Thursday, January 08, 2009


I mentioned elsewhere that Paramount's DVD release of Duckman seasons 3 and 4 contains more music cuts than the first set. Here are the ones I've been able to find so far. It's a short list, but an annoying one, especially since it affects several of my favorite episodes. If I find more examples while going through the set, I'll add them here.

- In "Aged Heat 2: Women In Heat" (Duckman goes to a women's prison, which somehow winds up as a parody of Ann-Margret movies), a scene that was originally accompanied by "Powerhouse" now just uses generic music.

- In "Ebony Baby" (a great blaxploitation parody), a song by Montell Jordan has been replaced, and Jordan's guest appearance has been cut.

- In "Role With It," the DVD cuts a scene of Fluffy and Uranus singing "Abba Dabba Honeymoon."

- In "Where No Duckman Has Gone Before," the scene of Duckman singing "Mr. Tambourine Man" is cut.

- The episode with Fluffy and Uranus turning into monsters runs short; probably one of the songs sung by guest star Jim Bailey has been edited out.

I can't regret buying the set, because there are too many good episodes I hadn't seen in years, and many of them are complete (the season 4 episodes seem to have been hit harder in terms of music cuts, or episodes that mysteriously run a few seconds short, than the season 3 ones). I appreciated the chance to see the Russian Literature episode again and find it was just as funny as I remembered. Duckman in these episodes had more silliness and less social satire, which suits me fine. Maybe by the final batch of episodes, with the increasingly cartoony plots and the network-mandated addition of a new, nicer character (Beverly, the previously-unknown but nice twin sister), it had gotten too soft; one episode, a Red River parody with catfish instead of cattle -- really -- is just too much like a Saturday morning cartoon (it was written by Jed Spingarn of Pinky and the Brain, but his P&B scripts were quite a bit edgier). But generally, the episodes on these discs are the funniest of the series. They're also more pleasant to look at, within the limits of the design style, than the early ones.

But CBS/Paramount has absolutely no method, no understandable pattern, to which songs it will pay for and which ones it won't, which bits it will leave in and which it will cut. (Sometimes, as with Happy Days, they'll cut a song in one season and pay for the very same song in the next season.) They're not actually the worst studio in terms of music replacement, since they will sometimes pay for an expensive song -- but they're the most ruthless and generally weird in terms of cutting random music-related scenes from their episodes.

Interestingly, Duckman sort of anticipated this in advance, because one of the episodes in this set (not, ironically, one of the ones that got cut) began with this caption:

The following program has been altered from its original format.

If you have any idea who altered it, please let us know.

We're really mad.

Oh, well, at least this scene from Ebony, Baby is still uncensored. So to speak.


James said...

I could never enjoy Duckman because I could never get past how damned ugly those cartoons were to look at.

Kevin W. Martinez said...

I called it the instant I saw the usual "music" disclaimer on the rear cover art posted by TVShowsonDVD.

The first set had, like, three cuts, but since Paramount had to clear all of the Frank Zappa stuff in addition to the music they did retain, that's kind of forgivable and understandable. Here, I don't know what happened.

Great places to check for additional edits would be Coolio Runnings and Duckman and Cornfed in Haunted Society Plumbers (the latter mainly because of a cameo appearance that might've cost Paramount some extra "Do'h" to clear)

David Gerstein said...

"Aba-Daba Honeymoon"? A song from 1914? All songs published before 1923 are public domain; one can copyright a new, significantly different arrangement, but a quick ASCAP search shows that for this song, nobody's even done that.
All sound recordings after 1923 (and, in some states, earlier ones) are under copyright, but the Duckman episode is a motion picture, not a sound recording, and regardless its performance of the song is unique to it, and thus the rights to the episode itself should cover its reproduction.

Speedy Boris said...

You mentioned that Powerhouse was removed from "Aged Heat 2". It's been replaced by the Associated Production Music track "Wow!", by Henning Ruete. It -does- work for the purposes of the montage sequence, but it's a shame they couldn't have gotten Powerhouse.

The rest I'm not too familiar with, so I'm glad you were able to find those edits.

Mr. Semaj said...

These sound fairly minor compared to most cases.

Still one of the funniest cartoons ever made.

Martin said...

They cut the "Aba Daba Honeymoon" bit? Darn it. It was the funniest moment in the whole series.

Ian Lueck said...

I know this post is way old, but I had to get it out somewhere.

I re-watched the entire Duckman series lately and strongly disagree that season 4 was the funniest in the series. That season had a LOT of jokes that were dead in the water and/or predictable, thanks to the slower timing on the dialog. I also didn't like how they toned down Duckman so he barely ranted anymore.

You also hit the nail on the head about the lack of conflict thanks to Beverly being in most episodes once she was introduced. Part of what made Duckman so great in its first three seasons was his constant butting heads with Bernice, someone who isn't the boys' mother but is infinitely more responsible than their real father. Beverly just wasn't that interesting of a character; about the only aspect of her character I liked was that she had a similar vice to Duckman (in one episode, she mentions how hypocritical it would be to throw out Duckman's porn mags, because then she'd have to do the same for herself), but that aspect is never touched on again. Even her secret budding romance with Cornfed is pretty blandly executed.

Also, I have to disagree about the animation. It got way too stiff for my tastes. The earlier seasons may have been less consistent with the character designs, but they were more fun to watch because of how loose everything was.

The storyboarding was also less interesting. Seasons 1-3 (1 and 2 in particular) had a lot of shots that were staged in a unique way so that it kept you interested in the action; it reminded me of "Rugrats"'s best years (no surprise, since it was another Klasky Csupo show). Season 4 was shot in a very conventional manner for the most part, and so it was rather bland to look at. I think the show suffered for John Eng, Norton Virgin, and Raymie Muzquiz leaving the directing chair.

Re-watching season 4, there were only a few episodes I still generally enjoyed, whether it be due to the plot or simply quantity of laughs:
-Dammit Hollywood
-All About Elliott
-Bonfire of the Panties
-Haunted Society Plumbers
-You've Come a Wrong Way, Baby
-Das Sub
-Where No Duckman Has Gone Before
-Four Weddings Inconceivable

The rest? I can live without seeing them again, honestly. In particular, "A Star is Abhorred" is quite possibly the most unfunny Duckman episode in existence.

Season 3, for the most part, is great, though. I still enjoyed that on re-watch. (never really cared for "Exile in Guyville" or "Sperms of Endearment", though)