Going Through The DCAU Part Forty-Three

It’s time for Bat-shenanigans with Jimmy and Tom!

This time around, we cover the New Batman Adventures episodes “Joker’s Millions,” “Growing Pains,” and “Love is a Croc”!

“Joker’s Millions”

The Joker just inherited a very large sum of money and has decided to give up his life of crime. How can that go wrong?

jimmy:  I liked the episode and it had an interesting set up, but it just seemed very out of character for the Joker.

tomk:  It was more of a comedic episode, and the Joker just ain’t funny.

But hey, here’s someone else who, if he went straight, Batman wouldn’t believe it!

jimmy:  Would you?

tomk:  No. But I do dig the idea the Joker won’t mess with the IRS.

jimmy:  Maybe that’s a US thing. But I thought the whole thing was so contrived. Joker wouldn’t be living in poverty and worry about money. Joker wouldn’t be worried about the IRS. I know it made for good fun and some nice gags in the show, but it really never worked for me from a Joker standpoint.

tomk:  The only people known to have beaten the IRS is the Church of Scientology.

The IRS has a…reputation in this country.

jimmy:  No one wants to see the Tax Man coming, but would any other incarnation of the Joker not only not kill him, but be afraid and rushing to pay them back?

tomk:  Remember: failure to pay his taxes is how the government got Al Capone.

This was just a humorous episode. This is probably the only time we’ll see Harley get this angry at Mistah J.

jimmy:  I know I have to let it go. It was a good episode. Harley’s revenge was great. Fake Harley was great. Our first look at the redesigned Penguin was…uh…great?

tomk:  That’s a more classic Penguin. He sums up his new life well with “Living well is the best revenge.”

But hey, actress Maggie Wheeler as Fake Harley. She had one really prominent TV role. Here it is:

jimmy:  Haha, yes. I noticed that’s who it was. She was good as Fake Harley. Was an interesting line up of wannabes.

tomk:  Maybe Joker should have gone with the fat guy.

jimmy:  I did find the Joker’s commentary interesting as he went down the line. “Too fat.” “Too old.” Etc. but when he got to the last guy he just says “No”. Maybe it’s just the world we live in today that it stood out to me as a very “we want to be politically sensitive with what we say here” moment.

tomk:  I think the joke was more the one guy in line he stops and actually thinks about for a second.

The answer was probably obvious. He wanted a female Harley. But hey, that guy went all out anyway.

jimmy:  Yes. And he just picks a Harley clone anyway. Even the henchmen (can’t remember his name now) asks “why don’t you just use all your money and expensive lawyers to free Harley?” and it’s the one time Joker is concerned about money. I think the shot before this he was making airplanes out of bills and throwing them from a car into the crowd.

tomk:  True, but having money, lots of it, actually did keep the Joker out of crime.

He’s just not the homicidal lunatic we’re used to. This is still a kid’s show.

And I say that as someone currently reading Scott Snyder’s “A Death of a Family” where Joker is running around with his own rotting face strapped over his skull.

jimmy:  I know. I know. I just keep thinking of him lighting the pile of money on fire in The Dark Knight.

tomk:  With the guy on top.

Fate unknown outside the deleted scenes.

jimmy:  Exactly.

That Joker worried not about IRS.

tomk:  That Joker would probably break the one who’s scared of the Tax Man.

jimmy:  But, yes, it’s a kids show, so it is what it is.

tomk:  True.

I mean, otherwise Harley would have died in that washing machine.

jimmy:  So the laundry shoots empty directly into the washing machines? That’s got to be a bad idea.

tomk:  Well, it saves time. Who turned the machine on?

jimmy:  Probably Ivy. 🙂

tomk:  Ivy should have been happy. Harley was finally going to give that clown what he deserved.

jimmy:  Ivy knows that come next episode all will be back to the way it was 22 minutes earlier.

tomk:  Then why fight it?

jimmy:  One thing I found funny was that the Joker got the inheritance letter at his fleabag motel. So, the United States Postal Service can find the Joker’s hideout but Batman or the police cannot?

tomk:  I…had not noticed that.

Good observation!

Another reason not to mess with the bureaucrats.

jimmy:  Well, if I let the odd characterization of the Joker go, this really is a great episode. Anything else to add?

tomk:  You know what? Not really. It’s a lighthearted episode where we see even when he’s trying to be law-abiding, the Joker is basically just obnoxious.

What about you, Jimmy?

jimmy:  Nope. I think that’s it from me on this one.

tomk:  In that case, let’s go the complete opposite direction on tone with the next one…

 

“Growing Pains”

Robin befriends a terrified young girl with amnesia, wandering the streets of Gotham alone! What is her dark secret?

jimmy:  Good episode, even if I did figure out the villain and the plot twist within the first two minutes.

tomk:  Actually, I thought this one was one of the creepier episodes so far. If we accept, as Robin does, that Annie is a separate, independent being, then she most certainly dies at the end.

jimmy:  That was tragic. But was she really an independent being or just thought she was? And is there a difference?

tomk:  Here’s what we can say for sure about Annie: she did not want to go back to Clayface.

That suggests some level of autonomy. Clayface had no control over her.

Not like, say, those kids he made in the Christmas episode.

jimmy:  This is true.

tomk:  She was quite afraid of him until Robin was in danger.

jimmy:  And then willingly sacrificed herself.

tomk:  If she was Clayface, she was a better person than Clayface, who seems to have devolved into a smash and grab thief at this point.

jimmy:  Yes. He was a more complex and sympathetic character previously. He’s even a “hero” nowadays in Detective Comics.

tomk:  It could be pointed out he didn’t quite remember who he was. The episode here picks his story up from his last (non-Christmas) appearance when he fell apart in the ocean.

Whether he would have stayed a smash-and-grab thief is…debatable. Batman stopped him before he could go much further than that.

jimmy:  Well, in the Christmas story he was a shoplifter. Less smashing but more grabbing.

tomk:  See, he learned some subtly. In the older episodes, he mostly stole to pay for the experimental stuff to try and cure himself. He doesn’t even seem interested in that any more.

But cripes, he’s now powerful enough to make an autonomous drone, for lack of a better word, that can wander off and not lose its shape. Remember when he couldn’t hold a shape of his own for more than a few minutes?

jimmy:  You have to wonder what was in that chemical waste he ended up in and how many three eyed fish were near there.

tomk:  Batman should probably look into ocean pollution around this area. If it can warp Clayface, who knows what else it could do before Aquaman finds out and comes to take a look?

jimmy:  And no one wants that guy around.

tomk:  Presactly!

jimmy:  Well, maybe Watson. Or Lisa Bonet.

tomk:  I like Aquaman when he’s done right.

Grant Morrison on JLA for example.

But…

This is Batman’s show.

jimmy:  I think this was Robin’s show.

tomk:  Well, Robin can jump out of a car in the middle of busy traffic without having to worry about any secret identities.

jimmy:  True. How old is Tim anyway? Gordon calls him a teenager, but he’s obviously way younger than Dick Grayson, who was in college in the original series.

tomk:  I dunno. Maybe 13?

I don’t think they say.

His voice does sound like he maybe hit puberty.

jimmy:  Old enough to crush on that girl at the very least.

tomk:  Well, gee, I watch The Simpsons where ten year old Bart has had more girlfriends than I have. Eight year old Lisa isn’t far behind when it comes to how many times she’s fallen in love.

jimmy:  Yeah, but that’s a cartoon. We can’t expect that to be realistic.

tomk:  How silly of me.

I’ll just hold my shapeshifting supervillains to a higher standard of realism.

Say, can Clayface shoot off endless amounts of himself? Dude has limitless mass. That may be a more impressive superpower than shapeshifting.

jimmy:  It has always seemed like he could, or could have himself broken up into any number of pieces and being them back together. Which makes the creation of Annie and his inability to “reclaim” her, all the odder and creepier.

tomk:  He is stronger now. More chemicals.

You know, chemicals don’t always do that.

jimmy:  Silly Mayor West. You can’t expose yourself to toxic waste, it has to be some kind of accident.

tomk:  Exactly. It never works if you do it on purpose.

jimmy:  I found this episode had a very anime look and feel to it. I’m not sure why. Maybe Annie’s design, and definitely something about the opening fight sequence with Robin and the biker gang.

tomk:  Clayface tends to bring that out when the animation is sharp given how he changes shape.

jimmy:  Could be. And Clayface is always using a tentacle-like attack when fighting. And we know Anime loves some good tentacles.

tomk:  Tentacles are easier to make than opposable thumbs. And a lack of bones means swinging around can grab stuff easier.

Let’s not think too hard about tentacles and Annie.

jimmy:  Well, what else can we talk about besides the surprising lack of Kirk Cameron jokes so far?

tomk:  I think the problem for us, Jimmy, is these Batman episodes have largely been pretty good. They may come across as formulaic in certain aspects, but overall there’s a high level of quality going into these episodes. What was the weakest episode so far? The Christmas episode? The introduction of the new Robin?

We’ve seen that good episodes tend not to produce a lot of conversation. Now, I’ve seen all these before, and I can assure you they aren’t all this good. We have a few weaker episodes still to go. We’ve just been lucky so far.

jimmy:  I guess “The Clock King Strikes Back” is coming up.

Or The Sewer King. They both suck.

tomk:  Um, neither of them.

If you are looking to move on, well…I apologize in advance for the next episode.

jimmy:  Haha. Well, I think I covered what I needed to say. If you’re ready we can.

tomk:  You’ve been warned.

“Love Is a Croc”

Batman has problems when the outcast villains of Killer Croc and Baby-Doll strike!

tomk:  So, there were only 24 episodes in this last batch, and obviously that means all of Batman’s classic enemies need to appear at least once. There are some new villains coming, many in the next few episodes, but this is basically our Killer Croc episode. And, for some reason, there’s Baby-Doll.

jimmy:  So who wrote in and asked for another Baby-Doll episode?

tomk:  Um…Steve Gerber? He got the writing credit.

jimmy:  Steve “Howard the Duck” Gerber?

tomk:  The very same.

jimmy:  Well, that does explain a few things anyway.

tomk:  The generally cynical tone, perhaps? Love is a crock as the title says.

jimmy:  That’s very true.

You know, the first act and the majority of the third act are actually pretty good since they are mostly just a Croc/Batman brawl. It’s the middle section that I found, using the description you used for the last episode, creepy.

tomk:  Baby-Doll just doesn’t see why Croc isn’t interested in her romantically.

jimmy:  Yeah, but then she goes full Baby-Doll (and you never go full Baby-Doll) getting on with all the baby talk, etc, in contrast to the angry “normal” woman working at the hotel at the beginning.

tomk:  You and I disagreed on Baby-Doll the first time around, where I liked the somewhat critical look at Hollywood’s treatment of child stars, but this episode lacked that, treating Baby-Doll as a regular gimmick villain with a childhood motif.

jimmy:  Yes. And not even a good one. And during the heists you can see how it worked to their advantage, but staying “in character” while down in their sewer lair, etc, was just, awkward.

tomk:  And creepy. No wonder Croc went for easily-impressed bimbos.

jimmy:  I used awkward so as not to overuse creepy, but yes, creepy as hell.

tomk:  Did you notice they recast Baby-Doll?

jimmy:  I noticed it was Loraine Newman, but didn’t know if it was a re-cast. I did notice that Croc had a new voice…and a much more Croc like redesign. At least he is green now.

tomk:  As in the comics, Croc looks more like his namesake with every new look.

But yes, Newman was a replacement for actress Alison LaPlaca.

And wrecking or repairing a nuclear reactor is easy! Child-sized criminals can figure it out with crayons and Batman can leave Batgirl to fix them on her own.

jimmy:  I think she uses the Homer Method.

tomk:  Eenie meanie miney moe?

jimmy:  Exactly

tomk:  But here’s the thing: regardless of how you or I felt about Baby-Doll the first time around, she can only do so much as a Batman villain. She’s one of the few original villains not to migrate to regular comics. And why should she? The kid thing is just weird, even if it is a commentary on the fates of people like Gary Coleman. She looks like a kid and is so young that even Robin couldn’t actually get rough with her. She’s just nearly impossible to deal with as a fictional character.

But, of course, she was the smart one in her partnership with Croc.

jimmy:  This redesigned Croc seemed smarter (though not necessarily smart) than his previous “hit him with a big rock” personality

tomk:  But he’ll still gobble down whole chickens.

jimmy:  Only two. He’s not an animal.

tomk:  True. Mostly.

But here’s a question: what did Baby-Doll see in Croc besides an outcast that she was so into him?

jimmy:  I really think that was it. She felt they shared a common bond over how they are treated by everyone else. Whereas she saw potential there for that to spark romance, Croc, like the rest of us, just saw a creepy little kid.

tomk:  And the rest of us look at Croc and see a guy that would be a major creep even if he did look human.

jimmy:  Perhaps. And he’s more crook than sympathetic in this incarnation.

tomk:  Was he ever sympathetic? The closest he came was in the circus freaks episode, but he basically was lying his ass off in that one.

jimmy:  Maybe I am overstating things, but like many Batman villains he just seemed like a “normal” guy with the worst case of eczema you’ve ever seen. In this one he seemed more like a muscle bound mobster.

tomk:  Isn’t he also being sent to a regular prison instead of Arkham?

jimmy:  Well, a regular prison would have a 200 gallon swim tank for him to be contained in. You think Arkham is made of money?

tomk:  They can hold other bad guys, so…maybe?

jimmy:  I’m surprised Gotham even has need to a normal prison. For henchmen I suppose. Anyone else ends up in Arkham.

tomk:  Well, Penguin and Catwoman are both considered sane.

jimmy:  Do they end up in Arkham?

tomk:  Penguin didn’t. He was in regular prison the one time we saw him locked up.

jimmy:  Fair enough. I was trying to remember who was in Arkham when they put Batman on trial.

tomk:  Croc was. No Penguin and no Catwoman, though I don’t think she’s ever really been locked up for very long on this show.

jimmy:  So, here’s the big question…is this the last we see of Baby-Doll?

tomk:  Yes.

jimmy:  Fantastic

And have we ever seen someone blatantly drunk like the hotel guest on this show or Superman before?

tomk:  Was he drunk or just as asshole?

Too many assholes cause reformed criminals to backslide…

jimmy:  He sure seemed drunk to me. He could barely stand and talked about losing their hotel room key when he fell down. It just caught me a little odd to have someone coming home from a bender on a cartoon. Unlike having Bender on a cartoon, but that’s a whole different audience demographic.

tomk:  We’ll save that for the Futurama Rewatch that’s never coming.

And yes, probably drunk, but what about the singers in the diner at the end of the Christmas episode? The ones modeled after Bruce Timm and Co.?

jimmy:  Hmmm…maybe drunk, but not as blatant. And I was thinking about rewatching Futurama, since I got nothing else to do.

tomk:  You may be on your own there.

jimmy:  At this rate, I’ll be starting in 2029.

tomk:  Well, Jimmy, we both know you hated Baby-Doll, and even if there wasn’t much drunkenness confirmed, we can say for certain that a woman trapped in a small child’s body looking for…romance…certainly doesn’t appear in children’s cartoons all that often. I know you’re no fan of this sort of character, but do you have anything else to add beyond the fact you are so very, very glad to never see this Cindy Brady On Crack character again.

jimmy:  Well, I was prepared for the worst, but I still think if you remove the middle act, it’s not so bad. I love your “who thought nuclear reactors would be so complicated” observation. And I think that’s about it from me on this one.

That’s it for a lot of people, Jimmy.

NEXT TIME:  Tom and Jimmy will return soon with discussions on “Torch Song,” “The Ultimate Thrill,” and “Over the Edge”!  Stay tuned!

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