Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Batman The Animated Series: Season 2

It's tricky to review this show cause technically the first season is 65 episodes and only technically had two season so just bear with me.

So obviously there isn't much that has "improved" since the last season since these episodes were made in close proximity to the ones previously reviewed, and the cast reamins the same. So at least for right now this is more of a discussion of episodes that I took great interest in and had things I really wanted to talk about. Perchance To Dream, which is Kevin Conroy's favorite episode of them all is the second episode of this season, and has a premise that works brilliantly. Bruce Wayne wakes up one day to find his parents alive, he's engaged to Selina, and someone else has taken up the mantle of the Batman but he still knows he's Batman, so it becomes this psychological dive into Bruce's mind and his perfect world that he wants no part of. Obviously if this was the basis for a graphic novel they could super easily make it a dark, twisted, psychoanalytical story about Bruce and why he feels compelled to put on the cape and cowl, and that's a book I would gladly read. Robin's Reckoning was a powerhouse two parter for me, finally we get Dick's backstory and origin as Robin as he confronts the man who took his parents life. Honestly, with a few rewrites this could be the episode where he becomes Nightwing, he really clashes with Bruce and his emotions get the better of him. A true classic for a character we haven't spent much time with. The Laughing Fish is another iconic fan favorite, more Joker and Harley action that digs just a tiny bit into Harley's undying affection for him, it's a damn good episode. The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne introduces Dr. Hugo Strange (I prefer Professor Strange so we don't mux up our Doctor Strange's.) who through a psychological machine discovers the true identity of Bruce Wayne (Just like Batman Forever!), and places his secret to the highest bidder where Joker, Two-Face, and Penguin bid for it. It's always fun seeing those colorful personalities clash and it's great to have another rogue introduced to the animated series. If You're So Smart Why Aren't You Rich finally gives us The Riddler in a unique potrayal of the character who designed a puzzle video game but seeks vengeance on the boss who fired him, it sort of gives a mix of Frank Gorshin's Riddler with a dash of Jim Carrey's and ultimately this classic iteration voiced by John Glover. Then we get a giant consecutive 4 home run episodes starting off with the pinnacle of fan favorite episode's Almost Got 'Im. People worship this episode, I've rarely seen someone counting down their favorite episodes and it not be #1, and I can attribute that to two points. One, these characters and their interactions is the source of the enjoyment as Joker, Harvey, Penguin, Ivy, and Croc play poker and trade stories about how they almost killed the Bat. Two, you get a lot of stories in one episode, some major bang for your buck. The writing is flawless and it does deserve the love but my personal favorite and wildest is yet to come! Birds Of A Feather comes up next with the Penguin intending on going straight and actually falls for a young socialite, but is the subject of a cruel joke forcing him to be a villain once more. Great story, easily manipulates your emotions in Penguin's favor, and shows a side of the rogue's gallery we don't get to see much. What Is Reality, a mental and expertly animated episode where Riddler crafts a virtual reality headset 25 years before Oculus or Playstation, and traps Comissioner Gordon inside leading Batman and Robin to venture into a world where the Riddler controls all. A bevy of almost trivial knowledge, and ends pretty friggin' dark I gotta say! Speaking of dark. I Am The Night. God. Damn. This is the best episode of the season for me, solely because we see Batman in an emotionally, mentally dark place and after the severe injury of Jim goes into a full on depression. Kevin Conroy if people ever had doubts in their mind about him being the best after this episode are well and truly dead. The angry howlish yells of rage, and melancholic musings of whether or not he's really doing much good absolutely floored me. You can keep your Almost Got 'Im, I will take I Am The Night. The Man Who Killed Batman harbors almost on Elseworld territory as a new and bumbling gangster seemingly albeit accidentally murders Batman, and the whole criminal underworld and more importantly the Joker has some words for him. It plainly paints the relationship between Batman and Joker effortlessly and beautifully, culminating in one of the best character eulogies I've ever heard that nearly made me cry from laughter. And we end the season once more with a bang showcasing Harley & Ivy, as Harley is booted from Joker's gang and forms her own criminal dynasty with Poison Ivy and this is where we get the 411 in all it's terrible detail on Harley's codependence and how Ivy tries to get her to be more independent. It's a real fun episode and obviously has a lot of impact on both these wonderful characters decades to come. So another incredibly strong series, with very few episodes that would be considered skippable by the uninitiated, but we are initiated aren't we? So watch them all, judge for yourself, there be gems here for sure but you'd be surprised how well handled all of them are. Another 10/10? I genuinely would say yeah, even more deserving perhaps than the first season which still knocked it out of the park unconditionally. 4 stars, 10/10, and if memory serves the game changes next time. Tune in tomorrow, same time same channel!

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