Wednesday, December 24, 2014

‘Christmas with The Joker’ - Batman: The Animated Series (A Shitmas Post from Mary Bastian)

‘Christmas with The Joker’ - Batman: The Animated Series
Written By: Mary Bastian

So I was 17 years old when this TV show came out in 1992.  A senior in high school and still on my Batman high from 3 years earlier, when Tim Burton’s Batman movie was released.  I really loved the style of animation used for the show the instant I first watched it.  I think it still holds up today.  Although I have had conversations with friends who feel the animation is pretty shotty in this episode particularly.  I would have to respectfully disagree.  I really dig the backgrounds used & love how crisp & colorful the main characters are.
This episode takes place on Christmas Eve & all Robin wants to do is stay home and watch It’s a Wonderful Life with Batman.  An un-jolly Batman is unaware that the Joker has escaped Arkham Asylum, but wants to patrol Gotham in ensure all citizens are safe, instead of staying home.  The beginning of the episode also opens with the now well-known Christmas song, “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin Laid an Egg…. The Batmobile lost its wheel and the Joker got away!”

Meanwhile the Joker hijacks a tv station to air his special, ‘1st Annual Christmas with the Joker’. As much as he wants the masses of people to watch him, he really is addressing Batman directly in this live broadcast.  Batman receives the Jokers signal in the Bat Cave, and off they go to find the Joker. Unaware he is holding the Lawful family hostage at the tv studio.  Joker threatens to blow up President Bridge at midnight, where a passenger train is set to cross at 11:30 pm and Mommy Lawful’s mom is on the train.   I think this episode in particular was important in fleshing out Robin’s character.  He is in many episodes of this series, but in this episode he steps up to help stop the train in time, dodges shots fired from a cannon, fights off machine gun wielding toys all while always having Batman’s back & proves to be much more of a sidekick than thought of previously.

Their search to find the Joker leads them to the Laffco Toy Company which has gone out of business & is in an abandoned warehouse.  While the Nutcracker theme music plays in the background, Batman and Robin have to fight off giant toy soldiers that are coming for them.  I must admit I find this scene funny.  Watching Robin take them down with toy airplanes and Batman take them down with a baseball bat is comical to me.  Also watching Batman get a pie in the face when presented with a gift from the Joker is amusing.  Jokers laugh is so menacing in this episode and you get to see the very dark side of the Jokers personality.

The episode concludes with Batman & Robin freeing the hostages & Joker assisting in his own take down by tripping over a skate and falling right into the vat of boiling liquid.  Batman has once again kept Gotham safe under his watch and retires for the night back at Wayne Manor watching It’s a Wonderful Life with Robin. All while Joker is in a strait jacket back in the Asylum.  One thing that I really love about this episode, besides the Betty Blooper doll stomping a cardboard Gotham like Godzilla taking over Tokyo, is the music.  It is very reminiscent of a Danny Elfman score.  There are serious moments where the music becomes very dark & doom like but then other moments its light and airy.  I much prefer an actual score over bad studio manufactured music. But the music hands down makes this episode for me.  Gives me a very comforting feeling.
This is definitely a fun Christmas themed show to watch, especially during December.  I recommend between viewing Die Hard, Home Alone, Silent Night Deadly Night, you give this a go.

- Mary Bastian
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