Batman: The Animated Series

The New Batman Adventures Episode 1- Holiday Knights
harkovast at 4:44PM, April 4, 2010
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Alright, time to bite the bullet and take on one of the episodes from the “Gotham Knights” episodes, in order to complete my Clay-Face episode round up.
These are controversial with the fan base, but I will try to take each one on its own merits.
The first episode I will deal with is Holiday Knights, which is actually divided into unrelated parts, so I will deal with each a separate mini review and then give a summary at the end.


Part 1- December 22nd

Plot Synopsis
Harly Quinn and Poison Ivy use special lipstick to mind control Bruce Wayne and force him to take them on a shopping spree. Bruce manages to get away by appearing to die falling down a lift shaft but then returns as Batman to bring the two villains to justice.

Highlights

Villains

Harly and Ivy are always a fun partnership, with the more serious Ivy and carefree Harly complimenting each other well (as well as providing a dream for every slash fan fic writer out there!)
The two seem rather down on their luck at the start of the episode, living in a run down flat at Christmas time. Ivy has created a new toxin which leaves victims unable to resist instructions. This substances seems to work by being absorbed through the skin, as it is applied in the form of lipstick and then delivered to the victim with a kiss.
The characters appearances have been altered for the new Gotham Knights Episodes.
Ivy doesn’t look radically different, but I was very unhappy with the new look on Ivy. Why is she green? I suppose it might be a side effect of her weird plant related experiments, but in her outfit it makes her look like some sort of woodland elf, as opposed to the classic “forces sweet heart” look she had before.
There is a strange trend in Gotham Knights episodes that all evil women have weird coloured skin when in their costumes. Harly has a white face as before, but now poison Ivy is green and catwoman is blue! Very strange!
I rather liked the sequence in the toy store though, Ivy taunting Batman with the silhouette of Harly grinning behind her looked really cool.

Continuity Nod
When we first see Bruce, he speaking with Veronica Vreeland (a regularly recurring minor character) when he is set upon by a small crowd of eager young women, all seeking to win the heart of Gotham’s most eligible bachelor.
Some of these are the same group of women that were hanging on Bruce in Mask of the Phantasm.
I noticed this point because one of them is Bambi, who has strangely black eyes that are very distinctive and kind of disturbing!

Batcrap Crazy
Ivy expresses a contempt for the concept of Christmas trees, showing her strange plant fixated world view. She also expresses her desire to be in power and control very directly through her use of the lipstick toxin. The idea of a man forced to be subservient to her is clearly very entertaining for her.
Harly seems light hearted and cheerful, but also expresses a very casual attitude to the realisation that Bruce Wayne is dead. After initial shock, her and Ivy simply laugh off the event. Loveable as Harly may be, it shouldn’t be doubted that she is disturbingly psychotic!

BAT BLOOD!
Ivy and Harly talk quite openly about having killed Bruce Wayne. In many cartoons the phrase “kill” or “death” is usually left out.


Holy Shitty moments Batman!
There are a few here.
Why doesn’t the lipsticks affect Ivy and Harly? They put it on their lips and Bruce Wayne is kissed on the lips, so why aren’t they overly suggestible? Ivy’s super powerful immune system would almost certainly be resistant, but Harly also puts on the lipstick (at Ivy’s instruction, no less!) Was Ivy making a cunning plan to make Harly suggestible? (You can make your own dirty jokes about why!) or did the writers just mess up?
When Bruce was kissed, there was no sign of lipstick on him. When the driver was controlled, he had a clear black kiss mark on his cheek. Why didn’t Bruce get lipstick on him?
If Ivy has mind control lipstick now, why does she never use it again? Isn’t that a bit of an awesome ability to only use once and then forget about? Also, why does she use something so powerful for such a trivial purpose. Imagine how effectively she could punish polluters and criminals with something like that!
For me, the musical sequence with Harly and Ivy went on too long and was a bit too silly in tone. That’s just a matter of taste, but I thought it was over doing things.
How come Ivy and Harly wear their super villains costumes during the crime spree? The point of the crime is that no one will know Bruce is buying things against his will, why doesn’t anyone raise the alarm that he is being escorted by two known super villains?
I cant help but shake the feeling that since the villains are two sexy women, their crime is treated as funny and loveable, rather then cruel and twisted (as it actually is!)
Imagine a male villain mind controlling a young woman for his own advantage…no wait, you don’t have too! Mad Hatter did that in his first appearance! And it was most certainly not played for laughs! It was SERIOUSLY creepy! Holy double standards Batman! I would say that if a woman mind controlled me and stole my money, that would not be funny at all!
Bambi’s freaky black eyes are always worth a negative mention! Is that woman meant to be blind? What is the deal there?
And why the hell is Poison Ivy GREEN?!?

Summary
A light and amusing little sequence, with some cool action in the toy store battle. It is a bit too short and too simple to really give much character insight unfortunately. It is also in places a little too silly though, especially since mind controlling people to work as your slaves and forcing them to give you their money is not actually a funny thing to do.

Final Bat Score
2 out of 5
(This section came very close to a 1 due to sexism, but since it is an enjoyable little romp, I’ll forgive it.)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 4:45PM, April 4, 2010
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posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
Part 2- December 24th

Plot Synopsis

Clayface has split himself into four smaller parts, each appearing like a child, in order to pick pockets.
Detective Montoya, Bullock and Batgirl manage to bring him to justice by getting him onto an ice rink and then electrocuting him with some Christmas lights.

Highlights

Villains

Clayface returns, once again voiced by Ron Pearlman (hooray!)
The episodes are actually not in chronological order, so we get to see Clayface return in this episode before finding out why he isn’t dead.
Anyway, Clayface has developed a new power, so he can split into multiple pieces. That can operate independently.
His reasons for wanting to steal the money he is shop lifting are never explained.
I don’t like the redesign of Clayface. Previously he looked slimy and unstable, as if he was coming apart all the time. Now he looks like (and there is no nice way to say this) a man made of dried turds.

Bullock Bonus
Some classic Bullock in this episode, as Gothams fattest detective (who seems to have gained a lot of weight before these Gotham Knights episodes) takes part in a stake out. He is dressed as a not very jolly Santa, with detective Montoya (she got promoted for the Gotham Knight episodes) as his elf. Bullock is charmingly unpleasant, making kids cry with his boorish behaviour.

Batcrap Crazy
Clayface appears arrogant and boastful about his power and contemptuous of normal humans.
We don’t really get any new insight into his character here thoug, he basically just appears as a monster villain to fight.
We get a much more interesting insight into Bullock, as he shows a moment of kindness, giving money to a young girl whose father he put in prison. Considering the way Bullock talks about Mike “Mad Dog” McSweeny. there can be little doubt he is a pretty fearsome criminal who entirely deserves to be put away, but it is interesting to see Bullock confronted with the sad realities his work creates, essential though that work may be.
Bullocks response shows that though he may be tough, rude, disgusting and open to questionable police methods, Detective Bullock is still a decent human being.

BAT BLOOD!
Batgirl gets slashed across the back with Clayface’s claws. We don’t see blood, but from her reaction we have to assume she was injured and you cant really get injured by blades without blood being drawn!
I suppose this is as good a place as any to talk about Batgirls new appearance. Her new outfit is pretty cool and distinctive, rather then her previous outfit which really was just a reworked version of Batman’s one.
The only problems with it are that the mask does seem to cover much of her face (how the hell can people not tell its her! Especially since she talks in her normal voice!) and the tiny little cape just looks a bit silly.
I will save my deeper thoughts on Batgirl for another time though!


Holy Shitty moments Batman!
Clayfaces death in Mudslide was awesome and tremendously dramatic. It was powerful, moving, sad and morally complex.
After you kill off a character like that you need a damn good reason for bringing him or her back.
So why was Clayface resurrected? Why was the drama undermined?
The whole death sequence was rendered meaningless just so he could appear as a big angry monster to fight Batgirl and the cops!
Why is he stealing anyway? What does he need the money for? He is a shape changing mud man! What the hell does he spend money on? Does he eat?
The only new thing this brings to the character is being able to split into bits and still operate. Yes, because every time I saw Clayface my first thought was “damn, he needs more powers!”
You could have replaced Clayface in this scene with a gang of human pickpockets who pull out weapons and become dangerous and the basic story works just as well. The Clayface character is totally wasted here. Even his splitting up is only used before he reveals he is Clayface, so nothing really comes of that either!

At one point the white lining on Bullocks hat disappears when he turns to Montoya.

Bullock as Santa and Montoya as his elf is funny. But why is Montoya dressed in that preposterous mini skirt? She looks less like an elf and more like a strippergram! Couldn’t they at least give her some green tights? The spectre of sexism once again raises its ugly head…

I didn’t like that while Montoya cuffs Bullock on the head for his bad manners with the children (very amusing) she doesn’t congratulate him, or even comment, when he is nice to the McSweeny girl. At the very least, I would have though she would have made a comment to rib Bullock a little for showing a softer side for once.
Her failure to react to this after her reaction earlier, makes her seem rather unpleasant.

Shooting at the Santa to make the wires fall and shock Clayface seemed like a bit of ropey plan. The chances of their bullets causing it to fall down, and then the falling cables falling in the right way to shock Clayface seems a bit unlikely.
Also, it has been previously established that electricity cannot hurt Clayface (though possibly it can stun him) so the characters calmness once he is unconscious seems a bit foolhardy! This is exactly how Clayface escaped the first time Batman stopped him!
Those present were not involved in that episode, so they might not know, but as the viewer I am left unconvinced that Clayface has actually been incapacitated!
Mind you, previously we learned that water hurts Clayface, but here he falls in water with no ill effect, so who knows what hurts this guy anymore?

Finally, the joke at the end that Bullock has to clean up the evidence was a bit unclear. Is she implying he has to drag Clayface somewhere? He seems to act as though this will be either hard work or disgusting, a rather odd reaction to having to handle a super powered, psychotic shape shifter who could wake up at anytime and rip his spine out!

Summary
A trivial section, with very little substance or point.
It brings back Clayface and wastes him utterly, entirely invalidating the drama of his death.
The only thing that saves this from getting a 1 is that I really like some of Bullocks dialogue here and seeing him talk to the little girl was especially insightful.

Final Bat Score
2 out of 5

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 4:46PM, April 4, 2010
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posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
Part 3 December 31st and January 1st

Plot Synopsis

Joker sets out to start the new year with some mass murder using a stolen sonic weapon.
Batman and Robin foil his evil plan at the last minute.
Afterwards Batman meets with Gordon for a cup of coffee, a years tradition for them.

Highlights

Villains
The new joker looks like shit.
There, I said it.
What the hell did they do to him? What is up with his eyes? They used to be mad and staring, now they just look beady!
And where are his lips?
And why does he looks puny and skinny? He isn’t scary at all anymore!
I can prove that even the shows creators came to agree with me!
In the Batman Beyond movie Revenge of the Joker, in both the past and future sequences, Joker returns to his Batman the Animated Series face design, rather then the crappy Gotham Knights version.
They also mention regretting the change in the directors commentary on the Batman Superman crossover movie.
Fortunately, Joker is saved by the continuation of being voiced by Mark Hamill. His dialogue is, if anything, better then ever, as he gloats over his evil plans and Hamil delivers a fantastic performance. You can tell he loves playing this character and some how manages to let me over look his crappy appearance and enjoy his villainous plans.
Here he rather cleverly gives everyone present a joker mask, in order to make his own ghoulish grin blend in. As Batman observes, Joker has found the perfect hiding place but also fixed it so all his victims will die with a smile.
Joker is helped by three large thugs, Mo, Lar and Cur who are named after and have hair styles matching the three stooges. They have painted white faces and black body suits and prove dangerous in hand to hand combat due to their great size and strength. Presumably the three stooges names were given to them by the Joker, to amuse himself.


Batcrap Crazy
Joker is bonkers! Not only does he want to kill thousands of people, his desire for victory is such that he continues to let his plan go to fruition even though he and his minions are not wears protective ear phones at that point! His blood lust over rides any thoughts of self preservation!
Jokers mind is such that he is willing to die to complete a joke, as long as it is on his own terms and suitably glorious.
We get a nice insight into Gordon and Batman’s relationship as they meet in Joe’s Tavern for a brief chat and a cup of coffee. They don’t say much, but that is always the nature of their relationship. Gordon looks a lot older in the Gotham Knights episodes, the creators even saying jokingly in one commentary that he may have had prostate cancer! But time has passed, and Gordon isn’t immortal so the fact he looks smaller and more aged makes sense (even though it may be sad to see.)

BAT BLOOD!
Batman gets shot in the arm by Joker! Nasty!
Joker gets paid back with a huge metal bell landing on his arm (as Joker says himself “Ouch.”)
Joker also actually kills someone, all be it off camera. Doctor John Ericson is murdered so Joker can steal his sonic weapon. We also see a very grim photo of the doctors grinning corpse!


Holy Shitty moments Batman!
At one point one of Jokers minions is pushed into the crowd and the animation seems a bit off. How can such a big man fall into a crowd and not hit anyone?
Also the description of the sonic bomb “waves of hyper sound” just sounded a bit silly, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the Commissioner saying “unless you wear these special mufflers.” Something about the phrase special mufflers is just hard to take seriously.

Who is Joe and why is he trusted enough by Batman to attend their every year at the same time? If anyone ever found about these meetings, you would have super villains round the block trying to destroy the place with Joe, Batman and the Commissioner inside!

I know Batman wanted to make a quick exit, but he must have burned himself badly chugging coffee that quickly!

Batman picks up the coffee cup with his injured arm, he should really have used his unhurt arm as that would have really hurt!
(Batman obviously suffered a lot during that meeting with Gordon!)

Summary
A fun, exciting plot pitting Batman against Joker in a cool battle that is also followed with a nice sequence little with Gordon. The best part of this episode by far.

Final Bat Score
3 out of 5

Final Summary for the Whole Episode
Largely pretty weak. The sequences are too short to be meaningful and there are numerous dumb bits and sexist elements, plus the pointless return of Clayface that serves only to undermine previous episodes!
The final sequence makes up for a lot though and saves this episode from the scrap heap.
Final Final Bat Score
2 out of 5

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
EssayBee at 8:07PM, April 12, 2010
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I'll have to watch this one again, but I remember the first and last parts and totally forgot about the Clayface segment. From that fact alone, I'd have to think your review was spot on.

As for your wondering about Harley not being affected by the lipstick . . . I would guess that Ivy inoculated her against it, just as she inoculated her against a variety of poisons and toxins in their previous team-ups (or, because of her previous inoculations, Harley may have already been immune to the lipstick's effects).
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 10:52AM, April 13, 2010
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posts: 5,198
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Ah yes, a good point! Since a previous episode showed her getting innoculated I will give this episode a pass on that one. But the fact that my list of Bat-shit elements is so long is an indication of how the Gotham Knights episodes got off to a less then glorious start.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM

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