Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars – “On the Blink”

img_3507Episode Number:  5

Original Air Date:  October 6, 1991

Directed by:  Karen Peterson

Written by:  George Arthur Bloom

First Appearance:  Susie

“On the Blink” marks another stylistic turning point for the series. This is the first episode to basically abandon the finer points of the continuity from the first four episodes. There’s no mention of Warren or the plight of the hares, no direct call-backs, it’s simply a plot where the Toads are up to no good and it’s up to Bucky and his crew to stop them. This is, however, the first of many episodes that will try to place the spotlight on one member of the crew. Well, I suppose it’s the second since the previous episode had Bucky be the focal point. As you could probably guess by the title, this one will focus on Blinky, the adorable android who hasn’t had to do too much thus far. Him being the only non-mammal on Bucky’s crew will play a role in how he’s utilized in this one.

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Willy and his unnamed female peer.

The episode opens with Willy at the zoo accompanied by a young girl named Susie (named in a later episode). She’s actually the first human we’ve seen who actually looks similar to Willy so I guess he’s not some kind of mutant. There’s no credit for this character, but since it’s a female character I assume Margot Pinvidic is providing the voice. Willy is telling her about the wonders of hummingbirds, but she reacts cooly to Willy claiming he cares more about science and how things work than he does for the feelings of living things. She then points out a koala exhibit and mentions how they were endangered once upon a time to prove her point. When people don’t care about animals, bad things happen. Willy’s parents would love her.

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Pay no attention to the koala in the hat.

This links up nicely with the events transpiring in the Aniverse as the koala home world of Rigel 5 has been taken over by the Toads. A koala by the name of Quintin is able to get a distress call out to Bucky informing him of what’s gone on. It would seem the Toads took the planet over and converted it into a resort for other toads. Or at least, one piece of it. We don’t see an actual climate converter so I guess it’s not as severe as what happened to Warren. Frax notices the koala in the tree though and knocks him out of it ending the transmission. Bucky declares that they must help the koalas.

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The sight of Al Negator in a golf shirt does make for an amusing visual.

Elsewhere on the resort, the Air Marshall is playing golf with Al Negator. He’s lining up a putt, and as the camera changes positions the balls at his feet keep moving and some disappear. He also looks like he’s wielding an iron and not a putter. It’s the clunky stuff we’re used to seeing from AKOM. Al proposes a wager that he can’t make the putt, and the Air Marshall accepts. For some reason, even though it looks like a 3 foot putt, Air Marshall takes a full swing. Frix and Frax run-in mid-swing to tell him about their capture and Air Marshall bangs the ball into a swamp. He jumps up and down raving mad at the two.

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Bucky has a little trouble with the latest in mammal defense.

Bucky, apparently sick of Dead-Eye always telling him he should take him with, launches the Toad Croaker with he and Dead-Eye aboard. As they make their way down to the surface of Rigel 5 they end up snared in some kind of force field. On the surface, Toadborg enjoys seeing this defense shield in action and even interrupts a Toad TV broadcast Al and the Air Marshall were enjoying to show video if its effectiveness. It would seem Al provided the shield and he’s still looking for payment. For Bucky and Dead-Eye, they seem to be stuck within it, but Blinky has a solution. He’s seated at Dead-Eye’s M.A.S.E.R. canon, which is an amusing sight, and says something about reversing the polarity or whatever. In essence, he uses the canon and the shield to create a tractor beam and pull Bucky and Dead-Eye safely to the confines of the Righteous Indignation.

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It’s not often we get to see Blinky in the gunner position.

Jenny decides they need Willy’s help to get past this shield and she calls out to him via the memory stone. Willy hears and obeys, as he activates his photon accelerator to come aboard. He then surprises everyone by not having a solution to their problem. Bruiser then points out an arriving Double Bubble which passes through the shield without issue. Willy deduces that the shield must be configured to keep out warm-blooded creatures, and the only member of the crew who doesn’t fit that description is Blinky.

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Bruiser actually getting to do something.

It’s decided, and Blinky is tasked with taking down the defense shield. In order to do that, they wait for another passing ship and when a freighter enters the orbit Bruiser is deployed in a spacesuit carrying a large crate. He flies up to the freighter and opens the hatch depositing the crate containing Blinky inside.

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Apparently, Blinky was not looking forward to running into Toadborg.

On the surface, the Toads are unloading the contents of the freighter. Frix and Frax are aboard checking out the loot and find some chocolate covered grasshoppers and other gross Toad food to consume. They also stumble upon the crate containing Blinky, but Blinky has dismantled himself partially and they just assume it’s a shipment of parts for Toadborg and leave it be. When they’re gone, Blinky pulls himself together and takes off. He enters the main building that houses the controls for the defense shield. As he works at the terminal, a large mechanical hand snatches him. It belongs to Toadborg, and he knows who Blinky is despite the two not sharing a scene together up to this point.

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Blinky lets out a rather unsettling scream during this sequence.

Blinky is then strapped to some machine by Toadborg while the Air Marshall, Al Negator, Frix, and Frax look on. Al suggests spies like Blinky should be killed, but Toadborg claims to have a better use for him. He turns on the machine and we find out that androids apparently feel pain. At least it sure seems like Blinky is in pain. When the deed is done, a deactivated Blinky is left lying on the gurney while Frix and Frax watch a beauty contest on Toad TV. With those two distracted and arguing about who should win, Blinky reactivates himself and takes off. The two hear the sound of Blinky’s tin-can like feet and immediately give chase. Blinky is able to give them the slip though forcing them to raise the alarm.

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Meet hologram Bruiser.

Outside, Blinky runs right into the Air Marshall and a few Storm Troopers. Blinky isn’t exactly the fighting type, so he uses his projector to project a hologram of his buddy Bruiser. The Storm Troopers flee in terror, while the Air Marshall is left shaking in his boots. Eventually, Blinky turns off the hologram revealing it was a fake further embarrassing the Air Marshall. He then commandeers a Toad Double Bubble and takes off while three Double Bubbles pursue.

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No spacesuit needed for Blinky.

In space, the Righteous Indignation picks up the approaching Double Bubbles on its scanners. Dead-Eye is ready to fry them when Jenny is able to see that Blinky is piloting one. Dead-Eye is forced to stand down as the pursuing Double Bubbles open fire. Conveniently they blast off the hatch on Blinky’s side of the vessel and he jumps out before the rest of it explodes. Bucky opens the bay door and Blinky is able to get to it safely allowing for Dead-Eye to blast the remaining Double Bubbles into oblivion.

With Blinky safely aboard, he informs the others that the shield has been deactivated. They congratulate him and head for the planet. At ground level, Frix and Frax seem prepared to get eaten alive by Toadborg until they find out he intended for the android to escape. Putting Frix and Frax in charge all but assured it would happen. Air Marshall and the others are confused, but Toadborg obviously has a plan.

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The hand wants what it wants.

Blinky heads for his usual spot by the engine. It’s there he hears the voice of Toadborg beckoning him to sabotage the ship. Blinky tries to resist, but his hand grabs hold of some hardwired device. As he tries to resist, sparks shoot out of him and he collapses while whatever he was holding gets ripped from wherever it was. The ship immediately loses control and starts spinning teaching Willy a valuable lesson about seat belts. As Bucky and Jenny try to gain control, Bruiser returns to the cockpit with Blinky in his arms. They quickly realize what happened, but will need to act fast because the ship is heading straight for a sun. Willy says in order to fix the ship, he’ll need to fix Blinky first. On Rigel 5, Air Marshall and the others watch as the Righteous Indignation barrels towards the sun and celebrate when they see a resulting explosion.

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Is this the end for Bucky O’Hare? Not likely.

With Bucky and his crew apparently out-of-the-way, Komplex contacts the group to recall the troops from Rigel 5 as they now can commence with an attack on the mammals. Al Negator approaches the Air Marshall about payment for the defense shield, but the Air Marshall deems it obsolete now with Bucky no longer a concern. In space, the Righteous Indignation races into focus unbeknownst to the Toads. It’s explained that Willy and Blinky, together, fixed the ship after Willy fixed Blinky. It was also Willy’s idea to jettison a fuel tank to create the explosion the Toads saw. With the ship repaired and the shield still down, the crew turns its attention back to the koalas of Rigel Five.

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Al is amused by Blinky’s apparent loyalty while the Air Marshall frets over the bomb in his suit.

Al does not take kindly to such talk. He retrieves some device and he slips it into the Air Marshall’s suit. He tells him it’s a killer bee bomb and he better get paid or else it’s going to explode. As he dances around, Blinky returns. He claims his task is completed and that he escaped from the ship before it plunged into the sun. He requests a new task, and the Air Marshall tells him he has nothing for him and to go relax. He’ll be taken care of since he took care of Bucky O’Hare. He then settles up with Al.

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Bruiser making his television debut.

The rest of the crew arrives and takes over a Toad TV production studio. It seems Quintin the koala came up with the idea of putting Bruiser on live television to scare away the toads vacationing at the resort. Bruiser is a bit shy at first, but once the cameras start rolling he gets into it. Outside, Al Negator is enjoying a hot tub filled with a red-orange, bubbling, liquid while Air Marshall is at his side. He’s enjoying counting his payment for the defense shield when Bruiser appears on a nearby television. As other toads panic and flee, Air Marshall realizes he’ll need Al’s help once again. Al is happy to oblige, but he’ll need to see some more money.

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It’s going to cost Air Marshall a few bucks to get Al out of this hot tub.

Air Marshall leads Al as well as Frix and Frax to the production studio. He’s not intimidated by the broadcast as he thinks Bruiser is still a hologram. A fire-fight breaks out when they arrive, and everyone is a bad shot including Dead-Eye. Since no one can actually get shot, Air Marshall blasts some scaffolding which tumbles down into a make-shift cage that traps the mammals. All except Bruiser. When Bruiser approaches, Frix and Frax bolt while the Air Marshall is left to insist he’s a hologram. He reaches up and grabs Bruiser by the muzzle and becomes distressed when he finds fur on his fingers. Bruiser then does what Bruiser apparently does best by squashing Air Marshall into a football shaped object. He punts the warty little jerk across the room which is apparently enough of a demonstration for even Al Negator to beat it, despite being armed. The Air Marshall jumps into a Double Bubble while Al is forced to jump onto it. The two alternate yelling “Pay me!” “Sue me!” as the spacecraft takes off.

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Oh, you poor, stupid, toad.

With the Toads forces gone, Rigel 5 is free once more. Willy informs the koalas that he can probably reverse the defense shields to keep out toads rather than mammals, a welcomed piece of news. Back on Earth, Willy is again at the zoo with the same girl and she’s more impressed with him this time. When she says they need to protect creatures like koalas from the threat of mankind, Willy adds “toadkind” as well which causes her to declare that Willy can be so silly. He makes a stupid winking face at the camera that I refuse to capture, ending the most disappointing episode of the series thus far.

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I’m not a fan of this episode, but I do enjoy this pairing.

That’s how “On the Blink” ends, on the lightest note yet. This is the most bland episode thus far which really fits the typical mode of a children’s cartoon from this era. The enemies are too arrogant or stupid to pose a true threat leaving enough of an opening for the heroes to emerge successful. The power of Bruiser is also exploited as just putting him on television is enough to scare legions of toads and cause them to flee the planet all together. I get that they have a paralyzing fear of Berserker Baboons, but this seems excessive. It would also seem Al Negator possesses a similar fear since he turns tail and runs too, despite being armed with a gun and Bruiser not.

The episode tries to make Blinky its star, but doesn’t do much with him. His usefulness is on display, but I expected the episode to try to humanize him in some fashion but it makes little to no effort on that front. We do see some empathy towards Blinky from the crew, in particular from Bruiser who refers to him affectionately as Little Buddy. Blinky is basically inherently likable because of his cute design and helpful demeanor so perhaps he does not need humanizing, but it would have been interesting to see something more.

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Jenny felt the need to arm herself in this one.

Ultimately, this is a very ho-hum episode and the worst one of the series. It’s the type of children’s programming that is most likely successful at occupying a kid for a half hour, but little else. For an older viewer, there’s little to be entertained by as the humor is conventional and the animation quality mediocre with minimal action to fall back on. About the only thing of interest to me is seeing Jenny running around with a gun for the first time. She had been willing to go unarmed in prior episodes where she could rely on her psychic powers, but maybe the sidearm is a cover? It’s interesting that she wouldn’t just always have it, if that was the case. Interestingly, the gun design is the same as one of the included pistols with the Hasbro Dead-Eye Duck figure and I can recall my friends and I referring to it as “Jenny’s gun” when we were kids. Boss Fight Studio opted to include it as well with their Dead-Eye and their Jenny possess a hand capable of holding it even though she didn’t come with an accessory to hold herself. Anyway, this is an episode best forgotten and hopefully isn’t a sign of things to come.


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