Batman: The Animated Series, “Almost Got ‘Im”

19Jun11

I really like this episode. I mean, really like it.

I’m not alone in that, of course. This is probably a favorite of anyone who’s watched the Animated Series, so it’s not anything controversial to say it’s good. It’d be like saying Citizen Kane is a great film. The only people who’ll disagree with you will either be contrarians, or have a really bizarre argument for their opinion. So the question here isn’t whether or not this is a good episode (yes), or even a great one (also yes). It’s why that’s the case.

First off, let’s be honest-the animation is gorgeous. It’s the same studio that did the first episode of Robin’s Reckoning, and just like there, it’s the highest quality the show has. That doesn’t mean it’s flawless; there are a few scenes where things are cut together that don’t quite work, and one shot shows the Joker standing up at a table, after he’s been thrown into another table across the room. But these are minor quibbles, and the atmosphere of the dingy night club is communicated brilliantly in the lighting, something that could have just come off as muddy or dark in less skilled hands.

The direction also works well. The best example is actually the opening scene, as we hear the villains bantering while their hands pick up and deal out the cards. It’s a great intro to the episode, to the characters, and to their semi-friendly relationships with each other, where they’ll gladly stab each other in the back, but can’t help being collegiate thanks to their shared enemy. Then there’s one of the most famous lines from the episode from Killer Croc, which gets met with some of the best reaction expressions I’ve seen in…well, anything. The framing scene of swapping stories is the glue that holds it all together, and it works beautifully throughout.

Speaking of which, the plot is wonderfully simple: Batman’s enemies telling stories about the times they almost killed him. They’re not all at the same level of quality, since Poison Ivy’s isn’t as good. But they all have some strength to them, and in a way, it’s bringing the Silver Age style of condensed stories into a modern cartoon. Most of these wouldn’t have worked as their own separate episode, so bringing them in as a set of climaxes works better than making 3 weak full length stories. The one exception is the Joker’s story, as I could gladly watch 22 minutes of the Joker as an evil Johnny Carson. But that’s me speaking now; I doubt I would have appreciated that when I was a kid.

So what makes it all work together so well? Once again, it’s the biggest strength the show has always had, the voice actors. They’re all in top notch form. And for once, the show is firing on all cylinders. The Joker has his usual brilliant patter, but we finally get to see the Penguin really shine as well, and Two-face’s brief interaction with Poison Ivy brings back their short time dating as a great understated joke. Then there’s the Joker revealing how he’s still going to “get” Batman, with the rest of the table looking unsettled, realizing this clown is going just a step further than they could. And after complaining about how Catwoman has been sidelined so much in the show so far, the Joker’s story features her saving Batman from certain death, and almost beating the Joker and Harley together. She ends up still needing Batman’s help, but at least she gets to prove she’s more than a damsel in distress first.

“Almost Got ‘Im” is a tour de force for the show, and everyone should watch it. More than that, it’s probably the best introduction to the show you could give. All the villains who appear look good doing it (except for Croc, but there’s a reason for that I won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it), everything is strong, and it’s briskly paced. Go see it.

As a coda, though, I’ll note that Two-Face’s minions had to have been killed in his story. Two of them got hit directly by a giant penny, falling on them from 30 feet in the air. There is no way they survived those injuries.

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One Response to “Batman: The Animated Series, “Almost Got ‘Im””

  1. 1 Carlos

    lol i was like dammmn those two henchman died horribly but I guess batman reasoned it was faith or sumthing LOL


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