Michael Wermuth- Darkwing Duck is one of Disney’s greatest animated shows. It’s one of my favorites from the Disney Afternoon (and the only one I’ve bothered to get the DVDs of). I watched it during it’s run on The Disney Afternoon, and occasionally caught the ABC episodes. I even had all of the action figures (not sure whether I still have them all). But why is the show so good? Because it is!
The characters are great. I can identify with Darkwing Duck, wanting to be in the spotlight, though he does a better job at it. Launchpad McQuack, who debuted on DuckTales, is a funny sidekick to Darkwing. Darkwing’s adopted daughter, Gosylyn, is a good character for him to have adopted. And her brainy best friend, Honker, is a good character, one of my favorites when I was younger (though watching it now he does seem a little weak). I also like Darkwing’s girlfriend, Morgana, a lot better now than when I was a kid.
And of course there’s the villains. My favorite villains from the show are Megavolt, Quackerjack, and Steelbeak. Megavolt and Quackerjack are both funny and colorful characters, and it’s a shame he wasn’t in the action figure line-up (but Tuskernini was, and he was only in five episodes. Fun fact: The Tuskernini figure was the first one I had gotten, and I hadn’t even seen any episodes with him. And I chose that one over the others that were in the store that day, can’t remember who else was there but I know the ones I wanted most weren’t). Steelbeak is also a great villain, kinda the leader type though he’s not really a leader, just a top agent at F.O.W.L , the type who could be the big bad of the show, if he did lead the other villains (although the video games and other merchandise imply otherwise, the other major villains weren’t part of F.O.W.L.). And he’s perhaps the shows most notable villain to not be part of The Fearsome Five, which consists of Negaduck (the leader, and another character who could have been the main villain), Quackerjack, Megavolt, Bushroot, and The Liquidator. There’s also some great villains who didn’t appear in many episodes, including the theatrical Tuskernini, hillbilly Jumbalaya Jake, and a group of hat-shaped aliens who take over the bodies of whose who wear them.
Some of my favorite episodes include: “Comic Book Capers”, where Darkwing tries to write a Darkwing Duck comic book but other characters (including Megavolt) manage to add their own creative input. “Twitching Channels”, where Darkwing and Megavolt get zapped into the TV and land in the real world, with humans who are fans of the show (wouldn’t it have been great if this episode could have mixed live action with animation?). “Clash Reunion”, which reveals Darkwing and Megavolt’s back stories (well, one of at least four back stories that reveal how Drake Mallard became Darkwing Duck). “Batttle of the Brain Teasers”and its sequel, “Return of the Battle of the Brain Teasers, Too!”, which feature the hat-shaped aliens and Honker becoming a hero. The two-part “Just Us Justice Ducks”, featuring the debut of The Fearsome Five as a team (and it really is the debut of Negaduck, and due to the episodes airing out of order, Liquidator’s first episode). “Trading Faces”, where the main characters switch bodies. And “Water Way to Go”, in which Darkwing agrees to let Launchpad be the hero for once. And there’s a lot more episodes I’d like to list but won’t here.
I would also like to acknowledge the voice cast, especially Jim Cummings, who voiced Darkwing as well as many other characters on the show. It seems to me like Cummings was the only voice actor on this show to do multiple voices, even though some of the other voice actors did multiple voices on other shows. Other voice actors included Rob Paulsen (Steelbeak), Dan Castlenetta (Megavolt), Michael Bell (Quackerjack), Tito Insano (Bushroot), Terry McGovern (Launchpad), Christina Cavanaugh (Gosylyn), Katie Leigh (Honker), and many other wonderful voice actors.
So Darkwing Duck had a lot going for it. It had great characters (especially villains), a great voice cast, great episodes, I didn’t mention the comic book series from Boom! Because I’ve only seen the first story arc but that was a great comic. At 78 episodes, it’s one of the few Disney Afternoon shows to have more than 65 episodes (though DuckTales has it beat by 100).