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Alan Burnett is no stranger to the Dark Knight or the animated universe. Having been involved with these comic characters for many years, there was no question he'd step up for the newest animated rendition of the Dark Knight - The Batman. Burnett talks to James Harvey of The World's Finest about what we can expect in the popular show's fourth season.

The World’s Finest (WF): You're the Supervising Producer for the fourth season of The Batman. Can you give us a little look into the role itself (your duties and obligations, etc)? How has this changed from your previous involvement in the series?

Alan Burnett (AB): Actually, I’m an executive producer, which usually connotes less involvement than a producer or supervising producer. However, I’ve been busier on the series this season than the last three seasons put together, not that that’s saying a lot. It’s just a great crew. Mike Goguen and Duane Capizzi have been supervising producers all these years. Jeff Matsuda, producer and art director. Linda Steiner, producer and den mother. Kim Smith, line producer. And Michael Jelenic, writer and story editor. The only reason I’ve been doing more this season is because Duane, who also was the head story editor, was called away on two other projects: the Superman DVD and development that can’t be discussed yet. My job mostly entailed dealing with stories, attending recordings, reading storyboards, and meetings with the network. The show pretty much runs itself because of the great, creative crew it has.

WF: Based on the information provided in interviews and Comic-Con coverage, we're in for a radically different season. What prompted this new approach to the series?

AB: Probably Michael Jelenic, the story editor, had more to do with it than anyone. He wanted to broaden the scope, bring in other D.C. characters, and generally make it a little more fanboy friendly. All I know is when I became more involved, he had the season already mapped out. I suppose, too, that there was a feeling among Mike and Jeff and all the crew members that this season will bring us to 52 episodes, the number you need for a syndication package. So, if we were ever going to do “radical” stuff, this was the season.

WF: It seems like the show is getting a radical reboot and a new approach. Was there fear the show was growing stagnant and this little jumpstart was necessary?

AB: No, I don’t believe that. If you look back, every season has its new elements. The approach hasn’t changed; it’s that Batman’s world gets much larger and more complicated. He even staves off an alien invasion this season.

WF: What type of dynamic can we expect with the introduction of Robin this season. How do you expect him to play off both Batman and Batgirl?

AB: First of all, this is a young Robin. Definitely middle school. He’s very spirited. No ego problems whatsoever. He doesn’t get out of line with Batman, but he can be cocky. He has a sibling rivalry with Batgirl – the older sister/younger brother thing. He’s voiced by Evan Sabara, who’s about Robin’s age.

WF: Some fans gave a mixed opinion when it came to Batgirl appearing on the show last season. How do you think the introduction of Robin will be welcomed. What role do you expect the character to fill?

AB: Maybe I’m not reading enough websites. I wasn’t aware of any mixed opinion. I know the audience she was created for seems to really like her. Maybe people were expecting Robin to be introduced first, but Robin wasn’t available to us until this season. I think viewers will like him. The origin story is the classic story, and it’s beautifully animated. Even in rough assembly (the uncut footage put together) it was great to look at. It was directed by Brandon Vietti and written by Michael.

It was mentioned at Comic-Con that Kevin Conroy voices Robin’s dad. What I don’t think was mentioned was that Mark Hamill plays Zucco, the guy who kills Robin’s parents.

WF: The show was cited as a young approach to Batman, giving us a young look at the hero through the Caped Crusader himself. With Batgirl and now Robin in the series, will the "young approach" shift to the sidekicks with Batman becoming more (for lack of better term) adult? How will bringing in Robin affect the tone of the series? Can we expect it to be a bit darker (or lighter) in tone? Why?

AB: This season gets into more psychology with the characters. Stan Berkowitz wrote an origin of the Riddler, for example, to show what makes him tick. Psychology tends to make things darker, but I can’t say that much darker on this show. The Batman's always had a sense of humor. And Batman is older than he was in the beginning, so he has matured. He has a team now, if that’s what you can call two hyperactive teenagers, and he’s definitely in command.

WF: This season will bring the introduction of a lot of familiar faces to the comic and animated world, particularly Harley, Nightwing, the "Dark Knight" Batman, Robin and Oracle. Are these stories the show has been waiting to tell or is the fourth season just the right time? Why? Also, what writers and directors will we be leaving their mark on the new season?

AB: As I said this season brings us to show 52, so if we’re going to tell these stories we’d better tell them now.

In addition to Michael and Stan, the writers include Paul Dini, who wrote the Harley episode (of course), Joe Kuhr, Steven Melching, Alexx Van Dyne and the team of Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie, from “Buffie,” who wrote a two-part Jon Jonzz team-up. We also had Greg Weismann, who wrote the episode featuring Nightwing and Oracle, which was one of my favorites of the season.

In addition to Brandon, the directors include Anthony Chun and Matt Youngberg. They work under Mike Goguen, and I gotta tell you, the storyboards on this show are enormous: a thousand pages, and I’m not exaggerating. You can get carpal tunnel syndrome just turning the pages.

WF: So, based on what fans already know from the coverage, what can we expect this season? Why should fans, even those who have never watched the series before, tune into the fourth season of The Batman?

AB: It’s a great show. And we’ve gone all out on the action. You know, every time Batman hits someone or someone hits him, there’s a flash frame for impact. This season we must have 500,000 flash frames!
And where else are you going to hear Joker and Harley sing a duet? Where else will you hear Brandon Routh voice an animated character? Where else are you going to see a new Batman story on the screen? The next movie’s a year and a half away. We’re bringing him to you September 23rd! How great is that?

WF: Can we expect possibly a fifth season of The Batman? Have plans already been set in motion for more stories to tell in the future for this show? And can we expect another The Batman DTV based on the success of The Batman Versus Dracula?

AB: For all of you who want to see a fifth season of The Batman, here’s what you do. You start your Christmas and holiday shopping September 23rd and buy all the Batman toys you can. You buy them by the gross. You buy them not just for little kids, but for mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles, because, believe me, there is a child in us all. Once the consumer products people see this massive, glorious spike in toy sales, you can bet we’ll be heading for show number 65 and another DTV. Maybe two!

WF: And finally, what else can we expect from you in the future? Are there projects, DC or non-DC related, that will have your involvement?

AB: Right now I’m working on two DC-related projects, which I am very excited about. One involves the two “big guns.” That’s all I can say. If I say more, someone will visit me in the night.

Be sure to check out the complete Season 4 Episode Guide -- but beware of spoilers!



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