Thursday, July 18, 2013

Recap: Beware the Batman, Ep. 1

Let's begin our look at Batman's latest foray into the small screen, with this recap of....

Spoilers ahead.  And snark.  And Batman.  And the word "blunderbuss."
We begin with a pan over Bruce Wayne's face as the theme-singer croons "Beware the Bat". I hate to nitpick, but already, I am irked. This intro is only five seconds. The full intro is 30 seconds long. The full intro was made available online long ago, and it was not only awesome, but the internet seemed to like it, which is usually impossible. Is that why they made it available online?  Because they weren't going to show it in the episode itself? But I'm admittedly nitpicking. Let's not nitpick. ...much. The theme is great though; I'd recommend looking it up and listening to it. My only criticism: 30 seconds is not long enough.

We start with that old cliche of a robber loading a truck with stolen money. Cliche? Yes. But I'll give it a pass. It's a good "street crime" situation to use to introduce Batman. Batman does a good job of coming off as menacing when he shows up, taunting from the shadows. For a while, all we see of him is in flashes as the robber tries to shoot him with his...  laser?

It's always bugged me when petty thugs can easily get ahold of kryptonite or lasers and such, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the purposefully unrealistic firearm design is actually a direct result of the 2012 Aurora tragedy, so I won't criticize this decision. I can and will criticize the rest of this episode, but not that. I can and will criticize how this decision was implemented, but not the decision itself.

However, it is fairly obvious that this was a rather last-minute change, seeing as how Batman tells the robber, "Two shots left.  Make 'em count." So....  this is a laser that has to be loaded? With what? Light? These lasers suck in terms of usefulness as a weapon. I mean, he only fired four shots so far. He has a six-shot laser? Not very useful.

The guy wastes these shots, too. And now he's empty. And now he can't see thanks to the gas pipes he shot open. Batman uses this opportunity to sneak up behind him and say "You missed," causing my thumb to twitch involuntarily. Why? Because I've played both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and I know that Batman was in the perfect position to hit Triangle and do a Silent Takedown, which gets him more points than a standard takedown. As it is, the robber backs off quickly, firing his empty weapon at the Batman and reaching into his coat pocket.

"Forget reloading," says Batman, confirming that this gun can be reloaded somehow. The gun gets tossed away and the robber surrenders. Batman tells him not to go for the knife that the camera's conveniently zooming in on, and recommends the backup gun he's got. The robber obliges, but Batman takes him down anyway.

Robber: "You said the backup gun was my best bet!" 

Yes, robber. Batman is going to tell you exactly how to take him down. While he's at it, he'll demask himself and transfer all his Wayne Industries assets into your name.

Suddenly, bam. Batman is knocked into a truck. There's another robber, this one with giant mechanical gauntlets that remind me either of Temblor from The Batman, or the gauntlets that Batman himself wore to take down Superman in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.

After a title drop, Batman slams his shoulder into the getaway truck, relocating his arm. Wow, he's not going to want to overtax himsel- or he could immediately take the two robbers down. That's going to hurt in the morning, for Bats and the robbers.

Hammer of Justice, meet the Face of Felonies.
Batman: "That'd better be it for this evening's surprises." 

Heh, wait until morning. Then, we cut to Jeff Bennet (or at least his voice coming out of a CGI character's body) yelling for help. He's being chased by none other than what have been touted as the show's main villains, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad (the latter of which is voiced by none other than Udo Kier, who had the title roles in Andy Warhol's Dracula and Frankenstein adaptations. That's pretty cool.).

"Right, say 'ello to my li'l friend, Govnah!"
Pyg mentions being on a "stag" hunt, tipping me off (along with the character's hair) that they must be chasing Simon Stagg. (An evil millionaire guy, basically.) They shoot at him with a non-laser blunderbuss, and Toad mega-sonic-burps at him as he runs into a building.

Mr. Toad doesn't have this power in the comics, but the addition makes sense, as the sonic blast sounds like a treefrog. And come on. Mr. Toad's only power in the comics was having a car. They capture him with a tranq dart, and....  check his heart? And inquire about his cholesterol? And inform him that this is revenge for what he's done to animals? And then hit him with a stick to knock him out? ....Okay.

Cut to STATELY WAYNE MANOR, and Bruce is sleeping. Awwww. Suddenly, a ski-masked-man steps up to the edge of the bed, with a baseball bat! A "Bat-Man," if you will!  Bruce dodges the swing, and after a scuffle, the ski-masked man is revealed to be....  bald and non-mustachioed Alfred? Interesting. Especially after the punch to the jaw Bruce gave him. "Did I hurt you" my foot, Bruce, you kicked him into the wall. Why can't you set a clock to wake up like normal people? Alfred informs hims that his reaction times were sloppy. Hey, Alfred?  MAYBE HE WAS TIRED. Seeing as how he was SLEEPING.

Let me summarize the next conversation:

"Let me protect you."
"Protect Bruce Wayne."
"What about Batman?"

Scene change, rinse and repeat the conversation, added with: "Batman works alone" and "You're old now." A newspaper informs Bruce of Stagg's kidnapping, and the Plot Exposition news shows them a video reminiscent of the Joker's threat from "The Dark Knight" where Pyg and Toad show off Stagg on display and outline their plans to hunt more millionaires. They do this in rhyme, like a boss. Bruce and Alfred hurry to the Batcave, where they note that Pyg and Toad's names are pretty much all they know about those two. 

Bruce: "How 'Wind-in-the-Willows' of them."

Um... yeah, Professor Pyg comes from the song "Pygmalism" referencing the both Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. Sorry, thanks for playing. You may think that this means that I'm smarter than the World's Greatest Detective, but no, I just read Grant Morrison's notes in my Batman & Robin HC collection. Maybe read your own comics, Bats?

Alfred references "Little Jack Horner," and Bruce notes that that rhyme was based on a land deal that went sour. Stagg was up to similar dealings, and it looks like that's why he was targeted. They fail to get into his finanical records, and they find out the nest target the hard way. Instead of reading a half-obscured plaque in Pyg's video, they mirror and enhance its reflection in Pyg's blunderbuss. They enhance, like, 15 pixels into text to get this. I begrudgingly give this implausibility a pass. If anyone can make an "Enhance Button" work, it's Bruce Wayne.

Batman reads the name Michael Holt off of the plaque.  Hey, cool, that's Mr. TerrificWAIT.

This guy.
Mr. Terrific is invisible to technology, so how come they have a picture of him? This must be pre-Terificness.
Batman runs off, and Alfred calls someone, telling them they need to meet.

Meanwhile, Michael Holt's calling the cops on his cell phone in his car. Dangerous, yes, but that's a moot point when a Toad-Man and a guy in a pig mask are ramming you with their old-timey motorcar. After a chase with the nifty little Batmobile this show has, Batman actually fails, and crashes. The villains kidnap Holt and get away, remarking about "one more stop," which will no doubt be Bruce Wayne.... who's falling unconscious in an alley.

Alfred meets with a young Asian woman who gives him the encryption for Stagg's finances, and they share in some vague, mysterious banter, and he asks her to stay. She doesn't.
Alfred calls Batman on his video phone, Bats answers. (Caller ID says BRUCE WAYNE.  Bad idea?  No.  THE WORST IDEA.)

Suddenly, Alfred's knocked out, mistaken for Bruce Wayne. ....wait. So young-Asian-lady must have passed Pyg and Toad on her way out. Way to not notice that, lady.

Pyg taunts Bruce, saying they're abducting Alfred, which prompts Bruce to make his SURRIOUS face.
After going back to the cave, Batman figures out the connection between Pyg's rhyme and the kidnapped targets: a land deal that ended up destroying a natural habitat.
Meh, okay. 
I guess they couldn't use the axe-crazy Prof. Pyg form the comics. That guy is not kid-friendly.

Speaking of Pyg, Pyg explains to his three hostages in his evil lair that this is a rendition of The Most Dangerous Game, and the three men (chained up to each other) get going with their 5-minute head start.

Batman makes his way to the hideout (on the ravaged land) and starts to climb the methane-filled (?) building. The Hostages 3 get through one trap, but Stagg trips another, injuring Alfred. Pyg comes along and brandishes a saw to amputate Alfred's leg (wait, more "doctor" jokes.... the writers realize that "Professors" and "Doctors" are actually two different things, right? I don't think Professor Pyg has a medical degree, is what I'm trying to say.) and Toad sonic-burps at them, but is stopped by... Batman! Alfred takes the men to safety, and Batman and Pyg have a quite impressive fight.

Looks like they set Batman up the bomb!  There, I said it.  Now I never have to make that joke again.
Bombs happen, and Batman escapes the building just in time, jumping and landing near the Hostages 3. Stagg yells at him for the building blowing up, and Batman drives away, leaving the three with no transportation away from the burning building. What a jerk. 

Stranding two chained-together men and a guy with a shattered leg is apparently not an issue, as we cut to Alfred and Bruce watching Lt. Gordon on the news. Alfred's injured leg will heal in a month or so, and Bruce realizes he needs help. Alfred brings in young-Asian-lady, who apparently changed her mind.

You know, if she'd made that choice to begin with, Alfred'd be fine. Anyway, her name is revealed as....  Tatsu Yamashiro. And then... I was suddenly watching Teen Titans Go. I guess that's it?  Nice non-existent credits.

This beginning to the series is.... merely okay. However, I do have high hopes for the series as a whole. Once they get introductions and origins out of the way, I think I'll like the status quo, after they introduce Tatsu as Katana, Batman's new sidekick. 
Oh. Oops. ...spoiler?

Next Episode: Secrets. How much you want to bet that the secrets are that Bruce is Batman and Tatsu was trained by the League of Assassins?

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