Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Recap: Batman TBATB "Invasion of the Secret Santas!"

Well, Merry Christmas everybody! And Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and all those other winter holidays that get pushed aside to make room for the birthday of a carpenter. Sorry about that. Anyway, this'll make up for that, maybe possibly. A Christmas Recap! A Batman one! I mean, if there's one thing that Batman loves, it's Christmas!

Okay, maybe not. Christmas doesn't usually end well for him...

But it ends worse for the bad guys.
Oh yeah, let's recap.

The episode opens on a professional bowling Christmas tournament. Truly, there is nothing that says "Christmas" more than bowling. The narrator's really getting into it, too, referring to the mustachioed, potbellied men as the "greatest athletes from around the country." But as the announcer starts talking about the prize money, his microphone gets hijacked by a villain known as the Sportsmaster, who insists that bowling isn't a sport, and demands the prize money to go to a real athlete. Like him! Well, it's a good thing he just happened to be there when he mentioned how much he deserved that prize money.

To Sportsmaster's credit, he's not there to steal the money, he's there to win it. Well, that sounds all well and good, but remember: he's a goofy, Silver Age Batman villain. Somehow, this will involve a gigantic replica of a normally small object which will put somebody at risk. Pennies, playing cards, something like that. Lo and behold, the "athletes" all get put into giant bowling pins which the Sportsmaster plans to blow up with an exploding bowling ball. Thankfully, the ball gets deflected by a batarang, cueing Batman to swing into action.

Batman: "Sportsmaster! Figures I'd find you in the gutters."

Blue Beetle soon shows up, and Batman instructs him to go take care of the goons. Blue Beetle's suit (with a built-in intelligence that only he can hear) leads him into an argument, making it look like he just called Batman a goober. Batman dodges cleats and shot put... balls, whatever those are called, while Beetle easily takes care of the goons. After dodging more and more hits from sporting equipment, Batman throws a bowling pin at the escaping Sportsmaster, taking him out. With the fight over, Blue Beetle invites Batman over to his house for Christmas dinner.

Batman: "Sorry. Crime doesn't take a holiday. And neither do I."

Keep that up, Batman, you're going to end up wrecking your body through stress and illness. Likely while a giant monster attacks.

The theme plays, and the episode proper begins.

It's Christmastime. The lights are up, the snow is falling, kids are playing, and Santa Claus is probably giving Darkseid his annual lump of coal. At a local university, archaeologist Professor John Ulthoon is giving a lecture, when he receives the standard "Is being an archaeologist like it is in the movies where they fight bad guys?" question. You know, you really have to feel bad for scientists. In the movies, it's archaeologists thwarting Nazis and cable guys giving aliens computer viruses, and paleontologists... well, all they do is run away from dinosaurs while Jeff Goldblum sees how many times he can say "ah" in the same sentence. Anyway, Professor Chromedome has to gently inform his student about the actual excitement of the profession. That is to say, very little.

Prof. Ulthoon: "No, Billy. I'm afraid it's mostly just reading books and research."

Yes, and "X" never marks the spot, Professor Jones. Actually, Professor Ulthoon is dressed like Indiana Jones in his teaching gear, minus the glasses. Hmm, I wonder if this means that, like Indy, this archaeologist has an interesting life outside of the classroom. Well, to answer that question, a truck's brakes suddenly fail and it goes uncontrollably into a bunch of kids. Professor Ulthoon excuses himself, and goes into a back room to take of his human mask, revealing that he's actually the robotic champion of the wind, Red Tornado!  An archaeologist and a replicant? Why didn't they just get Harrison Ford to voice this role? Anyway, he saves the kids.

Red Tornado: "Observation: Your children need another discussion about traffic safety, Mr. Jones."

Um, if the kids don't know enough about traffic to know not to play in it, I don't think another discussion will cut the mustard.  Mr. Jones thanks Red Tornado, saying that his help has filled his family with the Christmas Spirit, to which Red Tornado's all like, whah? He must celebrate Robonukkah.

Kid: "You know, that tingly feeling you get inside 'cause it's the bestest time of the year!" 
Red Tornado: "This is not something I have ever been filled with." 
Girl: "Of course not, silly! You're just a robot!"

Wow, way to be racist. Machinist? Either way, this is how the robot revolution always starts. "You're just a machine, you don't have feelings. Now heat this bread up, you stupid toaster."

Racist though she may be, the girl raises an excellent point. Unlike the robots made by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes), Red Tornado was not built with a Genuine People Personality. He's more like Data, in that he has what's been named "Pinocchio Syndrome," where he has a desire to become human. Hence, he studies the remains of ancient humans, disguises himself as a human, and has a day job where he gets to interact with humans. And now he wants to take the next giant leap in his quest to become human: he wants to feel the Christmas Spirit. Red Tornado, as Professor Ulthoon, goes back to his house that night (presumably having finished his class) and looks at everything. He reads a book on the holiday spirit by a "Stuart Martha," and begins getting into the season. He coats his house in decorations, he puts on his ugliest festive sweater, he decks his halls, he sings in a monotone to his neighbors, but he still doesn't feel the "Christmas Spirit."
You don't have to ask him to change his ways,
but please tell the man in the mirror to change out of that sweater.
In fact, he feels nothing. He begins writing Christmas equations on his chalkboard, making me worry that he's going to go make Lock, Shock, and Barrel kidnap the Santy Claws. Thankfully, before he can go all Jack Skellington, his attention is drawn to his TV, where not-quite-It's a Wonderful Life is playing.

Man: "Do you want to know the secret of the spirit of Christmas, Billy?" 

Oh, God, he's becoming a Dalek! ...a polite one who's just asking for clarification.

Unfortunately for him, the TV station seems to decide that reporting on an imminent invasion of flying saucers is more important than a movie, so the pivotal moment is interrupted with a report on that very thing I just mentioned. There's even a video broadcast from the aliens! They demand the one known as "Santa Claus," so he can make toys for the kids of Neptune. Batman's on the scene already, and Red Tornado suits up to join him. He even takes a gift with him for Batman. Batman, meanwhile, is attacking the hula hoop sized saucers by leaping on top of them and stabbing them with batarangs. You might ask if such brutality means that Batman has some kind of prejudice against aliens, but I don't think so. After all, his best friend's an alien.

Batman continues to blow up saucers, and Red Tornado joins in. The two begin to make short work of the saucers while discussing the fact that Neptune is uninhabited, even in the DC Universe. Batman has a hunch, and asks Tornado to search his database for Christmas movies featuring aliens, and he comes across "Holiday for Neptunians." It seems as though the footage in the transmission was taken directly from that movie. With this knowledge, the rest of the saucers are taken out with even more disregard for alien life, what with there being no alien life in the saucers. Afterwards, Batman analyzes the rubble, discovering that the saucers were just plastic toys the whole time. The manufacturer's stamp identifies the toys as being made by the villainous Fun Haus.

As if on cue, Fun Haus descends from the sky, riding a life-sized saucer. Banter is exchanged, and Fun Haus tosses a doll (one that looks like the minor Batman:TAS villain "Baby Doll") at Batman. He catches it, and her head spins around and her eyes flash a countdown.

Batman: "It's a bomb!"

I hear some days you just can't get rid of them. Red Tornado floats it high into the air with his wind powers, and it explodes harmlessly over the city. He insists that they can't let Fun Haus ruin Christmas, and tells Batman about his desire to feel Christmas Spirit.

Batman: "It's overrated."

In response, Red Tornado hands Batman his gift. He opens it up, finding a "World's Greatest Detective" mug inside. The gift sends him into a black-and-white flashback of when he was but a lad. He rushes to his gift underneath the Christmas tree, and turns into a little Adrian Monk when he measures the dimensions, feels the weight, and shakes it to figure out what it is. He opens it up.... and the flashback ends.  In the present, Red Tornado is standing uncomfortably close to him, telling Batman that he doesn't sense anything in Batman, and can't feel it in himself, either.

Red Tornado: "There should be a tingling sensation, correct?" 
Batman: "When you start tingling, I'd see a repairman."

They go off to find Fun Haus as the town basically goes back to normal. The mess gets cleaned up, and people walk in the streets without fear. A couple kids go up to the local Santa and ask if he has any "Presto Playpal Action Figures" left. Santa responds with a hearty HO HO HOOOOO. Santa also seems to be a ventriloquist, because he doesn't even move his lips.

Up in the sky, Red Tornado asks Batman why he doesn't like Christmas. Batman deflects the question and gets distracted by someone dressed as Santa shoving past people in the town below. Batman swoops down and tells Santa "Go home, you're drunk." (Actually, he tells him he's had too much eggnog, but same thing.) Santa counters with his HO HO HOOOOO, and also by uppercutting the two heroes. Batman blows up the robotic Santa in what is actually a pretty disturbing image for this show, and an army of robo-Santas appears behind them. Fun Haus' face appears on a monitor coming out of one.

Fun Haus: "Gee. That won't give kids nightmares, will it?"

The duo begins disabling the Santas, who aren't so much attacking people as just destroying toys. Meanwhile, the two kids talking to "Santa" end up as unwilling passengers in his runaway sleigh. Batman throws a batarang to unleash one of the reindeer, and rides it to their rescue.

"No more reindeer games, Fun Haus."
He punches the robo-Santa's head off, and tells the kids to pretend they didn't see that. Unfortunately, the sleigh 's gone out of town, and right off a cliff by this point. Thankfully, Red Tornado saves them.

Later, back in town, Red Tornado asks about a crying kid, only to be told that he's just crying because he wants a "Presto Playpal."  Batman flashes back to where we left off, opening his gift to find... a nutcracker. Bruce's dad, Thomas, tells Bruce about how it's a family heirloom that was given to him by his grandfather. Bruce, however, throws the nutcracker against the wall, upset that he didn't get the swashbuckler action figure he wanted. The nutcracker breaks, Bruce storms off, Thomas grows visibly sad, and Alfred dutifully picks up the pieces of the heirloom. Back in the present, the duo investigates a transmission from Fun Haus. He calls them the "best playpals" he's ever had, and gives them one more game.

Fun Haus: "'Twas the night before Christmas, and I've hidden a bomb. And if you don't find it, all won't be calm."

Another one? Geez. They look for it all night, but they don't find it. Meeting back up around sunrise, they surmise that there wasn't any bomb, and Fun Haus was trying to distract them. Red Tornado notes that it's Christmas morning, and hopes that they both get what they wish for most, causing Bruce to flash back again.  He and his parents are walking out of a theatre playing "The Mark of Zorro." Uh-oh.

Thomas: "I know it wasn't the swashbuckler toy you wanted, but your mom and I thought a swashbuckler movie would be the next best thing. Did you like it?"

A grumpy Bruce doesn't answer. A disheartened Thomas leads his wife and son back to the car. They step into the shadow of an alley. Two shots ring out, and Bruce calls for his parents before we fade back to the present.

Batman: "Sometimes, what you wish for most... is the one thing you can never have."

Noticing the Fun Haus logo on the Presto Playpal posters, Batman springs into action. Meanwhile, throughout the town, the Presto Playpals are breaking the "Andy's Coming" rule and come to life. Naturally, they start ransacking the houses in town.

They load all the ill-gotten booty into a truck to Fun Haus' glee when Batman and Red Tornado show up. At Fun Haus' command, the toys all merge into a Megazord giant Playpal, with Fun Haus piloting.

He begins mayhemming, destroying a water tower, and Red Tornado springs into gear, demanding that Fun Haus stop his rampage. RT opens up a can of tornado, using more power than ever before to stop the giant robot. He destroys the robot, but the process has made him begin to short out heavily.

Red Tornado: "Ah. I am feeling a strange tingling sensation."

Then he explodes. Batman salvages his head, and Fun Haus is taken away by the cops. STAR Labs shows up and wheels away a partially-rebuilt Red Tornado.

Red Tornado: "Observation: It was an amazing feeling, Batman."

Well, let's hope that this power surge didn't pull a reverse-Johnny 5 and turn a peaceful robot into a war machine. The Batmobile remotely drives up to Batman, and he hops in, noticing a gift on the seat. He opens it up, finding the nutcracker, fixed like it had never been broken.

Batman: "Merry Christmas to you too, Alfred."

But his crimey-wimey detector notices stuff and goes ding.

Batman: "But crime doesn't take a holiday. And neither do I."

He speeds off, and the episode ends. Do you have feels? I have feels. Let's discuss them.

No comments:

Post a Comment