FINALLY! After many years, Darkwing Duck is finally available on digital on both iTunes and Google Play! (As of this writing, the series isn’t available on Amazon’s Prime Video yet). Now both platforms are offering the Complete Series for $39.99, but there is an episode missing from both platforms, and that is ABC’s 2nd season Halloween episode “Hot Spells”. I remember as a child, I was confused after the episode aired, when it was time for it to come back in rotation, it would be replaced by a random 1st season episode that aired on the ABC Network. It was later when I learned that the episode caused complaints that had ABC only air the episode once in the show’s lifetime. I can’t remember if the episode aired during it’s syndication run, but I do know that it was pulled from the former Toon Disney cable network as well.
Now, why was this episode pulled? Before we get into that, let’s do a brief synopsis of the episode. It’s actually pretty innocent as far as 90s cartoons go. Originally aired on October 31st, 1992, Darkwing and Gosalyn visit Morgana’s old magic school. There, Gosalyn gets interested to spend the day taking classes to hopefully become a wizard. She quickly learns that there is a lot of math required to do spells as the best she can do on her own is to make chocolate pudding. All this is being observed by Beezlebub, where he sees the perfect opportunity to get Darkwing in his lair. So, he goes topside and disguises himself as a janitor to trick Gosalyn by giving her a spell book that doesn’t require any calculations. What Gosalyn didn’t know was that the book actually came from the Library of Forbidden Spells (creepy organ music now plays). Afterwards, Gosalyn unknowingly summons the gate of fire into the school where Beezlebub reveals himself and captures Morgana. Darkwing volunteers to take her place as Beezlebub leaves taking DW to his realm. Morgana’s former teacher reveals that since Beezlebub tricked Gosalyn on giving her powers, that there isn’t a contract between the two. Immediately, Goslayn helps Morgana to summon the gates again to distract Beezlebub long enough to rescue Darkwing and escape. The episode ends as Darkwing tries to think of a punishment for his daughter as she did “endangered his soul”.
Now the big reason this episode was pulled off the air was that the character Beezlebub represents the Devil and his realm represented Hell from the Christianity religion. And even though they go out of the way to show that Gosalyn was innocent during the whole ordeal, parents didn’t like that she made a deal with the devil character. The episode even makes it a point to have Gosalyn ask about the book each time she saw Beezlebub dressed as the janitor. The lesson that the show was trying to convey was that there are no shortcuts on learning (and math is required in almost every profession). Unfortunately, that lesson got lost as the parent complaints overwhelmed ABC forcing them to remove the episode out of rotation after its first airing.
Now, this was Beezlebub’s second appearance in the series, as he was also in the episode “Dead Duck”. In that episode, Darkwing dies and while in limbo, he tries to go to Heaven while Beezlebub tries to convince the angel at the gate that Darkwing actually belongs in his realm. This episode also addresses the Christianity religion concept of Heaven and Hell but was never removed from the airing schedule. Why? That episode was first aired during syndication where any complaints would most likely go to local affiliates and just stop there. “Hot Spells” aired on ABC, which means more eyes and more of a central location for complaints to come in. In fact, the episodes that got pulled from Tailspin didn’t get removed until after it aired on Disney Channel/Toon Disney for that reason. Also, it doesn’t help that “Hot Spells” has the concept that a child made a deal with the devil.
Now as far as I know, this episode is only blocked in North America. I believe in other continents the audience wasn’t so sensitive to that. What to do you guys think? Do you think the “Complete Series” title on iTunes and Google Play is misleading since it’s missing an episode? Have you seen this episode before? Do you think the religious content was crossing a line to warrant the episode to be banned?