You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Klasky Csupo’ category.

Director: Igor Kovalyov
Release Date: 1996
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Made during his stay at the Klasky Csupo studio ‘Bird in the Window’ is Igor Kovalyov’s first film made in the US.

Despite his contemporary commercial work on e.g. Rugrats and Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man, Kovalyov’s independent style has lost nothing of its enigma. ‘Bird in the Window’ is a film in several very short scenes with mutual relationships that are hard to decipher.

A man returns home to his house in the countryside, but his wife clearly hides something for him. Why can’t he see the child that’s running around? What’s with the two Chinese characters playing chess? And what’s the role of the gardener? ‘Bird in the Window’ certainly suggests a lot without clarifying a thing. Even the opening scene in which a bird violently chases a winged bug is as disturbing as it is puzzling. ‘Bird in the Window’ may be less obviously surreal than his celebrated ‘Hen His Wife’ (1989), Kovalyov’s way of story telling still is one of suggestion, not explanation.

Note how Kovalyov uses seemingly trivial images to tell his tale: the man throwing an apple at the gardener, the man eating all the grapes, the woman lying in a bath, a cockroach creeping – all these short scenes contribute to the ominous feeling, full of suppressed eroticism.

The tense atmosphere is greatly enhanced by the great sound design, which offers us many noises not seen on the screen: cows mooing, a plane flying by, a clock chiming, the woman running down the stairs and slamming doors, a dog barking etc.

Watch ‘Bird in the Window’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Bird in the Window’ is available on the DVD ‘Desire & Sexuality – Animating the Unconscious Vol.2’

Directors: Donovan Cook & Bob Hatchcock
Airing Date: July 6, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The final episode of season three sees the return of Duckman’s arch nemesis King Chicken, not seen since ‘Color of Naught‘, episode four from the same season.

This time King Chicken is not behind some evil scheme, but simply turns out to be the father of Tammy, Ajax’s new girlfriend, whom Duckman, Aunt Bernice and Ajax are visiting one night. During the episode we never see Tammy, but the visit turns out to be surprisingly interesting.

For this finale episode the creative team once again returned to comedy based on the personas and their mutual relationships, and the result is rewarding. The awkward visit proves to be much more interesting than mindless absurdism of the previous two episodes. The team even manages to make the ending a particularly poignant one, ending the series on a surprisingly emotional tone, at a time I thought they were forgotten how to do that.

Watch ‘Cock Tales for Four’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 42
To the previous Duckman episode: The Amazing Colossal Duckman
To the next Duckman episode: Dammit, Hollywood

‘Cock Tales for Four’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: John Eng
Airing Date: June 29, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★
Review:

In ‘The Amazing Colossal Duckman’ Duckman grows taller each time he has a temper…

It’s hard to say anything positive about this episode, which feels not only uninspired, but even desperate in trying to squeeze some sort of story out of the Duckman character. How one now longs to the deeper and more complex character depictions of season one and two! I’m baffled that after episodes as this series got even another season…

But luckily, the next and last episode turns out to be a much more interesting affair.

Watch ‘The Amazing Colossal Duckman’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 41
To the previous Duckman episode: The Longest Weekend
To the next Duckman episode: Cock Tales for Four

‘The Amazing Colossal Duckman’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Raymie Muzquiz
Airing Date: June 22, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★
Review:

The decay of the third Duckman season continues with ‘The Longest Weekend’ in which Duckman’s street goes at war with the neighboring Dutch Elm Street.

The episode is as talkative as it is pointless, and even the numerous war film references fall flat. At this point the only attractions left are Klasky-Csupo’s idiosyncratic character designs and background art, which both remain interesting throughout.

Watch ‘The Longest Weekend’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 40
To the previous Duckman episode: Exile in Guyville
To the next Duckman episode: The Amazing Colossal Duckman

‘The Longest Weekend’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Jeff McGrath
Airing Date: May 25, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★½
Review:

‘Exile in Guyville’ is another example of how the Duckman series started to run dry as the third season progressed.

This episode, which incidentally shares its title with a 1993 Liz Phair album, is framed as a story told as one of the Duckman fables Told by a mother to her son in the far future. The ‘fable’ itself is a rather forced and surprisingly stale fable on male-female relationships, drawing on almost every cliché one can possible find on men and women. When the nation divides literally, Fluffy and Uranus turn up as unlikely guards of the dividing wall.

The framing bedtime story has its charm, but the best part may be just before this divide when general mayhem is illustrated by e.g. some random live action footage. Nevertheless, these cannot rescue an episode that was already outdated when it first aired in 1996.

Watch ‘Exile in Guyville’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 39
To the previous Duckman episode: The Road to Dendron
To the next Duckman episode: The Longest Weekend

‘Exile in Guyville’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Peter Shin
Airing Date: May 11, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The opening credits of ‘The Road to Dendron’ make immediately clear that this episode at least partly is a parody of the ‘Road to…’ film series starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour from 1940 to1962.

This episode only stars Duckman, Cornfed and Ajax, who are on a bus trip to Dendron, Sudan. And indeed, they even burst into song in a tune that is surprisingly catchy. Once arrived the episode unashamedly delights in bringing up a cliché version of Arabia, as depicted in 1001 Arabian nights, and as seen on the animated screen since ‘Mickey in Arabia‘ (1932). Thus there are a snake charmer, a sultan, a veiled princess, as well as numerous baskets that seem to have come straight from ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’. Moreover, some of the designs are clearly inspired by the Disney feature ‘Aladdin’.

The adventure plot makes very little sense, and the film makers know it, never trying to hide this fact. Highlights of this unpretentious episode are the ‘musical’ finale and the ridiculous acts that Duckman and Cornfed perform in order to try to prevent the Sultan and the Princess from drinking some poisoned wine.

Watch ‘The Road to Dendron’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 38
To the previous Duckman episode: They Craved Duckman’s Brain!
To the next Duckman episode: Exile in Guyville

‘The Road to Dendron’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Donovan Cook
Airing Date: May 4, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★½
Review:

‘They Craved Duckman’s Brain!’ is one of the less inspired episodes that started to fill the third season more and more. This episode has a rather aimless and rambling story, which tries to say something about the medical industry, with little success.

The story features a mad surgeon called Dr. Craig Erlich and a frustratingly pointless villain. As this is one of the most talkative Duckman episodes, most of the humor comes from the dialogue. Like when Ajax asks Dr. Erlich after the latter’s introduction whether he’s related to Dr. Dre. The best gag in that respect is when the whole family starts an argument about Star Trek while being captured by the surgeon.

Note the painting in the director’s office, which looks like Gauguin’s ‘Spirit of the Dead Watching’, but with a white woman instead of a Polynesian one.

Watch ‘They Craved Duckman’s Brain!’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 37
To the previous Duckman episode: Aged Heat
To the next Duckman episode: The Road to Dendron

‘They Craved Duckman’s Brain!’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: John Eng
Airing Date: April 27, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★
Review:

Even worse than the disappointing ‘The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role’ is ‘Aged Heat’. With this episode the Duckman series hit rock-bottom.

The whole episode revolves around the age-old trope of a criminal doppelgänger. This time a female criminal called Agnes poses as her lookalike Grandmama, terrorizing the Duckman family. The result is terribly tedious and boring.

It’s a pity the story and its execution are so weak, for John Eng’s direction is admittedly quite interesting. ‘Aged Heat’ can boast some very interesting and off beat camera angles, like the viewpoint from Duckman’s perspective, when Aunt Bernice hits him in the face. Moreover, there’s quite some animated background art, especially during the birthday party scene. Unfortunately this remarkable cinematography cannot rescue the dragging story, which is the least inspired Duckman episode thus far.

Watch ‘Aged Heat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 36
To the previous Duckman episode: The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role
To the next Duckman episode: They Craved Duckman’s Brain!

‘Aged Heat’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Raymie Muzquiz
Airing Date: April 20, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★
Review:

In ‘The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role’ Duckman wants to be alone, so he sends his son Ajax out on the street. Ajax gets abducted by hillbilly aliens from the planet Betamax, and revered as a prophet by the backward planet. But everything goes wrong when Ajax plays them the tape his father gave him, and the planet takes the word of ‘Dod’ literally.

‘The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role’ is violently anti-religion, connecting dogmatism with violence and destruction. The satire is rather blunt and in your face, and therefore actually fails to hit its mark. Meanwhile this is one of those many Duckman episodes tiringly playing with Duckman’s complete ignorance of his own offspring. The result is rather exhausting.

Most enjoyable are Ajax’s semi-profound remarks and the rather Dr. Seuss-like background art of planet Betamax.

Watch ‘The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 35
To the previous Duckman episode: The Once and Future Duck
To the next Duckman episode: Aged Heat

‘The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Peter Avanzino
Airing Date: April 13, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

This episode starts with a simple promise by Duckman to attend the recital by the tuba-playing Mambo and Charles. But then Ajax accidentally creates a hole in the space-time continuum, which allows Duckman to gets a visit from his future self who tells him what will happen if he does go to the recital…

Before soon we’re right in the middle of a surprisingly sophisticated, even complicated episode on destiny and the consequences of one’s actions, involving multiple future selfs of Duckman, one even more outlandish than the other. At one point their appearances creates a scene of mayhem that’s got to be seen to be believed.

In short, ‘The Once and Future Duck’ is one of the best written and best directed of all Duckman episodes, relying less on wise-cracking asides, and more on the development of the inner logic of its own absurdist premises. The result is as profoundly philosophical as it is hilariously zany.

Watch ‘The Once and Future Duck’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 34
To the previous Duckman episode: Pig Amok
To the next Duckman episode: The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role

‘The Once and Future Duck’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Jeff McGrath
Airing Date: April 6, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Pig Amok’ starts at a funeral, where Duckman gives a highly inappropriate speech. But this is topped by the late-arriving Cornfed, whose behavior is puzzling, to say the least. More or less forced by his family Duckman sets out to help his friend…

For animation lovers ‘Pig Amok’ has much to offer: this episode contains some wild takes on Cornfed when he bursts into wild convulsions, as well as a beautiful piece of surprisingly independent looking metamorphosis animation when Cornfed swoons. Also entertaining is ‘Cornfed’s Problem’, the documentary Cornfed shows on VHS, which shows his ancestors inserted in black and white photographs.

Watch ‘Pig Amok’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 33
To the previous Duckman episode: The Mallardian Candidate
To the next Duckman episode: The Once and Future Duck

‘Pig Amok’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Peter Shin
Airing Date: March 16, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★
Review:

With a title as ‘The Mallardian Candidate’ (a nudge to the 1962 film ‘The Manchurian Candidate’) one needn’t wonder that this episode is about conspiracies.

This episode starts with the comedian Iggy Catalpa (see ‘Joking the Chicken‘ and ‘Color of Naught‘) asking Duckman for help in solving a conspiracy theory. Duckman is as clueless as ever, failing to identify criminals even when they surround them dropping clues all over the place. Soon he gets brainwashed and is turned into an automaton with a single killing purpose…

‘The Mallardian Candidate’ fails to play out the conspiracy concept very well. The best parts are Catalpa’s explanation of how his world domination organization works, and the very end of the episode, which in a few seconds shows what’s fundamentally wrong with the concept of conspiracy theories in the first place.

But mostly, the episode plays on Duckman’s mindlessness and uselessness. The parts involving his family are especially painful in that respect. In ‘The Mallardian Candidate’ Duckman is just a caricature, not the more complex persona he can be in other, better episodes.

Watch ‘The Mallardian Candidate’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 32
To the previous Duckman episode: The Girls of Route Canal
To the next Duckman episode: Pig Amok

‘The Mallardian Candidate’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Directors: Donovan Cook & Raymie Muzquiz
Airing Date: March 9, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

‘The Girls of Route Canal’ finally reveals how Duckman met Beatrice, the mother of Ajax, Mambo and Charles.

It’s the latter two who prompt Duckman to reminisce about how he found the love of his life. They have girl problems of their own, wanting to woe Amanda and Alexis, who are taken by two bullies.

‘The Girls of Route Canal’ is certainly not devoid of comedy, far from it; priceless, for example, is Mambo’s and Charles’ wondering why they like Amanda and Alexis so much. Also great is Cornfed’s short cameo. But overall this is a gentle and surprisingly genuinely romantic episode. This makes ‘The Girls of Route Canal’ one of those scarce episodes in which Duckman is actually more than a completely ignorant, selfish beast. This makes ‘The Girls of Route Canal’ a welcome diversion from more one-dimensional episodes like ‘Apocalypse Not‘ and ‘Clear and Presidente Danger‘.

Watch ‘The Girls of Route Canal’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 31
To the previous Duckman episode: Clear and Presidente Danger
To the next Duckman episode: The Mallardian Candidate

‘The Girls of Route Canal’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: John Eng
Airing Date: March 2, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

This episode starts with Duckman blackmailing an employee of the ‘McJaggers’ fastfood chain, so he gets to win a vacation to some third world paradise, called Puerto Guano.

This turns out to be quite a hell-hole (there’s even a reference to the Exxon Valdez oil spill from 1989), and Duckman’s rant about it starts no small revolution, turning him into the country’s dictator. As Duckman himself says, when he gets unlimited power, what can possibly go wrong?

‘Clear and Presidente Danger’ does little with the characters’ personalities, and works better as a satire than as a Duckman episode per se. Much more fun than Duckman’s rather predictable government style is the depiction of Cornfed as some sort of Rambo-like rebel. The sequence in which he trains his rebel group is accompanied by some nice steel drum music, while Ajax provides the comedy. Cornfed’s moralistic end speech is also a delight, but the episode’s sting lies in its depiction of the United States as helper of South American dictators.

Watch ‘Clear and Presidente Danger’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 30
To the previous Duckman episode: Apocalypse Not
To the next Duckman episode: The Girls of Route Canal

‘Clear and Presidente Danger’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Raymie Muzquiz
Airing Date: February 24, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★
Review:

‘Apocalypse Not’ is an obvious spoof of disaster and monster movies.

When the whole town goes for an emergency drill led by Aunt Bernice, Duckman remains the only person behind, thinking he is the sole survivor of some apocalyptic event.

Many movie tropes can be found in this episode, including the killing of auxiliary personas and Duckman spraining his ankle. Unfortunately, on the way Duckman’s persona becomes practically a caricature of itself, behaving rather over-the-top. And thus the episode’s highlight remains it opening credits, in which something big causes havoc in the city…

Watch ‘Apocalypse Not’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 29
To the previous Duckman episode: A Room with a Bellevue
To the next Duckman episode: Clear and Presidente Danger

‘Apocalypse Not’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Peter Avanzino
Airing Date: February 17, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

In ‘A Room with a Bellevue’ Duckman suffers from the daily annoyances, like traffic jams and unhelpful services, making this episode akin to the live action feature ‘Falling Down’ from 1993. But instead of going rampant, Duckman ends up in an asylum, which turns out to be an oasis of peace and relaxation for him.

‘A Room with a Bellevue’ is a particularly talkative Duckman episode, containing two very long rants by Duckman himself. However, there’s also a rare occasion of an animated background when Duckman wanders through the asylum. Highlight, however, are Cornfed’s bizarre escape plan and Duckman’s transformation after electroshock treatment.

Watch ‘A Room with a Bellevue’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 28
To the previous Duckman episode: Sperms of Endearment
To the next Duckman episode: Apocalypse Not

‘Sperms of Endearment’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Jeff McGrath
Airing Date: February 10, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

‘Sperms of Endearment’ is one of the deeper Duckman episodes, this time revolving around Aunt Bernice, instead of Duckman. Cornfed’s presence is even reduced to just a short cameo, and only because, as he tells us, it says in his contract he should appear in every episode.

In ‘Sperms of Endearment’ a little girl triggers Aunt Bernice’s child wish, and after some bad dating experiences, she turns to a sperm bank, run by Terry Duke Tetzloff, the sleezy salesman from ‘Cellar Beware‘ and ‘Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure‘. But with whose sperm will she be inseminated?

Highlights of this episode include little Suzie, Tezloff’s supposed daughter, and Aunt Bernice’s romantic daydreams of her with the insemination tube.

Watch ‘Sperms of Endearment’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 27
To the previous Duckman episode: Color of Naught
To the next Duckman episode: A Room with a Bellevue

‘Sperms of Endearment’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: John Eng
Airing Date: January 27, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★
Review:

‘Color of Naught’ is one of those episodes revolving around an evil plot by Duckman’s arch nemesis King Chicken. These don’t belong to the series’ best, and ‘Color of Naught’ suffers from sloppy story telling, with its rather random plot twists, and obligatory finale.

Iggy Catalpa (from ‘Joking the Chicken‘) returns for a short cameo, but more interestingly is the return of Angela, Duckman’s love interest from ‘About Face‘. Her interactions with Duckman install some interesting moments in an otherwise disappointing episode. The cameo of three guys from the ‘Weird Sciene’ television show (1994-1998) has aged less well, as this series has fallen into oblivion.

‘Color of Naught’ is noteworthy for the outlandish animation on the Beautex Salesman, and for King Chicken’s rather original way of destroying Duckman’s world, reducing characters and background art to black and white sketches, before turning into nothingness.

Watch ‘Color of Naught’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 26
To the previous Duckman episode: Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure
To the next Duckman episode: Sperms of Endearment

‘Color of Naught’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Norton Virgien
Airing Date: January 20, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★½
Review:

‘Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure’ for once centers on grandma-ma, the only taciturn member of the family.

After Duckman’s doomed day of caring duty for her, the family decides to take her to a nursing room. Duckman is taking her, but loses his car, with grandma-ma in it, on the way…

‘Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure’ isn’t a very focused episode, and ties different story ideas rather loosely together. It seems to want to say something about our treatment of the elderly, but this is immediately diluted by the rather random nonsense filling the episode. In that respect Grandma-ma’s own adventure is a particular series of nonsensical events.

Highlight, however, is the brief episode in which the family visits three nursing homes, one all too conspicuously called ‘Soylent Green’. Nevertheless, the episode is more interesting for its outlandish staging, with its extreme camera angles and close-ups than for its content. All who are more interested in Duckman’s personal life are treated on some images of his wedding day with the currently deceased Beatrice.

Watch ‘Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 25
To the previous Duckman episode: Forbidden Fruit
To the next Duckman episode: Color of Naught

‘Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Director: Paul Demeyer
Airing Date: January 13, 1996
Stars: Duckman
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The best Duckman episodes contain an element of satire, and the best satire still rings today. And this certainly applies to the ‘Forbidden Fruit’ episode.

This episode starts with a VHS tape of a school psychiatrist recommending a tutor for Ajax, Charles and Mambo. After some mishaps (e.g. Michael Jackson) a sexy young French nanny called Régine Poulet applies. Bernice forbids Duckman to make one single sexual remark to the girl, but he gets sued for sexual harassment nonetheless. At this point the episode spoofs an all too sensitive reaction to an otherwise condemnable crime, and political correctness carried too far, complete with changing of names, like Hebrew to Webrew.

This episode’s satire can easily translate to the #metoo movement and to the cancel culture of this day and age. However, highlight of the episode is Duckman’s visit to Fluffy and Uranus’s gingerbread house-like home, which inside is stuffed with cutesy material like rainbows and unicorns.

Watch ‘Forbidden Fruit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Duckman episode no. 24
To the previous Duckman episode: Noir Gang
To the next Duckman episode: Grandma-ma’s Flatulent Adventure

‘Forbidden Fruit’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Duckman – The Complete Series’

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,111 other followers

Bookmark and Share

Follow TheGrob on Twitter

Categories