Okay, now that I’ve devoted the last couple of posts to demonstrating how it sometimes irks me when a TV series crawls up its own ass, I’m now going to praise a show for pretty much the same behavior.
Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold saw its end coming and spent its final year indulging every lunatic whim of its creators. Here’s a sampling of what went down:
- Homages to classic DC Comics stories featuring the Rainbow Batman, the Jungle Batman, the Mummy Batman, the Batman of the Future and the Batmen of All Nations.
- Adaptations of the ’50s Mad parody “Bat Boy and Rubin” and of the infamous ’60s Japanese manga story featuring the villainous Lord Death Man.
- Team-ups with the Haunted Tank, the G.I. Robot, the Creature Commandos, Bat-Ape, ‘Mazing Man, Space Ghost, Scooby-Doo, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Abraham Lincoln.
- A sitcom called ”The Currys of Atlantis,” starring a singing Aquaman.
- Oh, and Batman was turned into a baby. And a vampire. Not at the same time.
It’s what happened when a team of creative, nostalgic people collectively decided to say “fuck it, we’re not going to get this chance again.”
And I loved it.
The Brave and the Bold wrapped up its run last Friday in its own go-for-broke style. ”Mitefall!” obliterated the fourth wall as Bat-Mite–a 5th Dimensional magical imp/uber Bat-fan–got bored with the series and did his best to have it cancelled in favor of a darker, grittier Bat-show. His tricks–including giving Batman both a cutesy daughter and a Neon Talking Super Street Bat-Luge, then recasting Aquaman with reputed show-killing actor Ted McGinley–succeeded in making the series suck. However, as he realized too late, its cancellation meant his own end.
It was “meta” to the Nth degree and, honestly, a bit much. Scriptwriter Paul Dini knocked down a whole row of straw men in the forms of grousing fanboys and indifferent network executives. I can’t speak to how Cartoon Network insiders felt about the show, but it was my understanding that the initial fan backlash to The Brave and the Bold‘s lighthearted approach largely evaporated once people realized how much Silver Age fun was to be had.
In any case, it didn’t seem as if the series was cancelled so much as it had reached its natural end. Sixty-five episodes is a standard number for an animated series, as that’s enough to “strip” repeats five days a week for 13 weeks. (The previous Batman cartoon also wrapped up after 65 installments.) And, as “Mitefall!” itself pointed out, shows like this are toy-driven. Judging by the diminishing assortment of new Brave and the Bold product on store shelves over the past year, it was clear that Mattel wanted to move on to another Bat-iteration.
False premises aside, “Mitefall!” was an enjoyable end to a fabulous series. And if any of you didn’t tear up during Batman’s final speech to the children, I don’t want to know you.
“And until we meet again, boys and girls, know that wherever evil lurks, in all its myriad forms, I’ll be there with the hammers of justice to fight for decency and defend the innocent. Good night.”