Revisiting Darkwing Duck: “Ghoul of My Dreams”

There are several Darkwing Duck episodes which could potentially qualify as “horror” including two with actual demonic entities. There’s also several episodes with a wealth of horror-tinged characters, such as “Fungus Among Us” which introduced Darkwing’s future love interest Morgana Macawber and an army of killer mushrooms. Unfortunately, none of those episodes are on DVD as they began with the original weekday broadcast order and never finished releasing the series. There are even episodes unavailable on the DVD which were on the VHS releases in the nineties.

Darkwing Duck’s true greatest foe, of course, is poor media distribution.

There are horror episodes available on the DVD releases, most of which involve Bushroot in some capacity. “Night of the Living Spud” involved a monstrous potato and “Twin Beaks” was an homage to both Twin Peaks and The Far Side. There were also two that featured Morgana, one of which was a Valentine’s Day episode. The other is today’s selection, “Ghoul of My Dreams” as you saw in the title card above.

Pictured: some of Darkwing’s greatest enemies. Also, Ammonia Pine.

The episode begins with Darkwing Duck wearing a tutu and being set upon by a number of his enemies, which is a rogues gallery which rivals those of Batman and Spider-Man. He’s rescued by a giant version of Morgana, who at this point in the series’ continuity is just his villainous crush. This state of affairs lasted for two of Morgana’s appearances, and for a nineties syndicated show such a blatant use of continuity outside a multi-part episode was almost unheard of. Before the pair can do much else, Darkwing awakes and after an embarrassing moment with Launchpad, the pair go on patrol.

Before we continue, let’s go over the characters in case you’ve come into this review of a nearly thirty-year-old cartoon episode blind. The protagonist is Darkwing Duck, a Batman-type superhero who utilizes gadgets and martial arts to battle his foes. He is assisted by Launchpad McQuack, a transfer from DuckTales, who has no secret identity and is often a liability but is usually somewhat helpful. Morgana Macawber is a sorceress with a small menagerie of familiars. These include Archie the spider and Eek and Squeak, a pair of bats. There’s a lot of other characters, too, but none of them are in this episode so we’ll ignore them. After this episode, Darkwing and Morgana begin dating and he reveals his domestic life as Drake Mallard to her while she introduces his family to hers.

Their relationship is one of the only things to really progress over the course of the show as it was episodic by design, but it’s clear from her first appearance in “Fungus Among Us” that they’re into each other despite being on opposite sides of the law. They do have minor squabbles now and again, but all in all it’s one of the more pleasant relationships from this era.

It doesn’t take long for them to discover sleepwalkers commiting thefts, and they track the ill-gotten gains back to Morgana’s house (which disappeared at the end of “Fungus Among Us”) where Darkwing confronts her about the thefts. While he’s initially too smitten to dwell into the thefts, Morgana’s revelation that she was aware of Darkwing’s earlier dream brings him back to reality. It’s a short trip, because Morgana kisses him and sends him into a state of euphoria and out the door. We’re then privy to Morgana’s plan, which involves using sleep sand obtained from Nodoff, the king of Dream World. The sleep sand puts people to sleep and allows Nodoff to manipulate their actions, which at this points amounts to a string of robberies. It is not a harmonious partnership, but each is willing to do their part for the time being.

The latest victim is a pig named Greenback who is tricked into tossing his gold bricks out a window. Witnessing the gold bricks falling snaps Darkwing out of his euphoric state and he and Launchpad wake Greenback. Morgana flees before she can be caught, but has to send her bats back for the sleep sand. Darkwing stops them but winds up asleep on top of a building for his trouble which leads to his first encounter with Nodoff. Nodoff’s power in the Dream World is reportedly absolute, but he just forces Darkwing to have that one dream where you have to take a test you’re not prepared for until Morgana arrives to request more sleep sand. This, of course, leads to Darkwing learning everything and Morgana refusing to stop her malevolent ways. At the very least, she forbids Nodoff from harming Darkwing before leaving with a special new sleep sand which will put the entirety of Saint Canard to sleep. Nodoff immediately harms Darkwing but doesn’t get too far before Launchpad wakes Darkwing.

Morgana was already enacting her plan, and reveals that her motivation is to steal enough to pay off her student loans. This brings up some questions, like what she studied and where, but also makes her more relatable. Darkwing isn’t there to learn this, and fails to stop her. More accurately, he fails to stop her from putting the city to sleep but does manage to spill some sleep sand on her which puts her to sleep and off to the Dream World. Nodoff uses this opportunity to gloat at her that his ambition to rule Saint Canard has been realized since its entire population falling asleep has caused a simulacrum of the city to appear in the Dream World. Nodoff also transforms into a giant version of himself but is back to normal after the commercial break.

Darkwing isn’t far behind, using Morgana’s entrance into the Dream World to actually go there and things don’t go very well for him since, as previously stated, Nodoff’s power is absolute. Darkwing should consider himself lucky that Nodoff is far less cruel and imaginative that someone like Freddy Krueger. Nodoff is still powerful enough to easily gain the upper hand until Darkwing realizes that Morgana can fight for control of the Dream World.

This doesn’t help nearly as much as one would hope, with Morgana initially dreaming of her wedding to Darkwing Duck and then almost succumbing to Nodoff’s promise of unlimited riches. She does manifest a tank, but it only shoots flower and Nodoff easily overcomes it. Things look grim until Launchpad wakes up Saint Canard’s population with a giant alarm clock, and this includes Morgana. Nodoff becomes enraged at the failure of his plan.

Once again, it’s lucky that Nodoff isn’t more malevolent because he could legitimately kill Darkwing Duck at this point. Instead, Darkwing realizes he could use the sleep sand on Nodoff to force him into the real world which a gambit you might recall as being stolen by Freddy Vs. Jason years later. Nodoff has no power in the real world, and injures himself several times before Darkwing exiles him back to the Dream World. As Darkwing and Morgana share an embrace shortly before Drake Mallard awakes, revealing that the entire episode was a dream.

This was an odd episode of Darkwing Duck, and that’s entirely Nodoff’s fault. Morgana is a strong character, even when she’s somewhat villainous as she is here, but Nodoff seems to be more of a plot device than anything else. He provides the means for Morgana to enact her scheme, and his end goal of obtaining Saint Canard is par for the course. The real question is what he intended to do with Saint Canard once he had it and whether or not all those people would have woken up naturally if Launchpad hadn’t done anything. It would have been nice for him to return to become more fleshed out, but as it stands, he’s one of the weaker one-off villains. This isn’t to say that the episode itself is weak, with a good focus on Darkwing Duck with the humor and action the series was known for.

By next Halloween, there may be an easy way to view the other episodes of Darkwing Duck. While I would rather have them on physical media rather than streaming, being able to watch the entire series at will would be more than enough. We’ll also have more Darkwing Duck by then, as the third season of DuckTales should be well underway and he was on the poster along with a new version of his adopted daughter Gosalyn. If you’d like to see more of these old episode recaps, let us know.

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