So I was wondering… when did the people who make The Batman cartoon decide to start making it, you know, good?
I tried watching it when it first came out and really didn’t like what I saw. I mean, I knew it probably wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to the 90s Batman cartoon – which wasn’t just the best Batman cartoon ever, but the best Batman anything ever – so I tried to take that out of the equation, but even still, it just wasn’t very good. Terrible villain re-designs (dreadlocked Joker and Goth Riddler, I’m looking at you), boring supporting characters, lame plots … besides the catchy theme song and the admittedly cool designs for Batman himself and the various bits of Bat-tech, it just didn’t have much going for it.
So flash forward to a few years later, and I hear they’re introducing Robin into the show, and it’s on right after Legion of Super Heroes which I’m already watching anyway, so I figured I’d give it another shot. And it was good. Surprisingly so, in fact. Still not BTAS good, but quite fun in its own way (and the Paul Dini-penned episode that introduced Harley Quinn to this particular continuity was a blast). And having now caught re-runs from at least a season or two back (whenever they brought Batgirl into the mix), it looks like it’s been pretty good for awhile now. And I think the secret is this: it actually looks like a Batman cartoon. The earlier episodes I saw had a whole slew of created-for-show characters and situations, as well as a whole “the GCPD think Batman’s an outlaw, too, and one of the cops assigned to bring him in is Bruce’s friend, OH NOES!” subplot that just didn’t work. But it looks like they quickly wised up, and brought in stuff like Commissioner Gordon, the Bat-signal, Batgirl, Robin… you know, stuff that’s gonna make a Batman show actually be a Batman show, not just Jackie Chan Adventures in a cape.
Long story short: I dig it, more than I ever thought I could, and I’m glad I gave it a second chance. I still hate Riddler-as-Hot-Topic-regular, though.
Speaking of TV shows… in a matter of weeks, we’re going to get the third Spider-Man movie, and shortly after that, the second Fantastic Four movie. It seems to me that there’s quite a bit of tie-in money to be made there, so why hasn’t anyone ever got around to releasing the countless hours of TV devoted to these characters on DVD yet? The 60s Spider-Man cartoon got a much-deserved DVD release a few years back, but where’s Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends? Or the syndicated series that ran right around the same time? Or complete season sets of the Fox cartoon? Or even – and I realize I may well be the only person asking for this – a complete set of the live-action show with Nicholas Hammond?
And where’s the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four cartoon? There might be rights issues here – Marvel owns the FF, but Time-Warner probably owns the show itself, sort of like the Time-Warner/Fox fooferaw over the Batman show – but clear that up and cash in already, people! And the 80s show with HERBIE the robot… not great, but it had its moments, and it should see the light of day again. Hell, you could probably find someone willing to buy the Thing cartoon with the teenage Benjy Grimm and his magic rings (“Thing rings, do your thing!”) if you look hard enough.
Maybe it’s just me, but this all seems like no-brainer stuff.