Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: Superman: TAS "Mxyzpixilated"

This episode is a classic, for multiple reasons. Yeah, this from the guy who unapologetically trashed the Impossible Man.

Firstly, it does an amazing job of rationalizing why Mr. Mxyzptlk appears every 90 days (dimensional alignments) and why getting him to say his name backward will send him back (self-imposed rules of a game). Not only that, but it gives us my preferred pronunciation of “Mxyzptlk.”

Originally, it was “Mix-yes-Pit-Tilk” (the P and T were reversed), then it became “Mix-Yez-Pit-Ill-Lick.” According to Super Friends, the pronunciation was “Mix-Ill-Plick” (which is where that joke in this episode came from), and this episode gives us “Mix-Yes-Spit-Lick,” which I feel compliments the lack of vowels in the name quite well.

And of course, he’s voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, which I may have wanted to mention earlier. You know, he’s actually pretty subtle in this role. Relatively speaking. He ratchets down from his usual screeching into dry wit, tempered by a Bugs Bunny-like pranksterishness.

The episode is rife with other Silver Age-inspired goodness, like jimmy Olsen becoming a turtle, the Kents’ cat Streaky temporarily becoming a flying Super-Pet, and Silver Age Jimmy Olsen foe Ms. Gsptlsnz appearing as Mr. Mxyzptlk’s lovely girlfriend, which was soon carried over to the comics.

This is definitely one of the best episodes of Superman: TAS. And yet, by all rights, I should hate this episode. I mean, it’s just the Impossible Man’s schtick again, right?
Wrong. Impossible Man’s schtick is just a lamer version of Mxyzptlk’s. What was that thing Superman said to Mxyzptlk?

Superman: “A game has rules. Your stunts are just random idiocy.”

And that’s why Mr. Myxyzptlk is a hundred times better than the Impossible Man. Impossible Man is random idiocy, but Mr. Mxyzptlk is a challenge. There are rules; it’s actually a battle of wits. Impossible Man is just annoying.

Mr. Mxyzptlk is a better character than Impossible Man because Mxyzptlk is easier to use in stories. He can actually pose an intellectual threat in his game of wits. Impossible Man’s villainy just boils down to how long the hero can put up with his crap.

Speaking of putting up with, if you have no tolerance for Gilbert Gottfried, you’ll probably dislike this episode. But if you can handle a toned-down Gilbert, then you can easily enjoy this classic.

See you next time, but I’ll leave off with this.

Impossible Man is just Mr. Mxyzptlk's cruel joke on the universe.

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