The World's Finest Presents

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
Screen Grabs


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: It was.
NIGHTWING (to Batman): You take the brown one. I'll take--
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 Nightwing feuds.

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.


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