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RELEASES - THE BATMAN: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON


Packaging


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Art

Announce Date: 8/1/07
Street Date: 11/20/07
Closed Captioning: Yes
MSRP: $19.98
Packaging Type: Amaray Case
Disc Configuration: 1) 9-Dual Layer 2) 9-Dual Layer
Run Time:
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33, Standard [4:3 Transfer]
Sound Quality: English Dolby Surround Stereo


Episodes

Disc 1 - A Matter Of Family (AKA Robin Rising); Team Penguin (aka The B-Team); Clayfaces; The Everywhere Man; The Breakout (aka "Backstory"); Strange New world (aka Batgirl & Robin); Artifacts

Disc 2 - Seconds; Riddler's Revenge; Two Of A Kind; Rumors; The Joining Part One; The Joining Part Two

Special Features
Featurette : "The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked" (In the new season, the Dynamic Duo becomes a trio as - "Robin, The Boy Wonder" explodes onto the Gotham scene. Discovered is how the series creators decided on this incarnation of Robin, as well as the characters impact on the Dark Knight and his rocky relationship with Batgirl.) {TRT Estimate 15 minutes}

Synopsis
Season 4 features a redesign of Bruce Wayne/Batman, that is more reminiscent of the DCAU (Bruce Timm) Batman. The season also introduces Dick Grayson as Robin (Evan Sabara) into the series as well as other characters such as Lucius Fox (Louis Gossett Jr.). More villains appear such as Tony Zucco (Mark Hamill), Killer Moth (Jeff Bennett), Black Mask (James Remar) & Number One (Diedrich Bader), Rumor (Ron Perlman), Everywhere Man (Brandon Routh), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), Francis Grey (Dave Foley), and a new Clayface (Wallace Langham). Batgirl returns this season as well, and is now officially part of Batman's team. Swoop onto this Deluxe 2-Disc Edition with All Season 4 Adventures plus Exciting Extras. See justice done as no other hero can deliver!

Review by James Harvey:
From the start The Batman has been one show which widely divided the fan community. Some liked it, others reviled it. While the show did get off to an admittedly shaky start, it founded solid footing in the second season before slipping mildly in the third. However, with the third, the show roared back with improved writing and some great story-telling. Of course, the fourth season also brought in Robin and some slight redesigns. Overall, this season is home-run smash and belongs in any Bat-fans's collection. And onto the synopsis!

Society can sleep soundly knowing America's favorite crime-fighters are on the job. Warner Home Video and DC Comics bring the next installment of superhero tales to DVD with the release of The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season. With the fifth season currently airing on Saturdays on the Kids WB!, The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season features a redesign of Batman, Batgirl returning as an official member of Batman's team and Dick Grayson's arrival as his trusty sidekick Robin comes just in time as evil villains Killer Moth, Black Mask, and Everywhere Man try to invade Gotham City. Watch as the Dynamic Duo becomes a trio in the 2-Disc edition of the Emmy-winning animated series.

So, where to start here? Well, why not at the beginning, and then we'll go from there? The season opens with "A Matter of Family," introducing Robin into The Batman mythos. All Bat-fans know the story of young Dick Grayson, a circus performer who lost his parents who quickly became Batman's sidekick, Robin. While the episode does feel a bit rushed, I think it definitely does the story justice. The writing is well done and it probably one of The Batman more low-key and less "fantastic" episodes. This episode and "Seconds" are easily two of the best episodes of the season, maybe even the series.

From there the series moves on at breakneck speed, bringing us a host of refreshing and sometimes shocking episodes. Another highlight of the season is, undoubtedly, the introduction of Harley Quinn into The Batman's universe in a very well-handled episode written by Paul Dini. A fun episode which brings a nice twist to the character. Other great episodes include the previously mentioned (and must-see) "Seconds," the two-part season finale "The Joining," the simply brilliant "Artifacts," and the hilarious "Team Penguin." That's not the say the rest are stinkers, but these are the episodes I truly enjoyed this past season, save for one exception. I just want to quickly mention "The Everywhere Man," featuring Superman Returns's Brandon Routh and Smallville's Allison Mack. While the episode is somewhat standard and gimmick-driven, I found it to be a really enjoyable episode overall and something all Superman fans should give watch.

It's a great season, and probably the best of the entire series. Now, there is still some clunky writing but the animation is still top-notch. I found the series also did an excellent job approaching Robin's introduction, many others called foul, stating that it was a knock-off of Batman: The Animated Series, which would be inaccurate. The Batman simply offered their interpretation of Robin's classic origin, and, in no way, ripped off Batman: The Animated Series. I find fans can be too fickle at times and this show has sadly, and unfairly, suffered from said fickleness. This show has genuinely improved, and having watched from day one, I can say this is the best season to date. The action is more intense, the writing seems more mature, the introduction of Robin was brilliantly handled, and this season seems to pack more of a punch than any before.

Does the DVD also pack a solid punch? Well, not really. It's really the same extras that we get time and time again. Included is the featurette "The Batman Season 4 Unmasked," which highlights "Robin, the Boy Wonder." The featurette looks at how the creators opted for this incarnation of Robin as well as the character's impact on the Dark Knight and his relationship with Batgirl. A standard featurette which, while being too short with a run time of less than ten minutes, fans should find interesting. The DVD also includes a selection of trailers, including the upcoming Justice League: The New Frontier DTV. The episodes are, of course, in full screen, but the audio and video on this set is pretty solid, above broadcast quality. If you picked up The Batman: The Complete Third Season, then you know what to expect for the audio and video transfers.

For fans of The Batman, picking up The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season is a no-brainer. Yeah, the extras are a bit slim, as usual, but the episodes themselves are more than worth it here. This is the best season of the series to date, and this collection really should be added to every Bat-fans collection. While the writing can sometimes feel clunky and average, the animation always remains top quality and the visuals stunning. Plus, you get a lot of great villains, the addition of Robin, and some really stunning episodes. It's a great season, and this collection comes Recommended. I just wish more extras and a widescreen transfer were available for the collection. With the new season underway, newbies may want to check out this DVD collection for more great action.

Review by Zach Demeter
If anything, The Batman has proven just how wrong the fanbase can be about a given show when it first airs. While it's often unfair to judge a show by its pilot episode (or in the case of The Batman, its entire first season), for any show that continues on past twenty some episodes it's likely that the writers have found their niche and know exactly how to handle their characters. Case in point, The Batman's fourth season proved to be its strongest, with the introduction of Robin the Boy Wonder, a retooled Batman/Bruce Wayne design and a whole slew of opportunities for jokes stemming from a faux sibling rivalry between Batman's two young partners. On top of the introduction of a new hero was the shows gradual escalation towards its season finale with the introduction of an alien invasion and a certain green Martian, hoping to aid Batman and fend off the eventual threat from the extra terrestrials.

With thirteen all new episodes, The Batman made a splash in its second season with the introduction of Dick Grayson and family in "A Matter of Family." Even though we had only a scant twenty two minutes to be introduced to the new character and have him learn the secret of The Batman, it's nothing we haven't seen in other adaptations before (The New Batman Adventures Tim Drake character received a similar introduction in the "Sins of the Father" episode) and it worked remarkably well here. Within no time the character of Robin felt like a welcome breath of fresh air to the show, as the introduction of Batgirl in the previous season had fallen flat and left this reviewer with a bad taste in his mouth (though that may be the mouth wash I used this morning).

Robin was just the iceberg of the fourth season, however. Noticeably absent (for the most part) this season was the influx of Penguin and Joker episodes. Instead of relying on those two for half of the season as they did in the past, writers introduced new villains such as Black Mask, Rumor, Everywhere Man (voiced by Superman Returns star Brandon Routh) and Killer Moth as well the return of a few favorites (including a terrifically written Riddler episode by Stan Berkowitz). On top of the new villains we got our introduction to Harley Quinn, written by her creator Paul Dini. The fourth season of The Batman was arguably the best of the series and with the fifth season already half over and featuring a slew of new Justice League shenanigans, it looks like The Batman may end at its peak—that is, unless, Warner Bros. Animation decides to keep it going through to the eventual third Bale bat-flick.

Also worth mentioning was the seasons "future" episode ("Artifacts"), which took us well into The Batman's final days as well as a thousand years into Gotham's future, which sees Mr. Freeze coming back from his grave on more than one occasion. Mr. Freeze is singlehandedly my least favorite villain in The Batman, as they took him from his excellent character revamp in Batman: The Animated Series and turned him into a general thug, but it really works out here—his voice is still a bit hokey sounding, but for the most part, "Artifacts" is one of the seasons strongest, which is saying a lot considering how solid this whole season was.

In the end there is plenty to like about The Batman's fourth season. The reduction in episode-centric appearances for Penguin and Joker were much appreciated and the series just got an overall great kick in the pants with the introduction of Robin. While I applauded their choice to introduce Batgirl before Robin (something that, to my knowledge, was never done prior), her execution just seemed haphazard—with no Robin to play off of, her interaction with Batman just became strange as she was too young to flirt with him like the previous animated Batgirl did and too young to really help in too many ways that didn't seem completely ludicrous. Here, however, she now has a playmate to bounce jokes off of, as we saw in "Breakout" and this time, even though they're still pretty corny, they aren't anywhere near as bad this time around. Kind of like this season. Recommended.

The DVD
Arriving in a standard two-disc amaray DVD case, The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season is a bit of a let down from a purely packing stand point. While previous seasons included an insert that listed the disc contents, this insert is now instead printed on the rear cover art. I suppose it's all in the effort to save the trees, but still—this is kind of an annoyance. On top of that we get the same disc art as the past seasons, just in different shades (as usual). This is kind of a neat idea, but considering these are all only two-disc sets, it's kind of lazy to just reuse the same art over and over—especially since we didn't receive these at any kind of rapid release pace that would warrant such redundant art. On the bright side, menus are simple and easy to navigate, so no annoyance there.

Moving onto the video and audio portion we have a solid representation this season. The episodes do appear to be interlaced, but they are remarkably free of compression, so it's one trade off for another, I suppose. I would have loved if they released these in widescreen, as we saw a few promo shots of the season finale in widescreen…but, alas, not meant to be. I don't imagine we'll see widescreen copies of this until we get some sort of on-demand service from Warner over our cable providers or on Blu-Ray at some point.

And now for the extras! Well, extra, I should say, as there are only one. Included here is an extra titled "The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked", which is just as it sounds, with cast and crew talking about their feelings toward this fourth season and what the writers did to spice it up. While Rino Romano is the only voice actor from the show we see interviewed, we do get to hear from Matsuda, Burnett, Andrea Romano and a few others as well. The writers even stress that they wanted to deviate from the Joker and Penguin stories (after three seasons—thank you!). Burnett mentions that Robin was tied up in Teen Titans (heavens, they almost talked about the dreaded embargos again) and despite showing a clip of Robin's first appearance, they don't mention that they brought Conroy in to voice his father—kind of a shame. They even had the voice director (Andrea Romano) talking over said clip. Oh well.

Overall the fourth season arrives in a suitable package. While the extra is only ten minutes in length, it is a nice quick overview of the season and is about as much as one could ask for from these two disc releases. Recommended.

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