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REVIEWS


Episode #19 - Meltdown
Original Airdate - June 25th, 2005

Despite intensive rehabilitation, Ethan Bennett again takes the form of Clayface in order to seek revenge against Joker, the man who turned him into that monster.

Review by Jim Harvey
Media by Gareb
Credits
Supervising Producer Duane Capizzi
Supervising Producer Michael Goguen
Producer Linda M. Steiner, Jeff Matsuda
Associate Producer Kimberley A. Smith
Written by Greg Weisman
Directed by Seung Eun Kim
Animation by Dongwoo Animation Co., LTD.
Music by Thomas Chase Jones

Voices
Rino Romano as The Batman
Steve Harris as Ethan Bennett/Clayface
Ming-Na as Detective Ellen Yin
Kevin Michael Richardson as Joker
Frank Gorshin as Professor Hugo Strange
Daran Norris as Brent

Screen Grabs






Pans


Review

For most cartoons, when a great episode airs, it’s able to blend in with the rest, becoming part of a stronger unit. After a series of mediocre episodes, the series returns to the quality of the first season finale with “Meltdown.” Not surprisingly, both the writer and major themes from those two episodes are revisited here.

Ethan Bennett has undergone extensive rehabilitation (including some with a surprise appearance by Arkham's head psychiatrist, Dr. Hugo Strange) to cure his “Clayface” affliction. As strong as he’d like to think he is, he has a small weakness that is exploited, causing him to catapult back into a life encased in clay. The weakness? Revenge against the man who’s responsible for his condition. That’s right; the Joker is on the loose with both The Batman and Ex-Detective Bennett hot on his stilt-enhanced heels.

One thing I try to do when watching this series is forget that Batman: The Animated Series came before it, and watch it as its own series...which it actually is. I know that’s difficult, given the immense legacy that Bruce Timm’s classic vision has given us, but I try to be fair to Jeff Matsuda’s rendition of The Dark Knight. In all honesty, while the show isn’t as flawless and amazing as some websites and fans would leave us to believe, there are some great things hidden under all those shiny Bat-gadgets. This is one of those great things.

Scratch that. Until now...this is the greatest thing that The Batman has produced so far.

This episode had me riveted, from the brilliant opening teaser, to the heart-breaking finale. This episode isn’t wrapped up with a lame joke about a “sidekick,” or Bruce’s awkward smile. This ends with no happy sign-off. Not every fight can be won, and not everyone is as strong as they wish they could be.

Yes, The Joker is still lacking a shade, but writer Greg Weisman is able to make him watchable, stilt-shoes and all. The core of this episode is the internal struggle of Bennett. This episode is focused entirely on him, and The Joker and The Batman are the visualizations of his internal struggle. This is great stuff, folks.

Writer Greg Weisman wraps up all the remaining loose ends from the two-part finale, and he does it masterfully. He even goes so far as to follow-up on dialogue and comments made in the finale. Weisman has crafted Clayface into his own character, and hopefully he’ll be able to revisit him again in the future.

It feels good to gush about an episode of The Batman. This series has gotten hit pretty hard by fans, and rightfully so some of the times. But, this episode is the show’s start for redemption. I know the possibility of the show getting this good again is rare, probably slim. But this episode almost makes every terrible episode, every poorly written character worth it.

On a final note, I know hyping the episode this much will only lead to disappointment, but “Meltdown” is a great episode. It will surely remain a landmark to this series when the Bat-wave has been shut down.

 

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