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.

 


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