He is the terror that flaps in the night. Gamely wading through sibilant-heavy consonance, a bevy of femmes fatale, and a crime-fighting style that depends more on dumb luck than critical thinking skills, Darkwing Duck wages an iffy battle against crime in St. Canard. With his looming sidekick, Launchpad, a precocious daughter, and trademark swirling cape, he bumbles through 27 episodes in the complete second season.
DW’s nemeses abound, including Tuskerninni (attempting, badly, to masquerade as Megavolt and Bushroot), and Morgana Macawber, who has long been a staple of the crime-fighter’s daydreams, now invades his dreams for real. There is a gentle silliness to it all, but that doesn’t prevent some social commentary from peeking through. “Whiffle While You Work” uncovers the dark side of the kids’ game market, as well as pitting Darkwing against his own daughter, Gosalyn, in an over-hyped video game contest. The series is at its best, though, when it’s taking aim classic films. THE LADYKILLERS is re-imagined as “Adopt-A-Con.” “The Secret Origins of Darkwing Duck” takes on the Superman mythos (film and comic book) while slyly referencing a slew of other science fiction icons as well as a nod to Aladdin. “Dry Hard” eschews a terrorist attack in favor of befouled drinking water, but who cares. Episodes like “The Incredible Bulk”, “It’s A Wonderful Leaf” and the classic “Twin Beaks” chart their own loopy individual courses. “Leaf” is the Christmas episode, and a particularly insightful one, being as much about the dangerous landscape of rabid holiday shoppers as it is about holiday cheer. Or lack thereof. Sinister Santa should by all rights be as popular as Festivus. “Beaks” alone is worth the price of the DVD set, mirroring the eeriness of the David Lynch/Mark Frost television series with a dead-on send-up, complete with weird music, a log that may or may not talk, and a coffee fixation. The episode’s cabbage from outer space that has more in common with the pod people of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” make this a uniquely divine Darkwing Duck creation.
The only downside to this DVD set is the dearth of special features beyond the bare-bones subtitles and French-language track. Never snarky, Darkwing Duck, romps rather than runs rampage over popular culture. Fearless with a pun or a self-reference, it’s accessible for kids who may or may not get the references, and puckish for adults who do. Despite his trademark cry of “Let’s get dangerous!”, he may not terrorize anyone except in his dreams, day or night, but he’s got a knack for being a witless and unwitting idiot loads of fun.