Series Review: Duck Dodgers in the 24th and 1/2 Century

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

In the interest of furthering our knowledge of animated sci-fi TV series, The Husband picked up the TV series "Duck Dodgers In The 24th and 1/2 Century." We watched the first 3 episodes on the DVD, and already I have a big problem with the format.

The animation is all right, and fairly true to the Chuck Jones style. The voice acting is good enough that I was surprised to find out Daffy and Porky were not done by Mel Blanc. The problem is with Daffy's character.

When Daffy played Daffy Duck, he was a schemer, always out for himself, trying to get the better of Bugs Bunny--and usually getting his come-uppance.

When he was the original Duck Dodgers, though, he was seriously trying to be the Space Opera Super Hero.

In this series, they have Duck Dodgers being a cranky, scheming slacker who is so self-centered and ignorant that he literally doesn't see when he's in trouble. And yet he is in a position of trust and respect, and supposed to be some kind of hero. In the words of Wikipedia, "Dodgers is arrogant, selfish, greedy, lazy, cowardly, gullible, and not particularly intelligent." I hate that type of character. It's like they took Bender and Zapp Brannigan, pasted them together, and stuck them in a Daffy Duck suit. 

It's almost hard to watch these episodes. They feel padded out, even at only eleven minutes long. They're supposed to be comedy, but they play them a little more like "funny drama." And they play like fan fiction.  "Oh, I liked Duck Dodgers--let's make him a real jerk who thinks he's this great hero, but it's really Porky Pig who makes him look good--!"  The bad sort of fan fiction, because it's Officially Sanctioned Fan Fiction, and thus is to be taken for "canon."  Ah, more of "Remember all those lighthearted, goofy, fun cartoons from our youth? WELL LET'S MAKE THEM ALL REALLY DARK AND EDGY!!! CUZ LIFE SUCKS!!! AND WE WANT TO GET THAT ACROSS TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF KIDS!!!"  Maybe "Duck Dodgers" isn't exactly dark and edgy, but it feels like the studio is flogging a tired property to wring a little more nostalgia dollars out of it, and in the meantime, creating a group of new fans who will assimilate the alterations in the characters and accept them.  It bugs me (no pun intended) because I grew up watching "Looney Tunes" cartoons, and this series feels like a betrayal of the spirit of the cartoons.

If the first episode, where Dodgers is being court-martialled for gross incompetence and dereliction of duty, came later on, I would have been hoping for a conviction.

The character design and name of the Martian Queen is interesting, but again, looks like fan fiction--"Oh, we thought Marvin was hilarious, but let's make him the oddball and all the other Martians are sexy hotbodies! Yeah!"

There were a few good lines, one that I'm even going to steal ("I've done something terrible--" "I'll help you bury the body.") But the reliance of parodies of other shows gets tiresome (the Robot in Episode Three looked like Robbie, talked like B9, and acted like the Iron Giant.)

Maybe I'm so disappointed because I wanted this series to be much better than it seems to be. I dunno, I really don't have enough enthusiasm for it to feel one way or the other about it.