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Count Duckula: The Complete Second Series
voice cast: David Jason, Jack May, Brian Trueman, Jimmy Hibbert, and Barry Clayton

directors: Chris Randle and Keith Scoble

428 minutes (U) 1989
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
No one produced TV shows like Cosgrove Hall. The creators of the inspired Dangermouse, the everyday story of England's premier rodent super-spy and his cowardly assistant Penfold, Cosgrove Hall were one of the premier animation houses of the time and Dangermouse, along with Count Duckula, is Cosgrove Hall at their absolute best.

The central idea tells you everything you need to know: Count Duckula (David Jason) is the latest in a long line of vampire ducks that can only be killed by a stake through the heart. However, once every century they can be brought back when the moon is in the eighth house of Aquarius. However, the latest reincarnation did not go well, thanks to the clueless Nanny (Jimmy Hibbert) substituting tomato ketchup for blood...

It's an incredibly silly idea and one that the series exploits to glorious extremes. This incarnation of the Count is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit rubbishy. He hates the thought of doing evil (or indeed, hard work), is a proud vegetarian and is constantly looking for a quick buck. Accompanied by his manservant Igor (the wonderfully laconic, deadpan Jack May) and his colossal, profoundly insane Nanny, Duckula and his castle teleport across the world looking for fame, fortune and some really good asparagus. This DVD release of the second of four seasons (1988-93) features 19 episodes on two discs.

Only Dangermouse could really match the sheer energy and rapid-fire humour of Count Duckula. There's something wonderfully old fashioned about a lot of the humour and the scene in Ghostly Gold where a horde of ghostly prospectors appear whenever Duckula isn't looking is an audio gag that would have made The Goon Show proud. The plots only help the jokes along, and Castle Duckula's handy ability to teleport anywhere in the world (as long as it's back in Transylvania before Sun up) gives the series a real globetrotting feel. Bloodsucking Fruit Bats Of The Lower Amazon and Mysteries Of The Wax Museum are two of the best episodes for this, with Amazon... seeing Igor trick the Count into taking the castle to the Amazon, only for them to run afoul of a tribe of feral nannies. Mysteries... sees the castle go to London and robotic doubles of the Count, Nanny and Igor created to do evil, which Igor is oddly okay with.

Ranged against them (not that the Count tends to notice) are a rogue's gallery of avian villains, including Gaston and Pierre (who continue The Goon Show connection with Jason using a voice similar to Bluebottle for one of them) and Doctor Von Goosewing (Hibbert), an utterly inept vampire (duck) hunter. Von Goosewing is given, arguably, the moment of the series in In Arctic Circles, a rapid fire exchange between himself and Igor that ends with both of them calling on Von Goosewing's assistant Heinrich for a large bottle of aspirin.

From pauper copies of all three main characters to a TV crew, a singularly ill-advised vacation and a fantastically silly period in the Foreign Legion, Count Duckula was one of the most energetic, entertaining and flat out daft children's shows of its time. It is a tremendous pleasure and relief to report that the Count has aged supremely well, and remains consistently funny. Let's just hope he found that asparagus.
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