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Count Duckula - series 2
November 2007 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Count Duckula - The Complete Third Series
voice cast: David Jason

director: Chris Randall

468 minutes (U) 1991
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Teague
Growing up in the 1980s, Cosgrove-Hall achieved greatness with Dangermouse and it made a star out of David Jason. A recurring character from that seminal show, also voiced by Jason, was a certain vampire duck. It was only natural that he would be given his own series.

Count Duckula ran for four series between 1988 and 1993 and even though I never watched much of the show (being slightly older than its target audience) I do recall it and remember how extremely good it was - but not a patch on Dangermouse. CD, though, like DM did have its eye on the adult audience: just like The Simpsons, Cosgrove-Hall instilled within its writers (mainly Brian Trueman and Jimmy Hibbert) the notion of not talking down to its audience. Re-watching this third series just re-emphasises that fact - kids will obviously laugh at the slapstick, but the parents too will find the odd nod and wink to popular culture not to mention film (The Great Ducktective is a very good film noir spoof).

The voice cast are pitch perfect, apart from Jason's unwise decision to give Duckula a mid-Atlantic twang (a strange choice considering the fact the characters were from Eastern Europe); there's a very real sense of fun and jollity going on between Jason, Trueman, Hibbert and Jack May (along with Barry Clayton's narration which is pitch-perfect Vincent Price, and Ruby Wax who adds the occasional female character - except Nanny.)

The title track by Mike Harding is toe-tappingly catchy, and all in all the show is directed with style by Chris Randall but, alas, it doesn't quite live up to its forerunner Dangermouse - and it's not just because I'm older: even now, I can watch my DM DVDs and tell immediately there's a tangible lapse in animation quality.

This, though, is hardly surprising: ITV at the time of the late 1980s to early 1990s were on the cusp of a major change and therefore cash was tight; the fact CD was outsourced to a foreign animation studio for half the episodes is a testament. Which shouldn't cause a problem, yet it does; some of the character animation leaves much to be desired, which is a great pity.

Cosgrove-Hall ceased producing cel-animation series after Victor & Hugo (the successor to CD), which again is a pity since V&H was frankly pants-wettingly funny (and I had to record it at the time since I was in college). So, like a family, CD was the misunderstood and under-valued middle child that never quite lived up to the elder DM yet gave the younger V&H something to better.

Nevertheless, Count Duckula is still well worth watching - even if you don't have kids.

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