bucky and his crew go after Toadborg. They head down to Genus to find a storm raging all around the Climate Converter. Bucky disembarks to go take on Toadborg alone and insists everyone else remain on the ship, but Willy jumps at the last-minute. When Bucky asks him what he’s doing he insists that Bucky will need an engineer to take this thing down.

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Bucky vs Toadborg, Round 2.

Bucky and Willy are quickly confronted by Toadborg. Bucky shoves Willy behind some machinery so that Toadborg doesn’t notice him. He once more tries blasting Toadborg, but that’s just as effective as it was on the Mothership. He then uses his brains and insults Toadborg, wondering why Komplex would waste resources on preserving one measly toad. It’s apparently effective, as Bucky gets Toadborg to chase him to the surface of the structure allowing Willy to head for the main controls. Outside the storm rages all around them, and Bucky is able to seek cover behind some electrical structures. Toadborg demonstrates another one of his tricks as his arms extend to try and grab the green hare, but he just gets zapped by exposed wires. Down below, Dead-Eye bursts in to help Willy and Willy informs him he switched some stuff around and basically turned the apparatus on the surface of the Climate Converter into a lightning rod. They jump back into the Righteous Indignation and flee knowing this thing is about to get destroyed. As they fly off, Bucky sees them and makes a jump for it while Toadborg runs off to try and undo what Willy has done. When it looks like Bucky’s leap will come up short, Bruiser reaches down and snatches him by the cape. Toadborg can only watch helplessly as lightning batters him and the Climate Converter eventually causing it to explode.

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Komplex does not look happy.

With Toadborg taken out, the defense codes cease their transmission. The satellites then re-arm themselves and take aim at the Toad vessels in Genus’ airspace. They open fire and all of the toads inside the Mothership are forced to head for the escape pods. Air Marshall and his lackeys leave in a slave ship and we see a battered Toadborg, floating in space, grab onto a fleeing Double Bubble. Komplex appears on the monitor in the slave ship demanding the Air Marshall to return to the home world at once. While he passes out, Frix and Frax giggle and ponder what Komplex will do to him as punishment.

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Apparently lightning and explosions can harm Toadborg.

The Righteous Indignation is shown buzzing around Genus taking in the cheers. Bucky then ducks inside to find Willy as he prepares to leave to head home. He tells him he should come out and soak in the cheers since he played a huge role in saving Genus, but the modest Willy DuWitt insists he needs to get back. They all say their goodbyes, except Jenny who is no where to be found. Willy asks Bucky to say goodbye for him, with a little blush, and then Jenny emerges from the cockpit. She says she was working on an Aldebaran crystal communicator called a memory stone which she gives to Willy so he can contact them whenever he needs to, and vice versa. She plants another kiss on him and sends him on his way, Willy blushing uncontrollably.

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Al takes Willy’s deception quite well.

On some planet apparently occupied by mammals, Al Negator is at a bar and is attempting to spend some of his “Willies.” An orangutan working the bar tells Al he’s checked all over and no one is backing any currency called Willies. Al realizes he’s been cheated, but rather than act mad he actually has a laugh. When the bartender starts laughing along he takes exception and tosses the guy aside. He then vows to find the mammal who gave him the Willies and make him pay.

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Willy continues to have the hots for Jenny.

We’re then taken to Earth where Willy, Doug, and the other guys are showing their skateboard off at a science fair for school. Doug is taking all of the credit for the invention while Willy is behind a computer monitor. One of the other guys tries to reassure Willy by telling him not to pay Doug any mind, but Willy doesn’t care as he’s staring forlornly at the amulet Jenny gave him and the image of the crew appears on it as the episode ends.

Episode 3 is essentially the action-heavy episode I was expecting. Bucky and his crew are in enemy territory without the aid of stealth and are forced to blast their way to safety while also trying to protect the planet Genus. The action is fairly tame as apparently Bucky won’t be allowed to simply blast Toads, which is expected, and probably why we’ve seen some robots early on. Toadborg gets to demonstrate his might and he’s a formidable foe. He also shares pretty much his entire back story confirming he’s not a robot, but a former Storm Trooper turned into a cyborg. We also see more of the Dead-Eye/Willy pairing which is working well early on and we also get a little insight into Jenny’s powers. The Mother Aldebaran thing will get a bit more confusing in a later episode when Jenny returns to her home world and there isn’t a character matching that name. She’ll confer with someone named the High Artificer, but she doesn’t match the image we saw in Jenny’s amulet. At the time, Jenny’s ability to free them from the trap they’re in feels a bit too convenient, but at least the show plans on following up on it. I also like that some mystery is preserved here.

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Our first happy ending of the series.

Visually, this episode is the worst so far. It might have to do with our characters no longer largely being stationary as they’re forced to flee the confines of their spaceship and do battle on foot. The running, particularly Bucky and Toadborg during their fight, is choppy and the characters practically glide. There’s clearly not enough frames of animation in places. Toadborg’s eyes also keep changing color, and I don’t think it’s intentional, and at one point Dead-Eye’s head turns orange. Some images look all right, such as when Toadborg is walking away with a limp Bucky and carrying him by the ears. Aside from the eye thing, Toadborg in general looks imposing. I found it confusing though that Bucky’s initial shot blasted away some of Toadborg’s outer shell, but then every subsequent shot did nothing. The blemish also disappears quickly so maybe it was an error to even include it initially. I do like that the fight between Toadborg and Bucky is basically resolved through some ingenuity. Bucky just basically occupies Toadborg while Willy goes to work. No weakness is really exposed with Toadborg, he just under estimates his opponent. The Willy/Jenny stuff still remains weird, but at least we weren’t stuck on Earth for very long in this episode.

This episode essentially concludes the show’s first arch. There’s no cliff-hanger of an ending as Bucky and his crew destroyed the Climate Converter and prevented the Toads from securing the Genus defense system codes. They also destroyed a Mothership in the process, but more likely remain. This is a temporary victory as Bucky still needs to locate his fellow hares and find a way to reverse the damage done to his home world. The rest of the season will focus more on stand-alone stories often with some member of the crew stepping into the spotlight each week, but it doesn’t completely lose sight of those primary goals. Things will steadily build towards the finale, which is a satisfying structure for a show like this. Even though this episode has some warts, it was fairly exciting and the show has created some strong momentum and hopefully the variation in plotting won’t derail that.


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