After Transformers, its over to FOX for the “not actually a part of the FOX Kids lineup but its still a cartoon that we’ll tack on to ride the coattails of the more popular shows.” Usually (for my part at least) it was King Arthur And The Knights Of Justice in that slot, leading to a lifelong fondness for that horrible show. But not this day. This day it was an episode of Double Dragon. Oh yes, even a straightforward beat ‘em up like Double Dragon got the animated series treatment in the heady days of the early 90s, complete with cheesy Nintendo sound effects.
The premise of the show has little to do with the original game (with its very simple introduction of Billy Lee’s girlfriend gets punched in the face and kidnapped by gang members and Billy subsequently sets out to get his woman back by beating up everyone on the street he sees). Here, Billy & his Brother Jimmy are “Special Deputies” for Metro City’s police force, fighting the Shadow Master’s syndicate of cartoonishly equipped bad guys. The thing is, Billy & Jimmy, who dress in blue and red versions of the same outfit, have a deep secret. Not only are they martial arts masters with their own dojo, but they fight crime as the Double Dragons, mask wearing swordsmen who dress exactly like Billy & Jimmy except for their undershirts mystically disappearing to reveal their double dragon “birthmarks.” Now, birthmarks don’t usually cover someone’s entire pecs and are green with an intricate level of detail. Hmm, sounds more like the description of a “tattoo.”
Anyway, this particular episode starts off with Jimmy Lee riding through Metro City on his oh so awesome tricycle, looking for some crime to bust. Little does he know he’s being watched by some guy in a van through closed circuit cameras, who puts out a call over the police band that sends Jimmy into “special deputy” mode. Long story short, it’s a setup and Jimmy gets arrested by some schmuck named Captain Tays. Jimmy gets railroaded at his trail in a moment that I’m sure would make any law students fall to the floor in a fit of giggling, and gets sent to “Rattica Prison,” (yeah, real creative) a place where they send “mutants AND hard cases.” I guess mutants who ARE hard cases have to go to an even more secure prison, or something. Anyway, Billy gets thrown into a cell with a mutant named Fireball, who meditates a lot since he tends to shoot hot death from his eyes when he gets angry. Turns out Fireball’s not really a bad guy, just some poor mook who got in with the wrong crowd. Hell, the worst thing he’s done is almost/nearly/clearly missed killing an innocent bystander. What follows is some blah-blah-blah stuff about gangs are bad, Billy trying to break INTO prison to rescue his brother, and Jimmy finding out he’s goin’ down hard in the exercise area the next day. What’s more interesting is the fact that even though he’s been convicted and imprisoned, Jimmy Lee is wearing the same exact clothes as he always does. How come the rest of the inmates have to wear regulation prison gray and he gets to keep his shoulder & knee pads? Lazy-ass animators or one of the perks of being a “special deputy?” I’m going with the lazy thing.
Anyway, the episode ends with a goofy fight scene in the prison common between Jimmy & a mutant with a bulldog’s head (man, Metro City needs a “House of M” event badly), then Shadow Master almost wins the day just by talking in his Awesome Voice, then Fireball does his thing to help out, and then all the bad guys get theirs (except Shadow Master, who escapes through the power of his Awesome Voice. Seriously, that guy’s voice is the best thing about the series) and Fireball ends up signing up with the Double Dragons after being paroled for some arbitrary reason.
Ok, weird show. Goofy show. But it did teach a few valuable life lessons. Like, uh, for instance… The, uh, justice system is a lot more laissze faire than the legal community has led us to believe. Seriously, if you’re a corrupt police captain, you can tell prison wardens what to do. Totally. And, uh, something about gangs are bad.
Look I know its not a Halloween episode! I still had to sit through it to get to the actual stuff. Besides, the existence of a Double Dragon cartoon is scary enough. The next show really is a Halloween special, I promise.