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Most Regretable Shames Related to Batman TAS

Nov 29, 2017 6:12 pm
Smutty By Smutty
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How many of us have special childhood memories related to Batman: The Animated Series? I was there on Saturday morning, Sept. 5, 1992, when "The Cat and the Claw: Part I" aired on Fox, and it was undoubtedly a monumental moment for those who loved the genre. Here was a dark, brooding, bone-crunching animated show being aired on kids tv, a rarity approached only by a select few programs from the 1980s, and definitely now alone in its class. The title cards, the music, the voice actors, and perhaps most of all the scripts, were all top-notch, with credit largely due to Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and other masterminds of the production. It was as if one of us were in charge, rather than some marketing bimbos who were simply trying to make money.

Ironically, Batman TAS did have quite a bit of financial success, as the quality of the show was so great as to overcome the huge obstacle of appealing to an American audience, without resorting to mindless episodes about high school prom dates or the mundane life of a wise-cracking family. Batman TAS actually made it to primetime on Fox and ran all the way to 85 episodes, the last of which was aired on Sept. 15, 2015. The first 65 were in the original style, and the last 20 episodes were the slightly-altered The Adventures of Batman & Robin (aka the second season). On Christmas Day 1993, a film titled Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was released in theaters.

With all the respect that this show achieved among animation gurus, its struggle against the national culture was lamentable. Highlighted below are a few of the many shameful outcomes of the regretable circumstance that this work originated in the US.

1. Exquisite Score...No Releases until 2008
Every episode of Batman TAS had unique themes, and most of them were incredibly lovable, the kind you would want to listen to over and over. Yet, American companies were too busy releasing Jock Rock and raps by NBA basketball players to release music from a rare entertainment production of quality that originated on their soil. Finally, 13 years after the last episode aired, a company named La La Land Records took the initiative to release the scores. Of course, if Batman TAS had been a Japanese series, there would have been between five to twenty cds released, at a time when the show was still largely active on the public's mind.

2. Animated Film Gets Little Reception, Schumacher's Trash All Over the Place
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) was at times a soggy love story that tried to take advantage of the 90s depression fad, but it certainly had its moments. The Joker scenes were some of the darkest, the abandoned theme park was grungy fun, the Shirley Walker theme was memorable, and the killings were nice. Budget for this film was $6 million, and it only garnered box office receipts of $5.6 million. Compare that to mainstream-moron Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever (1995), which had a budget of $100 million and made $336.5 million at the box office. Americans apparently preferred to see Batman in a nipple-suit than in an artfully-drawn masculine representation.

3. Creators Not Appreciated
In Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, as well as others including Alan Burnett, you had entertainment originators of taste, but of course their Hollywood counterparts just corrupted their creations. Harley Quinn was introduced in Batman TAS, but now has the honor of being bastardized in American films, as are many of the other Timm and Dini innovations. It is especially tragic that Timm, whose distinctive art style runs throughout the entire series, is not any more celebrated. If he had been born in Japan, with his incredible passion and talent for art, his appreciation might have been much greater. Contrast that with popular American singer Jhené Aiko, who born with Japanese blood but in California, developed an incredible interest in proclaiming the merits of female promiscuity, and, finding kindred spirits in her birth country of the United States, has made a fortune singing tuneless songs on such topics, and became a genuine celebrity in the nation in which she fits in so well.

4. Batman Beyond
After simultaneously producing Superman: TAS, another respectable production, since 1996, the DC Animation team decided to create a spin-off of their Batman series. Batman Beyond featured a new Batman, a high school student named Terry McGinnis, who was Bruce Wayne's successor-in-training....in the year 2019. A boast of the first series was that it had been timelessly animated, with both retro designs and new technology, so that the viewer could never place a year on it, but now that could be discerned with a glance at the now elderly Bruce Wayne and a calculator.

The characters were weaker, the music was mediocre, the writing was much worse (see Hilary J. Bader), and the lines started to be painful and embarrassing for the first time. Terry had this friend - Max, a girl despite the name - who was cringe-worthy at best. Who can recall when she revealed to Terry that she knew he was Batman by shaping her hands as bat-ears? Overall, each following series was worse than the prior one (although Justice League was decent at times), and fans repeatedly complained that they wanted the original series Batman back, all which amounted to one flashback sequence in a direct-to-video film titled Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000).

Batman Beyond was a sell-out, as has been most animated shows produced in the United States in the last 15 years. Those who enjoy relaxing to a beautiful display of hand-drawn animation, set to a bemusing plot, would do well to appreciate that time when they could find it, without having to look overseas.


Smutty is the author of the best-selling book, 100 Things To Do That Are More Fun Than Sticking Your Dick into a Cigarette Lighter. Abandoned by his mother days after hatching, he has a life goal of making the world feel his pain. He enjoys thrusting his tail into all kinds of interesting places.

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