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Recap / Darkwing Duck S 1 E 58 A Star Is Scorned

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Darkwing and Gosalyn speed toward a meeting with the producer of the Darkwing Duck TV show, E. Thaddeus Rockwell (previously seen in "Twitching Channels"). Darkwing is unamused when he is repeatedly mistaken for a different Disney duck, while Gosalyn gets more attention than he does. He is even less amused when Rockwell tells him that audiences are losing interest in him, and the production team are planning a ratings-boosting gimmick in the form of a Spinoff character. Gosalyn assumes he means her and outlines a spinoff casting her as "Gosalyn Mallard, Zombie Slayer", but he actually means plant/duck hybrid Bushroot, and the terms of Darkwing's studio contract leave him no choice but to agree.

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Rockwell reveals the true reason he is trying to replace Darkwing: since Bushroot will work for plant fertiliser, he can keep the money set aside for his salary for himself. Rockwell's assistant, Crosby, arrives with the tapes of the re-tooled Darkwing Duck series. On the first tape, Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot are cast as unscrupulous, greedy land developers plotting to bulldoze a forest and build condominiums and mini-malls on the land (they, too, are bound by the terms of their contract), with Bushroot leading an army of sentient plants against them, and Darkwing trying to intervene on the Muddlefoots' behalf since they have the law on their side. Rockwell dismisses the plot as too similar to the old series, and Crosby puts in a second tape with Bushroot as the frontman of a children's show, Herb and Binkie as farmers, and Gosalyn and Honker Muddlefoot as the special "blossom buddies" who throw pies and squirt seltzer water at anyone who says the secret word, "aardvark". Bushroot introduces the episode's puppet theatre, with puppet versions of Darkwing (who provides his puppet's voice and controls its strings) and the sentient trees; as the show unravels, Gosalyn baits Darkwing into saying "aardvark". Rockwell is still unimpressed, saying that they don't want to make children's shows, as children would rather go out and play.

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Crosby puts in a third tape of an action series, with the Muddlefoots trying to blow up the forest with dynamite and Darkwing and Bushroot fighting with ever more powerful artillery until Bushroot insists that he doesn't use guns. When the sequence ends with Darkwing getting blown up and Crosby explains that he is Killed Off for Real, Rockwell votes down the idea and decides that to distinguish Bushroot from the other mutant plant/duck hybrids, he should be a lawyer - and a doctor. Cue a courtroom/medical drama featuring Binkie as a judge, Herb as a bailiff, and Darkwing as the defendant/patient (and another appearance of the "aardvark" gag). The drama goes Off the Rails when Darkwing identifies a "rare butterfly" as two leaves stuck to a stick with wax, and Bushroot proceeds to reveal that he has poisoned the court's water supply, turning all who drink it into mushroom zombies. As the "zombified" Muddlefoots chase Darkwing into a dead end, help arrives in the form of a butter gun-wielding "Gosalyn Mallard, Zombie Slayer". But Rockwell has had enough, and Crosby puts in a fifth tape with Bushroot hosting a game show, Earth of Consequences. The contestant, "moral leper" Darkwing, is offered a choice between the greedy land developers as played by the Muddlefoots or the forest trees and shrubs. Darkwing refuses to choose, saying that being a superhero is hard work (which Gosalyn mishears as "aardvark"). Bushroot declares that Darkwing has won the grand prize: having the army of sentient trees level St. Canard to the ground.

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Some time later, Darkwing and Gosalyn head to the studio as Darkwing dismisses Gosalyn's concerns that his job may be in danger - until Bushroot pulls alongside them in a limo, on his way to a screening with studio head Mr. Dizzy. Darkwing is denied entry into the studio until he submits to Gosalyn's plan to disguise himself as Donald Duck while she poses as Donald's nephew Louie. At the screening, Rockwell insists to Mr. Dizzy that Bushroot is far more versatile and well-liked by audiences than Darkwing, enraging the listening superhero. Fortunately, Gosalyn finds the film reels of what really happened in Darkwing's fight with Bushroot in the projection booth, and Darkwing proceeds to load them into the camera. There unfolds a Humiliation Conga as Darkwing announces his arrival in the action sequence by swinging on a church bell, chases the puppet trees on the children's show with a pair of shears and then gets Bushroot attacked with seltzer water and pies by saying "aardvark", awards the sentient trees a grand prize on the game show of a collection of termites and bark beetles, and moderates a talk show in which a caller (Honker) suggests that Bushroot and the land developers compromise by putting the condominiums in the trees instead of cutting them down. Mr. Dizzy tells Bushroot not to give up his day job and asks a terrified Rockwell to meet with the Accounting department over suspicious expense account charges. Darkwing basks in his triumph on the studio roof until Gosalyn spots the Muddlefoots pulling up in a limo; they've been given a spinoff, and Herb offers to get Darkwing a role as his wacky neighbour...

... and the scene cuts to Drake and Gosalyn, watching everything on TV in their living room. Drake switches off the set, saying that's the trouble with television today: there's never anything good on. He points the remote at the viewer and presses a button to cue the Iris Out.


This episode provides examples of the following tropes:

  • An Aesop: Darkwing hijacks the planned Green Aesop of the new, Bushroot-centric pilot episode with a message about the value of compromise and working together to a common end, presented through the Muddlefoots' land developers agreeing to build their condominiums in the trees instead of bulldozing the forest to build the condos on the land.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Bushroot announces himself with a parody of Darkwing's standard entrance line, "I am the ivy that clogs your pipes! I am the taproot that... clogs your pipes! I am Bushroot!" He rallies his tree allies with the line "Let's get deciduous!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: It's not entirely clear where the fourth wall is in this episode, never mind how solid it is. Darkwing stars as himself in a TV adaptation of his crimefighting heroics, and yet when the Muddlefoots announce that they have been given a spinoff in the final scene, the entire episode up to that point is revealed to be a Show Within a Show that Drake is watching with Gosalyn, apparently making the Darkwing Duck cartoon a Show Within a Show Within a Show. Drake then turns to the viewer and muses that there's never anything good on TV these days.
  • Brick Joke: When Rockwell mentions that they are planning a spinoff of Darkwing Duck, Gosalyn assumes she will be the star and pitches the idea of "Gosalyn Mallard, Zombie Slayer". When Bushroot turns the Muddlefoots into mushroom zombies as the courtroom/medical drama goes Off the Rails and Darkwing is cornered, Gosalyn shows up with a gun that fires melted butter and introduces herself as Gosalyn Mallard, Zombie Slayer. She also appears in her zombie slayer costume in the talk show portion of Bushroot's Humiliation Conga.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • In several of the Shows Within a Show, the "greedy land developers" played by Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot are stated to be written, in Binkie's words, "with absolutely no redeeming values whatsoever". When she shows Bushroot the environmental impact report for their construction project, Bushroot is horrified to discover that the environment will be ruined, but Binkie blithely remarks that they did file the report on time, and that's what matters.
    • E. Thaddeus Rockwell is trying to replace Darkwing with Bushroot since the latter can be paid in plant fertiliser, allowing Rockwell to keep the money for Bushroot's salary for himself.
  • Executive Meddling: Used in-universe as E. Thaddeus Rockwell decides to shift the focus of Darkwing Duck to Bushroot, with the end goal of having him replace Darkwing as the star of the show (since he will work for plant fertiliser, allowing Rockwell to embezzle his salary).
  • Glad I Thought of It: When Rockwell asks Crosby for ideas for how to distinguish Bushroot from "all the other mutant plant ducks," Crosby suggests giving him a job. Rockwell dismisses the idea, then has a brainwave: Bushroot should be given a job.
  • Green Aesop: The re-tooled Darkwing Duck casts Bushroot and the plants of the forest as good guys and land developers played by Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot as bad guys. The episode's denouement de-constructs this trope by pointing out that the conflict between the environment and progress is not as black and white as it is often portrayed in fiction, and that the two can co-exist.
  • Humiliation Conga: Bushroot is on the receiving end of one of these after spending the episode humiliating Darkwing in TV show format after TV show format, just as Rockwell is showing the pilots to studio head Mr. Dizzy. First, Darkwing stops his trees from rampaging through St. Canard by dropping a church bell on them. Next, his puppet version chases after the trees' puppet version with shears, and Darkwing finally makes Bushroot the victim of the "aardvark" stunt. Then, he takes over the game show and awards the trees their very own collection of termites and bark beetles, causing them to flee. On a talk show, Bushroot protests that he was just trying to save the forest, but Darkwing takes a phone call from a home audience member (namely, Honker Muddlefoot) who suggests that Bushroot and the land developers compromise. In the final scene, the condos have been built in the trees instead of over them, and the day is saved - as Gosalyn says, all thanks to the star of the show, Darkwing Duck. An unimpressed Mr. Dizzy tells Bushroot to keep his day job, then turns his attention to Rockwell's expense account charges.
  • Mondegreen: Several iterations of the Running Gag of Darkwing getting attacked with pies and seltzer water for saying "aardvark" are precipitated by him saying something that sounds like "aardvark", such as "car park" or "hard work".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: We never see the face of "Mr. Dizzy", but his profile, voice, and name make it clear that he is the in-universe version of Walt Disney.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Mr. Dizzy tells Rockwell that he's due for a chat with "the boys in Accounting" and presses a button to summon two demons who announce their plans to discuss Rockwell's expense account charges, Rockwell knows he's screwed, and gets a facial expression to match before screaming in terror.
  • Read the Fine Print: When he signed his contract, Darkwing didn't notice that around the edge, in very tiny letters, was the phrase "The studio is always right." The Muddlefoots are bound by similar contracts.
  • Running Gag: Darkwing getting repeatedly tricked into saying "aardvark" so that Honker will pelt him with pies and Gosalyn will squirt him with seltzer, usually in the context of saying they can't get him to say "aardvark".
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Gosalyn fires seltzer water at Darkwing during the puppet show even though he hasn't said the secret word. She claims to have forgotten the word, and when Darkwing reminds her the word is "aardvark", she and Honker attack him with pies and seltzer water.
    • Later, Darkwing says "car park" during the courtroom/medical drama and gets squirted with seltzer water. He stops himself before mentioning the word he didn't say, and refuses to say "that word" ever again. Honker asks, "What word?" Darkwing answers, "Aardvark!" Cue the inevitable.
  • Serial Escalation: In the action series parody, Darkwing and Bushroot start by firing handguns, then escalate to machine guns, bazookas, rocket launchers, cannons, nuclear missiles, and battleships (though they stop fighting before actually using the last two).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Darkwing is repeatedly mistaken for Donald Duck (though he is never addressed as such by name, the constant references to his sailor suit make it clear who the public think he is). When he is shut out of the studios during the screening of Bushroot's series for Mr. Dizzy, he is only able to get in by disguising himself as Donald, while Gosalyn disguises herself as Donald's nephew Louie.
    • Rockwell and Crosby insist that Bushroot is a perfect addition to the series to cater to the mutant audience, and they mention turtle bowls as one place where mutants are found (as well as comic books, TV shows, and movies) before asking Bushroot if he can do any "ninja chop-socky stuff". This doubles as Writing Around Trademarks since they never actually say the words "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in that order.
    • During the children's puppet show, the puppet version of Darkwing exclaims, "Surrender Dorothy... I mean, surrender, Bushroot!", a tribute to The Wizard of Oz.
  • Show Within a Show: Aside from the notion that Darkwing Duck is a TV show in-universe as well as out, the episode includes numerous formats starring Darkwing and Bushroot, including a children's series, an action series, a medical/courtroom drama, a game show, and a talk show.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Rockwell is adding Bushroot to Darkwing's show as a supporting character, with the ultimate goal that he replace Darkwing as the star of his own show.
  • Take That!: The Black and White Morality take on the Green Aesop underlying Bushroot's fight against the greedy land developers "with absolutely no redeeming values whatsoever" played by Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot is a swipe at the similar portrayal of environmental issues on Captain Planet and the Planeteers; Darkwing Duck presents the idea that there are shades of grey in the conflict, and that compromise solutions are possible.

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