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Batman: The Animated Series – “Baby-Doll”

baby-doll titleEpisode Number:  76

Original Air Date:  October 1, 1994

Directed by:  Dan Riba

Written by: Paul Dini

First Appearance(s):  Baby-Doll

Well, this is an interesting one. Batman:  The Animated Series has done well with original creations, and it’s also done not so well. Harley Quinn may have been a huge hit, but nobody likes Boss Biggs. Baby-Doll is yet another invention of the show and I’m curious how she came to be. Paul Dini, who has had to do some heavy lifting on the show’s second season, wrote this episode and presumably created the character. Baby-Doll is a Hollywood has-been with a rare genetic condition that makes her look like a child. Batman refers to the condition in the episode as systemic hypoplasia, but that’s a condition that usually impacts organs so Batman’s diagnosis is a bit off. The character is likely inspired by someone like Gary Coleman or maybe Emmanuel Lewis, two actors who played children on-screen even though they were older. Coleman had a kidney condition and his stunted development was the result of medication and complications from his disease, where-as Lewis apparently simply stopped growing. No matter, what’s important to know about Baby-Doll is she’s an adult female that resembles a child and she’s really unhappy with her life choices and how her career turned out. It’s certainly an unconventional premise for a Batman villain, but really, how many are truly conventional?

The episode opens as a play is letting out, Death of a Salesman. A young actor named Brian (Robbie Rist) waves goodbye to his cast mates and then is startled to hear crying. He finds a little girl with big, blonde, curls in the alley behind the theater. She’s lost, and apparently her brother is to blame. Brian goes to comfort her and when he gets a look at her face a shocked expression crosses his own. Before he can react further, he’s knocked out from behind and the girl apologizes for playing rough.

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The cast of That’s My Baby, a show that probably would have aired on Nick at Night had it been real.

Some time later, Batman and Robin are watching video in Commissioner Gordon’s office. Today’s subject is an old sitcom titled Love That Baby and Gordon informs the vigilantes that cast members from the show have gone missing. The young man we saw earlier, Brian Daly, was a part of that show which starred Mary Louise Dahl (Alison LaPlaca) as the title character Baby. Batman knows her from reading a report on her condition which caused her to retain a child-like appearance into adulthood. Robin mostly just remembers watching the show, which he was not a fan of. Dahl hasn’t been seen or heard from in years, while one other actress from the main cast has yet to go missing:  Tammy Vance (Judy Strangis). Batman takes the tape to check it out further, but then Bullock comes over on the police scanner about gunfire where they’re currently providing protection for Ms. Vance.

At the studio, which looks really similar to the background from the prior night, armed gunmen are firing on police while trying to abduct Vance. The two gunmen have a Gilligan and Skipper look going for them, which is interesting if nothing else. Batman and Robin soon arrive to put a stop to the gun-play and rescue Vance, but before they get a chance to settle down an armored truck comes barreling down the alley. Batman has to get out of the way and Robin is nearly flattened. The distraction allows the goons to grab Vance and toss her in the truck. As they speed away, Batman uses the controls on his belt to summon the Batmobile, but when a kid runs out into the street the Batmobile is forced to swerve and crash while the bad guys get away. Robin scoops up the crying child, whose mother soon shows up to take. As she’s holding her daughter the girl says to her mother “I didn’t mean to.” Batman recognizes this as the catchphrase for the Baby character from the show, and when he goes to stop the pair the girl slams a ball she was carrying on the ground which explodes into a big, cloud of smoke to mask their escape.

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Meet Batman’s newest foe:  Baby-Doll.

Batman and Robin then drop in on Summer Gleeson (Mari Devon) who recently had done a “Where Are They Now?” styled feature on the cast of Love That Baby. She has some tapes of the show, but when Batman asks why Dahl might have a grudge against her co-workers he finds out it’s they who should be angry with her. It would seem Dahl left the show to pursue a dramatic acting career, and Gleeson has a copy of her failed attempt at the notoriously unlucky MacBeth. Robin thinks it stinks and shares his opinion with the group. Apparently the critics and audiences felt the same way as the production was a flop. Following that high-profile failure, television networks no longer wanted to work with Dahl and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, Baby-Doll has assembled her old cast. Vance wakes up to find herself dressed as her old character and when she exits her bedroom she finds the old set and the familiar faces. The other actors include her TV father, Tod (Alan Young) mom June (LaPlaca) and brother Brian. They’re in costume as well and Baby-Doll comes strolling in with her favorite doll, Mr. Happy-Head. She’s very happy to have her “family” back, while the rest are pretty confused. She gathers them at the table where she lets them know they’re going to celebrate her birthday. It’s at this point that Tod has had enough. He tries to leave, but Baby-Doll’s assistant Mariam (Tasia Valenza) assaults him and he lumbers back to his seat at the table.

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Joker has tried this same thing. It too failed.

At the Batcave, Robin is suffering through the tapes they got from Gleeson and letting Batman how much he’s enjoying himself. He does stumble onto one potential lead though. In the show’s final season, to combat sagging ratings, it pulled a Cousin Oliver and added a new character named Cousin Spunky. Spunky would basically upstage Baby-Doll, and we see a clip of him slamming her face into her birthday cake from one episode. Apparently, it was the presence of that character that drove Dahl to quit and Batman assumes it’s only a matter of time until she sets her sights on the actor who played him.

We’re then taken to a suburban neighborhood where a heavy-set kid is playing guitar in his garage. A woman pushes a baby carriage up the driveway to him to complain about the loudness of the music claiming it woke her baby from her nap. The woman is Mariam, once again posing as a mom (she was the one who picked up Baby-Doll after the Batmobile incident) which means there’s only one person who could be in that stroller. When Spunky (James Marsden) looks in, he sees Dahl looking back at him and she shoots him with brown gas from her baby bottle.

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I hope you weren’t expecting much of a fight scene from this one.

Back “on-set,” Spunky is now tied to a chair and at the dinner table with his other former cast mates. Like them, he’s really confused about the situation as Baby-Doll confronts him from on top of the dining room table. She blames him for ruining her birthday, while he tries to explain they were just acting. Baby-Doll will hear none of it though and she pushes a giant cake towards him. She then starts smearing cake on his face as revenge for what happened to her, but she’s not stopping there. Soon she places candles on the cake and a big ‘ol stick of dynamite right in the middle. She lights it then tells Spunky (we never learn his actual name) to blow it out, which he tries to do, but is unsuccessful. Seeing no other option, he grabs the dynamite with his mouth and flings it over his shoulder. It bounces onto another part of the set where it explodes harmlessly (the blast was quite large, so either Baby-Doll underestimated it or she planned on killing herself and her fake family in the process). disappointed, Baby-Doll whips out Mr. Happy-Head who apparently has a gun hidden in his head. She fires a shot which emerges from the doll’s eye socket and then starts towards Spunky in an obviously threatening manner.

Glass shatters above the table, and Batman drops in (seriously villains, avoid skylights)! He makes quick work of Gilligan and his buddy and knocks the doll from Baby-Doll’s hands. It’s at this point Spunky jumps up, free of his restraints, and reveals he was actually Robin in disguise (so did he have that dynamite thing the whole way or was Batman late in getting there?). The Dynamic Duo has played Dahl for a sucker, but things aren’t a wrap just yet. Mariam comes to her boss’s aid and she apparently has some moves. She blasts Batman into some rigging and takes out Robin as well, who can’t help but pay her a compliment. Batman is able to rope her ankle with a Batarang-hook, when Mariam goes for a jump-kick he gives it a tug and swings her into a wall putting an end to that threat.

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She’s smart enough to know to lead Batman somewhere he won’t have as easy a time navigating as she will.

Batman then leaves Robin to tend to the actors while he goes after Baby-Doll. She’s taken off with her doll and made her way into a nearby amusement park. Unlike the parks Joker typically inhabits, this one is very much in use and Baby-Doll is able to hide amongst the patrons. When Batman drops in to survey the area, his appearance attracts attention as people flock to get a look at him. This works to his advantage as Baby-Doll hangs back and then takes off running. She ducks into a shooting gallery type of game. When Batman does the same, he finds himself staring down an over-sized gun that fires tennis balls. Baby-Doll, apparently forgetting she has a real gun, pummels Batman with tennis balls until he is able to grab a doll prize and throw it at her the force of which knocks her from her perch.

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What Baby-Doll refers to as her real self.

Baby-Doll then flees into a fun house that’s closed for repairs. She taunts Batman apparently wanting him to follow her. He’s forced to crawl through plastic tubes which Baby-Doll can run through, putting him at a pretty big disadvantage. She continues to taunt him before slipping in some strikes. When she finally turns to her doll-gun, Batman fires his grapple gun at it to knock it from her hands. Baby-Doll exits the tube to retrieve her gun and finds herself in a room of mirrors. One of which reflects back an “adult” version of her. She identifies with this image as “the real me,” and seems to grow sad. Batman then appears and she swings around and fires only to find it was a reflection. As Batman appears in other mirrors, Dahl fires repeatedly at them destroying them all until the only one left is the one reflecting back her “real” self. With tears in her eyes, she fires once more destroying the image. She tries to continue firing but she’s run out of bullets. Batman removes the doll from her hands and she tearfully turns to him and repeats her catchphrase “I didn’t mean to.” She clutches at his leg as a high-angle shot from the camera lingers a moment, then fades to black.

“Baby-Doll” is an unconventional episode, no doubt about it. Or rather, the villain is unconventional in her design since really the story is just another insane individual looking for revenge on those she perceived wronged her. A lot of Batman villains can say the same. It’s also interesting that this episode follows “Bane,” an episode where the villain is a huge physical threat to Batman where-as Baby-Doll is really not one at all. I’m impressed that Dini came up with the funhouse as a way to put Batman at a disadvantage, since the thought of Baby-Doll taking him out is ludicrous on the surface.

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When ever Baby-Doll gets mad, her voice deepens and the black around her eyes thickens. It’s a neat approach.

Obviously, part of the genesis for the episode stems from someone like Dini just working in television. The Cousin Oliver gimmick is interesting as it refers to Oliver from The Brady Bunch, who was played by Robbie Rist who voices Brian in this episode (I guess it would have been too on-the-nose to have him voice Spunky). Baby-Doll is a stand-in for many child actors who have had a tough time transitioning to adulthood. And in her case, the point is hammered home by having her physically remain like a child.

This episode marks the final contribution to this show by Studio Junio. Aside from their episodes seeming to contain lots of grammatical errors in the backgrounds, I must say I enjoyed their work. There’s a bit more of a cartoon vibe to their episodes and even some flashes of anime. Batman looks great in this episode and Junio apparently had access to better shades of green as Robin doesn’t have those turquoise accents on his gloves. Baby-Doll is perhaps a bit too cartoonish for my taste as she reminds me of Elmira from Tiny Toon Adventures. Her head is gigantic like a cartoon character, and it pulls me out of the scenes sometimes especially the closing shot with Batman.

I feel like “Baby-Doll” is an episode that should suck, to put it bluntly, but doesn’t. The story it tells actually proved compelling and the character of Dahl is made sympathetic in the end. A lot of that can be attributed to the voice work of Alison LaPlaca who does a great job in shifting tones from a higher, child-like voice, to a lower aged one when Dahl gets upset. There’s even a touch of a Child’s Play vibe as Dahl gets a little creepy when not using her Baby voice. This one works, in spite of its weirdness. It’s not anywhere near my top 10 episodes, and I don’t need to see Baby-Doll again (and we won’t until The New Batman Adventures), but I am fine with this episode existing.


DuckTales Premiere “Woo-oo”

ducktales_2017_by_xeternalflamebryx-db1zb8bWhen Disney set out to reintroduce DuckTales to a new generation of youngsters they clearly decided the most enduring legacy of the late 1980s cartoon series was its catchy theme song. Penned by Mark Mueller and covered in exhausting detail in a new Vanity Fair piece, the DuckTales theme has remained a unifying force of nostalgia for those who heard and watched cartoons during its run. It’s upbeat, poppy, and entrancingly catchy qualities are essentially the one aspect of the old cartoon preserved almost exactly for this new edition of DuckTales. Sure, it’s now sung by Felicia Barton and that final verse is altered ever so slightly, but it’s relatively unchanged from its origins and it still rocks.

The theme has been a central part to the advertising blitz laid out by Disney which seems to know it has something in DuckTales. So confident is the sense coming from the company that it’s a wonder this wasn’t attempted sooner. Is there something magical about waiting for the 30th anniversary of the original program as opposed to the 10th or 20th? Or have we just arrived at a moment in time technologically speaking where this show can be done at a reasonable cost without resorting to the 3D computer-generated imagery of many of Disney’s modern cartoons? Whatever the reason, the song appeared in a quick teaser for the show last year along with the unmistakable “Yeah!” of Donald Duck. The new cast was introduced via a YouTube video where they all sing the song with great exuberance and some pretty impressive timing. And why not? The song is perhaps the best cartoon theme ever concocted and should be leaned upon heavily to bring this franchise back.

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The money bin is still a thing, and looks to be harder to penetrate this time around.

And DuckTales is indeed back. Saturday August 12th marked the debut for the new series, and much like its predecessor, it debuted with an hour long special. Disney XD was the chosen landing spot and the entire day’s programming has been dedicated to airing the new episode of DuckTales, titled “Woo-oo”, for the entire duration of the day. It’s a bold way to announce a new show and it will also be streaming on Disney’s websites and apps presumably until the show’s re-debut in September.

Resurrecting a beloved franchise isn’t easy and often thankless. Fanbases seem to become increasingly protective of that which they love as time marches forward and the slightest change can cause the biggest disruptions. Perhaps that’s why the show has felt so secretive with Disney waiting what felt like an eternity before showing off even a still image from the show. In general, it seems most took the show’s new look with enthusiasm. Scrooge now sports his traditional red coat from the comics from which he first made his name. The show is presented in 2D as opposed to 3D, and all of the familiar faces are still there. The children have received a makeover, as expected, but they don’t feel as forced as the ones the nephews got for the short-lived Quack Pack program in which Disney seemed to be forcing teenaged culture into the show in a mostly unauthentic fashion. The show also promised to send its cast on more timeless adventures, seeking treasure and uncovering all manners fantastic all while maintaining not just the spirit of the original toon, but those Carl Barks stories as well.

DuckTales_2017_2

Expect to see some old foes pop-up eventually.

Naturally, some voices had to change as well and Disney kept its casting decisions under wraps for some time. Alan Young was basically the only Scrooge my generation knew, but Father Time made sure it wouldn’t be possible for him to continue the role for the new series (RIP). David Tennant has brought his Scottish charm to the new series. His Scrooge is a lot more youthful sounding, but comes across as authentic and dashing and I think it’s a voice that will suit him. Terry McGovern, who voiced Launchpad McQuack in the original series as well as in Darkwing Duck, lobbied hard for the role here but was passed over in favor of Beck Bennet. Bennett is fine, and I understand the feeling in the building that this should be a new show for a new generation, but Bennett basically sounds like he’s doing his best McGovern impression which makes me wonder what’s the point in re-casting him? The nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie have unique voice actors for really the first time in their existence in Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan. I’ll miss the adorable duck voice of Russi Taylor, but I can’t argue against the decision to make the nephews feel like distinguishable characters from one another. It used to be that only the color of their shirt differentiated one from the other, but in this series all three have their own unique personality. It seems like Huey will be the boy scout, Dewey the crafty trouble-maker, and Louie more of a laid back sort. Kate Micucci is Webby, who too seems like she’ll have a more pronounced character other than girl duck. Mrs. Beakly has perhaps received the most pronounced makeover as she’s gone from grandma-like in appearance to a hulking behemoth. She’s voiced by Toks Olagundoye and I’m curious to see what kind of backstory has been crafted for her to explain this brawny physique. Last, but certainly not least, is Donald Duck voiced by the irreplaceable Tony Anselmo. Donald was reduced to a cameo role for the original DuckTales due in part to Disney being sensitive about using its classic characters for TV and over concerns of his sometimes unintelligible speech pattern. Thankfully Donald has been restored to full-time cast member as he was in the comics and DuckTales 2017 already has a huge leg-up over the original.

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Donald and his nephews have a very hum-drum sort of existence when the show opens.

The premiere opens with Donald and his nephews aboard a houseboat that they apparently live on. It’s seen better days, and Donald is preparing for a job interview. When he realizes he can’t leave his nephews home alone, he decides to ask his estranged uncle for a favor. We find Scrooge in a state of depression as his life has become rather mundane and unexciting. He’s still fabulously wealthy, but doesn’t appear to be living a truly rich life. He and Donald had an unexplained falling out and their first encounter in many years is hardly warm and fuzzy. Still, Scrooge agrees to help out his nephew by watching his grand-nephews, who before today had no idea they were related to the famous Scrooge McDuck. They think they’re meeting a great adventurer, but are pretty disappointed in what is presented to them. They soon meet Webby, the grand daughter of Mrs. Beakly who lives with Scrooge and takes care of the household. Webby is starved for adventure and her sheltered life in the mansion appears to be driving her a little crazy. The boys and Webby make some fun discoveries while poking around the mansion, which helps to bring out Scrooge’s adventurous side. Meanwhile, Donald gets his job, but his new employer is going to cause some problems for his uncle. Everyone ends up on a collision course for Atlantis, the adventure is appropriately grand.

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Scrooge will have no shortage of enemies and challengers to his title of World’s Wealthiest Duck.

Right off the bat I find myself in love with the visual style of DuckTales. There’s a very Barksian quality to the look of the show with some of the images appearing very influenced by Barks’ later works of art. The animation is undoubtedly done on a computer, whether it’s done South Park style by creating 2D models that are animated or if they’re hand-drawn onto computer tablets I do not know, but it does work. It’s not stiff and it’s not lazy and it doesn’t really look like anything else on television right now. Scrooge warms up to his adventuring lifestyle pretty fast, but it’s fun so I’m not going to quibble with a fast-moving plot. The adolescents are convincing and there is room for exploration with all of them. Mostly, of course, I really am fascinated by this Donald Duck. He possesses his trademarked short temper, but it also appears he’ll be the voice of reason in the group who at least tries to keep everyone in check. It’s a role Donald has really never served on film and it will be a lot of fun exploring this rarely seen side of an 80 year old character. The easter eggs and callbacks are also handled as well as fan-service can be with only one line spoken by a reporter sounding forced, but I won’t pretend like I didn’t enjoy it. And I really loved the reveal at the very end of the episode, which I won’t spoil here, as it seems to suggest this version of DuckTales will have something very new to explore.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty high on this new version of DuckTales. I may have done things a little differently if given the chance, but I can’t deny the finished product looks and feels great. This show has a lot of potential and something about the way it’s being marketed just exudes an infectious amount of confidence in the material that’s very reassuring. It sounds like there’s a lot of fun stuff to look forward to on the horizon, with other Disney Afternoon properties even rumored to resurface. Whether you loved the original series or never watched it, I encourage you to check out DuckTales as this looks like it’s going to be a really fun ride.


DuckTales: Remastered

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DuckTales: Remastered (2013)

If you read yesterday’s post about DuckTales for the NES, you may have thought, “Wow, I’m surprised he didn’t mention anything about the re-make that came out in 2013.” Well, that’s because I was saving it for its own post! DuckTales: Remastered is a complete remake of the original NES game for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii U. Initially a digital only release, DuckTales: Remastered would receive a tangible release as well, and for a game the started as a budget-friendly digital title, I can think of few others that received as much attention and fanfare as DuckTales: Remastered.

Capcom debuted the game at E3 with a memorable video hyping it up before indulging the audience in a sing-along of the memorable theme song from the show. The release of the game coincided with the 25th anniversary of the NES original, and it was a worthy title to revisit based on the fact that the original is still a ton of fun to play. Naturally, remaking a game many consider to be a classic is a tall task, but with such simple play mechanics, how could Capcom go wrong?

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Transylvania got a lot scarier over the last 25 years.

DuckTales the game is largely unchanged at its core. The player still controls Scrooge who jumps and pogos his way through various levels (now six) in an effort to accumulate more wealth for himself and eventually to recover his lucky dime. What is changed are the production values. Modern game consoles can obviously handle quite a bit more, and this being tied to a Disney property, means a remake needs to meet the expectations and standards of The Walt Disney Company.

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A comparison of the sprites from the NES original and the Remastered version.

For the first time ever, a Disney Afternoon property can now basically look just like it does in game form as it did on television. The game is still a 2D side-scroller, but now the sprites for the characters are lovingly hand-drawn in great detail in bright, expressive colors. Scrooge will mostly sport a happy expression, but when he encounters the Beagle Boys or Magicka DeSpell he’ll scrunch his face up into a frown. The enemies too feature changing facial expressions, and not just the boss characters, but even lowly spiders and the like. The levels really come to life as the difference in climate is really accentuated by the enhanced presentation. All in all, DuckTales: Remastered is a beautiful game to behold and one of my very favorites from a visual point of view.

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Another comparison shot to the original.

The enhanced fidelity of the game’s graphics are not the only aspect of the presentation to be enhanced with better technology. The audio is also greatly expanded upon featuring full-voiced characters with actors from the show as well as remastered music. Alan Young, in what is basically his swan-song as Scrooge, does a great job of voicing the greedy old duck and shows that time hasn’t taken much away from his vocal chords. Russi Taylor is on-hand to reprise her role as the nephews, Huey, Duey, and Louie, while  Terry McGovern returns as Launchpad. The wonderful June Foray was even brought back to voice Magicka DeSpell, making this a reunion of sorts for the cast. This seems all the more special since the new version of the cartoon set to launch this summer will feature an all new cast for these characters.

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I love how cold this cavern looks.

The downside to all of these resources is the need to make liberal use of them. DuckTales for the NES was a quick and fun to play title that would have worked even without the DuckTales license. For Remastered, a lot of cut scenes and cinematics were tacked onto the experience, not just in between levels, but even during them. They can be skipped, but even so they really break up the experience of playing the game and not in a welcomed way. Worse, I feel kind of guilty skipping over any line from Young and the other cast-mates, but it can get old hearing the same lines over and over if you’re forced to retry a stage. The game has also been lengthened quite a bit, not just with these scenes, but with a new level and longer boss encounters. Some of the boss fights are fine in their new form, while others do drag. I particularly hated the very final encounter with Magicka and Glomgold. What was a pretty simple race to the top of a rope in the first game, is now a death-defying escape from an active volcano with questionable hit detection. I had to replay the final, added level (which aside from the ending was quite good) repeatedly because I kept dying on this final part. Once I finally beat it I was too aggravated to enjoy it.

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And you thought only Zelda came in gold carts.

The game also adds additional collectibles that can be unlocked as you play, giving you something to do with all of the money Scrooge accumulates throughout the game. It’s mostly limited to concept art and background stills from the game but it’s still fun to look at, though not really enticing enough to encourage repeated play-throughs. I wish Capcom had gone the extra mile and included an unlockable version of the original game or its much rarer sequel. There was a press kit sent out to select individuals that included an actual copy of the original NES game, painted gold, and with the Remastered artwork on the cart. Acquiring one of those on the after-market will set you back a few grand, though it is a pretty neat collectible (and one that probably really irritated those select few that had a complete library of NES games in 2013).

Ultimately, DuckTales: Remastered is a fine enough love letter to the original game. It looks and sounds great, though it’s not quite as much fun to play as the original (though Scrooge’s pogo is still just as satisfying as it was back then) due to the pacing issues. It’s an odd duck (pun intended) in that regard, as most objective onlookers would take one look at both and immediately decide they’d rather play the remake. If you enjoyed the original, Remastered is still worth your time as it’s pretty cheap to acquire and includes enough fan-service to make you smile. And at the end of the day, it’s still DuckTales and still inherently fun, even if it could have been more.


#2 – Mickey’s Christmas Carol

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickey’s Christmas Carol marked the return of the most famous cartoon mouse to the big screen for the first time in 30 years. Once a staple of the cinematic experience, Mickey had been pushed aside for other characters (namely Donald Duck) and live-action features. It had been even longer since Mickey, Donald, and Goofy had all appeared in the same short.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol was released in 1983 along with the The Rescuers. As shorts go, it’s actually pretty long, which has helped it over the years in being shown on television because it fits easily into a standard half-hour time-slot. Mickey’s Christmas Carol also goes against one of my personal tenants of Christmas specials which is to avoid adaptations of A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life. That’s often the path of the lazy, but Mickey’s Christmas Carol benefits as being one of the earlier adaptations, and for some reason, it just works.

The story is obviously familiar to most people. It’s a pretty straight-forward retelling of the Dickens classic just with Disney characters acting out the parts (only the animal characters though, no humans allowed). The cast features the old popular ones of Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Minnie while also mixing in cameos from The Winds in the Willow, Silly Symphonies, and Robin Hood, among others. This is also the first short to feature Scrooge McDuck as the character he was born to play. He’s voiced by Alan Young, known to audiences as Wilbur from Mister Ed, who has continued to voice the character even into his 90’s. Another debut is Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, just the third voice actor to portray the character. Clarence “Ducky” Nash also gets a final opportunity to voice Donald Duck, before the character would be passed onto Tony Anselmo. As a result, Mickey’s Christmas Carol feels like a really important short in the company’s history as there’s a lot of historical significance that can be attached to it.

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Gets me every time.

All of that stuff is great, but it wouldn’t matter if the story sucked. Instead, the story is told in a brisk, but not rushed, manner. The shots that need to linger, linger, and the ones that can be hurried along are. The animation is vintage Disney, with Scrooge walking home in the snow from his counting house probably my favorite shot. All of the right emotions hit, and Scrooge’s transformation from miserable miser to benevolent boss is done in a believable way. Just try to suppress the lump in your throat when Mickey is seen crying at the grave of Tiny Tim in the flash-forward. That sight would transform any man!

Mickey’s Christmas Carol has a special place in my heart. It was the lead-off special on a homemade VHS tape my mom made for my sister and I when we were really little. As a result, it’s also probably the Christmas special I’ve seen more than any other. Since Disney is omnipresent on television, Mickey’s Christmas Carol is shown quite frequently around the holidays, so hopefully you didn’t miss it this year. It’s also been released multiple times on DVD and Blu Ray, most recently just two years ago. Though if you really want to own a copy of it, I suggest you pony up the extra dollars for Mickey Mouse: In Living Color Volume 2 so you can also enjoy a bunch of Mickey’s other classic shorts.

 


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