Sitting Ducks is an All-CGI Cartoon produced by Creative Capers Entertainment. It was spawned from iconic 1977 lithograph and the 1998 children's book of the same name, both created by poster artist Michael Bedard (who also developed this show).
Sitting Ducks mainly centers around a good-natured duck named Bill, who establishes an unusual friendship with an alligator named Aldo. Said friendship is challenged by both the separate divisions between ducks and alligators (Ducktown and Swampwood, respectively) and the obvious idea of ducks and alligators being unable to establish any kind of friendship. The two of them end up in the usual Slice of Life affair, dealing with the three slackers next door to Bill, enduring complications that test their friendship, among other hijinks.
The series was originally shown in 2001 in Europe and was later brought to Cartoon Network in the United States and Japan, as well as YTV in Canada and ABC 3 in both Australia. It proved to be a surprisingly successful series in Europe, and was somewhat well-received in the US as well, running for 26 episodes over 2 seasons. Reruns have since popped up on Qubo and NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service.
This series includes examples of:
- Adaptational Heroism: While not a character, Ducktown in the original version is a place where alligators deceive ducks to fatten them up until they cannot fly. In the cartoon series, Ducktown is an actual city for ducks and has no connection to the alligators.
- Aliens Speaking English: Zug the space duck. Justified since his episode turned out to be All Just a Dream.
- All-CGI Cartoon
- Alliterative Name: All the alligators have names starting with "A", such as Aldo, Arnold, Ambrose, and Ally among others.
- All Just a Dream: The events in "The Visitor" turns out to have been this.
- In "Getting Away From it All", this happens not one but two times. When Bill runs away from alligators swimming in the water, he wishes things were back to normal. Then, it fades into Bill sleeping into his bedroom, with the three duck brothers giving him breakfast in bed. Then, they jump on the bed, make paper airplanes out of his books, and eat his breakfast. In an interesting twist of fate, it turns out that was a dream too, and it fades to Bill back on the island.
- In "Denture Adventure", Bill and Raoul fight over a set of dentures, and Raoul ends up taking them. Bill asks a police officer for help, and to his horror, the officer has dentures too! Then, everyone in Ducktown has teeth, and then a bunch of teen ducks corner Bill as they try to bite him. It then turns out to be all just a dream, but Bill being arrogant turns out to be real.
- Art Evolution: The second season benefited from improved animation.
- Black Comedy: In one episode, "Daredevil Ducks", Ed, Oly, and Waddle go on the titular show to try and prove that the urban legend that rubbing an alligator's belly makes them fall asleep so they can win a new TV (they smashed their old TV during an argument). They try to fake it with an alligator suit, but when real alligators come, the ducks all make a retreat. It's then revealed that the gators ate the cameraman offscreen, to which the TV host says, "Oh, boy. The union is not going to like this."
- Bookends: The episode "Ducks for Hire" begins with Ed, Oly, and Waddle accidentally destroying a biker's scooter, and at the end, when the biker buys a new scooter, the three ducks accidentally destroy that one, too. The biker even screams a Big "NO!" in both instances.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Aldo is best friends with Bill. He's the largest and strongest alligator around, hence why his work friends don't dare threaten him, they just shun him when his friendship with a duck is discovered.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Bill has a crush on Bev and tries to tell her in one episode, but he ends up saying that he likes her pie.
- Carnivore Confusion: Averted. References are made to ducks being eaten by alligators (all offscreen, of course). Aldo would rather be friends with the ducks. The ducks, however, eat fish and salamander.
- Cartoon Penguin: Fred and Gelata.
- Clever Crows: Raoul is Plucky Comic Relief.
- Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Oh, man. Poor Aldo has to endure this in order to maintain his friendship with Bill.
- Continuity Nod: In “Iced Duck”, Bill and Aldo send Ice Duck to Feather Island, where there is a wild chicken. This is possibly a nod to “Getting Away from it All” where Bill makes friends with the same chicken.
- In the “Feet of Fortune” episode, Bill mentions the last time he went to Madame Bevousky’s, he had his feathers turned green, which is a nod to “Duck Naked”.
- Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: In "Duck Naked" when Bill yells "I'm coming undone!" out the window in his panic that he's losing his feathers, a mother duck tells her child not to look at him.
- Creator Cameo: Bedard's lithographs appear as paintings that Bill is working on in his apartment.
- Bill’s airplane-themed alarm clock has “Bedard” written on the clock’s face.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Waddle in "Feet of Fortune":"100% of all home accidents do happen... in the home."
- Digital Destruction: The first season on Peacock are rendered in PAL format, meaning both the frames and audio aren't in the right format as originally intended. note
- Dirty Cop: Drill Sergeant Duck once spent one episode trying to manufacture a reason to arrest Aldo purely because he's an alligator.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The entire show is a massive metaphor for adult daily life in the modern United States, with quite a lot of the subtle humor going over the heads of kids, who just think it's a funny show with ducks and alligators. Specifically:
- Racial divide in the United States is heavily satirized, with ducks and alligators segregated on either sides of a lake and encouraged to be enemies. In the show, the concept of a duck and an alligator being best friends - despite the former being the prey of the either - is constantly tested.
- Bill's "friends", Ed, Oly and Waddle are jobless, immature, obnoxious, constantly broke and frequently hungry (often pillaging Bill's fridge for food) satirizing lazy, young adult potheads. They are also depicted as racist, constantly questioning Bill and Aldo's controversial friendship and at times even encouraging Bill to terminate it.
- Characters such as Raoul the crow and Fred the penguin, both of who don't fit well into duck society and culture and can come off as an annoyance, are also metaphors for immigrants in the United States. In fact, most of the population of Ducktown in general is depicted as clueless, self-absorbed and shallow.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Drill Sergeant Duck, though now she works as a police officer.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Fred, the melancholy penguin immigrant, made such in "Hic Hic, Hooray!", while he made his proper introduction in the episode following, "Fred's Meltdown".
- Everyone Has Standards: Raoul may be a Jerkass towards Bill and enjoys watching him fail at his attempts at flying, but he draws the line at seeing him get seriously hurt.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Becomes the subject of an episode when Ducktown is visited by a famous bongo player who proceeds to run around town "playing" its various odds and ends, much to Bill and Aldo's puzzlement.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The original 1970s lithograph has three ducks which are in fact sitting on chairs. Averted in the TV series since the ducks are rarely seen sitting down for too long. This is actually lampshaded by Bill in a Cartoon Network commercial:
- Fake a Fight: In one episode, a boxing duck is meant to fight an alligator. Aldo insists that no matter how tough the duck is, it is still just a duck and stands no real chance. It's later revealed the event was staged and the duck and alligator were both being paid for the fight. When the alligator wants to end the match quickly so he can go to the bathroom, he ingests the duck in one bite before spitting him out after he walks out of the area.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Played straight with both the ducks and alligators, since the former are considered prey to the latter.
- Raoul and his fellow crows similarly look down on the ducks for being flightless.
- Funny Foreigner: Raoul, who sprinkles Spanish words into his dialogue.
- Furry Confusion: In a world where ducks, alligators, and cows walk and talk, the chickens are depicted as stray animals, and sometimes even pets owned by the ducks. In Swampwood, chickens are a delicacy, which would be the equivalent to eating cats and dogs as food.
- Gone Horribly Right: Bill tries to get back at Raoul for taking advantage of him with a phony broken foot, by having Aldo pretend to be a doctor and decide Raoul's condition is critical. This scares Raoul so much that he flies out the apartment in panic, forcing the two to go after him. This ends with Bill and Raoul both getting a broken foot for real and staying at a hospital.
- Good Is Not Soft: Aldo maybe civil, but don't ever disrespect him.
- Great White Hunter: Bill's Australian cousin named Outback Quack often gloats about the many gators he's caught but is eventually proven to be less of a duck and more of a chicken after Bill and Aldo devise a plan.
- Green Gators: All of the alligators in the show, including Aldo, are different shades of green. Real life alligators are grey or brown.
- Aldo had a brighter green skin color in the first season, whereas it was toned darker in the second one.
- Harmless Freezing: One episode has a prehistoric cave-duck preserved in a block of ice and waking up with no ill effects.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bill and Aldo.
- Hiccup Hijinks: In "Hic Hic Hooray", Aldo catches a case of ‘’giccups’’ after he eats fried tadpole buttocks. The giccups, in question, are merely burps, but cause the entire town to shake. Bev, Claire, and Cecil all conjure up solutions via drinking upside down, jumping and crossing his eyes, and popping a balloon respectively, but ultimately fail in the end.
- The slackers Ed, Oly and Waddle, of the shamelessly self-absorbed, childlike, annoying and simple-minded variety. They repeatedly cause problems and think nothing of it.
- Raoul is probably worse because he's not simply too self-centered and stupid to realise how annoying he is; he genuinely feels that having the racial ability to fly makes him so superior to the ducks that he can heckle, jeer, mock and empty his bowels upon them whenever he sees fit.
- Jerkass Ball: Fred grabs this in "Great White Hype", where he kicks Aldo in the shins due to everyone in Ducktown betting on a duck winning against an alligator in a boxing match.
- Karma Houdini: Ed, Oly and Waddle in most episodes: generally, at worst, they eventually lose their ill-gotten gains (Aldo took their money away when they sold a caveman duck). For the most part, though, their cheating, lying, mooching, thievery and kidnapping goes unpunished (they once got another duck killed and eaten and faced no repercussions). Raoul benefits from the trope as well, to a lesser extent.
- Licensed Game: Of the Wide-Open Sandbox variety, and also surprisingly difficult considering its target audience.
- Mind Screw: Bill explaining the rules of Squaddo to Aldo, in addition to the very game itself.
- Named by the Adaptation: Bill and Aldo.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Averted with Aldo, but most of the time played straight with the other alligators.
- Nice Guy:
- Bill and Aldo are both very amicable, even if the latter is a recovering duck predator.
- Bev, Cecil, Claire, and Fred as well. They some of the only characters who aren't mean, shallow or stupid.
- One-Shot Character: Mr. Quackenbush, Uncle Artie, Colonel Snappy, the Daredevil Ducks crew, Gelata, Crazy Bob, The Green Death, The Jolly Llama, Outback Quack, Cave Duck, Junior the baby turtle, Dottie and Quack the Ripper, just to name a few.
- Only Six Faces: All the ducks look the same apart from what they wear. The alligators have it a bit worse.
- Even lampshaded by Bev herself in a flashback when people keep mistaking Bill for multiple people. His bowtie was the solution to this problem.
- Palate Propping: Bill does this to an alligator in the episode "The Fly Who Loved Me".
- Palette Swap: Every single background character. The ducks are limited to just the same model (sometimes Bill’s model) with different clothing and apparel.
- The alligator models are reused for every single one, with color differences and varying body shapes.
- Paper-Thin Disguise:
- To blend in with a duck picnic, Aldo wears a mask... and that's it. No attempt at hiding his huge, green body or teeth. And it works!
- Also done during Bill's family game night when they're playing Squaddo.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Raoul.
- Polar Penguins: Fred the penguin is an immigrant to Ducktown who has to live in an apartment with the air conditioning turned all the way up because he finds Ducktown too hot for him.
- Power of Friendship: Exactly what allows Bill and Aldo to endure the harsh criticism regarding them being pals.
- Power of Love: Spoofed to a great extreme when Bev defrosts Bill and his friends by kissing them.
- Real After All: Quack the Ripper, a zombie duck who eats gators, is revealed to be real at the end of an episode.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Denture Adventure", Aldo gives one to Bill when the latter starts scaring everyone else with his new dentures.Aldo: Say, why don't you do yourself a favor and get rid of those teeth?
Bill: And why would I want to do that?
Aldo: Because you're not yourself anymore. You're hard! You're a bully! You're...
(Bill bites into a corn cob, causing kernels to fly around)
Bill: You say like it's a bad thing.
Aldo: It is! You're scaring ducklings and chomping the furniture! And nobody likes you anymore.
Bill: Can I help it if everyone's jealous? At least they respect me now.
Aldo: Bill, buddy, they don't respect you. They're afraid of you. You know, ducks aren't supposed to have teeth. It's against nature. (sighs) Look, I gotta go. Just think about what I said.
- Regular Character: Bill. Aldo can be considered one as well, but he only appeared in half the episodes of Season 1.
- The '70s: Precisely when it all began. The series' aesthetic has traces of this era, especially in regards to technology.
- Shout-Out: "Daredevil Duck" contains a scene which references The Blair Witch Project via its camera point-of-view of Bill, complete with dripping nostril.
- Swamptown’s entrance has a sign that says "R.I.P Donald" on there.
- Status Quo Is God: Unfortunately. In a later episode, "Duck Lover!" Aldo's friendship with Bill is discovered by the other alligators, who haze him as a result. To add to his woes, the ducks in Ducktown have lost all fear of him and are treating his disrespectfully, and even Bill is badmouthing alligators to his face. In the end, he asserts both his friendship with Bill and his pride as an alligator, and proceeds to rescue and unnerve Bill by the end. Fair enough. Except that Bill never insulted alligators before this episode, and in all the ones that proceeded it, Aldo actually wanted the ducks to lose their fear of him so that he could feel more at home in Ducktown and make more friends. The whole thing was an excuse to take everyone back to square one, and it suffered as a result.
- Stock Audio Clip: While more of a reused sound clip, Ed’s “He ate poor Bill!” line from "All in a Day’s Work" was reused in "Outback Quack".
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Poked fun at on a few notable occasions.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Raoul becomes this for Bill in "Pest of a Guest" after the duck accidentally smashes the crow's foot with a window, except it turns out his foot didn't get broken.
- That Was Not a Dream: In "Denture Adventure," right after Bill wakes up in Cecil's office, he tells Aldo and Cecil that he had a bad dream, and that it involved Bill becoming a bully. Aldo notes that this actually happened, but thankfully, everyone forgives Bill... ...except for the chicken, who holds a grudge against Bill.
- Toothy Bird:
- Invoked during "Denture Adventure" when Bill attempts to garner respect with his new teeth. It later on becomes clear why ducks weren't meant to have teeth.
- Quack the Ripper, the legendary alligator-eating duck who serves as the boogeyman of Swampwood, proudly sports his fangs.
- We Want Our Jerk Back!: Aldo and Bev convince Bill is experiencing this when Raoul gets grounded from flying for a while.
- What Have I Become?: Bill in "Denture Adventure" when he uses his new teeth to gain respect only to result in him becoming a bully and causing the other ducks to become afraid of him.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It happens twice in "Fowl Weather Feathers". The gators want more feather down vests and comforters from Ducktown for the winter or else they will eat the ducks if there's not enough supply to meet demand. Oly has special feathers that are larger and softer than regular feathers, which make his down vests more popular. Oly drinks a potion from Cecil that allows him to regrow his special feathers every time they're plucked, allowing him to donate all the feathers Swampwood needs. However, Bill and Aldo realize that if he becomes the sole supplier for the gators' down vests, then all the other ducks with normal feathers won't be needed except for being food. Hearing this, the ducks chase Oly into Swampwood, but the gators praise him like a celebrity instead of food. Unfortunately for Oly, winter soon comes to an end, and he immediately realizes that since the gators don't need his down vests anymore, the only thing he's good for now is food. It's a good thing Bill, Aldo, Ed and Waddle were there to save him.