Episode #16 - Animal Act
Original Airdate - September 26, 1998
Dick Grayson revisits his roots as a circus performer, only to find
someone is controlling the circus animals in the undertaking of crimes.
Media by Bird Boy
Review by Robin III, Batman Fan
Written by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by Curt Geda
Music by Harvey Cohen
Animation by Koko/Dong Yang
Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Mathew Valencia as Robin/Tim Drake
Loren Lester as Nightwing/Dick Grayson
Jane Wiedlin as Miranada Kane
Roddy McDowall as Mad Hatter
Robert Costanzo as Detective Harvey Bullock
Corey Burton as Strongman
Lauri Johnson as Knife-Thrower's Wife
ROBIN: Nightwing! What are you doing here?
NIGHTWING: Oh, just following a pattern of obsessive behavior instilled
in me at an early age.
BATMAN: You should work on your stealth skills. I heard you coming
half-way across the roof.
NIGHTWING: Good to see you too.
TIM: This must have such a cool place to grow up!
DICK LOOKS AROUND AT THE CIRCUS TENT AND THEN UP AT THE HIGH-WIRE ACT.
DICK: It was.
NIGHTWING (to Batman): You take the brown one. I'll take--
HE LOOKS AT THE TWO BEARS FOR A MOMENT.
NIGHTWING: --the other brown one.
BULLOCK: I hate clowns. . .
Review (Robin III): This was a great
'classic' Batman episode in that it was a traditional plot of the
original series with the team-work of Batman and 'Robin', now Nightwing.
Even the original musical themes of Batman and the Mad Hatter were used
during key sequences! The use of the hose in the fight with the bears
was very reminiscent of one of Batman and Robin's last adventures
together in SubZero and was an excellent addition to the episode.
The attitude that Batman first took to Nightwing in this episode showed
great disapproval of Dick's transformation into his own man and was
continued with his barging in on Dick's territory. It was especially
evident during their second meeting at Dick's loft when Robin
interrupted and Batman snapped at him. This undertone to the episode was
a defining element in the relations between Bruce and Dick, but
unfortunately, the very final scene seemed to break this.
The animation wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't horrible either. If
anything, the animals were the one's with the superior animation and
drawing. The characters did hold a single form, but sometimes things
just looked out of place or not as smooth as they could be.
Review (Batman Fan): An overlooked
episode that should be given a second glance because of the heavy
character interactions and conflicts.
What makes this episode so worth while is Batman's continual disapproval
of Dick's transformation into Nightwing and his condescending attitude
to everything that Nightwing does, and somehow in the midst of it all,
Nightwing is able to keep a cool head about which I think is a great
quality and really defines his character's growth and evolution. Not to
mention when you mix in the new Robin this episode makes sparks fly
between our main characters.
As I was saying, the episode is interesting because it makes our
quarreling heroes to try and set aside their differences to concentrate
on the crime at hand. Batman was just a total jerk to Nightwing. From
rude comments on his stealth skills, to disrupting his privacy, to just
showing no sign of approval at all, the tension really built up because
you always wondered what may happen next. And then you add Robin in, who
totally looks up to Nightwing as a rolemodel, which I've always enjoyed,
but is under Batman's command, makes for a bit of struggle for him as
well. Bringing back a part of Dick's past was also another great plot
device for the characters, as he's dealing with two aspects of it, being
a partner to Batman, and in a sense reliving his childhood which adds
more conflict and turmoil Nightwing has to deal with, not to mention he
ends up saving the entire circus. I enjoyed seeing the circus Dick grew
up in and all the performers were really neat.
Now to the main plot we've got the Mad Hatter. Always thought he was an
interesting character and villain and I liked all his other appearances
but this one felt rusty and old. I did like the fact he was controlling
animals which added a different aspect to the story and some interesting
action scenes our heroes had to deal with, but what exactly was he
gaining by disguising as a circus clown and controlling the performers?
I guess you could say he was furthering his research into mind control,
but the episode completely drowned out Hatter's scheme with Batman and
The action scenes were nice. The one with the gorilla was neat to see
because they all had no idea what to expect from it. And for obvious
reasons the last two were great because of the fact that it was like
Batman and Robin fighting side by side again, and while they fought
outside, in battle, they managed to put aside their differences and
worked like partners to achieve their goal. The animation was solid,
nothing special, but solid and good looking. Nice bits of humor as well
between Bullock and the clown and Tim scooping poop.
An underrated episode should definitely be looked at just for the depths
of character interactions and internal conflict.
[ Back to Episode Reviews ]