"Darkly Dawns the Duck" is the two-part pilot of Darkwing Duck. It was originally aired as an hour-length special in prime-time as part as a two-hour block with Back to School with the Mickey Mouse Club.
Darkwing Duck is an up-and-coming superhero who wants to be famous but is stuck busting regular criminals in the bustling metropolis of St. Canard. Annoyed that he isn't getting enough attention from the press, Darkwing longs to fight a super-villain. He gets more than he bargained for however when he stumbles onto a fiendish plot by criminal mastermind Taurus Bulba to steal a top-secret weapon from the military: an anti-gravity beam cannon called the Ramrod.
Darkwing fails to stop Taurus Bulba's three henchmen, the hard-headed Hammerhead Hannigan and the clumsy Hoof and Mouth, from stealing the Ramrod, despite "help" from his biggest (and only) fan, accident-prone pilot Launchpad McQuack. Furious at having lost Bulba's henchmen, Darkwing turns down the hopeful Launchpad's request to be the hero's sidekick.
Meanwhile, Bulba discovers that although he has the Ramrod, he lacks the arming code. An earlier botched attempt to steal the weapon resulted in the accidental death of its inventor, Professor Waddlemeyer, before Bulba could learn the code. He sends Hammerhead, Hoof, and Mouth to kidnap the Professor's granddaughter, Gosalyn, from the St. Canard Orphanage, on the gamble that she knows the arming code. Darkwing, having discovered what Bulba's henchmen stole, races to the rescue and snatches Gosalyn out of the henchmen's grasp.
After a car chase, Darkwing returns to the safety of his hideout with Gosalyn, promising to protect her until Taurus Bulba is brought to justice. As he and the child bond, he discovers, inadvertently, that the arming code for the Ramrod is hidden in the lyrics of a lullaby taught to Gosalyn by her grandfather. But can he keep her safe from Bulba, who even now is hatching a plot to capture them both by exploiting Darkwing's desire to be a famous crimefighter?
A number of scenes were cut from the pilot film when it was edited to become two regular episodes of the TV series. These scenes were subsequently restored when it was released uncut on VHS and Laserdisc in 1993, but they were unfortunately not restored for the Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 DVD set, which instead contains the edited version. These scenes include:
- An opening chase sequence showing Darkwing capturing a gang of fleeing criminals. The shot of Darkwing ramping his motorcycle sidecar, the Ratcatcher, up and into the bed of a pickup truck, catapulting the criminals inside into some trashcans, is featured prominently in the show's opening sequence despite being absent from the later televised versions.
- While following Taurus Bulba's pet condor Tantalus on the Ratcatcher, Darkwing almost has a head-on collision with a large truck and is yelled at by the driver.
- A longer version of the scene where Hoof and Mouth are twirling their rifles around before Darkwing jumps them.
- A scene showing Taurus Bulba wheeling a cart of dirty clothes to the prison laundromat, establishing that Hammerhead, Hoof, and Mouth are hiding inside it.
- A commercial fade-out was added to the scene of Hammerhead, Hoof, and Mouth surrounding Gosalyn, allowing Part 1 to have the standard three acts.
- Following the car chase, Mouth has a panic attack and begins screaming, "We're all gonna die! We're all gonna die!" until Hammerhead hits him.
- A longer scene of Taurus Bulba ranting about Darkwing's ego, with him imitating Darkwing's mannerisms and poses: "His posing, his flamboyance, the mask and cape! Ha, ha! That hat! It all indicates an ego the size of a small planet!"
- Darkwing asking Gosalyn if he should frame his memo pad.
- While in his jail cell, the scene where Darkwing tries to get the biker pig to punch him is much longer.
- A brief scene where Taurus Bulba comments that the design of the Thunderquack, Launchpad's fan-made jet, is ugly.
It should also be noted that in the uncut version, when Darkwing is pulling off his trademark entrance during the climax, his line "I am the chill that runs up your spine!", which he says off-camera, is dubbed in right as Taurus Bulba shouts "There! Shoot the smoke!", resulting in the latter line partially obscuring Darkwing's line. This is fixed in the edited version.
- ↑ The Wonderful World of Disney Television: A Complete History, by Bill Kotter. 1997, Hyperion.
- "Darkly Dawns the Duck (Part 1)" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Darkly Dawns the Duck (Part 2)" at the Internet Movie Database