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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.

 


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.


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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