Tales of Derring-Do

As incorrect as DuckTales was, I’ve always thought the voice fellow they used made a good Scrooge — even though Rosa insists Scrooge shouldn’t really have any accent anymore. The voice just fits him better than most characters. Donald’s voice, for example; it’s fine for the screen-Donald, who, as they say, throws nuts at Chip ‘N Dale — but the comic book Duck, who has a personality, speaks like a normal human being? I have no clue what his voice would sound like.

I also do like the refined nephew voices in DuckTales. They sound “ducky” enough, but are more than normal-sounding, as well.

Actually, DT wasn’t too bad a show. It had a number of well-written episodes, and, hell, it tried. It’s virtually the only acknowledgement by Disney that Barks’ characters ever existed. Just the fact they altered so many things and got so much wrong really annoys me.

I also admit I do like Launchpad. He was basically added to take the place of the Donald role, but he’s an enjoyable character anyway.

What don’t rub me so well are:

  • Webby and “Mrs. Beakly”;
  • “Duckworth”
  • that young fellow named “Doofus”
  • the voice for Magica DeSpell — she’s supposed to be a vixen. Why does she sound like an old hag?
  • Their characterization of Glomgold as a Scotsman who lives in Duckburg rather than a Boer who lives in South Africa
  • Their dumbed-down and “modified” Beagle Boys, with their individual names and personalities (beyond the prunes and numbers)
  • The absence of Donald, he being the axis of the whole situation to begin with
  • The strange, gawky way they drew Gyro
  • The fact that Gyro’s little helper only appeared exactly twice in all the years of the show, in cameos, and that when he did appear they called him “little bulb.” Again, huh?
  • The fact that Gladstone, as major a character as he is, only appeared twice. (Perhaps in absence of his rival, Donald?) He had a brief cameo, which was cute — but when he appeared properly, they got his character all wrong.
  • The minimal acknowledgement of the Junior Woodchucks, and very un-woodchucklike behaviour on the part of the nephews
  • The unfortunate characterization, voice, and appearance they gave to Glittering Goldie.
  • the odd negative color-switch they gave to $crooge’s jersey.
  • The fact they permanently screwed things up by confusing Dewey and Louie, then insisting it had always been that way. (Rather than Huey=red; Dewey=blue and Louie=green, as it had usually tended to be (once colors had finally been settled upon), they made it Huey=red; Dewey=green and Louie=blue.)
  • The absence of the dry wit to Barks’s writing, either misinterpreting it and taking jokes seriously or just being sickly silly.

And yet: they did basically get Scrooge’s character right, which is amazing. Had they just stuck to Barks, the show could still be on now — the elements they removed could provide a virtually endless number of plot ideas, in a number of different genres — the “ten pager,” with Donald and the kids getting into trouble around town or chasing each other around or contesting against Gladstone or other day-to-day activities; the classic Scrooge adventure, which is basically all they used as inspiration; the Scrooge “ten pager,” which they did actually use on occasion, which deal with more daily, small troubles; the Donald adventure story; the Junior Woodchuck competition stories; the Gyro episode… I could go on.

The biggest error is probably their removal of Donald and Gladstone. Compared to their absence, the other changes are nothing. I guess they just didn’t think Donald would be intelligable enough for such a large role — or perhaps they didn’t want the wider public to be confused by the fact he has a personality. I think they just figured everyone else other than the nephews would be “new” characters to most of the viewing population, allowing them to mold the show however they liked.

Result, almost everyone I’ve met seems to think that Scrooge was created for DuckTales in 1986. A few correct them: no, he was the character created for Mickey’s Christmas Carol in 1980, remember? Then that just confuses the whole matter. Why would Disney use Ebenezer Scrooge as a major character and call him Donald’s uncle?

Third Time’s the Charm

TSR has been bought out by the makers of Magic: The Gathering, and here, apparently, comes a third edition of our favourite poorly-managed campaign fodder. Yikes. That is unfortunate. I can’t imagine what they’ll do to the system besides screw it up. 2nd edition is perfect. How on Earth do they mean to mangle it?

In 1st edition, there were uncountable gaps and very roughly-calculated rules. It was obviously a good idea, but it needed to be revised and edited to come completely into form. Some things had to be removed altogether in order to make it fair, only to be reintroduced later, in a modified form, as optional add-ons to the core rules.

They did a damned good job evening the game out, too; It was smooth. The only possible two things I can see which would warrant a third edition would be, one, to clean up all of the clutter of add-ons and “extra” rules; to attempt to incorporate everying in a grandiose, global, overly-large way (as opposed to the sleek, bare-bones approach we all know and love, which encourages imaginative interpretation)… and two, to make money by forcing everyone to buy everything over again.

Seeing as how they were just bought out by Wizards a few months ago and TSR hadn’t seen need to release a third edition in the, what, fifteen years of ad&d/2nd? Seeeing as how they were just purchased by a new company, my theory is Wizards want their new acquistion to rain in the moola. Look for a fourth edition in 2000, judging by their strategy with their own product. It’s probable they don’t so much care about the integrity of the system as they do that they can make this famous name, AD&D, pay off for them in a big way. How do they do that? Print a whole lot of new books. But how can you make sure people will buy them? Well, you could release a lot of interesting, highly-demanded material which has, as yet, gone unpublished, which, of course, takes time and imagination — or you could fuck with the established rule system and reprint all of the base, neccesary material, forcing everyone really into the game to buy it all over again,

Of course, I could be wrong. They could have a small team of extremely talented, imaginative, logical, insightful people evening out the system even more and simplifying gameplay to an extent we can only imagine while sacrificing none of its inherent functionality in the process.

Which do you think is more likely?

I’m lapsing back into a zone of deathful lonliness again, dangerous mostly because it causes me to drop my guard and latch onto any emotion I can pull out of people, however destructive it may be to me, without realizing until later how much of a schmuck I’ve been.

“The End,” indeed.

This is actually feeling quite satisfying and warm, somehow. The show’s not going to be the same anymore — you can see it. Actually, X was, theortically, supposed to be over with this episode — before they, a few months ago, renewed, deciding in the process to move from Vancouver to Hollywood.

With all of that which happened therein, this episode really effectively ended the show. In order for a movie to work, it would have to be much more fast-paced and millitant, as opposed to the cerebral hover the show’s always tended to have. With the X-files destroyed, Samantha’s file in Cancer Man’s hands, and the “truth” all narrowed down to that one boy, the series has suddenly become strongly focused. From two FBI agents just running around covering cases, it’s turned into Mulder and Scully alone vs. the world.

Without the X-files as a tangible quest, a safe retreat in the basement and a path to follow, the two of them are forced to stop dinkering around, hopping from place-to-place randomly, wasting time, slowly investigating everything they see just in case it might be important somehow. It’s like that phase is over, now — the burning of the files was more symbolic than anything, because they are now, as of this episode, effectively useless to them, the path to Mulder’s “truth” right in front of them, outside of the FBI building. The files hold more an emotional value than a physical need for the agents, and the burning again helps to push Mulder and Scully to the action needed for the next step; now they’re motivated. Their “home” has been destroyed.

Also nice how the relationships amongst the characters have been cleared up. Okay; so Krycheck (or however you spell him. . .now I know why people call him “ratboy”) is in league with the “big guys” again, and Cancer Man is now their hired gun. Skinner is no longer Mulder’s boss, per se, but a connection within the FBI. Etcetera.

This episode was really effective in those two ways; cleaning up the plotline and spelling out in simple detail the characters and their associations.

The last few minutes of the show were almost a prologue to the movie. . .I felt all tingly. All I could think, aside from what Mulder and Scully were obviously thinking as they stood there, was “jesus. This is. . .this. . .this is. . .it’s over.” The fact there was no preview for the next episode — and, frankly, the title of the episode itself — kind of made my throat seize up a little. . .even though I know the show will now continue for at least a while longer (albeit, likely, in completely different way).

Castlevania

I just now, after over a decade, finished Castlevania 1 (only by playing the japanese version on the easy setting and saving a lot)… the ending credits say the music is by — “Johnny Bannana,” I believe was the name. Also, they call Simon “Simon Belmondo.” There are mounds of credits such as “Plot: Brahm Stoker” and “Frankenstein: Boris Karloff”… hm.

I finally downloaded an msx emulator and frontend, in order to play Vampire Killer. The graphics in it blow the nes version away, but it’s impossible to play. It makes the original US ver of Castlevania seem like a pushover…

You can see sorta’ see how VK is a game-in-development… how, when they remade it for the nes, they looked closely at its structure and remixed the elements in a more palatable form. The rounds are very similar in structure and background, identical in music (though the psx music is better), almost identical in character and monster sprites, but in the nes version there’s scrolling, the enemies are placed sanely (inasmuch as they don’t keep coming in an unending stream, but, rather, are put in specific places), you don’t have to look around for keys and whip walls in hidden places to finish levels, and you get to really use items.

I think Simon’s Quest was a way of trying to put some of the original elements back into Castlevania which they thankfully removed for the nes conversion — such as the idea of an inventory; buying items and searching for others; having a nonlinear(ish) round structure. The shield from CVII is even in there… though nobody appears to shoot at you, so its usefulness is questionable. Actually, there’re two different shield types.

Playing that game from hell for about half an hour gives me a much greater appriciation for what it later spawned, and helps me to understand the series better, as well — just to see kind of the thought processes behind the first game, before major editing, and from where some ideas from the second probably came. Sort of like listening to Purest Feeling, the major difference being PF was a lot better than PHM in a number of aspects.

Best Brains

MST3K is going to only have thirteen episodes this season, inasmuch as Sci-Fi decided not to pick up the option for the remaining nine (making a complete season).

Here’s the good thing, however — There Will be a season ten, and Sci-Fi and Best Brains are getting along wonderfully (unlike how everything went with Comedy Central)… There’s no ratings problem, and the show isn’t disgruntling anyone at the station. Sci-Fi seems to be grateful to have some light-hearted original programming to flesh out the turgid bleakness of much of the material on the station.