Do you like cartoons? Well, so do Jimmy and Tom and they’re back for more talk about the DCAU.
This time around, they cover the Batman Beyond episodes “Once Burned,” “Turned On,” and….sigh…”Rats.”
Ten of the Royal Flush Gang returns! Can Batman keep her from returning to crime?
jimmy: You know, I really hate it when the big bad, who’s been going toe to toe with the super-powered (usually) do-gooder, suddently surrenders because the cops show up.
tomk: Even if they’re surrounded by Batman and other, trigger-happy crooks?
jimmy: Maybe, but it’s still like “oh, the cops are here, we’re not messing with them!”
tomk: Man, you’d hate the old Superfriends. Good guys and bad guys would often surrender when there was just two or three mooks standing just behind them.
jimmy: I know it happens all the time, but at some point it’s just like “c’mon!” like, and I don’t know if this happens as much anymore, super villains being in jail…with their costumes on…
tomk: We haven’t really seen a prison on Batman Beyond, have we? Just the special labs for Inque and those like her.
jimmy: I don’t recall, but I think you’re right.
tomk: Point is, maybe things are different in the future.
Besides, those cops were shooting less than the crooks. It was obvious who was better to surrender to.
jimmy: Maybe girlfriend/boyfriend status is different in the future too. Terry has no qualms about hanging up on his girlfriend and then making out with 10.
tomk: And probably getting laid during the commercial break.
jimmy: It is the kid friendliest DCAU show.
tomk: Hey, they waited for the commercial break!
jimmy: 90 seconds, just long enough.
tomk: You know what bugged me about this one? The idea that the Jokerz could capture the Royal Flush Gang.
jimmy: Yeah, that surprised me as well.
tomk: Good thing it wasn’t true. I mean, everyone seemed to believe it, but still…
jimmy: My folks always set up elaborate capers for me to prove my love to them.
tomk: Must be a Canadian thing. I just had to work in a coal mine after school.
jimmy: That’s what you get for voting for Kang.
tomk: Kodos wanted to blow up Neo-Gotham with a giant ray gun.
jimmy: So, those other forgettable villains…how do they get anything done when they are playing poker EVERY night?
tomk: They have minions for that.
jimmy: That makes sense.
tomk: Did you feel bad for Ten?
jimmy: I think we’re supposed to.
tomk: But did you?
jimmy: Yes. She has her issues, but seems like a good kid and was clearly manipulated here.
Though Terry has no time for letters.
tomk: Did you feel bad for Dana?
jimmy: Yeah. First Terry ditches her to make out (or more) with an old fling and then ditches her to work with Max.
Are you going to ask me now if I feel bad for Terry’s brother for thinking there would be a sunset replay?
But did you?
jimmy: Haha, stupid kid.
tomk: Terry was showing Watson levels of behavior this time around.
jimmy: He learned it from Bruce.
tomk: Watson thinks he’s Batman?
tomk: That explains so little…
tomk: But seriously, the Jokerz only ever have sheer numbers as an advantage. How Ten or Terry or anyone could believe they’d get organized enough to capture the Royals is beyond my ability to comprehend.
jimmy: It’s what the script said.
tomk: That’s your excuse for everything.
jimmy: It’s what the script told me.
You win this round, Impossible.
Here’s the thing: suspension of disbelief is important in fiction. If you don’t buy the premise, you won’t buy the conclusion. When Terry asks the sleeping Joker where the Royals are, the guy gives the expected answer. That scenario just didn’t seem possible.
As such, an episode that did some good work showing Terry examine his feelings on Ten is bogged down by an in-universe impossibility.
jimmy: Terry’s not the detective Bruce is.
tomk: Except Terry wasn’t completely wrong. Like with Mr. Freeze, both of them were a little right.
Ten didn’t want to be a criminal anymore, but she also would rob that poker game instead of back Terry up through a mob of Jokerz.
jimmy: You just can’t trust characters named after playing cards.
tomk: What do they call Bruce’s dog again?
tomk: Close. It’s Rover.
jimmy: Damn…that was my second guess!
tomk: We seem to have veered into the very silly for this one.
jimmy: It was a fine enough episode. The Royal Flush Gang are decent villains.
tomk: True, but there may not be much to say as I can’t get past the con not being all that convincing.
Even with a mob boss voiced by Princess Vespa.
jimmy: It didn’t really bother me while watching, but it does seem silly now that you point it out.
tomk: Time to move on then?
jimmy: May the Schwartz be with us.
tomk: Ok then.
Spellbinder returns with an addictive VR machine! Can Batman stop him before one of closest allies gets sucked in?
jimmy: We’re probably not that far away from VR addiction being a thing. I think they just recognized gaming addiction as being legit.
tomk: Yeah, but some of those addictions were just so sad…
jimmy: They were addicted to love.
It also means we know more about Max after something like three episodes than we do about Dana or Matt McGinnis over a longer period of time.
jimmy: Matt I get. Dana is a bit surprising. They don’t utilize her very much or effectively at all. That said, at least she’s not Lois Lane needing to be rescued for being in the wrong place at the wrong time every episode.
tomk: We’d see more of her if she was.
jimmy: True. I’m fine with her only appearing occasionally, but they need to give her something more to do.
I was a little surprised that Max so quickly fell under Spellbinder’s spell. It seemed like they dumbed her down a bit once she and Terry got to the VRRoom.
tomk: It may help to say Max isn’t perfect. Plus, even a smart person can make a bad call, but then she knocks out Spellbinder which certainly helps.
jimmy: With an acrobatic move that would make Dick Grayson proud.
tomk: Pro tip: Don’t put low hanging lamps in your massive drug lair.
jimmy: It’s funny how often that happens. There’s always low hanging lamps, or a giant penny or a canal or an inlet or a fjord.
tomk: Those things do provide much-needed lair atmosphere.
jimmy: Spellbinder reminds me a lot of the Scarecrow. We may have discussed that previously.
His look is trippier though.
The swirly weirdness is far more psychedelic looking than a guy stuffed with straw in his underpants.
jimmy: Until the redesign anyway…
tomk: True. That Scarecrow went commando.
jimmy: I try not to think about that.
tomk: I’ve been urging you not to think about certain things for years.
jimmy: That is correct. Maybe I’m finally starting to listen…
tomk: Ok, so back to the episode. Aside from Donnie’s more “traditional” trip as a rock star, most of the visions, including Max’s, didn’t seem like much. It’s a more sympathetic look into addiction than we saw with the slappers episode if nothing else.
jimmy: They just wanted to be loved.
tomk: Granted, there was still something sad about a lot of them. The overdose girl had a thing for the manager at her job from the looks of things, but the incredibly romantic edge to the whole thing was a bit undermined by the greasy-skinned looking guy in the fast food uniform.
jimmy: Yeah…I wasn’t sure which of them was having the vision when that one started.
tomk: Ok, that observation almost made me laugh at work.
jimmy: Heh. I try.
tomk: It’s still a more nuanced look into addiction than we might otherwise have gotten back then. Sure, it may be blaming parents and making Max look like the subject of an after-school special but…huh, I forgot where I was going with that.
jimmy: Lol. If it was a lesson on addiction, it never really hit the mark in terms of leaving any lasting impression.
tomk: Like most after-school specials!
Just say no!
“Hey, kids, wanna feel loved by your parents in my special VR machine?”
“No way, man!”
jimmy: “But the first time’s free…”
tomk: Still, I get the impression that the show is really working to make Max a fully fleshed-out character. She isn’t Bruce or Terry, and since she’s brand new, we need to know why we should care about her.
jimmy: That’s a good point. Question…do we care?
tomk: Do you?
jimmy: I’m mostly indifferent at this stage I guess.
tomk: I’m about the same. She’s new. There isn’t much special about her yet as a character. It might depend on how you feel about sidekicks in general since that’s basically what she is.
And that’s assuming you don’t think of Terry as Bruce’s sidekick.
jimmy: No. No, I don’t.
tomk: Is Terry Batman to you?
jimmy: No. No, he’s not.
tomk: Then what is Max?
jimmy: Crony? Well wisher? I dunno. I don’t think of her as a sidekick. More of just a helper at this point.
tomk: Then what is love? Spellbinder is hoping it won’t hurt him, won’t hurt him no more.
tomk: Though it was a nice touch showing bits from past episodes flash through Terry’s mind when Spellbinder attacked him.
jimmy: That’s called “reusing animation to save money”. 🙂
tomk: That too.
But it was so appropriate.
Max reminds me of the character type I never really liked: the character who is constantly told to stay home and never listens.
jimmy: Other examples?
tomk: Jackie Chan’s cartoon niece comes to mind. Usually they are obnoxious know-it-all kids.
Max is a better character than they are since those kids never seem to face any consequences for their actions.
jimmy: Penny from Inspector Gadget was who came to my mind. I’m not familiar with your example.
tomk: Except no one ever told Penny to stay home.
Basically, every obnoxious kid with a responsible parent.
No one would call Inspector Gadget a responsible parent.
jimmy: Haha, well, he was her uncle not her father right?
tomk: Well, then where were her parents?
jimmy: The Red Skull probably had them killed.
tomk: That bastard!
Well, Jimmy, I think we’re getting a good grasp on Max. Spellbinder is a decent bad guy, but this was more Max’s story. Do you have anything else to add about this one?
jimmy: We’ve gotten silly, so probably not. 🙂
tomk: Well, then, we’ve been waiting for a Dana-centric episode. The next one is sort of one, and it’s also coincidentally one of the more hated episodes of the series.
jimmy: Haha. Bring it on!
tomk: You asked for it.
Giant rats kidnap Dana! And that’s all you really need to know…
jimmy: Would you call me a liar if I said this was my favorite episode of the series?
tomk: Potentially. Was it?
jimmy: No. 🙂
tomk: Then don’t say that and I won’t call you a liar.
jimmy: Done and done.
tomk: So, are you saying Patrick the Ratboy was somehow NOT your favorite new villain?
jimmy: Surprising, I know. Was he the son of the Sewer King?
tomk: That would presume an elderly Sewer King had sex. And he is the suckiest suck who ever sucked.
jimmy: Grandson maybe?
tomk: Sewer King liked gators, not rats.
Still presumes Sewer King had sex to boot.
jimmy: There’s somebody out there for everyone, Tom. Though Dana was clearly not for Rat Boy. And she’s probably not for Terry either. Or, more so, Terry is not for her.
tomk: Terry has a record apparently.
jimmy: I’m surprised they still have records in the “future”.
tomk: Yes, but this is the first we heard of Terry having one. He’s been arrested for something in the past.
jimmy: Mine was a joke about vinyl records…
But, yeah. I wondered about that too. And how does her father know? Terry’s not that old. It would have had to have been pretty high profile to be public knowledge.
tomk: Well, I think this is the only time we see Dana’s father, a man who think his daughter studied in something that looks like a skimpy prom dress.
jimmy: I was sure he was going to say “you’re not going out in that!” or something to that affect, but he was more worried about who she was seeing than what she was doing.
tomk: Ah, the wonders of recording dialogue first and animating the scene later…
jimmy: Well, at least they didn’t put Dana in an even skimpier than usual outfit to go traipsing around the sewers in. Oh wait…
Seriously, there had to be numerous discussions on these series about animating women in distress and not showing their crotch.
tomk: That’s what standards and practices are for. Max does seem to be the only young woman on the show who even owns a pair of pants.
jimmy: Well, how else would you know they are women without micro skirts on?
That’s a very Watson-level point.
jimmy: It’s funny too because cartoon characters almost never change clothes and Dana had a different dress on at the start of the show too.
tomk: Hey, Dana finally revealed she has a real wardrobe beyond that one skimpy dress.
She actually has multiple skimpy dresses.
tomk: And she wears her nicer ones for take-out chili.
jimmy: Haha, she sure got dolled up for a run of the mill diner.
tomk: It does have the best chili in Gotham.
Chili: a food that is never messy.
jimmy: Make sure you wear your best white skimpy dress!
tomk: Then again, with that little amount of fabric, she is more likely to spill the hot greasy stuff on her bare skin. That’s even smarter!
jimmy: That was my next point. Nicely played, Tom!
tomk: You know, seeing as how this is the first and possibly only Dana-centric episode, all we really learned about her is she is dating a guy with a record her father disapproves of.
This episode may not be passing the Bechdel test…
jimmy: At least Dana almost saves herself…and destroys Terry’s favorite dress in the process.
tomk: Now it’s Terry’s favorite strips of dirty rags.
Of course, we haven’t discussed yet the real highlight of the episode.
jimmy: The mad bomber what bombs at midnight?
tomk: Mad. Stan.
As voiced by rocker Henry Rollins.
jimmy: You won’t like him when he’s angry.
tomk: Or mellow. Good news! He’s never mellow.
jimmy: Though that whole thing seemed like filler around the Rat Boy story.
tomk: I don’t care. Mad Stan is awesome.
And he comes back in future episodes!
They needed a bad guy who Terry apparently has met before who was serious enough to make him miss a date but not tough enough to last a full episode.
jimmy: I did like that it made the “universe” seem more widespread than just the continuity we’ve seen in each episode.
tomk: He doesn’t truck much with complicated aliases either. His regular name with a short adjective is all he really needs.
jimmy: When you’re this angry, you don’t need a complicated alias.
Especially since he was angry about email.
tomk: He could also have been “Crazy Stan”. “Mad” is classier.
jimmy: Rollins just screams classy.
tomk: Well, he did try to blow up the library.
Someone should get him some Prozac.
Well, that was our Dana episode. She’ll go back to being a background character now. Any other thoughts, Jimmy?
jimmy: Well, it wasn’t a great episode, but not sure why it was so hated. Rat Boy? Dana centered?
tomk: Maybe it just didn’t measure up to some fans’ high standards. This is the closest we have to lesser Batman foe Ratcatcher in the DCAU, and we get some kid who apparently kidnaps potential friends and then feeds them to his ROUSes when it once again doesn’t work out.
Plus, there’s the whole sewer dweller trope/cliche. At least Futurama played it for laughs.
jimmy: It wasn’t played for laughs here? 😉
tomk: Not intentionally!
jimmy: Heh. Ok, enough about Rat Boy. Let’s move on?
tomk: Sure. Next up is Terry fighting…well, that would be telling.
jimmy: You’re such a tease.
NEXT TIME: Tom and Jimmy will return soon with a discussion on the Batman Beyond episodes “Mind Games,” “Revenant,” and “Babel.”