Okay, confession… for as much as I bash TV Tropes, the actual wiki is still a fun read and every once in awhile has some interesting trivia or observations that hold water. Call it a case of a broken clock being right twice a day if you want, but there is some good stuff there.
But there is also still a lot of stupidity, especially in the “YMMV” sections. I just recently beat Super Mario RPG again, and then read their page… and they describe it as if the game is insanely hard (I played without benefit of a walkthrough and it is honestly piss-easy).
Just now I somehow got to reading their YMMV page for the Ducktales reboot which began in 2017, and immediately the facepalming began.
For what it’s worth… I’m not a fan of Ducktales 2017. It started out with promise, but I had two major problems:
First of all, too much of it was reminding me of the style of writing used in shows such as Codename Kids Next Door and My Little Pony, where basically it wants you to take it seriously and yet will sacrifice everything for a joke. It’s funny how this is such a problem now when, if you watch the special features of movies like Back to the Future, they knew that being a comedy didn’t justify jokes at the expense of everything else.
This quote from TV Tropes sums up my problem nicely:
Angst? What Angst?: A criticism of the show that has popped up. It’s been noticed that the show tends to put overt focus on comedy at critical moments, that characters often react blithely to danger, and that emotional traumas are either glossed over or truncated.
Again, exactly the kind of crap I hate about most modern cartoons, and one reason I advocate that the 1980s and 90s were better (though admittedly, the much-beloved 1987 version of Ninja Turtles is where this particular cancer began).
My second problem with Ducktales 2017 is…. Webby.
At first, I joined with the rest of the internet in proclaiming her awesome. Thing is, immediately afterwards I saw this episode involving the boys taking her to a Chuck E. Cheese-style restaurant, and… well, without going into it, it became clear that the writers mistook “being quirky” for being a complete dodo. The breaking point for me was a scene where Dewey explains a white lie to her (a cheap way to get cups and straws) and even though she sees what he did and it isn’t hard, she keeps screwing up. In a situation where all she had to do was let a waiter think she wanted the cup for water and then wind up actually getting fruit juice.
That’s just one part… the entire episode is basically “look at how exceptional Webby is!” And I mean “exceptional” in a bad way. And apparently, this is all justified by her being a bit of a shut-in.
If I may be controversial for a moment… it kind of amuses me that people hate Teen Titans Go. I’ll admit I did at first, but after awhile I got into it. And see, part of what makes TTG work is that it never pretends to be serious or acting like it gives any sort of a shit. It’s stupid and it knows it. Shows like Ducktales 2017, on the other hand, are convinced they’re masterpieces even while having writing that wouldn’t be out of place in TTG, and its that little level of pretension that makes it just so much worse.
But I was mentioning stupid defenses.
For that, I go to the Broken Base page.
Early on, that page presents the reader with this:
Should the show even have violent conflicts between the heroes and the villains? Fans of the comics say it goes against everything the Duck comics stand for, while television viewers point out the fact that TV shows need to have faster-paced narratives with personal conflicts between the heroes and the villains. Adding onto this is the fact that the majority of the show’s villains are more bloodthirsty than they are in the comics, which several fans believe necessitates the use of violence by the heroes to vanquish the villains and restore justice and peace.
Sorry, this isn’t even opinion… the fans of the comics are unequivocably correct here.
Let’s start with “television viewers point out the fact that TV shows need to have faster-paced narratives with personal conflicts between the heroes and the villains.” Note they said “fact,” so apparently all television needs “faster-paced narratives” with “personal conflicts between heroes and villains.”
Because, you know, absolutely nobody watched Nickelodeon’s/Disney’s Doug back in the day… or Garfield and Friends… or Life With Louie… or Pepper Ann… or the Flintstones… or this long-running franchise starring a boy named Charlie Brown… OH WAIT those are all really well-known and considered classic.
Also, this shit about how comics are somehow allowed to be slower? The Carl Barks stories (which is what Ducktales is based on) were written from the 1940s to the 1960s, the era of compressed stories and three-stories-per-issue.
The second half, “the show’s villains are more bloodthirsty than before” runs right up against the Thermian Argument. That is, put simply, it ignores the fact that the only reason they’re “more bloodthirsty” is because the writers made them that way. So its a problem they brought on themselves.
There is one more problem, but we’ll get to it in a bit.
Scrolling down a bit we get this gem:
Should the show have an overarching Big Bad? One side points out that while the original comics have recurring antagonists, they didn’t have a be-all overarching villain despite a serialized narrative. The other side points out that what works in comics doesn’t always make it way into television (which usually does not run as long as comics and thus needs a tighter narrative), and how serialized television always has an overarching villain.
To repeat, the “what works in comics…” argument doesn’t even fly here because its not taking into account the period the original comics came from, where the model was very different. As for “serialized television always has an overarching villain” this is patentedly untrue, as plenty of cartoons even today don’t have an overarching villain, or even a villain at all.
But there is another reason this and the other defense in Ducktales 2017’s favor don’t work… and it’s invoked by the mere fact that I have to always say “2017” so you don’t think I’m talking about the first Ducktales cartoon from the 1980s.
Yeah, consider that: this is a reboot. So if all these things were inevitable or somehow mandatory, the original cartoon would’ve suffered from the same problems.
Funny, then, that it doesn’t!
This is exactly what makes these defenses so braindead: That they ignore the blatant fact that Ducktales has been done before and done very differently. It’s kind of hard to take claims of “it must be this way” seriously when you can point to the same thing being done elsewhere and say “what about this, then?”
It’s just like people who defend the flaws of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy but then can’t answer why those same flaws weren’t present in the Ralph Bakshi version (which isn’t denying that said version has its own flaws. The point is that if you claim a certain flaw is something somehow necessitated by the medium, then it has to logically happen every single time an adaptation is made into that medium. If there’s even one instance where it doesn’t, then its not necessitated and thus, you are full of shit).
But I know this is likely to fall on deaf ears. Humans are not logical creatures and are more about justification than fact.
One of the dumbest conversations I ever had, in fact…. someone in a Youtube comment claimed that 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was Gary Gygax’s proudest achievement… and I linked him to an interview where Gary himself outright stated he’d had nothing to do with 2nd Edition and did not approve of it. This person immediately went on to call me names and accuse me of having all sorts of blindnesses in the face of the fact of the man himself saying he had nothing to do with 2nd Edition. This, friends, is humanity in a microcosm.