Superheroes are huge these days, at least most of them are. Some are a little under 3 feet. In the Disney afternoon universe of Ducktales comes Darkwing Duck, or DW as his friends and arch enemies refer to him. Darkwing appropriately enough inhabits a more sinister side of the Ducktales world where he is ever vigilante for the exotic criminals that threaten St. Canard. If you still donâ€™t get the idea, think of Adam Westâ€™s Batman as a Disney duck. DW comes complete with the prerequisite Duckmobile and steady supply of crime fighting gadgets and gizmos. His faithful, if not overly intelligent, sidekick is Ducktales holdover Launchpad McQuack. When not fighting crime, DW has the expected secret identity of Drake Mallard. Just to finish the Batman comparisons, Drake has a ward, of sorts, Gosalyn, his adopted daughter. Like Robin, Gosalyn is ever helpful in DWâ€™s capers. Once in a while DW is challenged by a secret villainous society, The Fiendish Organization of World Larceny, or F.O.W.L. for short. There are some 60â€™s secret agent themes to be found here, but they are far more Maxwell Smart than James Bond.
Darkwing Duck appears to be aiming at some of the adults in the audience. It appears to me that a lot of the cultural references and even plot points might be over the head of the typical afternoon cartoon crowd. Disney, cleverly, integrates enough of the 1960â€™s comic nostalgia to sucker in the parents as well. Lately Iâ€™ve been in my own trip down memory lane thanks to the release of many of my Marvel Comics favorites on DVD-ROM. Iâ€™ve been able to reacquaint myself with the likes of Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four beyond the modern films, recreated from the pages of their original exploits. Perhaps that makes me more alert for the obvious references. All of the villains could easily have come from these very color-splattered pages of adolescent excitement. This means that all you parents out there might end up joining your kids in watching these DVDâ€™s.
Each episode of Darkwing Duck is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. On the whole I found colors to hold up well, even if they arenâ€™t as bright as I remember. Thereâ€™s quite a bit of compression artifact, and no question this allows for some of the picture quality loss. I found some episodes to be particularly grainy. My guess is that Disney did not spend the time and money itâ€™s famous for in remastering their animation on this 1990â€™s television show. Thatâ€™s really too bad, because the animation is actually pretty darn good.
You get a basic Dolby Digital 2.0 track to go with these cartoons. Dialog is clear, so there really isnâ€™t anything to complain about. The typical cartoon sounds are reproduced with at least the same clarity as the original broadcast. I wasnâ€™t expecting anything terribly dynamic here, because frankly itâ€™s not called for. What I got delivered exactly what I needed it to deliver. Nothing less. Nothing more.
Ducktales has actually been around a long time, and I caught myself a little surprised that these Darkwing Duck cartoons went all the way back to the early 1990â€™s. Not having kids, I basically ignored these shows when they were on and might have done the same with these DVDâ€™s. We get this idea in our heads that some program or another is basically just for kids and move on with our lives. Itâ€™s too bad Disney did not do a good enough job promoting these toons so that guys like me could have discovered the adult appeal earlier. Donâ€™t get me wrong. Weâ€™re not talking South Park or even The Simpsons here. These shows are definitely made for children; itâ€™s just nice to see touches added to appeal to the adults who might find themselves watching these things over and over again. If you donâ€™t have kids, you are unlikely to buy these things at all. If you have some munchkins running around, you could do far worse, so â€œLetâ€™s get dangerous.â€