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Rise of the Blue Beetle!
Original Airdate - November 14th, 2008
Batman and Blue Beetle team up to save an alien race from Kanjar Ro.

Written by Michael Jelenic
Directed by Ben Jones
Animation by Lotto Animation
Media provided by Warner Bros. Animation
Cast
Diedrich Bader as Batman
Dee Bradley Baker as Clock King, Gibble Leader
Will Friedle as Jaime/Blue Beetle
Jason Marsden as Paco
James Arnold Taylor as Green Arrow
Marc Worden as Kanjar Ro

Music
Theme Written and Performed by Andy Strumer
Music by Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter

Media



Video Clips

































Review (James Harvey, Spoilers)
Within the first few seconds of this animated series, you know what you're in for. The first episode opens with Batman and Green Arrow tied to a classic death trap, dangling over a vat of acid, while The Clock King gloats about his superiority over these famed heroes, and about to head on to his next heist. The two heroes banter back and forth before managing to free themselves and head off to thwart the devious Clock King! We're then whipped into a colorful and bright opening sequence, with Batman running and climbing across the screen as the admittedly awesome theme music plays. It's a fun, zippy opening, and it doesn't stop there.

Building on the iconic character of Batman, this latest interpretation of the classic Batman franchise finds Batman teaming up with heroes from across the DC Comics Universe. Light in tone, Batman: The Brave and the Bold will introduce younger viewers to a famed hero while still offering plenty to excite diehard fans. Fans of all ages will cheer the caped crusader as he battles crime and injustice. Best of all, Batman isnít going at it alone! Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman and countless others will get a chance to uphold justice alongside him. Though still based in Gotham City, the Caped Crusader will frequently find himself outside city limits, facing situations that are both unfamiliar and exhilarating. With formidable foes around every corner, Batman will still rely on his stealth, resourcefulness and limitless supply of cool gadgets to bring justice home!

There's something many critics will call this show, and that's "fun." And they should. This is a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, in any way whatsoever, and is incredibly easy for any viewer to get into. The first episode, "The Rise of the Blue Beetle," moves along quickly, and gets its point across to the viewer almost immediately, first with the pre-credit sequence and then again with the episode itself. It lets the viewer know that what they're in for is a half-hour of pure fun. And that's what you get. Fans of the Silver Age should definitely enjoy this series, which comes across as a mix of the light-hearted fun of Superfriends and the edgy-action and humor of The Powerpuff Girls. I know, I know, it seems like an odd comparison, but I think it works appropriately for this series. There's a mix of fun action sequences and sophisticated humor that many viewers will appreciate.

Now, I'm not going to waste time comparing this series to what came before, like Batman: The Animated Series or The Batman. There's no need to. Why? Because, right away, the viewer knows this is unlike anything that has come before in recent years. This is a series that we can laugh at and not feel like we're in some way insulting the characters on the screen. And no, this series doesn't mock the characters, but, this is a series that plays for laughs. But not once is it at the expense of a character. Yes, we may laugh at what they do or say, but not once is it at the expense of who the character is. In "Rise of the Blue Beetle" there's a great gag involving a cat stuck in a tree that I guarantee viewers will get an absolute kick out of. I know I did. To wrap it up in a nutshell, "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" is basically "Batman in Space!"

Now, of course, when it comes to a new animated series, especially one like Batman: The Brave and The Bold, the fan community tends to revolt against a series before they even see a single frame. And that's no different here. It happened to The Batman, it happened to Legion of Super Heroes, it happened to Teen Titans, and it'll happen here. Some people will decry and bash this series without watching a second of it. And that's a shame. Because they'll be missing out on a fun series that's appropriate for all ages, something the entire family can enjoy. I guarantee girls will swoon for The Blue Beetle! It's a show that doesn't pander to the audience in any way, or mince words. It's fun with a bit of an edge, I'll admit.

If you're a fan of the dark, gritty hero who's currently popular in both the comics (see: Batman - R.I.P.) and the big screen (see: The Dark Knight), there's a good chance you won't like what you see here. We have Batman decked out in grey and blue, trading one-liners and quips with Green Arrow, and then cracking wise with The Blue Beetle, the teenaged-superhero with a major superhero-worship complex when it comes to Batman. And, besides, just look at the first episode where Batman and Blue Beetle head into space to stop a meteor and then, after being sucked into a wormhole, have to help an alien race against the menacing Kanjar-Ro! Batman and The Blue Beetle end up being an effective duo in the first episode, and it actually lays the groundwork for the entire series, so the viewer knows what to expect week in and week out. So, if you like what you see, and you like the first episode, there's a great chance that Batman: The Brave and The Bold is exactly for you.

We've been treated to a lot of grim Batman, especially this year, and, for many fans, this series will be a welcome breathe of fresh air. No doubt many will open their arms to this barrel-chested, yellow oval Batman.

For this latest incarnation of the Caped Crusader, Deidrich Bader provides the voice of our hero, a perfect casting choice. He brings a gruff seriousness to the role, but also brings a light-hearted softness to it, as well. Bader is able to flip from being tough to wise-cracking without missing a single beat. Batman also provides voice-over narration for each episode, which serves to basically establish the mood of the episode and give insight into the plot, as well. It's a quick way to establish what the viewer may need to know. Will Friedle deserves a special nod as an absolutely perfect casting choice for The Blue Beetle.

The first episode, "The Rise of the Blue Beetle," is a treasure-trove of nods and little injokes that fans of all ages will enjoy. Older fans will no doubt enjoy seeing a The Dark Knight Returns poster on Blue Beetle's bedroom wall, and will also undoubtedly realize the quick "The Aristocrats" joke that flashes briefly on the television. There's also a bevy of nods to other DC characters, notably, once again, on Blue Beetle's bedroom wall, which includes posters that feature Guy Gardner, Atom, Fire, Starro, and the hilarious "Hammers of Justice" Batman poster. There's many more than that, and that's only within the first five minutes or so of the episode. Sharp-eyed viewers will likely catch all of these and the countless heroes and villains either seen or spelled out in the opening credits. Catching all these nods is only half the fun of Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

I just want to quickly mention Ben Jones, who directed this episode. Jones was able to really capture the spirit of what this spirit is about, especially with his use of quick pans and great character close-ups. His directing really adds to the fun spirit, and I look forward to the other episodes he'll be directing this season. Also, the script by Michael Jelenic does a great job as essentially setting the stage for the series. Jelenic is able to introduce the series and the tone without having the story slowdown. The story is a good introduction to what should be a fun series.

Viewers who tune into "The Rise of The Blue Beetle" will be in for a treat. The episode is a solid introduction into the series, a series that should be a lot of fun for those who stick around for the long haul. Yes, there will likely be a few Batman fans who'll dislike this take on Batman. This Batman is a costumed adventurer who can crack wise with the best of them, a Batman who doesn't take himself too seriously. But, not once, does this show do any disrespect to the character. This is a Batman where the entire family can gather around the television, week after week, and enjoy his latest fantastic adventures. There's plenty of action, some flat-out hilarious moments, good dialogue, and an enjoyable introduction story for the show. Batman: The Brave and The Bold harkens back to a pre-"grim and gritty" Batman and it's actually a bit refreshing to see. This version of Batman isn't better or worse than what came before, just a different take on a great character, and every bit as valid. Thankfully, it's also an absolutely fun ride, one that's suitable for all ages. Batman: The Brave and The Bold is definitely worth checking out.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" premieres November 14th, 2008, at 7:30pm (ET).

Review (Zach Demeter, Spoilers)
With countless hours of animation under his belt, Batman is one of DC Comics most developed properties when it comes to their animation line. With the completion of The Batman a few backs, it was only natural that after a short reprieve Warner Bros. Animation would follow up the series with another installment. As with The Batman before it, Batman: The Brave and the Bold isnít exactly what fans expected in a follow-up but that isnít necessarily a bad thing.

So what is Batman: The Brave and the Bold offering us that we havenít seen before? Well that was probably what the crew behind the series tried their hardest at, so that we wouldnít be yawning and saying ďBatman: The Animated Series did it better!Ē Well of course it did; you canít even compare anything to that series at this point, everything comes up short. So letís push that comparison away from the start for two reasons: one, as I said already, nothing will ever beat, match or compare to it; accept that fact and move on and enjoy your DVDs. Secondly, this show is honestly and truly like nothing weíve seen The Dark Knight in before. You will likely feel uncomfortable watching it as you decide what to make of this strange beast, but donít dismiss it without giving it a fair shot first.

Keep in mind Iím basing this review purely off of some publicity stills and the pilot episode alone, which, as a basis, is never a good thing to base a show off of. In the past weíve received shows with terrific pilots (Teen Titans, as far as Iím concerned, actually peaked in the first season) so perhaps this is how the entire season will go from here, who knows. Purely for this review, however, Iím going to wager a guess that there will be minor tweaking that goes on within the next few episodes, but as is I doubt weíll see any sweeping changes unless either the network mandates it in a later season.

With that having been said, how to describe this new show? While the early press releases for it (and the press kit itself) touted it as a bit more tongue-in-cheek and joke filled, what was the final result? Itís true that there are plenty of witty repertoires among the heroes in the series, from what little of it Iíve seen, but unfortunately this is not the driving force behind the show. Although the press kit has a witty quote about the show (ďWhen you combine these guysí strengths with Batmanís smarts, you wind up with some powerful wisecracks.Ē), this really does little to touch upon what it is on the outset. For instance with this debut show we have our introduction to Blue Beetle. This Beetle is of the younger variety and is enthralled with Batman, memorizing his every move and in constant awe of him. This entire episode, however, revolves around Beetle learning how to use his newly obtained abilities and also to learn how to be a better hero and how to use his head rather than just his super powered suit. If this episode is any indication, then it will be a bit more kid-focused than early materials led on; sadly I actually felt being talked down to, whereas with other DC animated efforts (like, again, Teen Titans) I didnít feel quite so treated as if I was ten. Of course this is all because this is a cartoon and my being 21 mean Iím well out of the age bracket for this release, but it never hurts to have a little universal appeal.

Now comes the point where I compare this show to ones that have come before it. Will it completely scare you if I say that itís a bit like Krypto? How about if I also mention that it has tastes of Family Guy thrown in? Does that bewilder you that a show could possibly be both? Well it didnít occur to me immediately while watching it, but upon reflecting on the pilot I realized that the aspect of Batman working with a bunch of different heroes (although in his case theyíre actually real heroes and not super fast cats named Streaky, soÖtake that as you will [and yes I totally knocked on Streaky the Cat, what of it?]) was reminiscent of Krypto. How does Family Guy factor in, you ask? How indeed. I pondered using a The Simpsons reference but considering everything has been done on that show, it would be hard to imagine a show not having some kind of spawning in The Simpsons. Enough of the rambling, you say, get on with the explanation! All righty, so the reasoning behind my invoking the holy name of Family Guy is: the quick cut. Yes, itís hardly a Family Guy original but that series has almost made a living off of random cut-a-ways and thatís kind of similar to something that happened in the pilot. When Batman asked Blue Beetle about how his learning of his suit functionality was going, a very quick cut-a-way was played that showed Blue Beetle attempting to rescue a kitten from a tree and instead ended up destroying the tree in the process. This lasts only a few seconds and Iím so used to these type of quick-cuts in other cartoons now that I didnít even realize that this superhero cartoon Iím watching just used a comedy cartoon staple. So no, itís not Peter vs. The Chicken, but itís hard to deny that this series isnít a great deal bit more focused on the laughs than previous DC cartoons.

One element that is clear about what this show will be is it will rarely be about Batman by himself. In the pilot alone he played second fiddle the entire time, aside from a brief intro with him and Green Arrow. Which Iím perfectly fine with; weíve seen Batman in so many forms already, a little bit of sidekick camp isnít going to hurt anything. In fact one of the funniest pieces of dialogue in the pilot actually stemmed from Batman himself, as hard as that may be to believe. After remarking about how no time had passed during their intergalactic fight with Kanjar Ro and their saving of the Gibble race, Batman remarks ďDue to the quantum anomalies of wormholes, none has.Ē Then, a few short seconds later, we hear a voiceover provided by Batman where he states ďOf course that's just a fancy way of saying 'That's Weird.' But half the things I encounter on this job make no sense.Ē Yes, Batman actually made a joke and yes, it was funny. It wasnít even corny, which is what is so fascinating about it. Itís certainly a new area to explore for the character, although Iím sure Christopher Nolan will probably throw something at his TV if he hears that. On top of the joking, Batman himself seems to play a role that was split up into a Batman/Superman pairing previously, with Batman playing mentor and friend to the members around him.

Michael Jelenicís pilot, if you havenít assessed for yourself by now, was a bit of a mix of for-kids and for-adults. This would normally be a fantastic blend if it werenít for the for-kid moments being so chair-to-the-head strong with the message theyíre trying to get across. If they can dial that down a bit and not be quite so insistent on their message, then I could see this show being a big hit with adults as well. Of course the humor alone will likely keep fans of the Bat entertained (as long as they donít mind a little bit of Adam West camp thrown in, otherwise you may run screaming).

I feel I should note, although Iím not entirely sure why but it will probably come up somewhere, that Iím not exactly the biggest fan of the show that preceded this one (The Batman). I defended that series at every turn, as each season promised to grow and get stronger and for awhile I fully believed it would, but after a mediocre first season, a decent second season, a lackluster third, a decent fourth and an abysmal fifth, I slowly realized that that show really was just about the biggest roller coaster ride for quality there was. From season to season that show didnít know what it wanted to be and I became genuinely disinterested and literally bored with the entire affair by the fifth season. In an odd twist I actually didnít watch any of the fifth season until well after itíd aired (yeah I know, administrator of The Worldís Finest and I didnít lay eyes on a single episode until itíd been off air for a few months) and by the time I did it became such a chore to get through each episode. Itís not that the writing was necessarily bad; I just didnít care about anything that was happening. The Justice League working with an awkward and partially flawed interpretation of the Batman character wasnít exactly a perfect recipe, but I barely made it through that final season. I thought it just had to do with me ďgrowing upĒ and moving on from cartoons, but I just realize now that, for me, it was just a really mediocre season and a poor one to end the series on. Itís no real fault of the crew behind the show, Iím sure they did their best at making the show both something the fans and network wanted, but almost never do those two go hand-in-hand. Though to this day I still enjoy The Batman vs. Dracula, so heyÖwhatever.

So what does that paragraph block have to do with my feelings toward this latest effort? Surprisingly a lot, actually. Something I just realized while writing the above paragraph was that I genuinely enjoyed watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold. It wasnít something I was doing just for the site, but I honestly and truly had a good time watching it. Whether it was the new take on the genre (I hesitate to say ďfreshĒ, but for as stale as itís become it very well could be a nice kick to the pants), the new voice actors or the concept as a whole, but I really do think that Batman: The Brave and the Bold could be a fun show to watch. You absolutely have to accept that it will be tongue-in-cheek, however, otherwise youíll just run from the room screaming. And unlike when The Batman tried to make me laugh, I genuinely chuckled at this show quite a few times, so that should at least tell you something about it.

Enough about the writing of the show, letís talk about how it presents itself as a cartoon. First and foremost fans of animated DC works will no doubt view Batman: The Brave and the Bold as looking more than a bit like The Batman. Aside from the character designs, the city, background and just about everything about the series looks like it could have been a part of the previous Bat series, although obviously this may be attributed to the same studios animating both (for this pilot, Lotto Animation was in charge). Of course the character designs look wonderful in their Dick Sprang-inspired glory, with a noticeable "heft" being added to Batman's movement. He doesn't dart around quite so much like he has on previous shows, although he is still fast enough to dodge a bullet, obviously. Another thing that is wildly different is the voice actors. Iíve somehow managed to skirt around the fact until now that Diedrich Bader is voicing Batman on this show, which is more than a bit odd. With his previous big DC animation credit as Zeta in The Zeta Project, itís hard to imagine that he could voice one of the biggest superheroes known to mankind butÖhe actually does a pretty solid job. It helps that the man himself has had some comedy training (and ďsomeĒ is not being very generous to the man; he made scenes in Office Space instantly memorable and quotable, segments on Whose Line Is It Anyway? gut-wrenchingly funny and The Drew Carey show hilarious, after all) so the new humor angle for this show is definitely going to work with him behind the pipes of Batman more than the characters previous voice actors. In addition to that we got a taste of some of the other actors in the show with this pilot, with James Arnold Taylor as an upbeat Green Arrow and Will Friedle as the wide-eyed Blue Beetle. Itís rather amazing to think the last time Friedle and Bader shared character screen time with one another was when Friedle was the voice of Batman in Batman Beyond and Bader was voicing the timid sounding Zeta, as their roles on this series are complete opposites this time around.

And what would the show be without its music? With a theme composed by Andy Strumer that reminds one of the Adam West series (which the second The Batman theme did as well, but this one even moreso) and music by the DC Animated classic trio of Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter bringing to life the actual episodes. Time will tell if they will split duties as they did on Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited or whether it will remain a collaborated effort, but it makes a world of difference just to have them behind this show. Thereís a richness that comes from their music that always sounds terrific and the camped up nature of this series appears to not be a difficulty for them in the least to master.

So thatís nearly four pages of text based on the press kit, some images and the pilot alone. How did I possibly manage to write those much about twenty-two minutes of animation and little else? Iím not entirely sure. All I know is I enjoyed what I saw and am looking forward to seeing more of it. Iím hopeful that future episodes wonít be quite so dumbed down, what with the more adult heroes in the series unlikely to need to be taught how to use their new suit, so weíll see. For all I know the Blue Beetle scenario is limited to him alone and the rest of the series will be a laugh-a-minute half hour filled with dirty jokes and comments that fly over kids heads. Ok well thatís pretty much impossible, but in any case Iíll be tuning in when this show hits the airwaves.

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