Be sure to drink a full glass of water and take two Advil tonight... tomorrow morning there is a reason for getting out of bed. The Kids' WB premieres the new animated show, The Batman, at 10:30 in the morning. I haven't done 10:30 on a Saturday for awhile, but I may just have to get used to it.
The first episode sets up Batman, his gadgets, his relationship with Alfred, the Police and the ladies. We get a peak at some of his arsenal, and a great introduction to the Joker. Set your alarm, or your VCR. I mean it.
Yesterday I got the press kit, containing one full review episode, and I have to tell you, I'm hooked. I loved He-Man, Ninja Turtles, and Transformers growing up. I would be ready to go, religiously in front of the TV exactly 3 minutes before the programs started, eventually feeding my Type A personality (and later college Type B regression). The animation was what it was, but they did their job, and sold a lot of toys. Especially to Stinkhead Manor. The years go by, the toys all experience a rebirth. I'm pretty thrilled with the new Turtles, I became addicted to the Masters of the Universe, and I have been converted back to a seven year old with my 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime. Then I watch their cartoons, and I smell something stinkin. I was not overly impressed with the Turtles, the new Transformers seemed eons away from what I was looking for, and the new MOTU cartoon will not be mentioned in my house.
So here comes The Batman. I have written off most new cartoons (aimed at kids anyway, the Adult Swim gets my approval) because everyone is attempting to mimic the cheapness factor of the Pokémon craze. It's kind of like what happened in the art world after modern abstract became profitable before death. Lots of imitators, lots of crap. I also have a special place in my heart for
Batman the Animated Series, and I was afraid it too would be ruined. But it wasn't. The Batman is a related, however safely different, entity.
I love the new cartoon. The animation is tight.
The characters have weight (something that Tartakovsky,
whom I do admire, has single handedly removed from American
based animation), the combination of rapid hard-hitting
action, and slowed, graceful positioning made for some great
scenes. Several times during the one episode I kept thinking
I'd like to freeze frame that right there... that'd
make a great desktop wall paper. There was a great understanding
of what to do and how it should be done. It embraced it's
comic book roots, but utilized the animation medium with
flare and presence. We could only be so lucky if future
cartoons use this show as a benchmark, and influence tons
of animators. It's called actually sitting down and drawing
frames... quit mistaking laziness for style. The folks
behind The Batman, have done their homework.
Having seen the toys, and publicity shots, many of our community
are worried, if not anxious [Ed note:if not redundant]
about the new Joker. He's a lot more wild looking, and has
been taken in a direction we're not used to. I love him.
He fits well within the bounds of the show. He's definitely
cartoony and over the top, but he's not a Glomer
wacky nuisance. He brings real danger and suspense to the
show, and trust me, give him the one shot tomorrow before
writing him off forever. Maybe he is too far from what the
Joker should be in your mind, but you have to see the episode
The Computer animation
I thought the incorporation of cell-shaded 3D animation was done perfectly. 80% of the cartoon appears hand drawn. The backgrounds and vehicles utilize the capabilities of computer animation in a subtle, yet impressive manner. I couldn't stop soaking in the backgrounds, they blended with the primary animation beautifully. Not once did I feel a shot was cluttered, and the primary figures disappeared. The Batmobile gets my seal of approval, and the Batcave, Batboat, and other little gadgets fit in nicely.
It's true, Bat-legend Adam
West lends his vocal talents to the cast of The
Batman. Voicing Mayor Grange, the press release
tells usGrange is a close friend of the Wayne
family. A shrewd politician, he nonetheless buys into the
irresponsible bachelor image Bruce cultivates, creating
some grief for the young billionaire. Sweet. Grange/West
did not make an appearance in this first episode, but I
can not wait. Mr. West is the one, to me, who made Batman
tangible, and in all the hurt and confusion from Batman
and Robin, I turned to the 1960's to ease my pain, and
find some light, in the dark.
The theme song from U2's Edge is catchy and ties into the subtle 60's influence on the overall style. I cannot say enough good things about this show. The story has Master Wayne in his third year of Dark Knight-hood, and he's still on shady terms with the police. He held his own in the fights, but still looks before he leaps.
Major Haul Alright, watch the show already. Maybe you'd be this excited, if you had one of these sweet press kits. I tell you, this is the best press kit, ever. An inconspicuous black box hides the intriguing mystery within, much like Wayne Manor. Open the box, and there is this cool 60's looking Batwave. Included batteries make send a pulsating LED wave from behind the swirls. I love the red trim Bat outline on black... very Barris-era Batmobile.
Strapped down to the first layer is a wooden scale model Batarang. And you know what? This is so completely unsafe for kids. I love it! I could totally take out an eye running around the house with this thing. Cool.
Lift up the flap, and there is a Bat shaped booklet with show and character information hovering above two discs. One a digital press kit with pictures and video, the other, the advance screening DVD. Above this, is a really cool reading lamp. Press the button and the device slowly, mechanically swings into position with a bright LED light for clipping to your book and reading in bed. With the covers over your head perhaps, as mother walks on by. This is pretty sweet.
You know I'm a skeptic, and don't buy into much without seeing, touching, tasting, smelling it... I was just as anxious as you were about this new Batman... but trust me, it's worth a watch.