Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Batman: TAS - Episode 2 - Christmas with the Joker

The plot of episode 2 is thusly: Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum. Again. Yes, this has happened many many times, and it will happen many more times in the future.

Sorry about that, got a little derailed. Anyway, so it's Christmas Eve and the inmates of Arkham are singing and decorating a very tall tree. Joker sings the well known Batman variation of Jingle Bells.

    Jingle Bells
    Batman Smells
    Robin laid an egg
    Batmobile lost a wheel
    And the Joker got away!
While singing he is handed a pointy spire thing to put on top of the tree, and he climbs a 20 foot ladder to get to the top. As he croons "Awaaaaaaaay!" he places the spire on the tree and a rocket ignites at the bottom. He jumps on and rides it through the glass skylight in the roof, laughing and singing all the way.
    Crashing through the roof
    On a one horse open tree
    Busting out I go
    Laughing all the Weeeee!

Batman and Robin are preparing to leave the Batcave, and Dick, whining child that he is, complains about it being Christmas Eve and can't they have just one night off, surely the Joker's not going to do anything on Christmas Eve, and we should be relaxing and waiting for Santa, and why can't I drive the car, and don't tell me what to do, and you killed my parents...Oh, that was a different Dick. I don't particularly care for Dick Grayson as Robin. Once he grows up and stops acting like a spoiled child and becomes Nightwing he becomes much more tolerable, and I even kinda like him. But not that much right now. At least he's older (I'd say somewhere between 17-24) and has the modern(-ish) Robin costume on, and not that horrible green Speedo and pixie boots. What a gaylord.

Robin offers a deal, we search the streets of Gotham, and if there's no sign of the Joker we come home, have Christmas dinner and watch It's a Wonderful Life. Batman almost tells a joke, saying he's never seen that movie, because he couldn't get past the title. It's funny, see, because his parents were murdered right in front of him when he was ten years old, and he spends all his nights chasing down street scum instead of in bed with hot chicks like a rich playboy should. Funny, right?

They comb the city (the whole city? In one night? With enough time to still watch a movie afterward? Gotham must be caught in some kind of time vortex.) Batman's gloomy and brooding, Robin's perky and annoying. They see a scummy hooligan chasing a fat old lady in a fur coat, Batman thinks he's going to mug her, but it's just some nice young man telling her she dropped one of her packages. "Can we go home now?" Robin whines. Batman MANUALLY throws his grappling hook, pulls it tight and is suddenly pulled up into the air, like magic, and we see that the rope is anchored to the top of a building at least 30 stories high. That dude has one hell of an arm.

Eventually they go home and sit down to watch the movie, but there's something else on, and it's on every channel, whatever could it be? It's the Joker, of course, dressed like an evil clown version of Mr Rogers (instead of the normal, evil Mr Rogers) and he tells the whole city that they're going to see a different show tonight, a Special, called "Christmas with the Joker".

The gist of it is he kidnapped three people (Commissioner Gordon, Detective Bullock, and some woman who may or man not be a police officer, or maybe the news anchor woman), and he's going to kill them unless Batman can find them first. "Christmas is a time of family, and since I don't have one of my own, I decided to STEAL one!". Now, I've never kidnapped or gagged somebody, but I'm pretty sure a candy cane wouldn't really do the trick.

Batman and Robin have to puzzle out where they are, using such things as where excess power drains are occurring, or where the signal is being broadcast from, etc. They find several fake locations where Joker has left traps for them, like the Gotham Observatory where he's somehow converted the telescope in to a motion tracking cannon, or a railroad bridge that has been rigged with explosives, just a few minutes before the Gotham Train arrives, or Joker robots with machine gun fingers. For having just escaped a few hours ago that Joker sure is damn resourceful.

Of course, Batman being Batman, he stops the train - or specifically, he tells Robin the Boy Whiner to uncouple the passenger cars, then Batman pulls the Engineer out of the engine and jumps off, letting the engine take a nosedive off the bridge. Kersplodey!

In the end Joker gives Batman a clue that lets him figure out where he's holding the hostages, and there's a showdown with some giant robotic nutcrackers (Where does he get all those wonderful toys?) , RC planes - which Batman knocks out of the sky with a baseball bat, which lets Robin say the groaner line, "Guess they don't call you Bat-man for nothing." Wow. Could somebody please stab him? I think I'd rather that Jason Todd had lived, and Dick Grayson died. After defeating the toys some goons with tommy guns start shooting at them, easily defeated byt The Batman. And then Joker reveals himself.

Joker has the three hostages hung over a vat of boiling red liquid a gift box in his hand (wrapped with Bat-wrapping paper). He's going to cut the rope and let the hostages fall if Batman doesn't open the present. Batman won't sacrifice the hostages, so he takes the gift. He hesitates, Robin encourages him not to open it, Joker threatens to cut the rope. Batman pulls off the bow, tears open the paper, opens the box and

That was actually unexpected. I knew it couldn't be a bomb, or something that would really hurt him, since he was holding it next to his chest, and he's The Batman, dammit, nothing can defeat him. But I didn't expect that. It was pretty cool. He lunges at the Joker who cuts the rope and runs, but Batman is able to jump on top of the vat and knock the hostages out of the way before they fall in. He then takes off after Joker, and grabs his arms, Joker struggles, and suddenly his arms and sweater vest fall off, and he speeds off again, climbing the stairs up to the walkway over the vat. And steps on a stray roller skate, which throws him over the rail and into the vat of chemicals. Not surprisingly, Batman grabs his ankle just before he falls in. Then he fakes dipping him in a few times, just to scare him. "Merry Christmas, Joker" he smirks. "Bah, humbug!" comes the reply. Lastly we see Dick and Bruce sitting down to watch It's a Wonderful Life, and Dick emphasize that it IS a wonderful life. Bruce, considers, and returns, "It has its moments."

I found a lot of this episode to be kinda trite and predictable, and a little boring. Except the end confrontation with the Joker, which was unexpected, it just wasn't that exciting, but I'm not really sure why, I usually really enjoy the Joker episode.

This post was also supposed to contain the write-up for Episode 3, but in the interest of getting it posted on time that write up will have to wait until Thursday morning, so check back then for Nothing to Fear.

Addendum: I was in a bit of a rush to finish this post so I inadvertently didn't mention a few things I meant to, like talking about Mark Hamill as Joker, and discussing the writer and director. Oh well. But I did want to take the time to quickly mention that one of the reasons I think Mark Hamill makes a great Joker is his laughs, he has a wide variety of laughs for Joker, depending on what feelings exactly he wants to convey. For example...

Remember Kids: Pillage, THEN Burn.

Episode Listing


Ray Sherman said...

That was REALLY interesting! That would be so cool if all the sudden we were hit up with a Batman Christmas episode on prime time featuring The Joker! lol...Dark Knight action figures would be instantly unattainable!

Marissa said...

Very Funny write-up. Your sarcasm and jokes makes it even better.