18 July 2004 | Quinoa1984
Smarmy, cynical, satirical- truly a cult of a cartoon comedy show
Duckman was a show that used to be on during the last hour or so before it was time to sleep about ten or so years ago. It was a contrast to a lot of the kid-type of animation I was watching at the time; I was still a minor junkie for Disney and Looney Tunes stuff, and most Saturday morning cartoons were still on the run-off of the peak from the days of Ninja Turtles and Batman. But also around this time I began to recognize that the more raunchy, mature, surreal, obscene, and (though I didn't know the term at the time) satirical cartoon shows were more creative than the stuff I was used to. Around the time of Beavis and Butt-head, Ren and Stimpy, and even The Maxx were hitting TV sets via MTV, USA put out two shows- one of them was Weird Science, and the other was Duckman. I've always remembered a few key bits from the show, and some of the lines are very quotable to those who haven't forgotten it completely. Luckily, I found a tape recently with about six episodes I taped long ago, and the jokes stayed very fresh. And the delivery of the jokes are rapid-fire a lot of the time in the better episodes.
In the voice department, the choices in talent are top notch for the story-lines, which are usually just an excuse for crude, fascinating parodies of pop-culture, politics, movies and TV shows, music, detective mysteries, and the dysfunctional family unit. Jason Alexander is a wonderful choice for Duckman, and his performance is a comedic 180 from his days on Seinfeld (even if there might be some similar characteristics here and there). Also, the voices of Gregg Berger as the unmistakably monotoned and deadpan Cornfed, Dweezil Zappa as the hilariously inept Ajax, and Nancy Travis as the sex-starved, obnoxious Sister-in-Law Bernice, all contribute in a full amount. Along with some great writing - even when a joke isn't sure-fire, the wit behind it compensates - the animation style, while a far cry from some of the refurbished, computer-enhanced product of today, is inventive and often abstract. It has that home-made, gritty quality that Beavis and Butt-head or South Park would later have. And, like those shows, if you're a little kid, I mean little as in younger than I was watching the show, you may not understand most of the jokes (i.e. there are enough stripper and VD references to fill two shows sometimes). But it's inventive to catch if it's on TV late at night, and it functions rather well in that time slot. One can only hope for a DVD box set.
So, to no one who's barely or even never heard of this program, here's a general note: think of this show as if Dashiell Hammett met up with Walt Disney and decided to go to slum part of Vegas with a free mini-bar and make a collaboration in the vein of Luis Bunuel and The Simpsons combined. Not to mention, it's by the group that did Rugrats.(strong) A