Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: Batman: The Animated Series "I've Got Batman in my Basement"

Before I review, here's what Bruce Timm himself had to say about the episode in Animato Magazine.

"I can't even watch that show. It's the epitome of what we don't want to do with Batman. Strangely enough kids like it. The script came in and it was terrible. Normally, I tell the director to do what he can to make it interesting, and nobody could figure out a way to make it interesting. The storyboard artists didn't care, and it shows."

Well, it doesn't get clearer than one of creators bashing his own creation.

But I'll throw my two cents in.

Plot/Themes
At its core, this is an episode designed to appeal to children. Kids drive the Batmobile, save the day, defeat the villain, etc. There's nothing really wrong with that when you get down to it. All that matters is that you give your all.

But no one gave their all. They started with an idea from Alan Burnett and just kind of let it fester.

A plot they didn't know how to make work, rewritten by the studio against their wishes, starring a version of a villain they never intended to use.... There was no way this episode was ever going to be anything special.

If I had been working on the series, I would have the action begin with Sherman and Roberta stumbling across a defeated Batman to really drive home what it must be like to stumble blind into Batman's world. But that alone wouldn't have fixed the other problems. Like the Penguin. Speaking of him....

Characters
Penguin

Yeah, I'm not a fan, if I didn't make that clear in the Recap. I simply can't take him seriously. One of the goals with the series was to avoid "bumbling villains" that could be taken out by kids, and yet they go ahead and make the Penguin only slightly more competent than the Wet Bandits.

Which still puts him leagues below Feathers McGraw.
And when you add Paul Williams' disappointing first vocal outing as the character, it just makes for disappointment all around.

Sherman and Roberta
Meh. They don't actively annoy me.

Sherman's voice actor (Matthew Brooks) did some child roles before and since, and he gives an okay performance. Roberta, however, is the only credit Denise Marco has on IMDb. But she's surprisingly good, considering.

Really, their performances are fine. It just comes down to whether or not you can handle their detective schtick, which might come across as a bit too precocious for my tastes. All I know is that if I have a mystery that needs to be solved, I ain't calling them.

I'm going to the Mystery Twins.
Animation
Again, nothing special. It gets the job done, and there's the expected error or two thanks to the language barrier between the studio and the outsourced animation.

Final Thoughts
Honestly, it's biggest crime is being harmless entertainment aimed at a younger audience than B:TAS usually aims for. And because Batman is serious business to a lot of fans, I think this episode's awfulness got blown way out of proportion.

I wouldn't really recommend it, but it's not like this is the legendary piece of soul-crushing torment that some people make it out to be. I mean, yeah, it's one of the lower quality episode of Batman: The Animated Series... but it's still miles ahead of the vast majority of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

See you next time, when we have nowhere to go but up.

2 comments:

  1. Man, this episode feels like a weird fanfic of Batman and some Spielberg movie mashup.

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    Replies
    1. It's like half E.T. and half Batman.

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