Saturday, August 1, 2009

Batman: The Brave and The Bold Episode 19 - "Legends of the Dark Mite!"

Written By: Paul Dini
Directed By: Ben Jones
Original Airdate: May 29, 2009

Synopsis: As with the other episodes of "Brave and The Bold," this one begins with a teaser seperate from the main story. Catman is seen in a jungle auctioning off a rare tiger in front of hunters, poachers, and a criminal chef. The bidding gets up to four million dollars when Batman swings down from a tree, knocking Catman to the ground. He quickly dispatches the assembled crooks and then finds himself having to deal with the tiger, released by Catman. With a whistle, Batman summons Ace The Bat-Hound from the jungle. Ace fends off the tiger, sending the once ferocious animal retreating to its cage, before barking Catman up a tree. Catman tells Batman to call him off, which Batman does, before giving Ace a bat shaped dog treat.

After the opening, the main story begins with Batman foiling a robbery at the bank. The two criminals give up as soon as they see Batman, when a voice tells them they're doing it wrong. The criminals are then animated to come at Batman with bags of money, then are joined by more criminals out of thin air with machine guns, and then all of the criminals become ninjas. Batman defeats all of these attackers before asking the voice narrating the whole time to show himself. Batman is teleported to another part of the city and the narrator reveals himself to be Batman's number one fan...Bat-Mite. After explaining more about himself and trying to change Batman's costmue, Bat-Mite tries to decide on a villain for him to fight and Batman tricks the Mite into choosing Calendar Man. Bat-Mite sees through Batman asking Calendar Man to take a fall and transforms him into Calendar King, who can summon armies of holiday themed characters.

Bat-Mite thinks Calendar King is going a bit too far with mutant Easter Bunnies and freezes everything to convene a Batman panel at a convention in the 5th Dimension over the validity of the mutant bunnies. One fan speaks up about how his Batman is a dark crime detective and this is not his Batman. The panel (composed of crew members from the show) agrees upon a reply for Bat-Mite to read, which says thus:
"Batman's rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it's certainly no less valid and true to the character's roots as the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy."
After that, and agreement from the audience that the mutant bunnies are pretty scary, the fight continues, culminating in Batman decking Calendar King back into Calendar Man. Bat-Mite is about to decide what fun to have next when Batman convinces him to save his abilities for real crimes, with the help of an autographed batarang.

Batman returns to the Batcave and tells Ace about the pest he had to deal with. The appearance of a second Ace causes Batman to realize he's been talking to a transformed Bat-Mite, who transports Batman away to an alien planet intending to force him to be his plaything. Batman refuses to do so and sits on an otherworldly toadstool instead of fighting the various alien menaces Bat-Mite has thought up. Batman then eases Bat-Mite into the idea of a role reversal, with Bat-Mite acting as Batman and Batman narrating what happens to him. After defeating Gorilla Grodd, Bat-Mite finds himself in a scene paying tribute to the Looney Tunes classic "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery," with both well known and obscure villains chasing after him. Overwhelmed, he asks for Batman's help, who takes out the villains after playfully chiding Bat-Mite a little. Bat-Mite apologizes to Batman and returns him to his cave, who checks to make sure Ace is the real Ace before he relaxes.

Thoughts: I'm a fan of the Dark Knight as much as the next guy, but I'm also a fan of the lighter Caped Crusader as this blog attests. After the steady stream of darker media, it's nice to have a Batman cartoon that's just plain fun. One of the reasons I'm such a big fan of "Brave and The Bold" is because of how much it embraces its characters' Silver Age roots. Instead of playing them as parody, they're played straight with fun fully their intention. There are references peppered throughout the show, such as the use of the 1950's Batmobile in a flashback or Professor Carter Nichols when time travel's needed, but this episode is one for the fans from beginning to end.

Before I get to the easter eggs, let me give some thoughts on the episode itself. In a nutshell, this is the best episode of the show yet. Now I may be a little bias, but seriously, this episode has it all: Bat-Mite, lots of villains, fan easter eggs, and that fantastic convention scene. I was looking forward to this episode as it was featuring Bat-Mite, but then you have Catman and Ace The Bat-Hound in the teaser? Sold twice over. I had my doubts about Paul Reubens voicing Bat-Mite leading up to the episode's airing, but he was a great choice for the role. He put the perfect amount of fanboyism into the character and was able to shift Bat-Mite's emotions when needed. And speaking of Bat-Mite: easily the best modern interpretation of the character, considering the minor updates. It seems odd to hear Bat-Mite say "awesome sauce," but it works. Even Bat-Mite looking to make Batman his plaything fits, taking his wanting to see his hero in action to the extreme true, but it still fits. At his core, Bat-Mite in "Brave and The Bold" is Batman's biggest fan as he's always been. The convention in the 5th Dimension was a highlight simply for
PaulDini's breaking of the fourth wall to give a message to those decrying "Brave and The Bold" for its lightheartdness. And to top everything off, the "Great Piggy Bank Robbery" homage at the end is simply brilliant.

I'm not going to give away all of the easter eggs, but there are a lot for fifties Batman fans:

-During the scene where Bat-Mite changes Batman's costume half a dozen times, it changes to both Bat-Hombre's from Batman #56 and that of the Zebra Batman from Detective Comics #275.
-The 5th Dimensional Comic-Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror...& Tiddlywinks Convention in the episode is the 267th, a reference to Bat-Mite's first appearance in Detective Comics #267.
-The Rainbow Creature from Batman #134 can be seen on the alien world, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other aliens are from Batman comics.
-Bat-Mite turns into a Bat-Ape momentarily when going up against Gorilla Grodd.
-A couple of villains that appear during the Looney Tunes tribute: Polka-Dot Man, Killer Moth, Mr. Zero (that's right folks, they don't call him Mr. Freeze, they call him Mr. Zero), and, of course, Zebra-Man.

If you only watch one episode of "Batman: The Brave and The Bold," though you should watch the whole series, make it this one. From beginning to end, it's a fun tribute to the Silver Age and to Batman in general. And don't forget to keep your eye out for easter eggs! That's all for now folks.


Anonymous said...

Love the show and love your blog. Please keep blogging about Bat-mite and those crazy days of the Bat. I love Silver Age DC more than just about anything in the world.


Chris said...

You got it! Now that catch up is done, I'll be back to my normal reviews. I've got both a Sheldon Moldoff classic and a Dick Sprang one lined up for this coming week. Thanks for reading.