Hello Scratch Pad readers, I’m starting a new segment on the The Scratch Pad I like to call You Should Be Watching! This new segment will highlight animated series currently broadcasting on US television or available for streaming legally in the US. They’re basically mini-reviews giving reasons why I feel any animation fan should be watching this particular animated series. For my first entry in this new segment let me introduce you to the new Batman in town as I highlight Warner Bros. Animation’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
There have been many Batman cartoons. Near as I figure, Batman is such a hot commodity that we will never be without a Batman cartoon of some kind. The show bound to be associated with the franchise forever is Batman: The Animated Series and there is no question that Batman: TAS is one of the finest cartoons ever produced and a lot of people happen to believe there will never be a better animated Batman than Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy. Michael Goguen and Duane Capizzi took a stab with The Batman in 2004 and found moderate success and what eventually became a pretty good show which seems to have been all but forgotten by being relegated to Boomerang but you can get the whole series on DVD in the US across 5 box sets. Most recently, James Tucker and Michael Jelenic threw their hats into the ring in 2008 when Warner decided to team up everyone’s favorite DC hero with a whole lot of underappreciated ones. That in a nutshell is Batman: The Brave and the Bold but it is in fact so much more than that and in my opinion the best action cartoon on TV as of late even compared another personal favorite of mine, Sym-Bionic Titan.
I’ll admit I wasn’t too keen on Batman returning to his campier persona from the silver-age and the art style was at first very off-putting. This led me to largely ignore Batman: The Brave and the Bold for much of the show’s first season. It could probably also be argued that the first season was not the best the show had to offer and it has come a long way since then but I honestly have not seen enough of it to judge at this time. Season two however has been a very fun ride. The show is very creative and makes good use of the characters it highlights episode to episode. Diedrich Bader’s Batman has definitely grown on me since the initial episodes. He makes a great dry wit Batman with just the right amount of camp. The rest of the voice cast includes James Arnold Taylor, Tom Kenny, John DiMaggio and Jeff Bennett among so many other great voice actors any given episode. They like to play the nostalgia card by getting cameos from Adam West, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and other memorable actors from DC comics related television series. There is a hefty degree of “fan service” due to this and other nods to Batman in other media. All of these well-played nods are really just the icing on an already delicious cake however.
Where Brave and the Bold truly shines is in telling an entertaining and action packed story and being able to have a serious moment despite its’ overall tone. Every episode is full of laughs and thrills. There’s witty dialogue and plenty of beat downs to go with it. The show has a tremendous amount of charm. Do not let the light-hearted exterior fool you though, when it wants to, this show will hit you with some surprisingly compelling drama. How many current kids’ action cartoons depict death or even allude to it? Brave and the Bold has killed off characters several times now and they are almost always to show noble sacrifices as well. It takes some balls to do that. They’ve even had some comic accurate deaths whereas plenty of other animated series based on comics would modify the story to avoid death if possible. Showing Batman confronting the murder of his parents in episode “Chill of the Night” in of itself is a bold move. You could say the show has more than earned its lofty title “The Brave and the Bold” because of what it has attempted and succeeded in doing. They dared to make a friendly Batman but still told stories of a serious nature from time to time all the while giving some much needed attention to the lesser known heroes of the DC universe. If that’s not brave and bold then I do not know what is. And what they have done with these C-listers is impressive to say the least. Now they’re finally being allowed to include more A-listers including Superman and Wonder Woman in the final season and I personally cannot wait to see what they do with them.
Bottom line, the show is fun. It is exciting to watch every episode and see a different hero team up with Batman. It’s enjoyable to look for nods to DC’s rich history in any given episode. The show is tremendously entertaining and takes just the right amount of risks to keep things interesting. Did I mention the show had an entirely musical episode? No joke, and it was great. So if you are not watching it yet, you really should be.
Look for Batman: The Brave and the Bold Friday nights at 7PM EST / PST on Cartoon Network. “Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel”