Going Through The DCAU Part Thirteen

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Yet again, Tom and Jimmy are back to work their way through the DCAU.

This week, we’re covering the Batman the Animated Series episodes “Tyger, Tyger,” “Moon of the Wolf,” and “Day of the Samurai”.

“Tyger, Tyger”

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Catwoman is kidnapped by a mad geneticist with a thing for cats. Can Batman rescue her from his jungle island and giant cat-man?

tomk:  First question from me: what the hell was that?

jimmy:  I thought it was kinda touching…for a story about Dr Moreau and his cat people.

tomk:  It seemed like a very weird episode.

jimmy:  With this, H.A.R.D.A.C., and the next episode, maybe they were experimenting or branching out as they were much more out of the comfort zone that the series had established to this point.

tomk:  I’m not so sure. Catwoman episodes seem to need an extra bad guy thrown into the mix, and the extra bad guys are rarely all that memorable. Heck, some like Milo and Red Claw just outright suck.

jimmy:  Agreed since Catwoman isn’t “evil”. But what I meant was that for a show that’s been mostly grounded in “reality”, now we are inundated with cyborgs, cat people and werewolves.

tomk:  We’re also watching a show that already had a shapeshifter, a half-aquatic alligator man, and whatever Joker gas is made of.

jimmy:  I meant to put reality in quotes… 🙂

tomk:  So say we all.

But this episode seemed like a retread of the Man-Bat episode, subbing cats for bats. Heck, they even gave Kurt Langstrom a cameo.

jimmy:  At least we didn’t get Bruce and his horde of cats he keeps to experiment on.

tomk:  Nope, instead we got a bunch of cat monkeys.

jimmy:  And flying cats. And a gorilla who thinks it’s 1939…but, given the design of the show, I guess that’s to be expected.

tomk:  I just found the episode itself to be a so-so retread of other stuff, with Catwoman shoe-horned it to maybe appeal to people who like certain sorts of Japanese anime.

But I did see one noteworthy thing.

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Jim Cummings voiced this character for “Taz Mania”.

I figured Tyrgus was voiced by Frank Welker, who’s the go-to guy for animals. He even voices Catwoman’s cat Isis. But no, it was another veteran voice actor, Jim Cummings, who was voicing a…similar character for another Warner Brothers TV series around that time.

jimmy:  I noticed Mr Cummings. He does a great job.

The episode once again shows the ineptitude of the GCPD…how could they not find that syringe that Batman spots in two seconds? It wasn’t even hidden, just there in plain sight at the location of the attack.

tomk:  I was amazed at the ineptitude of the mad scientist on William Blake’s poetry. “The Tyger” is actually way more appropriate for Tygrus than the episode makes it out to be, but simply reciting the first two lines (“Tyger, Tyger burning bright/In the forest of the night”) doesn’t tell anyone nearly enough. Blake’s poem goes on to describe the tyger as a fearsome, almost evil creature that seems more like something formed out of metal in a forge or factory, a nearly manmade horror. There’s nothing really cool about it, but apparently Mr. Scientist didn’t bother to learn anything past the second line. As an English teacher, I pick up on stuff like that, and quoting lines out of context doesn’t make a person sound any smarter.

jimmy:  You’re much more in a position to comment on that than me. I’ve heard of the poem, and know those first few lines, but that’s about it. They probably just used it because it had the word “tiger” in it.

tomk:  Oh, certainly. It’s a common technique: use the best known lines from something and not bother with the rest. It sounds like something a smart person would say, but if that guy was so smart, would he really be beating the giant cat man with a rolled-up newspaper?

jimmy:  And isn’t it Batman that quotes the poem?

tomk:  At the end of the episode, yes, but the doctor brought it up first.

But there’s a lot about this episode that doesn’t make sense.

Why does Catwoman, in her street clothes, go to the zoo at night? If she went during the day, like a normal person, you can bet no one would be drugging and dragging her off in the middle of a crowd.

jimmy:  That judge said she wasn’t to wear her costume anymore. She is just obeying the terms of her parole. :simple_smile:

tomk:  And basic genetics says you can’t change the number of chromosomes in a living creature’s cells. That means that unless cats and humans have the exact same number of chromosomes, then no matter how much of a cat person Catwoman was changed into, she and Tygrus were still different species. For a scientist who specializes in genetics, that guy sure didn’t know much about them.

jimmy:  Are you arguing about genetics on a Saturday morning cartoon show?

tomk:  We’ve argued everything else!

jimmy:  Fair enough. I thought the episode was ok. But I understand your complaints.

tomk:  It just seemed like they did a redo of the Man-Bat stuff, but with cats instead.

jimmy:  Shall we move on to something more plausible and reality grounded?

tomk:  Yes! Time for the werewolf and…aw, crap. Professor Milo.

“Moon of the Wolf”

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A werewolf is running loose in Gotham City. Can Batman stop it? And what does this have to do with Professor Milo and Bruce Wayne’s friend Anthony Romulus?

tomk:  This episode was kinda crazy.

First, Bullock caught a guy!

jimmy:  I just finished reading Batman #255, the inspiration for this story written by Len Wein who also wrote the episode. It is a very faithful adaptation, though the wolf is the more appropriately named Anthony Lupus.

tomk:  Oh, Romulus is a good name for a wolf if you know your Roman mythology.

Did he have a unibrow?

jimmy:  True enough. No unibrow. He looked like a straight Werewolf by Night ripoff in human and wolf form. (I don’t know which came first character wise.)

tomk:  I’m not sure it matters.

Though Wein may have had a hand in both characters.

jimmy:  Getting back to the guy Bullock caught…he really needs a new job.

tomk:  Well, prison snitch may work out for him.

jimmy:  He needs to get away from the zoo that’s for sure.

tomk:  I think Bullock took care of that.

Most employers don’t like people who steal things from the job.

jimmy:  Oh? I got a lot of paper clips to bring back.

tomk:  Probably a good idea. Might be a better idea if you borrowed a timber wolf or a moose.

jimmy:  Milo was the “mad scientist” in the book, too. It really was almost the same except for the part with Bullock and the wolf theft is only mentioned. The opening scene involves a woman stripping down and getting in a revealing night dress before being attacked by Mr Wolf and saved by Batman. Probably a little too racy to a kids show.

tomk:  Probably.

Did Milo seem to have problems with his jacket? Like how, in the same scene, he would go from wearing a brown jacket to a white jacket to no jacket at all?

jimmy:  Lol
Not that I noticed. Nor did Batman have a symbol on his chest that turned white for one scene or a magically appearing utility belt he never uses.

tomk:   How did Romulus gas Batman and not himself or Milo?

jimmy:  I wondered that too. Maybe he immune to the gas somehow because of his condition? And why not unmask him while he is out?

tomk:  No one ever does that.

Though speaking of unmasked Batman…man, what a segue..when Bruce and Anthony were working out, between Anthony’s unibrow and Bruce’s chunky look in that reddish sweatshirt, I kept thinking it was the adventures of Bert and Ernie At The Gym.

jimmy:  Lol. What was Bruce wearing? Trying to cover up his rippling #jenny30 abs probably.

tomk:  Certainly.

jimmy:  It was kind of an odd ploy anyway. If Batman shows up, I’ll donate to his charity. And Bats just strolls on in without a moments hesitation, like he couldn’t make the same donation 100 times over.

tomk:  Yeah, but then people would get suspicious.

jimmy:  Well, I just mean, he had no reason to actually go get the donation.

tomk:  You’re right. He should have sent Robin.

jimmy:  Haha

I liked the episode, but the convenient lightning strike at the end made me groan.

tomk:  It wasn’t bad. I think Milo kinda sucks as a villain, but the episode itself was as solid as a werewolf story can be.

jimmy:  A Frank Welker werewolf at that.

tomk:  Much better than a Jim Cummings Tygrus, through no fault of Cummings. Both are better, of course, than the Sewer King, the suckiest suck who ever sucked.

jimmy:  And Harry Hamilin had a quick turnaround playing Romulus after playing Kaiser in “Joker’s Wild”.

tomk:  Next week, Hamilin will play a sleazy guy asking Harley directions to Metropolis…or he won’t. That would be silly.

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tomk:  This thread is getting very silly. Perhaps we should stop on this one.

jimmy:  Sure. I think I’m done with it.

tomk:  OK. It’s Ninja Time.

“Day of the Samurai”

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When Kyodai Ken returns and kidnaps his old sensei’s best student, looking to exchange the woman for the touch of death, Batman must rescue the young girl and stop the ninja!

jimmy:  This episode played out like a mini-movie.

tomk:  I much preferred this one to Kyodai’s previous appearance. I think I saw this one first. The ninja seems like a much more legitimate opponent this time around.

jimmy:  For sure. It was really well written and paced. Like I said, felt like a little movie.

tomk:  And it had subtitles. I don’t know if that was real Japanese or not, but subtitles in a kid’s show?!

jimmy:  I know! That was one of the first things I noted too. Also added to the “movie-ness”.

tomk:  Did you know Kyodai’s kidnap victim returns in Batman Beyond as an old martial arts instructor?

jimmy:  I did not. Nice continuity.

tomk:  Yeah, like I said, I think I saw this episode first when this show was airing new back in the 90s. That’s probably why “Night of the Ninja” is so disappointing for me. I’d seen a much more impressive ninja already, not one who just wanted to rob Bruce Wayne and then got smacked around by Robin.

jimmy:  It makes sense from a “learned from his mistakes” standpoint I guess

tomk:  Or a “he was a lot more dangerous then we let on” standpoint.

jimmy:  My one nitpick about the episode was that the “touch of death” was rather conveniently placed right in the middle of the Batsymbol.

tomk:  Mine was the animation was a little goofy.

jimmy:  Yeah? I never really noticed. Anything specific?

tomk:  Exaggerated facial expressions…look specifically at Bruce’s face when Kyodai hits him with the touch of death, or just about expression the girl makes.

jimmy:  Your face would be exaggerated too if someone gave you the touch of death!

tomk:  Well, the episode did have a nice old samurai movie vibe. The coloring and the martial arts scenes could have stepped out of an old martial arts movie.

There didn’t seem to be a whole lot going on here. I mean, its a good episode, fun, though not great. Sure, some kids might have learned how to do the touch of death, but you can’t win them all. Anything to add, Jimmy?

jimmy:  No. I agree. A good episode, but nothing memorable that would thrust it into “Heart of Ice” territory or anything.

tomk:  Oh, let’s be fair. “Heart of Ice” is the gold standard. Nothing short of perfection is going to beat it. But there are lesser, still great episodes like “Almost Got ‘Im” and “Harley and Ivy” that this episode doesn’t quite measure up to either.

And hey, one of those two episodes will be in our next discussion block…

jimmy:  Sounds good. Let’s get to them.

NEXT TIME:  Jimmy and Tom work their way through “Terror in the Sky, “Almost Got ‘Im,” and “Birds of a Feather”.

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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