Jimmy and Tom are back for more DCAU cartoon talk.
This time around, they’ll be discussing the Batman Beyond episodes “Splicers,” “Earth Mover,” and “Joyride”.
Gotham’s newest teen fad is about to be outlawed! Can Batman save the DA when a creator of the gene splicing tech will do anything to stay in business?
jimmy: By the end of this, I wasn’t sure if I was watching Batman Beyond or Resident Evil: The Animated Series.
tomk: I didn’t know Ice T played a bull man in Resident Evil!
jimmy: Now you know!
The splicers were a cool concept…though how quickly they were changed back when hit by the antidote was suspect.
tomk: Are you saying the science is suspect?
jimmy: I guess it is the future…
tomk: Look, instant genetic rewrites will happen and be quickly outlawed by the district attorney. I’m not sure the law works that way.
jimmy: That said, the initial splicing seemed to be pretty fast acting…except on Terry…which seemed to take forever. Maybe because he was fighting becoming Man-Bat.
tomk: I fight my DNA all the time. I’m supposed to be shorter.
jimmy: Ha. You go, Tom!
tomk: I’ll tell you what, though…I don’t get the appeal of splicing.
jimmy: Agreed. But, we’re not teenagers.
tomk: Do most teens want horns and hooves? Who do they think they are? The Inhumans?
jimmy: That’s not a thing.
tomk: Never was.
jimmy: But, teens usually want to rebel and be different, so I can see it. Though it is extreme. But I’ve seen some people do some pretty weird things to their bodies in real life, so who’s to say? In general I agree with you though. I can see maybe the little features like the eyes at the beginning or something, but to turn into a full bull or snake man seems a bit much.
tomk: They were the extreme cases, though. And the bull dude said he wasn’t going to be normal again.
jimmy: He didn’t want to be normal. He changed back nice and quick once Terry shot him.
tomk: Ah, the power of science!
jimmy: Which run amok at the end…and then they killed (I’m assuming) another villain.
tomk: Well, we don’t see him again.
I blame Ace.
jimmy: Ace was awesome this episode.
Bow wow wow wow wow Bow wow wow wow Batdog!
tomk: Good Batdog.
jimmy: This episode was written by the Milk and Cheese comic creator Evan Dorkin. He also penned a couple of STAS episodes.
tomk: That sure explains a lot.
jimmy: You say that the main villain doesn’t return…does splicing?
tomk: Splicing does. Sort of. Not as a plot point but characters still use it.
jimmy: Like Chelsea’s eyes?
tomk: Nah. She goes back to normal. Chelsea just follows fads.
jimmy: That’s what I figured.
So I watched the DVD commentary for this one and it featured the usual suspects plus Will Friedle. He introduced himself as having “played Terry in the series”. Someone else added, “And Batman.” To which he responded, “No. Bruce is Batman.”
tomk: He knows his place.
jimmy: They talked a bit too about how this was supposed to be the new “kid friendly” show and how they have this giant monster that is beating up dogs, etc.
tomk: And body horror! Lots of body horror!
jimmy: Ironically, probably the most we’ve seen of Terry’s little brother…though all he wants to do is get spliced.
tomk: Matt McGinnis seems to be more important in the current comic series.
jimmy: Indeed. And a bit older.
tomk: Well, it’s set later than this show.
jimmy: True. Was nice to see that Barbara can still (albeit briefly) kick ass. Even the splicers gave her props.
tomk: And she seems less openly hostile to Terry. She’s more concerned now than disapproving.
jimmy: I guess it took some time to come to grips with their being a new Bat in town after all this time.
tomk: Maybe her problem isn’t with vigilantes but with Bruce.
jimmy: That wouldn’t be a shocking revelation.
tomk: She might just see Terry as some sort of hired goon.
jimmy: Perhaps. But he doesn’t seem the goon type.
tomk: Hired goons tend to change into bulls and snakes.
jimmy: Well, we’re talking Simpsons…anything else to add?
tomk: Let me think…Bruce is still Batman, Sam is back, Barbara is less hostile, Ice T has another reason to say F the police, Ace was a good dog…I think I’m good. You?
jimmy: Yup. Looks like you covered it.
tomk: In that case, let’s look at the creepiest bad guy the series may have ever created.
And for kids!
tomk: Oh, there was one other thing: the first appearance of Terry’s friend Max, voiced by Cree Summer. She doesn’t do much more than comment on Chelsea’s new eyes here, but she becomes more important later.
But we can discuss her later.
What appears to be a man made out of dirt keeps attacking a friend of Terry’s! Can Batman stop the very ground itself?
jimmy: Clayface Beyond.
tomk: If Clayface was some sort of immobile corpse in the ground with a scary voice you heard screaming in your mind, sure.
jimmy: That’s the Beyond part!
tomk: Ah. Silly me.
If this was supposed to be the kid friendly show…
jimmy: Kids love corpses kept alive by radioactive waste.
tomk: Or whatever that was. Was he alive? I’m not sure. He doesn’t seem to be at the end.
jimmy: I don’t know. But I thought his death was pretty lame. He died because all the toxic waste drums emptied?
tomk: Well, and the cave collapsed on him.
jimmy: The spark seemed to have gone out of him before that.
tomk: Maybe he died of a broken heart. That happens!
jimmy: I don’t recognize that. Is that from a movie that was actually made?
tomk: I think it was a documentary. Making of Black Swan or something.
And I’m not sure Earthmover was the real monster here anyway. Jackie doesn’t bat an eyelash when she learns the truth about her father’s death nor when she finds his body in the cavern.
tomk: And yet, the show doesn’t seem to portray Stepfather Bill as a bad guy either.
jimmy: No. And she does seem to care about him a lot more than her real dad.
tomk: She’s known him longer. And he’s not a telepathic dirt monster.
jimmy: I know, but man, she has zero feelings for the poor guy. Who was only where he was because he wanted to provide for her. And speaking of where he was…why was he down in the cave in the first place? Couldn’t they just lower all the canisters down there?
tomk: That’s a good question. I was wondering where the hell Jackie’s mother was.
jimmy: That too, but could have been anything really.
tomk: Jackie’s mother is Inque?
jimmy: Could be.
tomk: So, you’re saying there’s something not quite right about the science behind this bad guy’s premise?
jimmy: I feel like we just had this discussion.
tomk: Look, it’s science.
jimmy: It’s blinding me.
tomk: It beats saying a wizard did it.
jimmy: Jackie’s house getting sucked underground reminded me of “Spider-Man Battles the Molemen” from that excellent, not brain-destroying 1969 cartoon.
tomk: Should I watch it myself?
jimmy: No. Dear God no.
tomk: Should I ask where Dana went after the car attack?
jimmy: She “got away” with Terry according to Mr. Wonder Years.
tomk: Yet another Wonder Years cast member…
jimmy: Was there someone besides Olivia d’Abo?
tomk: Not yet.
I did think the episode would end with Dana sitting somewhere alone in the woods wondering where Terry was.
jimmy: Ha. Maybe she’s still out there!
tomk: Terry is so dumped.
jimmy: …until next week when all is forgiven.
tomk: Just like Jackie, one of those TV friends who only ever appears in, like, one episode but is such a close friend to the protagonist for that one episode.
jimmy: A typical BTAS trope.
tomk: Or, like, any TV show really.
jimmy: Fine. Any show, Tom. Any show.
tomk: Remember when Ned Stark had his friend Joey show up, impart an important lesson, and then wander off after the episode was over, never to be seen again?
jimmy: Joey was the best.
tomk: Yes, not as memorable as Loretta Frey the famous fry cook, but good in his own right.
jimmy: Now we’re getting silly.
I find that Terry is not overly worried about the whole “secret identity” thing.
tomk: Fortunately for Terry, Dana is easily won back and stupid.
And Jackie moves to Europe to hook up with Norman Osborn. Or something.
tomk: And Bill is eaten by Earthmover.
jimmy: A happy ending for all.
This show IS for kids!
tomk: And that’s why they cast Steven Collins, best known for playing a minister on the family drams Seventh Heaven, as Earthmover.
jimmy: I wouldn’t know.
tomk: That show is best remembered for being the first big role for Jessica Biel.
jimmy: You say first big role like many other big roles followed.
tomk: Well, she married Justin Timberlake.
jimmy: That’s probably her biggest role.
tomk: It’s a bigger role than any of mine.
What’s my best role? Guy who tolerates Ryan’s love of Krull?
jimmy: That is an important one.
tomk: Is there anything to say about this one? It’s not a bad episode, but we’re already making Krull jokes.
jimmy: I think I’ve covered everything on my notes. And it’s always a good time for Krull jokes.
tomk: Shall we move on then?
jimmy: Seems like we can.
tomk: It’s not a bad episode. It just feels like something we’ve seen before. Now, if we want an episode that provides even less to talk about…
A gang of Jokerz steal an experimental military vehicle! Can Batman stop them before they do some real damage?
jimmy: Well, that was…a thing I watched.
tomk: That is an…incredibly accurate assessment.
jimmy: It wasn’t bad, but you’re about their probably not being a lot to talk about.
tomk: That is another…incredibly accurate assessment.
This is what happens when you only give Bruce one line.
There’s a gang patterned after Mister Terrific. So, that’s a thing.
tomk: That thing is indeed a thing.
It’s not an Inhuman.
jimmy: That’s not a thing.
tomk: Nope. Not at all.
jimmy: Any reason there is a Mister Terrific gang, or just a cool/easy visual with the white face and red T’s?
tomk: The latter I think. I don’t think we see them again. I’m not even sure that Mr. Terrific existed yet when this episode aired.
jimmy: In the comics you mean?
tomk: Yeah. I’m not sure about the timeline.
I’d have to double check. (see below)
jimmy: Well. I would have thought he was an older character than that, but I’m not as up on my DC as it’s competitors.
tomk: The original Mr. Terrific didn’t wear a T-shaped mask. Heck, the one you’re thinking of didn’t in his first appearance either.
jimmy: I guess we’ll get his origin in MTTAS.
tomk: That one is awesome.
Well, one thing that bugged me about this one was the ending. That one Joker complaining he wants to be a big man seems completely unearned. It seems to come from nowhere.
jimmy: Any man brave enough to wear that headpiece deserves to be the big man.
tomk: Clown make-up and silly hats are requirements for that gang.
jimmy: I wonder what the actual initiation would have been?
tomk: Eating a kitten? Oh wait, that was from The Tick.
But all things being equal, I think the problem with an episode like this is that the Jokerz don’t really work as the main villain for any given episode. Unless there’s one given more focus than usual, they don’t have much individual personalities to make any of them particularly interesting. There are one or two stand out Jokerz members, but they tend to be more one off villains who happen to be Jokerz.
jimmy: I get what you’re saying. For the most part they are just a bunch of thugs who, normally, Terry should have no issue taking down. Granted, in this one they have an experimental flying tank of destruction.
tomk: But that doesn’t make them anything other than a bunch of thugs.
jimmy: They are quick learners though. Could fly that experiment vehicle in no time. Even taking it to the drive through where they serve burgers that stay together when thrown.
tomk: So, there were some recognizable names in the cast list from the 90s, but I am really struggling to say anything about this one.
jimmy: I spent 22 minutes trying to figure out if the female lead was Sharon Stone. And it obviously wasn’t…
tomk: No, it was TV actress Wendie Malick. She was on Just Shoot Me with Laura San Giacomo, who voiced the female member of the FF knock-off back in “Heroes”.
jimmy: Yes, I saw that after in the credits. But couldn’t place the voice when watching the show.
tomk: Well, it was a good voice in a forgettable episode.
jimmy: Couple of notes I made, which may not spurn any discussion…
> Why do the Jokerz get out of their flying tank to fight Batman hand to hand? I know it doesn’t last long, but that is just stupid.
> Terry convinces the Wendie character to take him along to look for the Jokerz because he can think like a teenager, while she’s old or whatever. She agrees…and then they find the Jokerz because of the swath of destruction they have laid down. She couldn’t have found them herself?
> Why is Terry swinging around Gotham like Spider-Man when he can fly?
tomk: Terry lost so much Bat equipment this episode.
And he’s almost Spider-Man as it is.
jimmy: That’s true. And after that, I got nothing.
tomk: So do I. Fortunately, the next episode is much better.
jimmy: Let’s enjoy that one then.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I did a little research. The Michael Holt Mr. Terrific first appeared in the pages of The Spectre in 1997. He looked like this:
He gained the T-mask when he joined the JSA in a series that launched in 1999, the same year the “Joyride” episode first aired. As a result, well, it’s just a weird coincidence with the T-facial paint the T’s have in this episode. Probably.
NEXT TIME: Man, there isn’t much to “Joyride,” is there? Surely Tom and Jimmy will have more to say next time with the episodes “Lost Soul,” “Hidden Agenda,” and “Bloodsport”.