Monday, October 1, 2007

THE BATMAN: The Batman/Superman Story

THE BATMAN is a strange show. Every single season, it morphs into something different from the season before. It's as if the suits at Warners are disappointed the show isn't doing as well as their projections, so each year they throw something new into the Batcave and hope it sticks.

Season One featured a modern-kewl "year three" Batman and tried to go for a moody action adventure. It was rather generic. Season Two changed the theme song into a punchier surf-riff evoking the 60s TV show and upped the ante on villains. It was quantity over quality with many episodes featuring multiple adversaries. Season Three introduced Batgirl and Comissioner Gordon, rejecting the toon-created cops and the idea of Batman as a loner. Season Four brought in Robin (fresh from the cancelled TEEN TITANS) and the series became "Batman Family." Now, in season five, we've got the whole Justice League teaming up with Bats in "Brave and the Bold" type of adventures.

The problem is, each of the incarnations pales to most anything envisioned by Bruce Timm and company. For over ten years, Timm and his crew brought the DC characters to life with style and flair - sometimes even improving on the source material. I must admit, season four had some sparks of life (injecting some new writers in the mix, I might add) with episodes like "The Everywhere Man", "Strange New World", "Artifacts" and "Seconds" - any of which could stand beside some of the BATMAN" THE ANIMATED SERIES episodes of the 90s. "Seconds" was a particularly unique and moving episode.

Season Five begins with a Batman/Superman team up. Comic fans have seen this done many times before. The episode even echoed the 3-part "World's Finest" episode of SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES in many ways. It was on par with most of what we've seen in season four. That is, the show has become watchable at last. Of course, it doesn't hurt when you have Andrea Romano directing the voices and bringing in George Newburn, Dana Delaney and Clancy Brown to reprise the voices of Superman, Lois & Lex. Good episodes. Good start to season five.

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