Thursday, March 3, 2022

Batman The Animated Series: Season 4

You cannot ever change my mind that this isn't a part of the Animated Series.

Officially titled The New Batman Adventures, this series started about 2 years after the Animated Series wrapped up and despite the same voice cast and character relationships is a heavy departure in animation style. Dubbed "the red sky season" by fans, the character designs, backgrounds, and overall animation got a major new facelift essentially making the lines sharper and the colors more on the colder darker side. Now on one hand I can see why people might be against certain characters that got redesigned, but I don't actually take issue with any except one (but not the one you might think). But it baffles me how people say this isn't a part of the Animated Series based on animation style alone, that's like someone saying Star Wars Rebels has nothing to do with The Clone Wars because it looks different. Sod that and sod off, this is the last season of the show. Only totalling in 24 episodes, it's a mighty quick season to knock out to the point where you could feasibly do it in a day. So what stood out most? We start off in a fun multi-story of Gotham Knights, and right off the bat (no pun intended I swear) you can tell the tone in this is more lighter than the other 3 seasons. It's difficult to explain but easy to notice as we see Ivy and Harley go on a shopping spree, Babs takes on Clayface, and the Joker and Batman have a new year's eve brawl which reminds me of The Long Halloween sorta. And you may notice this like I did but I almost feel like one of the animators had a massive black lipstick fetish because seriously, every woman in this show seems to wear black lipstick or dang near close to black. It's very odd and I have no idea why, but I like that Harley kept her design despite a slightly bluer face and Red actually looks more plant like which I dig the hell out of. Next up is Sins Of The Father working as a origin for technically the third Robin Tim Drake, but no love for Jason in this show, as we see young Tim as a thief on the streets that gets tangled up in a Two-Face caper and becomes the new Boy Wonder. It's good to see a young Robin with a lot of attitude and it works quite well for the show. I will not tarnish the young actor Mathew Valencia, he does admirable work but I did notice a fair few times where the line delivery was very flat, but not in a sarcastic smartass way like we see often, yet no harm no foul. Harvey I think looks the slickest of all the redesigned rogues gallery, and that suit is still pure Kino. Next episode Cold Comfort. Alright. I f***ing hate how they handled Mister Freeze in this season, which is odd because the episode set farther in the future with him in Batman Beyond I felt was a pretty good send off for the character which was after this episode was made. So Freeze after his wife has been revived and cured is going after people's passion projects for no other reason than for people to feel his pain which already is so unlike Victor and the fact that....Jesus Christ. His body has deteriorated away due to his condition and he is now a head in a robot suit. Yet they somehow crafted him one in Batman Beyond, go figure. His story should have ended in Subzero, that is all I am saying on the matter. But then! Ohhhh yes! My boy is back, Dr. Crane and holy jumping lemurs is this the version I wish we had so so much more of. Listen to the creators talk about the redesign, even they felt they went too far and too scary with this character. So unfortunately we lose Henry Polic but in his stead is Herbert West himself, Jeffrey Combs and guess what? That voice is nightmare fuel in it's most glorious state. Just this eerily quiet, calm, haunting voice coming out of what looks like a walking corpse in a old west duster and hat, just 10 out of f***ing 10!! Why in the depths of hell was he not used more? Now I treasure Henry Polic, John Noble is mind shatteringly amazing in Arkham Knight, Robert Englund is the epitome of fan casting brilliance in Injustice, but this is the one I feel we need back. Great episode material too with Crane actually taking people's fears away and ransoming the antidote, while actually eliminating Batman's fear of even killing people. Damn, this was a home run. Then we get some Nightwing action in You Scratch My Back, where he forms a fragile alliance with Selina, who I think the redesign is more minimalistic but still works, and the constant power shift between master cat burglar and solo mullet crusader is pretty great honestly. Joker's Millions could easily be an episode of The Twilight Zone with some little rewrites and I never thought I would see the Joker living in poverty, well besides in Joaquin's movie of course. Growing Pains, wow. This episode kinda cut me as a kid, with Robin finding a young lost girl who has more to her past than she remembers. This is a fairly emotional story, with a heartbreaking ending that I must applaud as an adult that they went that far with the story. Mean Seasons while a good episode I think is elevated by the commentary within, a former model has taken on the monicrum of Calendar Girl and pulls a Baby Doll kidnapping her old bosses for booting her out for turning 30. Like man, I am dead serious this bullshit system where older women who aren't even close to being old can't find work in some shade of entertainment or modelling industry can get off my goddamn planet, it is insane how unbelievably relevant this still is today and you can also kinda read it as how people with low self-esteem or even depression can only see faults in themselves despite there being plenty to like and admire about them. It's very good solid writing that makes me recommend this as a must watch episode. The Demon Within brings back a ton of magic in this series, and I just love the comraderie and unspoken past encounters and friendship Bruce has with Jason Blood, better known as the demon Etrigan, which comes up later on in the Justice League series. Good stuff. Then the bomb drops, Over The Edge. I am not saying a friggin' word, just imagine the most worst possible Elseworlds situation about the Batfamily and watch it. Solid gold. Love Is A Croc, really only struck me by just the sheer fascinating idea of what if Baby Doll and Killer Croc did heists together? I am so bewildered this pairing even exists let alone how and why someone thought it up. I will however state I love Baby Doll's voice actor, and we were on the verge of a truly niche relationship in this episode. Just watch it and try not to think anything nauuuughtyyyyy. The Ultimate Thrill was a lot of fun, entirely on the basis of Roxy Rocket who I might be admiring a bit too much, she's a total adrenaline junkie and does some wild ass stunts just to rob people but there's something about her I just like. God dang redheads man, I cannot help myself! Then we jump ahead a bit to Old Wounds, which for very briefly albeit had my money as the best episode of the show. Just the fact that we finally see the seed which was planted back in 1992 with Dick being in college, grow to where we see him call it quits with Bruce and becomes his own agent was wonderful to see and even if you are a major Batman fan and knew Dick would become something more it pays off very well I think. But then comes the crown jewel of the season, Legends Of The Dark Knight. It is so simple but such a loving and wonderful tribute to the iterations of the World's Greatest Detective, where three kids discuss what Batman actually is like. We get a terrific 1950s tribute with a silly Joker, an out there caper, the Dynamic Duo just one stop short of Adam West and Burt Ward revisiting the characters, and it is presented in all it's silver age glory even to the point I myself shouted great scott! Then we flip to the other side of the board where The Dark Knight Returns is presented and while still keeping it's feet firmly in the animation style of the show did such a faithful job getting so many touches of that story, abridging the fight with the mutant leader and giving some fair recognition to Carrie Kelley. I will not however stand for that snub shot to Joel Schumacher, yes I'm in a minority here but the man introduced me to the Batman and made me the fan I am today from Batman Forever alone, I have a lot to owe him. Best episode of the season, probably even top 10 of the whole show. Girl's Night Out at first I thought was going to be another Harley and Ivy romp but turns out all the female costume crowd came out to play, we get Livewire from the Superman Animated Series which I will admit I haven't seen much of but I love her voice and personality a great deal, our favorite girl team is still living together, and both Batgirl and Supergirl team up and even find some solace in each other's opposite lives. This is easily an episode just for the fun match ups and thusly is one of the most fun episodes of the entire show. Beware The Creeper honest to God, the only things I have to say about this episode is that Harley scene, holy moly. And the character of the Creeper practically shouted Freakazoid to me from the word go, I almost was flat out expecting the same voice actor to do both parts. Other than that, pretty crazy but pretty funny. Now we come to a similar problem that the last season had, the last ever episode broadcasted for this show was Mad Love finally laying Harley's backstory bare and seeing her near fatal death which is a positively shocking way to go out. Yet the last episode on my DVD's is Judgement Day, which truthfully is almost if not more shocking and weird to end on as a new face arrives in Gotham and passes sentence on various rogues gallery inductees, and had an almost Psycho-esque ending the more I think about it. The show ends on a fairly creepy note and then that's it. It's all over. So it is an unfortunate circumstance that there really was no definitive ending, but I don't think that was fully a thing for animated shows back then and really, knowing full and well that more shows came out which only built upon the backbone of The Animated Series makes that criticism a moot point, it keeps continuing in some form or another. Batman Beyond, Justice League, the Superman Animated Series, even Static Shock kept this animated DC legacy going. True there are other timelines, universes, whatever you want to call them but this is the one all of them have to thank for even being around. Batman The Animated Series did a tremendous lot for the comics, for the shows, for the games, for an entire generation and then some to this day. Not every episode is a 10/10, not every season has nothing but great things to talk about, it's the overall experience that makes it so good. It's seeing these animators, these creators, these voice actors commit to bringing you Batman and making it accesible and fun for everyone to watch. It's a classic still talked about for a reason, and I just like talking about it. 4 stars, 9/10 for the season but a full 10/10 for the show as a whole, and my lord there is still so much to talk about with the other shows for another day. It can be cruel, poetic, or blind but when denied it's violence you may find in my reviewing mind for The Batman. Will justice be served for all fans?

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