Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: The Batman "Call of the Cobblepot"

Once again, I’m going to be criticizing the audio portion of an episode. In text. Which is like listening to a ventriloquist over the radio. Which, oddly enough, was what propelled Edgar Bergen’s act to “fame.” But I digress.

Plot
A variant on the locked door mystery, but a very obvious one since we see the birds stealing a necklace. The real question is who’s doing it. And once the obvious villain appears, even the youngest of audience members have put the mystery together.

Themes
Dualities. The Penguin, being short, ugly, poor, and evil, is the exact opposite of our good Mr. Wayne. There’s a bit of lip service to the age-old question of whether superheroes attract supervillains, but this only comes up in the very last line of the episode, so it’s not really what I’d call an ongoing theme.

Honestly, there’s not much in the way of theming or unique plot to speak of. This episode's main purpose was to introduce the Penguin. And to sell toys, but that's what every episode was for.

Characters
Penguin (Tom Kenny)
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. Where Batman: The Animated Series zigs, The Batman zags. Here, they’ve taken the suave gangster/businessman of the former series and done the exact opposite with the characterization. Although, interestingly enough, B:TAS was essentially forced to use the Tim Burton Penguin design before being allowed to redesign the character into what they wanted all along when the show's look changed.

There was a design at one point that drew on Penguin’s typical gentlemanliness, but this was eventually changed to reflect the new characterization they wanted to give him. Good thing, too. With that design's nose taking up half his head, giving him a posh accent would have made him seem like a grown-up Ferb Fletcher.

Whether or not you like the character really just comes down to the voice. Tom Kenny’s growly, high-pitched squawks aren’t for everybody’s ears. But if you can stand his performance… well, you still might hate the character.

A common criticism of The Batman is that too many people know kung-fu. And… yeah. Seeing the little fat guy doing those flips and kicks is kind of ridiculous. As is his general buffoonery. Though the character might have been turned into a joke, his henchgirls and affinity for trained birds makes him far from harmless. But that still doesn’t stop the character from rubbing a lot of people the wrong way.

Stealing the Halloween Town Mayor's hat might have cost Penguin the Tim Burton fans....
In my personal opinion, the character can be annoying, but not enough to make me automatically hate him. Though I really can’t fault people who can’t stand the little blob. 

Alfred
I kind of like the fact that Alfred gets a moment to shine, but his feud with the Cobblepots never really comes up again. I think the occasional lip service is paid to it in Penguin's next appearance, but not as a real plot element. This is a shame. Alfred really won’t get another chance to have such a personal stake in the events.

Kabuki Twins
These two are probably the most memorable original characters that this show ever brought us. They’re creepy, silent, and quite possibly not even human. Are they robots? Ninjas? Who knows? I think the bigger question is why they’re working for Penguin? Like the other mysteries about the twins, this will never be answered.

Animation
The fight scenes are as amazing as ever. Smooth, fluid, and with some impressive choreography, especially when the Kabuki Twins are involved.

Final Thoughts
It’s a hit-or-miss episode. I found it fairly enjoyable, but I have to admit that there are better episodes in the season. And it’s entirely likely that you would hate this episode if you saw it. Or maybe you’d love it. Who knows?

I can only tell you what I thought of it, and I can pretty much guarantees that your opinion would be different. Give it a shot, see what you think. I'd love to hear your opinions on both the episode and the character in the comments.

As for The Batman, we'll soon see another episode and another villain. See you then!

9 comments:

  1. I'm almost 99.9% sure that the Kabuki Twins are robots, but who knows?

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    1. I always thought they were ghosts or demons of some kind.

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    2. Well, if the Penguin can become a servant to Dracula...

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    3. You know, there's not enough magic in The Batman. There was Spellbinder... And Dracula. I think that's it, seeing as the Kabuki Twins are unconfirmed as anything.

      It's a little jarring when magic shows up in The Batman. Just because it so rarely happens. I think a Dr. Fate or John Constantine appearance would have fixed that.

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    4. It would be pretty cool

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  2. Admittedly, first season was a little rough around the edges, but action was so good I happily declare it guilty pleasure.

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    1. I absolutely agree. While I wouldn't call these episodes "bad," the fact that the writers kept doing basic introduction episodes got a little bit old.

      But the season finale was one of the high points of the entire show, in my opinion. But I'll get there when I get there.

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  3. That unused design makes me think of him as more of a puffin than a penguin.

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    1. You know, I was thinking the same thing. Reminded me of Opus from Bloom County, too.

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