Time for some more time travel! No Pym particles required.
We go back to the year 1991. The cartoon world was still split into three sets: the Cable TV cartoons (topped by Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and a few others), Saturday Morning Network cartoons (such as Darkwing Duck and Talespin), and the Weekday Afternoon Network cartoons (with Bobby’s World and Tiny Toon Adventures at the top of a lot of lists).
One of those Saturday Morning Network cartoons was “Captain Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars”. Based on the 1984 comic character created by Larry Hama and Michael Golden (for Continuity Comics), the cartoon follows the adventures of the hero, Bucky O’Hare, a green-furred rabbit from an alternate universe. He and his crew are fighting the Toad Empire, controlled by the computer system, KOMPLEX.
So, sit back and read about this forgotten gem from the early 1990’s!
Ep. 1: “War of the Warts”
I had completely forgotten how epic (…maybe ‘epic’ is a little strong) the theme song is. It’ll get stuck in your head, trust me.
IN THE “ANIVERSE”
We start in the midst of the Toad Fleet; all of their ships are shaped like… toads. The Toads have formed an Empire and have begun conquering and laying waste to moons and planets everywhere. The Main ship is a slave ship, where captured creatures throughout the galaxy are taken to other Toad worlds, where they work in mines and factories. On board the Main ship, officers Frix and Frax are drooling (literally) over the actress in a commercial for ‘Warts Galore’, a cream that will bring out the best warts on your skin. Their commander – and the leader of the Toad Military – arrives and throws them away from the TV. Simply named “Air Marshall”, he wants them back at their stations: he is off to accept a medal from KOMPLEX, for conquering Bucky O’Hare’s home world.
It is not often that a cartoon series starts with the villains having big victories under their belt.
Further out in space, we meet Bucky, his ship (the Righteous Indignation), and his crew for the first time:
- Jenny, his First Mate and co-pilot (female Feline)
- Deadeye Duck, a four-armed gunner with a weird Southern accent and a very short fuse (male Duck)
- Bruce, a “Betelgeusian Berserker Baboon” and the Engineer (male Baboon)
- AFC (“Android First Class) Blinky (one-eyed Robot)
They receive a distress signal coming from where the Toad ship is located. Off they race, to the objections from Bruce – he doesn’t like the sounds of the Voltron Accelerator, which allows them to jump in and out of hyperspace. “It’s not in our space-time continuum”, Bruce warns, but Bucky asks him to table it for later. The group reaches the Toad ship, which is also guarded by 6 escort ships. Bucky sends Jenny and Bruce to take over that main ship (the distress signal came from that ship), while he and Deadeye will take out the escorts.
Big fight scene, less than 5 minutes in!
Jenny catch the pilots of the Main Toad ship by surprise by blasting a giant hole in its side and flying in. Toad security rush to the nearest door to the hold, waiting for Jenny and Bruce to come through; what they absolutely were not prepared for was Bruce to break the door down. Apparently, Toads are deathly afraid of Baboons.
Meanwhile, Jenny, after Bruce chases off the Toad Security, heads up a ladder and is confronted by a Toad Robot. She uses some kind of combination of magic and psionics to dismantle the robots, run to the Main Control Room, and knock out the 2 pilots, who were “relieved that [she] was only a Cat and not a Baboon”. She ultimately takes control of the Main Toad Ship.
The lesson here: don’t insult a Magic-wielding Feline.
Outside, Bucky and Deadeye have their hands full with the escort ships. Also, did Bucky’s voice drastically change??
SAN FRANCISCO, EARTH
We are now on Earth, in a middle or high school, with a blond boy (with glasses), in front of his locker (which has “NERD” spray-painted on it). 3 perfect-role-models-of society show up and threaten the boy: “We are tired of you getting A’s, forcing the rest of us to work to slide by. if you don’t fail the Science Test, we’re going to wipe your nose from your face!”
Wait, the “nerd” is going to get beat up because his good grades are apparently spoiling a grading curve, NOT because he refuses to do homework for others??
As confused as I am, the boy heads to class. We don’t know his name yet.
The dogfight between the escorts ships and Bucky and Deadeye continues, until Bucky uses a Backwards Loop to fly over and behind the escorts, allowing Deadeye to light them up. The Toads survive in Bubble Shields; Bucky issues an ultimatum to one of them: tell your ruler that he will either stop this aggression or he will face the united power of the UAC (United Animal Coalition)! Upon hearing this, Air Marshall mobilizes everything, solely to hunt down Bucky O’Hare.
Back on the Main Toad Ship, Jenny and Bucky are in front of a large metal door; she tells him that “this will be hard for you”. He opens the door… to a room full of cheering Hares? They welcome him back but Bucky realizes what Jenny meant: these are refugees from his home world, the last of those who weren’t killed or taken to the factories and mines.
“Now, it’s personal!”
Bucky and group set a course for Genus, the capital of the UAC, to warn them about the Toads.
The boy – named “Willie” – is too nervous to eat his Tofu Burger dinner. He asks his parents for advice about the Science test (his parents’ faces are never shown). His dad tells him “to do what he thinks is right, regardless of the cost”, before they rush off to a rally (possibly environment-related, based on his wife’s comments before they left). That scene may have been under a minute.
The Righteous Indignation (with no difficulties) and the Toad Ship (with many, mistaken-ID-related issues) make it past the defense systems and enter Genus. On Genus, a Special UAC Council is under way, talking about reports that Bucky O’Hare confronted a Toad Fleet.
Bucky and crew burst into the chamber. Bucky not only confirms this, he demands more than 1 ship to fight the Toads. The room erupts into shouting and debate… until Deadeye pulls out blasters, fires them, and calms everyone down. The Secretary General wants “evidence” before he’ll authorize the commission of more ships. Hmmm….
On board the Air Marshall’s ship, Marshall is contacted by KOMPLEX. He is subtly warned: “deal with Bucky O’Hare!”
As Bucky and crew leave Genus, they are spotted by Toads. Bucky takes his ship into hyperspace, with a ridiculously large Toad Armada close on his heels. An all-out assault begins!
Bucky manages to dodge most of the laser fire but 2 engines are knocked out and the Voltron Acceleration is now badly damaged. Bruce rushes to fix it – otherwise, their ship cannot go back to hyperspace to escape the Toads. Bruce gets it working, somewhat, and fires it up. Suddenly, there is a flash and a kaleidoscope of color. The Accelerator starts pulling Bruce and Blinky in; Blinky escapes and unplugs the machine, Bruce does not escape. Blinky tells the crew what happened, thinking that Bruce is in another dimension but fearing the worst (“that he is one with the Aniverse”). Bucky heads down to check out the scene, sees only Bruce’s uniform on the ground. He decides to take the risk and try the Accelerator, as the Toads are starting to breach his ship’s shields.
Willie decides to test his Science Project – a Photon Accelerator – after deciding that he’s going to get an A on that Science test, regardless of the bullies.
Bucky flips the Voltron Accelerator on at the same moment that Willie flips his Photon Accelerator on. Power is knocked out in Willie’s neighborhood, while a Stasis Field locks up the Righteous Indignation. A door appears on the ship; it’s the same door as the one leading from Willie’s room to the rest of his house. Willie opens his door and is pulled onto the Righteous Indignation! Note: Willie is much larger than Bucky and his crew, almost the size of Bruce.
After the awkward “Who and what are you? Who are you?” introductions, Bucky explains what happened on his end of the door. Willie says that he can fix their Accelerator but needs parts from his side. The Stasis Field is the only thing saving their ship from annihilation, as the Toads continue to fire upon it.
Willie gets the parts and fixes the Voltron Accelerator. However, Jenny realizes that once Bucky flips it on, the door disappears and Willie is trapped in the Aniverse. Citing what his dad told him earlier, Willie stays, earning a hug and a kiss from Jenny. Bucky offers him the job of Engineer.
Flipping the switch also brings down the Stasis Field and the Toads waste no time: they fire every gun, on every ship, at once. The ship blinks into hyperspace….
… and that’s how the episode ends.
Spoiler: a one-minute preview of Episode 2 is shown right after that scene. Bucky and crew made it into hyperspace, just in the nick of time.
There were a couple of instances where Bucky’s voice suddenly got higher-pitched. The were also a few ‘wonky’ animations. Other than that, this cartoon’s sound and visuals aren’t too bad, considering it’s nearly 30 years old. The plot isn’t new but the threat of the Toad Empire to the Aniverse does make you want to watch the next episode(s); whether that holds up past episode 2 remains to be seen. Nevertheless, this was a fun episode.
Until our next journey!