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Count_Duckula

Count Duckula

Count Duckula is a British animated television series created by British studio Cosgrove Hall, and a spin-off from DangerMouse, a show in which the Count Duckula character was a recurring villain. The series first aired on September 6, 1988 and was produced by Thames Television. In all, 65 episodes were made, each about 22 minutes long. The complete first season was released on DVD in the UK on July 17, 2006. On March 26 2007 the second series was released in the UK and the third series was released on September 3, 2007 in the UK, so all 65 episodes have been officially released there.

The show is a loose parody of the story of Count Dracula. Set in Transylvania, Duckula lives in a spooky castle known as Castle Duckula, alongside his butler Igor, and his large nanny (always referred to as "Nanny" and perpetually wearing an arm sling). Almost all of the characters in the show are (anthropomorphised) birds.

Plot

The story (as shown in the title sequence each episode) is that Duckula has been active as a vampire for centuries. He could only be destroyed by exposure to sunlight or by a wooden stake thrust through his heart. In fact, Duckula has died numerous deaths — but he always returns through a mystic ritual, performed once a century, "when the moon is in the eighth house of "Aquarius"-N.J (The opening credits depict Igor's incantation as such). However, a theme explored through several episodes is that each resurrection creates a new incarnation with little to no memory of its past life; thus, every incarnation is free to develop its own personality and pursue its own personal interests; the vampire is thus able to pose as a "dreadful dynasty" of the Counts of Duckula. The various preceding generations included knights, sorcerers, scientists, artists, Egyptologists and even professional gamblers, all of whom were also secretly "vicious vampire ducks".

But, as the title sequence put it, "the latest reincarnation did not run according to plan." The successful conclusion of the ritual requires blood, the source of sustenance for any vampire, but his servants accidentally substituted tomato ketchup. Consequently, the newest version is not a blood-sucking vampire, but a vegetarian one. He is more interested in juicy carrots, rather than hunting for victims. Naturally, Igor is appalled at this. Even worse, his "new" master is obsessed with pursuing wealth and fame as an entertainer.

The show often centres around Duckula's adventures in search of riches and fame, assisted by the castle's ability to teleport around the world. Another regular part of the story is Igor and his attempts to turn Duckula into a proper vampire. Some episodes feature Duckula's nemesis Doctor Von Goosewing (based on Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, the nemesis of Dracula), a vampire hunter who blindly refuses to believe the current incarnation of Duckula is harmless. Still others feature a whole array of bizarre, often supernatural foes, from zombies to mechanical werewolves. The show also featured a cuckoo clock whose bat-like characters would come out and make jokes about the current situation; the clock is also a vital part of the castle's travelling mechanism, and even has the ability to turn back time.

The first season was released on Region 1 DVD on October 4, 2005. A series of annuals and monthly comics further detailing the adventures of Count Duckula and associated characters were released throughout the time that the series originally aired and for a short time after. The Region Free DVD of Season 1 was released on July 17, 2006. The Region 2 DVD of Season 2 was released on 26 March 2007. The show's end credits were eventually edited, omitting many graphic effects.

Voices

Characters

Protagonists

Count Duckula

Count Duckula himself is a deliberate send-up of many traditional vampire traits. As his name would suggest, he is an anthropomorphic duck. Besides his vegetarianism and aspirations of fame, he is very squeamish and often cowardly. The Duckula Family Motto is Per Ardua ad Sanguina, which means "Work hard for blood".

He has a very modern outlook, and often despairs over the traditional vampire image he is expected to embody. He hates living in a dark, gloomy castle, and finds the behaviour of his servants to be depressing. Although he retains vampiric powers and qualities such as teleportation and not being able to appear in front of a mirror, he rarely uses them.

He often goes outside in the daytime without suffering any ill effects, but this is likely because of his own personal oddities. In one episode, a previous Count of Duckula crumbles into a pile of stone when exposed to sunlight. In the episode "Doctor Goosewing and Mr. Duck", Count Duckula briefly turns into a "proper" vampire, desiring blood from the villagers outside the castle, but turns away from the door when he discovers that the sun is still out. On the other hand, the episode "Transylvanian Homesick Blues" features a prehistoric "first vampire duck" who goes out in daylight, and only returns to his coffin because Igor advises him to.

Duckula has occasionally been seen wearing pyjamas with the DangerMouse logo, a reference to the character's origin (and somewhat based on the fact that David Jason voiced both characters). Duckula is a short green duck with black parted hair and the traditional vampire evening wear complete with cape. He has no fangs, although his more old-fashioned relatives did. His favorite food is broccoli sandwiches.

Igor

Igor, the Count's Butler, is a traditional horror servant based on the stock character Igor, and adds a decidedly dark streak to some of the show's humour. He greatly dislikes his master's behaviour, and often encourages him to act in a far more ghastly manner. He remains convinced that, if he could only talk Duckula into biting, maiming, torturing and otherwise brutalizing people, it would be a return to the "good old days".

He is a hunched balding vulture with a deep, slow voice. He has served under several previous incarnations of Count Duckula, making his age uncertain. Seeing as he can only be brought back "once a century" and Igor has performed the task multiple times in his life, he is clearly very old and possibly ageless. In the episode "Arctic Circles" Igor mentions after he has been dismissed that he had served the Duckulas for seven and a half centuries, while in the family reunion episode, he says that he has been in Duckula's family for eight hundred years.It seems that it is possible that one of his possible ancesters may have have been responsible for creating the Duckula reign in the first place.

Nanny

Nanny is, as her name suggests, Duckula's nanny, as well as housekeeper. She is an extremely large and clumsy hen, possessing incredible strength and inevitably messing up whatever task she is set to do. In particular, she has a blind spot regarding doors, and often crashes through a door without opening it first, or (more commonly) even walks right through the wall, especially a few feet off from the door's position. Not surprisingly, she is the one who mistook ketchup for blood in Duckula's resurrection.

As this behaviour suggests, she is supremely unintelligent, and completely unreliable. She is devoted to her "Ducky-Boos", as she calls Duckula, and has a deep maternal affection for him, though her clumsiness often inadvertently causes him harm. A recurring gag is her inability to understand what people around her are talking about, often mixing up words and taking insult at conversations not directed at her.

Like Igor, her age is uncertain, as she has apparently been with Duckula for several of his incarnations. Her right arm is perpetually in a sling, though it is never revealed how she was injured. The sling itself seems to have unlimited carrying capacity, as she is able to produce any number of items from it, Harpo Marx style.

Castle Duckula

An archetypal Transylvanian castle with all the trimmings: dungeon, torture chamber, library of macabre texts, laboratory, etc. The castle has an often referred-to but never seen werewolf named Towser living in it. This could be a reference to a cartoon dog of the early 1980's of the same name.

The castle can teleport to any place on earth (and beyond) but returns automatically at dawn, "Transylvania standard time" as mentioned by Igor in the show. It is activated when Duckula enters an upright coffin while saying where he wants it to take him (often, he would have to come up with a rhyme to activate it properly).

The controls to this device are inside an old fashioned cuckoo clock that hangs on the wall. Inside the clock live two mechanical bats, Dmitri and Sviatoslav, who punctuate each episode by coming out and delivering stale jokes to each other. These jokes were so bad that they actually drove a character who had been given the clock insane. The characters' thick Slavic accents, and Sviatoslav's frequent failure to understand the punchlines, do not help matters.

The castle itself may be at least partly sentient, and may also have a degree of self-awareness. The other characters make references to this, though this may simply be their own superstition.

Antagonists

Dr Von Goosewing

Von Goosewing is a mad scientist and vampire hunter, who is a spoof of Abraham Van Helsing. He is a goose, as his name suggests, and speaks in a German accent. Von Goosewing wears an outfit not unlike that of Sherlock Holmes with a pair of spats. Von Goosewing often flies a dirigible with 'VG' written on it.

He pursues Count Duckula relentlessly, never able to comprehend that he is harmless. When not inventing some new machine to hunt vampires with, he relies on an old fashioned musket which is loaded with a wooden stake (although, curiously, it sometimes actually fires laser beams).

He is a terrible scientist, often getting maimed by his own crack-pot inventions. He is also supremely unobservant, and often bumps into Duckula and converses with him for several minutes without realising who he is talking to.

Von Goosewing has an assistant (who never appears on screen) named "Heinrich". Von Goosewing often calls for Heinrich, and Heinrich is often blamed for Von Goosewing's mistakes. The comic book version of the characters by Marvel Comics reveal that Heinrich is actually his former assistant who is always complaining for his low wage. Von Goosewing mentions that Heinrich threatened to resign but is still with him. Apparently Heinrich quit, but his former employer failed to realise it.

The Marvel comic books based on the show also add a supporting character to him: his niece Vanna, whom Duckula has a crush on. This affection is reciprocated and the two have a romance during the comic's run, much to Von Goosewing's chagrin; Goosewing pursues Duckula with greater fervour as he seeks to 'protect' his niece from him.

The Crow Brothers

Four criminally inclined crows (Ruffles, Burt, and two unnamed brothers) who are typically seen scaling the walls of Castle Duckula with the aid of climbing equipment. They are always seen hanging off one another with the use of bungee cords to climb the walls of whatever building they plan to scale. Their goal is to get at the treasure inside the castle, but they rarely make it to the top.

The crows always wear masks. Ruffles wears a balaclava; Burt wears a longer balaclava; the third wears a Peruvian chullo that seems to extend to his eyes; and the fourth crow brother wears a sock that covers his face entirely. The four brothers are led by the tallest crow, Ruffles, who often has plans that do not work.

Duckula, himself, is always oblivious to the Crow's criminal intentions, and often enlists them in endeavours to become an entertainer. At one point they break into Castle Duckula while a play is being put on, and the Count needs fairies, toadstools and dwarves. The Crow's masculinity hilariously comes into play here, as they discuss their coming debut: 'Toadstool, allright. Dwarf, allright. But I ain't going to be no bloomin' fairy !'

The Egg

A supervillain egg with a grudge against anyone that is alive, because he was never able to hatch from his egg. Along with his insidious schemes and plans is a parrot with an Asian complexion known as Oddbeak (a play on the James Bond villain Oddjob), who is very careful not to use words with the prefix "Egg", as he knows that it will offend his master. For example, he can't say "Exactally Master" because his Asian accent makes the word sound like "EGGSactally" so he tries hard to say "HIS-actally" instead.

Gaston and Pierre

A pair of French criminals who serve as occasional villains. Although they are both undeniably incompetent, the arrogant Gaston is ostensibly the brains of the outfit.

Gaston is a tall, thin black stork, while Pierre is a stubby, short parakeet who sounds similar to Bluebottle from The Goon Show. The characters were adapted into non-bird form for yet another Cosgrove-Hall animated series - Victor and Hugo

The Phantom of the Opera and Cruel

A duo of characters who, at one point seek revenge on Count Duckula for foiling their plans. The Phantom is a tall, thin bird with the same mask worn by the original Phantom and dressed in dandefied clothes (complete with a cape), while Cruel (a parody of Peter Lorre) is a short, misshapen bird who acts as the Phantom's manservant.

Morris the Strongman and Charlie the Clown

A pair of baleful circus performers who had a grudge on Duckula; both were bumbling (though Charlie was slightly less so) and Morris was the brawn of their misdeeds.

The Pirate Penguins

A ruthless crew of piratical penguins who are hired by Count Duckula at one time, but this crew of seafarers also turn on Count Duckula when his antics crash their ship. All of the penguins are typical pirate stereotypes, one of which is known as Mr. Mate and shouting that he will "bite their heads off!"

Neutrals

Narrator

The narrator opens and closes every episode, in a voice which parodies Vincent Price's iconic voiceover for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" four years earlier. Episodes usually began with him describing Castle Duckula and its gloomy atmosphere; and usually close with him saying a phrase popularized in the 1950s and 60s by American TV horror host Zacherley: "Goodnight out there...WHATever you are!" Variants of this line are also used to close certain programmes.

Relatives

Duckula has any number of vampiric relatives all over the world. These are more classic vampires than Duckula, possessing fangs, red eyes and evil personalities. Only a small number, such as Don Diego, show any affinity or friendship toward the benign Count Duckula.

They come from many different countries, such as Spain and Scotland, and represent the culture they are from in their outfits. Some such relatives were Don Diego, a Spanish vampire duck who makes his fun and games by burning down villages, and Rory McDuckula, a Scottish vampire duck who later makes himself an enemy of Duckula.

The peasants

The town situated below Castle Duckula is home to many peasants who live in constant fear of the Count, despite his harmless current incarnation. A recurring joke in the series and associated books is that "the peasants are revolting" (a pun that works because the word "revolting" can mean "rebelling" or "foul"). Their local pub is called "The Teeth and Jugular", a reference to vampires' practice of biting into blood vessels in their victims' necks.

Spinoffs

  • In a move mirroring Duckula's adaptation from DangerMouse, the characters of Gaston and Pierre were re-invented and given a spin-off series as the now-human Victor and Hugo.
  • Count Duckula appeared in North American comics under Star Comics (an imprint of Marvel Comics) as well as in the UK (1st issue released in 1988).
  • In the episode "Hardluck Hotel", Duckula runs into a hotelier who is strikingly similar to Basil Fawlty.

DVD releases

  • Count Duckula: Vampire Vacation (PAL) - Release Date: 14 Oct 2002
  • Count Duckula: The Complete First Season (NTSC) - Release Date: 4 Oct 2005
  • Count Duckula: The Complete First Series (PAL) - Release Date: 17 Jul 2006
  • Count Duckula: The Complete Second Series (PAL) - Release Date: 26 Mar 2007
  • Count Duckula: The Complete Third Series (PAL) - Release Date: 3 Sep 2007
  • Count Duckula: From Duck Till Dawn (PAL Region 4; contains the first 18 episodes of season one) - Release Date: 11 Oct 2007

VHS releases

During the show's original run, Count Duckula episodes were released on numerous VHS titles from Thames Video Collection, often in a different order to that when televised. Amongst others were;

  • Count Duckula: A Fright At The Opera (TV8045) — Released: 1988.

Episodes contained: A Fright At The Opera/Hunchbudgie Of Notre Dame/Dr Goosewing & Mr Duck.

  • Count Duckula: Special Bumper Edition — Released: 1989.

Consisted of several episodes from series two, but in a different order to that when first televised.

Episodes contained: Ghostly Gold/Prime Time Duck/The Incredible Shrinking Duck/Ducknapped/Bloodsucking Bats Of The Lower Amazon.

  • Count Duckula: OO Duck (TV8105) — Released: 1990.

Episodes contained: '00' Duck/A Mountie Always Gets His Duck/Manhattan Duck

Interestingly, this VHS title appeared in 1990, but at the time the episodes contained were somewhat exclusive to video (the first was not televised until 1991, neither were the latter until 1993).

Count Duckula episodes were also released on special VHS compilations with episodes of other series. In 1989, the episode 'Down Under Duckula' was released on Thames' VHS title 'More Children's Summer Stories', with episodes from Dangermouse and The Wind In The Willows. In 2001, in the twilight years of VHS, the episodes 'The Ghost Of Castle McDuckula' and 'Ducknapped' were featured on two cult kids' collection tapes, with episodes of Rainbow, Chorlton & The Wheelies, Button Moon and Jamie & The Magic Torch.

Episode list

Airing history

External links

Film

In 1995, there were plans of a Duckula movie, a plot was being questioned...and after a year of plot questioning Cosgrove Hall Films decided to drop the idea. But in 2007, DreamWorks is thinking of doing a movie based on the vampire duck. It is unknown if it would be in 2D, CGI, or stop-motion. Since Aardman {known for doing the Wallace and Gromit shorts} has also taken interest in the project it is possible that the movie could be in stop-motion Or Aardman's first 2D movie. But in 2006 Dreamworks and Aardman stop making movies after "creative differences" with Flushed Away its unknown if Aardman will do the movie with Dreamworks Animation.

Computer Game

Alternative Software released a computer game based on Count Duckula called - No Sax Please We're Egyptian. In the game Igor, Nanny and Count Duckula have decided to search the tomb of the great Pharaoh Upanatem (Up-N-At 'Em pun) to find the Mystical Saxophone. What they don't know is they have brought along some unwanted guests in the shape of the Crow Brothers. Can you help our pals find the Sax before it's time to go back to Transylvania?

The game was a basic jump and run platform type game at the start the castle was transported to an ancient Pyramid. Then you had so long to go through the castle evading the various baddies, inside the castle to retrieve the mystic sax before the Count's castle automatically returns to transylvania leaving you stranded in Egypt.

The title of the game was a parody on the title of a British comedy play No Sex Please, We're British

The game was available for various 8-bit computers such as the ZX Spectrum, C64 & Amstrad CPC and was also released as a Kid's Pack with other TV shows that Alternative Software had turned into games - Postman Pat, Sooty And Sweep, Count Duckula, Popeye 2, The Wombles and Superted. Alternative Software are one of the few software companies of the 80's who still survive today as an independent software producer.

Footnotes

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