Having not seen Darkwing Duck since the days of early Disney Channel (before it was overrun with live action dribble), my recollection of it was fuzzy. Sure I liked it when I was young, but I liked plenty of things when I was younger that I can no longer watch now that I’m older, the majority of which are Disney cartoons. I walked into the series hesitantly and was pleasantly surprised it held up and I quickly found myself finding it to be the comedic equivalent of Batman: The Animated Series.
Of course that comparison is unfair. Darkwing Duck was created long before Batman: The Animated Series was, but none the less the comparisons can be drawn. This second volume of Darkwing Duck collects a healthy variety of good episodes, mixed in with some remarkable ones (Life, the Negaverse, and Everything, Dead Duck and Time and Punishment) and bad ones (Dances with Bigfoot and The Incredible Bulk), but even in the shows lowest there’s something to be found in the episodes.
The characters are a great example of progression as they continue to evolve through the series and while the progression is slow and not always evident, there is a sense of continuity throughout the series that keeps the show lively and exciting to watch, knowing that they won’t throw out what we just saw in a previous episode in lieu of a newer, better plot. Through and through, Darkwing Duck remains an example of great 90s animation that wasn’t written down for the younger audience and is able to be enjoyed by older fans even as we pass into the realms of smoother and more detailed animation.
I find it difficult to talk about Darkwing Duck as I’m only a fan of the show in passing. While I could go for pages about other shows I watched religiously, Darkwing was and still is something that is just fun to kill time with. While I found myself wanting to continue watching the episodes, I could easily take a break as it wasn’t a show I needed to absolutely see the next episode of. It’s just a fun little cartoon that remains entertaining to this day.
With other ten hours of episodes in all on this set, there is a ton of great content to find and casual viewers of the show during its original airing will find themselves vaguely remembering the plot of some episodes while seeing other episodes for the first time. It’s not hard to believe that in the show 91 episode run that you may have missed a few here and there and the DVDs are a perfect way to relive the ones you love and discover some new gems along the way. Recommended.
Well the show is awesome, but how’s the DVD? Unfortunately this set follows the first volumes release by including zero in the extras department and considering the likelihood of this show getting another release in the future, this is a very, very disappointing situation. Still, you purchase these TV shows on DVD mainly for the show, which this three-disc set offers twenty seven of, nine on each disc.
After sliding the three thin-paks out of the cardboard slip (which, despite having “Volume 2” printed on it four times, is still capable of leaving “Season Two” in the DVD set description—great quality control!), we’re treated to halfway decent art for the individual thin-paks. While the inside of the cases is pure white, the backs of each case feature images from specific episodes of the show as well as descriptions specific to the discs contents. Despite the uniqueness of the art, the screenshots used from the show appear muddy and hard to discern, which doesn’t give the viewer much hope for the actual DVD transfer itself.
Despite the horrible representation on the packaging, the video transfer isn’t too bad. Incredibly soft, grainy and featuring ghosting galore, it’s not the best transfer but it’s certainly better than you’re able to find elsewhere. As with many aspects of this set, the transfer is done half-heartedly and I’m sure no restoration of any kind was done. On the upside, the audio is crystal clear and sounds great in the Dolby Stereo 2.0 track and chapter stops are given in the episodes (including one for the intro, which is always a relief). A French language track is included as well.
What do look particularly horrible, however, are the menus. I swear these look like they were done by bootleggers or fans making their own DVDs—they’re blurry, muddy, in 4:3 and just overall look like crap. It’s a shame too, as other Disney set releases have had recent menus, but the ones on this set are just embarrassing looking.
Despite the sets amateur qualities (description mistakes, shoddy episode transfers and horrible menus) this set still comes Recommended. It’s disheartening this is what fans of the show have to live with, but I can see why Disney doesn’t want to invest too much money in these sets. They’ve seen what supposed fan bases do when they put a fair amount of effort into their releases (Gargoyles) and simply sticking to getting the episodes out on DVD is enough for most fans.
Darkwing Duck: Volume Two arrives on DVD August 7th.