Reviews: The Batman

Season Five, Or: What wasn't necessary

As the series had two good and two not so good seasons, I suppose it's only fitting that it closed out on one that was, all in all, average. The show returned to showing little of any of our heroes outside of their lives as crime fighters, though I didn't mind as much this time since I already had gathered most of what I thought they'd show from the prior season.

The big difference with this season is that in a good half the episodes, Batman teams up with one of the Justice League to fight one of their foes, as well as one of his own. While I didn't exactly hate these episodes, they felt an awful lot like The Theme Park Version. Mind you, I did enjoy some of the elements from them; the portrayals of Lex Luthor, The Flash, Mirror Master, and Green Lantern in particular were well executed. The rest were bland as bland could be. I also must ask why Green Arrow was in the League instead of Wonder Woman. Did the writers just find it too difficult to think of why Wonder Woman would have left Themiscyra and/or come to Gotham? Did they think they needed Arrow specifically for the series finale? If the latter, I doubt it; it seemed like the Bat family could have handled it on their own to me.

As far as the rest of the season went, the answer would be "fairly well". The problem is that half of the non-Justice League episodes focus on the Joker, and the other half are good. While I liked this series's Joker, he'd worn out his welcome to me, and I was anxious to see some other villains who weren't even introduced (Mad Hatter), never had much screentime (Bane), or whom I just liked better (Riddler). On the other hand, Firefly got a good last hurrah in the one episode featuring him, we get a peek at a reformed Man-Bat (along with Batgirl's sole episode past Robin's introduction where she appears without him, which I was happy with as there's not much of her in this season), and a villain team up focusing on an evil version of Batman and Robin that also has Killer Croc, though ultimately it's once again Joker who gets the spotlight when it isn't on Wrath and Scorn. The series finale was much weaker than the season four finale, but it was serviceable, I guess.

This is easily the weakest of the Batman shows, but it's still worth a look, season four in particular. Ultimately, though Your time would be better spent on TBAB or TAS depending on your tastes.

Season Four, Or: Who to Introduce, and Where

When I watched the first episode of season 4, I was quite skeptical. I saw that they were introducing Robin and wondered what executive madman ordered that and why. Batman hadn't even properly established that he and Batgirl were partners. Wasn't that more important than taking on another new character that would either have an equally shallow relationship with Bruce or highlight how shallow his was with Batgirl? And indeed, by the time the opening had concluded, Robin seemed far more important to Bruce (and the show in general) than an entire season's worth of episodes had made Batgirl seem.

Fortunately, the writers knew this and called it out on the very next episode, where they finally let Batgirl in as well. That wasn't the only season 3 mistake they fixed. Everyone got a fair share of screentime together both in and out of the costume, actually having dialogue with each other. While Batgirl and Robin probably talked more between themselves than Batman to either one, it was still a vast improvement over season three.

And this extended to the villains as well. All felt like considerable threats, and all were given personality outside their gimmicks and/or had creative schemes that made for interesting episodes. Some, like the Riddler, were given belated backstories. Others, like Everywhereman and Francis (the time guy) came with one, had personality, and gave a real challenge to Batman to boot. That said, I was a little confused by Harley Quinn's introduction midway through the season (especially as it's the only Joker-centric episode in the season), but even if she's not going to be important, they still did her justice.

My only real complaints here are a few missed opportunities. There are no episodes here where Batgirl appears and Robin does not, which disappoints me because I wanted to see how she and Batman worked together as partners, something that season 3 never gave me. And there was an episode set in the future, which, while good in its own right, lacked any Batman Beyond references. A shame, to be sure.

There wasn't a single bad episode here, a near perfect season all around. I'm anxious to see how this Batman operates in the Justice League. I just hope they can keep the momentum and work towards an appropriately grand finale.

Season Three, Or: When not to Appeal to the Younger Audience

So, despite what I heard, this season was a bit of a letdown for me. It began well enough - the introduction of Batgirl and Poison Ivy was a nice touch, though it could have done without the in medias res beginning and Barbara Gordon's narration. The problems began to pile on when the show launched into a string of episodes filled with forgettable new villains (or in the case of Scarface, forgettable old villains), a bit of an overuse of the Joker, and the complete misuse of Batgirl.

Batgirl's introduction (Before Robin's presumably because the team of Jackie Chan Adventures had experience writing younger female sidekicks) also had loads of potential which the show completely failed to do anything with, and brought up even more problems. For example, she and Batman don't work together so much as Batgirl just kinda shows up (or is already there) without explanation when Batman starts fighting crime and proceeds to help out. Her competence varies between episodes, but they did at least escape the trap of constantly making her someone Batman needed to rescue.

On the other hand, she doesn't become aware of Bruce's identity or even see the Batcave, which makes Bruce come off as a massive dick for not training her to handle herself amidst all the danger he gets into since she's obviously too stubborn to stop helping him. They do absolutely nothing with the concept of her and Poison Ivy being former friends. Her appearance in many episodes as both Barbara and Batgirl saps even more time from Bruce Wayne, who barely appears at all in this season. Some of the episodes seem to have Batman saying less than 10 lines of dialogue, and Batman and Batgirl barely having a relationship to speak of doesn't help this much. Before trying to appeal to the kids to boost viewership, write a better script, guys.

On the plus side, there were a few memorable episodes, such as the aforementioned season opening, "Apprentice", where Joker tries to take a sidekick of his own, "Thunder", where new villain Maximillian Zeus takes over Gotham with an Airborne Aircraft Carrier, and the season finale, where Hugo Strange finally outs himself as a villain.

That's not even half the season, sadly. But still, the show has proven that it can be good when its writers aren't asleep at the wheel, so I will soldier on.

Season Two, Or: How to Properly Address Writing Problems

Surprisingly, the show came into its own here, in my opinion. Nearly all of the issues I had with the first season are gone.

No longer does Bruce Wayne spend time on dating websites or hosting parties for no reason other than to bolster his public image. Now, he spends most of his off time doing detective work or using his influence to bait the villains, and it is a welcome change. Unfortunately, some episodes did elect to avoid him entirely, having him spend almost all of his screentime as Batman. While that is a step up from the prior season, it is still not a proper solution in my opinion. I do still enjoy a properly written Bruce Wayne, and he is an important part of Batman.

My opinions on the villains introduced in season one remain for the most part unchanged, except in the matter of Penguin, who I didn't find as irritating this time, and Clayface. While I still enjoyed Clayface's appearances, I was disappointed that a Heel Face Door Slam happened for him upon his first appearance in the season. He was the most complex character on the show, and that simplified him, ruining most of the potential drama. I suppose I might see his old persona again, but I'm not holding my breath.

Otherwise, there were many episodes were multiple villains appeared, usually teaming up. This was a good way to show off facets of them we hadn't seen, however subtle, and I thought they were handled well.

Four more were introduced as villains as well:

Riddler: Other than his strange design, the Riddler recieved an excellent portrayal, the two episodes featuring him being perhaps the most creative thusfar. His origins were left unexplored, but his personality more than made up for it

Killer Croc: As with the Riddler, no explanation for him, but he's there, and he's awesome. Unfortunately underutilized as well; he deserved more than one episode

Ragdoll: This show does hate its origin stories doesn't it? Unfortunately, this one was rather bland, but I wouldn't mind seeing him again. I'd rather have Scarecrow, though

Spellbinder: He does (kind of) have an origin, and it's boring. I like his power, but I like the way he was used in Batman Beyond much better.

But all in all, a good season, and the introduction of Commissioner Gordon was a great way to set the stage for season three. Definitely looking forward to more.

Season One, Or: Why Batman is Defined by his Villains

This is the Batman series I'm least familiar with, other than the one currently airing, so I decided to give it a go. I've heard it picks up in the third season, but that remains to be seen for me. For now, I enjoyed the first season, but it had its issues and I can definitely see why some fans were turned off.

Most things about Batman himself they got spot on. The costume, the attitude, the gadgets, Alfred, all worked, at least for me. The only problems I had were when Batman took off the cowl. For whatever reason, the show decided to emphasize the "playboy" part of the Bruce Wayne persona (at Alfred's insistence, even), and it clashes with the rest of the show. It's kind of jarring to see Bruce Wayne hitting on some ladies at a basketball game or relaxing at a coffee shop, and then immediately cutting to the more grim and serious Batman when he gets a call. When Bruce is doing other things, it fits better, but that sadly isn't too often. Also, Bruce Wayne's face is drawn weirdly when viewed from the front.

But the villains are the important parts of this season, why each episode varies, so I'll go over each:

Joker: I... actually like this Joker a lot, and I'm usually not a fan of the Joker. He strikes an excellent balance between menacing and silly, something I never got from a number of other Jokers.

Bane: Okay, but not memorable at all

Mr. Freeze: Very disappointing. None of the classic backstory, just a generic psycho with freeze powers

Penguin: Possibly the worst Penguin. Instead of making him a classy bird, they tried to make him as obnoxious as possible. I do like the way he's drawn at least

Manbat: His motivation was quite shallow, but he was appropriately scary

Catwoman: I'm okay with her, but I wish they would've turned down the flirting. Also, her costume's ears are ridiculous

Firefly: I've never heard of this villain and they made zero effort to explain where he came from. Otherwise, he's alright

Scarface: I forgot about him and had to edit him into this later. That should tell you something.

Cluemaster: Why does this cheap Riddler knockoff deserve to be a Batman villain?

Clayface: Definitely saved the best for last, I loved what they did with him, though I miss his old design

So yeah, definitely more misses than hits for me. But I think it has potential, and I'll keep watching.

vs Dracula: High point of the series.

Why couldn't the creators of The Batman have made more episodes like this movie? This movie is what, for me at least, allowed The Batman to move out of the shadow of Batman The Animated Series. The Batman vs. Dracula had a darkness of it's own, quite different that that of BTAS, and no shortge of Nightmare Fuel. The scenes with Vampire Joker were espescially well done, as well as something I now think they couldn't have done on the show.

The crisscrossing Bat imagery makes a twisted kind of sense, and what's that I spy? Character Development? I must say, I'm now very disappointed The Batman's adaptation of Hush was scrapped.

While he movie had a few Narmful moments, they don't detract much. Really a great little movie. Highly reccomended.