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The World's Finest Presents

Only A Dream

Episode #31 & 32 - Only A Dream Part 1 & 2
Original Airdate - October 11th 2003

When members of the Justice League are trapped in a nightmarish dream world controlled by the evil Dr. Destiny, they are forced to confront their own darkest fears.

Media by Bird Boy
Review by Maxie Zeus
Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Butch Lukic
Music by Michael McCuistion
Animation by Dr. Movie Co., LTD.

Maria Canals as Hawkgirl
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Carl Lumby as J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern as Superman
Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash
Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern
William Atherton as Dee/Dr. Destiny
Fairuza Balk as Penny
Dana Delany as Lois Lane
Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor
Mark Hamill as Joker, Solomon Grundy
David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen
Jason Marsden as Snapper Carr
Peri Gilpin as Volcana
Mark Rolston as Firefly
Nicholas Guest as Doctor
Jose Yenque as Copperhead
Richard McGonagle as Warden
Screen Grabs, Part 1


Screen Grabs, Part 2



The "Nobody/Odysseus" bit between J'onn and Batman may be a finalist for the single clumsiest conversational exchange since Plan 9 from--

Oops, wait a minute. My inner Matt Wilson got loose again. Gimme a sec while I tie him back down.

Okay, let's start over. "Only a Dream" gives us great sequence piled on great sequence. We got some of the best action bits yet -- I swear, the TV actually shook every time Grundy threw a punch. And they were nicely interspersed with great, smart little quasi-throwaway bits: Volcana and Firefly's smoldering flirts, Hawkgirl turning the parable of the frog and the scorpion upside down on poor Copperhead, and more coffee scenes than you can shake a box of No-Doze at. Of course, you have to wonder why Volcana and Grundy are in a regular prison, and why Luminus and Firefly and Copperhead have their costumes and weapons so conveniently handy. On the other hand, you should never underestimate the stupidity of the authorities, especially when the screenwriter needs a kick-ass fight sequence to break the boredom of the slowest, slooooooowwwwwest opening since My Dinner with--

Down, boy. Pardon me while I go get a stronger padlock.

The dreams! Let's talk about those wonderful dream sequences. Was that Michigan J. in the refrigerator? That was the first thing I thought, and boy did I laugh. Same with dream-Clark and the "candles" over that balcony dinner. Was it my imagination or were his eyes, while trained on the menu, also aimed right at Lois' tea cosies? And dream-Supes crushing "Superman's pal": a subtle wink at the least favorite STAS episode of all time? Yes or no, it was more LOL. And the dreams were creepy, too. Okay, they weren't creepy and surreal like Batman Beyond's Spellbinder intro, where reality and illusion got all mixed up with each other, right there on screen. Nor were they creepy and disturbing like TNBA's "Over the Edge," where the character suffered precisely because she had no way of knowing it was a dream. They were more "intellectually" creepy, in that you read them as reflections of the character's innermost fears. Well, not "read" them exactly; "reading" implies a certain amount of interpretation, and who needs interpretation when the episode drops Dr. Freud right on your neck and shoves his cigar-which-is-more-than-a-cigar right down your throat like that scary old man-doll Mike Chekhov in Hitchcock's horrible, horrible Spellb--

Am I going to have to chain you up in the attic?

Great voice performances too from all concerned. Destiny's delivery got spookier and scarier the more powerful he got, which was good since as Dee he was pretty weak--

Animation was ripping when they were fighting, though it seemed stiff and jerky when they weren't--

Fanboy that I am, I jumped up and down at all the cameos, from the second-string and supporting villains to the "extras" like Lois and Jimmy, and even the old man and little boy from "In Blackest Night" were a nice touch, though by the end I was expecting Batman to beat Destiny by going to Whoopi in the center square for the block--

Shake it off, man. Shake ... it ... off ...

Oh, dingdongdiddlydangCRAP. There's not an effin' in this ep I haven't liked elsewhere, and nowhere else have they done it as well as they do it in "Only a Dream." If they're tossing planets around in JL, here they toss them with seeming effortlessness. But it's like watching a warm-up exercise, not a game, because the skillful moves don't connect and build on each other in an effective way. All the great thrashing in part one can't hide that the story is treading water for 20 minutes, and the smart dream stuff in part two is just more obstacle course running. I wanted to cheer and throw things at the TV at the same time. By the end I couldn't tell my huzzahs from my raspberries.

In season one, JL could occasionally plot out a shapely arc even when the particular events were blah: "Legends," "The Enemy Below," "The Brave and the Bold." Sometimes they couldn't get either one right: "In Blackest Night," "War World," "Fury." In "The Savage Time" they had them both, and that ep has yet to be topped. (IMO, as always.) Now we get the fourth possible permutation: great bits unmatched in their craftsmanship, all dangling uselessly. I yield to no one in appreciating what we got in this ep, and when the parade of great scenes in "Only a Dream" goes by -- and it's a long one -- I'll shove my way to the front of the crowd to salute them all. (That's what I've tried to do here.) But a parade is not a story, and I'm not going to pretend that it is.

Well, Mr. Grumpy is going to live with it and he's going to be happy. If "Only a Dream" is not as good as, say, "The Brave and the Bold," it is certainly more memorable, and that counts for a lot. And a small scene like the JL nodding off as a spooky music box score chimes away on the soundtrack is all by itself worth the price of admission. I would rather have that, actually, than the clumsy chase scene in "The Enemy Below." Let's call it a success and let's give it four stars out of five. But let's not forget that missing star, and let's not forget why it's missing.

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