Rewatching Batman the Animated Series

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Postby joymonger » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:51 pm

Merciel wrote:SEASON ONE EPISODE THREE: "Nothing to Fear"

I can't wait until we get past the villain intro episodes and the writers can dig more into the dynamics of each one with Batman. This one's better than MAN BAT!! but it is a definite first-season ep introducing the cast to little kids.

Still, pretty good. The Extremely Expository Voice Acting got a solid lol from me. The voice actors are having such a good time with that shit.

The fear visions are more intense than I figured they'd be for a children's cartoon. Nothing too terrifying, obviously, but they didn't pull their punches as much as they might have.

One thing I appreciate about this show is that it's more willing than the movies (or the Arkham videogames) to show Batman getting dinged occasionally. He wins encounters through sheer luck when he should really obviously lose; he staggers and looks actually broken when he's poisoned (vs. how the Arkham videogames invariably treat him like the ultimate badass even when he's supposed to be beaten down); he's sleepless and unshaven and all haggard as Bruce Wayne.

Also the show is not afraid to make fun of him, which I like.

Anyway this one feels like notching a name off a list and getting all the characters in play, so it's not a great episode, but it's solid.

paraphrasing -

robin: so if joker isn't plotting anything, can we come back home, have a nice xmas dinner, and watch It's a Wonderful Life?
batman: you know, i never watched that one.
robin: you really should, it's good.
batman: i could never get past the title.
[hops in batmobile]
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Postby Merciel » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:11 pm

SEASON ONE EPISODE FOUR: "The Last Laugh"

Every day with Joker is a holiday! No really, that's how things work in this universe apparently. Well, I can't blame them for feeling that way, I feel the same way too. Also it's pretty funny to think about the timeline between when Joker gets locked up and when he's on the rampage again, since the show is nice enough to give us a real clear measurement on that front.

The fact that this is a show where nobody can ever die really changes the Batman/Joker dynamic in a way that I think I like overall but will be interested to watch play out in future episodes.

In the Arkham videogames, which I use as a point of comparison because they were clearly pulling from the animated series above all other Batman versions (they even used the same voice actors, you cannot argue about this), whenever you encounter the Joker there are always a million dead bodies lying around because it's a super grimdark take on Batman so there are always a million bodies lying around everywhere a villain's been. There are times when this is genuinely creepy and unnerving but a lot of other times when it's just deadening overkill.

In the cartoon nobody can ever die, to an almost hilarious degree, so on one level the Joker is defanged, but on the other hand it means that in order to establish his menace we have to see him actually doing it every single time, because we can't just see the bodies as a shortcut after the fact.

I'm not entirely sure what I think of that right now, mostly just tagging it with a "hm, this is interesting" to see if it goes anywhere in future eps.

The end with the Joker just batting his eyelashes at Batman and going "haul me up plz" got a lol. This team gets that dynamic perfectly.

I love the old-timey title cards on these episodes btw.
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Postby Merciel » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:12 pm

Also I like that the series is making a regular thing out of Batman being a doofus who can't even sell terrible dad jokes. Every time he tries to make a funny it lands with the most leaden thud and he's got the doofiest "what, I'm awesome!" face and it's fantastic.
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Postby joymonger » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:22 pm

played the fuck outta this game on snes
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Postby worrywort » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:33 pm

After I finished the DCAU big 4, I went in search of a wiki/list of all the deaths, and there are a surprising #. BTAS has the least, for sure, but there's a decent amount in all the rest of the big ones.

Also, the craziest thing in the Arkham games is how gruesome The Penguin is, especially in the first one. There are just corpses everywhere.
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Postby hoopdog » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:12 pm

god so good to see this thread, glad to know its on prime
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:29 pm

Here's the score for "The Last Laugh":



I want you to listen to this song and think about someone putting that much effort into scoring one 22-minute episode of a weekday-afternoon cartoon series.
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Postby Merciel » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:38 pm

It is fascinating to contemplate how much the overall popularity of Batman as a franchise property is due to groundwork laid by the team putting together this cartoon.

I hope they got paid commensurate to their efforts but I'm going to guess they did not, and since then everybody's just been capitalizing on the affection they so carefully earned in a generation of tv-watching kids.
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Postby Merciel » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:34 am

SEASON ONE EPSIODE FIVE: "Pretty Poison"

Whoa we have a lady detective now! She looks like she's either azn or Latina, too. Nice.

I like Poison Ivy. I have always liked Poison Ivy, because femme fatale ecoterrorist is a pretty sweet attribute combination, plus I can't not be entertained watching this film noir dame getting Harvey Dent to propose marriage out of nowhere in a week while blatantly testing the waters with Bruce Wayne on that very date. Also, I heartily approve of rose perfumes.

Det. Bullock's donut thievery was a total kid joke but still pretty good.

Are we just going to alternate villain intro episodes and Joker episodes for the rest of the season? They've got a pretty definite pattern going so far.
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Postby reversemigraine » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:41 am

Merciel wrote:It is fascinating to contemplate how much the overall popularity of Batman as a franchise property is due to groundwork laid by the team putting together this cartoon.

I hope they got paid commensurate to their efforts but I'm going to guess they did not, and since then everybody's just been capitalizing on the affection they so carefully earned in a generation of tv-watching kids.


Pretty sure Paul Dini's living comfortably. (EDIT: And Bruce Timm. Durr.) Not sure about anyone else.
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Postby tgk » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:50 am

Just looked up the wikipedia on this and the first season is SIXTY FIVE EPISODES. It aired for over an entire year straight. How did they even do that? They spent God knows long making all these episodes before a single one aired?
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Postby Merciel » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:18 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE SIX: "The Under-Dwellers"

This is some weird quasi-Dickensian shit right here, I'm not sure it belongs in the Batman universe. The intro with the kids playing chicken on the train was weird too. Also the tonal jumps whenever the kid put on his sunglasses and was suddenly COOL '90S KID and, what.

While SVC was in the hospital, I read him Ludwig Bemelmans's Hotel Bemelmans, a collection of essays from his days working at the Hotel Splendide in NYC. One of the essays, "Teddy," was about this poor starved street urchin whom Bemelmans took pity on and, against the advice of everyone he talked to, allowed to live in the hotel for a while. Teddy stole a bunch of shit (money, expensive wine, Scotch) but when they caught him he spun this desperate sob story about how his dad was being executed in Sing Sing and then everybody felt so bad they let him hang around a while longer and cadge money off them.

Anyway it turned out the kid was totally lying about everything, his parents were alive and his dad was perfectly healthy and working some regular job, and while the kids were obviously somewhat poor and neglected they weren't like starving-on-the-streets poor.

For whatever reason I kept thinking about that while watching this episode.

Anyhow this one was not among my favorites but they can't all be winners.
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Postby Merciel » Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:53 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE SEVEN: ""P.O.V."

This is an interesting episode. First part's structured all tricky-like for a kids' cartoon (although it doesn't really play as much with POV as the title might suggest; everybody's account is pretty straightforward, although the variations in narration are pretty good), second part's a straight-up action flick. Both are solid.

The rookie's narration was fun. It totally makes sense that Batman's gimmickry would look like magic if you didn't know where to look for the gizmos, so I thought it was clever for the show to acknowledge that.

I also liked that Officer Montoya (who is Latina! so that's one mystery solved) got to play a major role in the second half of the episode and even nab the boss baddie AND deal with Bullock's ungracious grumbling at her and resentful thanks, which was pretty good. I appreciate that the cartoon does not lie to kids about how grateful those bozos are going to be in the real world when you have to deal with them someday.

This episode really didn't focus too much on Batman and the baddies were just generic organized crime guys. I actually liked that. It was nice to just focus on the supporting cast for a minute. I hope we get more of these.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:57 am

I know every episodic TV series does Rashomon at some point, but seven episodes in feels a little early.
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Postby blurst of times » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:17 pm

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Postby oglop » Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:23 pm

Merciel wrote:SEASON ONE EPISODE SEVEN: ""P.O.V."

This is an interesting episode. First part's structured all tricky-like for a kids' cartoon (although it doesn't really play as much with POV as the title might suggest; everybody's account is pretty straightforward, although the variations in narration are pretty good), second part's a straight-up action flick. Both are solid.


i'm also watching this, and got to this episode a few days ago. got really confused when the asshole cop suddenly stopped narrating as we're shown him beating up the mobsters. he completely destroys them, and they show some stylized shots of a wall with their projected shadows as they fight, which looked cool, so i was sure that whatever we were seeing was his embellished version of what happened. but soon after, he starts narrating lies as we're shown how it really went down, with batman saving his ass and stuff. so i guess he really did beat up those guys, and it really did look cool
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Postby Merciel » Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:33 pm

Yeah, I meant to note that I kind of like how Bullock is a relatively complicated character, at least for a kids' cartoon. He's an egocentric slob who takes lazy shortcuts and steals donuts and is a dick to all his co-workers, so it would be easy to go "okay he's a bad guy," but then he doesn't actually appear to be corrupt and he does seem to be a badass in a fight (at least in this episode) so you can't really peg him as being on one side or the other.

I might just have extremely low expectations for afternoon cartoons, but I like that they give him some ambiguity.
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:47 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE EIGHT: "Forgotten"

aw yeah, old-timey Depression title card

This is a fun episode. I feel like they went to the amnesia well a little early (or else it's right next door to the Rashomon well), but whatever. It's a solid ep with some neat stuff. The Batplane being a smartass at Alfred was a lol; the amount of character work that went into these two one-off secondary prisoners was good; the black-and-white sequence when the mine overseers douse their lanterns had a lot of really nice stylization.

It's funny to think that Bruce Wayne is like three times the breadth of a normal dude and is this ultrafit ninja fighting machine, but rub some stage makeup on his cheeks and put some foam grayer in his hair and yeah sure totally, he looks like a homeless dude. uh-huh.

During that whole sequence I was thinking about The Wire and how Bubbles knows the undercover cops can give themselves away by not having enough glass embedded in the soles of their shitty shoes. Well, different show, different level of realism. BUT STILL.

I wonder what kind of a gold mine is more profitable with untrained homeless dudes randomly breaking rocks and constantly getting cave-ins than with trained personnel operating mechanized dig equipment. I'm going to guess that this, along with "wild thorny roses" that synthesize lethal poisons, is a phenomenon unique to Gotham and its environs.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:55 am

Bruce Wayne's fucking Batman-yellow dress shirt.
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:24 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE NINE: "Be a Clown"

I just realized that I don't know the mayor of Gotham's name.

Does he have a name? Maybe he doesn't get a name because he dies periodically in the comics or gets replaced as needed for storylines. Anyway it's weird to realize I have no idea what this guy's name is, he appears in every major Batman property and he never gets a name.

This was a pretty good episode although I spent a lot of it trying to figure out what age the mayor's kid was supposed to be (eight? nine? fourteen? he's drawn like he's fourteen but he acts like he's eight or nine) and also thinking about how if I were on a roller-coaster that had a big chunk missing out of the tracks that was definitely going to kill me, I still think most of my brain would be like "wheee! fun ride!" and refuse to be deprogrammed from the expectation that the drop was just part of the safely contained programmed thrill right up until the moment I went careening into oblivion.

I find that strangely soothing. I hope when I really die, it's with that same conditioned "yeah sure I know it looks bad but this is really just going to be a fun ri--"
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:27 am

Another thing I think about a lot in connection with scenes like this is how I know carnival barkers are just liars making shit up out of their asses to get people into the tent, and yet some part of my dumb brain always wants to believe them anyway.

There is just some innate resistance to accepting the truth that there is no actual mystery in the tent and I am not going to see Sawazda the Miniature Walrus Woman or whatever in there. My brain keeps yammering that no there has to be something, even if it's just a fake patched-together simulacrum, there has to be something, and that something is definitely worth seeing.

my brain is extremely stupid
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Postby oglop » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:17 am

be a clown was the ugliest, least atmospheric episode i've seen yet. i dunno if he's a character from the comics but the great prosciutto has gotta be alan moore, right?

Image
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Postby iambic » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:24 am

Merciel wrote:Does he have a name? Maybe he doesn't get a name because he dies periodically in the comics or gets replaced as needed for storylines. Anyway it's weird to realize I have no idea what this guy's name is, he appears in every major Batman property and he never gets a name.

there have been a whole bunch of named mayors, but the one that first comes to mind is Mayor Hady, I think because he features in Snyder/New 52 arcs, which is what I've most recently been reading. they do die a lot.

the guy in the Nolan movies has a name, but I can't remember it
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:58 am

Merciel wrote:Yeah, I meant to note that I kind of like how Bullock is a relatively complicated character, at least for a kids' cartoon. He's an egocentric slob who takes lazy shortcuts and steals donuts and is a dick to all his co-workers, so it would be easy to go "okay he's a bad guy," but then he doesn't actually appear to be corrupt and he does seem to be a badass in a fight (at least in this episode) so you can't really peg him as being on one side or the other.

I might just have extremely low expectations for afternoon cartoons, but I like that they give him some ambiguity.

Bullock is really interesting and his dynamic with Montoya and Comissioner Gordon is all a nice touch

I think the show throws in the Rashomon and amnesia eps early to prep the kid audience for how far they’re going to go relative to kid show expectations. I remember the having my mind blown by the amnesia episode like they’d do a whole batman like that how dare they!!!
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:00 pm

I’m in Montreal w Jeremy rn for a few days. Any requests for BAS live boarding?
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Postby iambic » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:06 pm

iirc Bullock is more of an antagonist in TAS than he is in the books, where he's surly but has a grudging respect for Batman and absolute fealty to Gordon
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:13 pm

He still has p strong fealty to Gordon but yeah his physical appearance and eating habits are short hand for him being not great but there’s a few nice touches that complicate the relationship and I think they play it pretty well

TBC my batman comic exposure is p limited and came after watching TAS
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Postby oglop » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:59 pm

https://www.polygon.com/tv/2017/10/8/16 ... y-remaster

this will be nice to see especially for the good looking TMS-animated eps but honestly the bad tape quality is way more gotham than a bluray
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Postby Merciel » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:38 pm

blurst of times wrote:extremely apt timing on this oral history: http://www.vulture.com/article/oral-history-batman-the-animated-series.htm


this link doesn't work

http://www.vulture.com/article/oral-his ... eries.html
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Postby Merciel » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:27 am

SEASON ONE EPISODES TEN & ELEVEN: "Two-Face"

Gotham must have the laxest electrical code on earth. I think literally every episode has featured some electrical wiring malfunction that promptly causes the whole scene to burst into flame. It's like one bullet and your entire gold mine burns down.

This was a pretty solid two-parter. Lots of pathos and struggle, nice thematic depth, I think this might(?) be the first time we see anybody actually die (Two-Face's freckled henchgoons when Rupert Thorne busts in on his hideout). Excellent use of lightning strikes for drama. I appreciate that we're getting a little more diversity in the bit-part characters (e.g. the doctor treating Two-Face being a black guy), although there are still only two character models for the ladies and one of them is the same recurring grandma who's been in at least 80% of the episodes so far.

Points off for a catfight scene (with hair-pulling as a takedown move, no less!), although I did like the detail of the lady in red losing one of her heels when she smacks against the wall.

Batman lets himself get clubbed from behind an awful lot. You'd think he'd be a little more on guard against that, given how often it happens to him.
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