03 November 2013

DVD Set Review: "Batman Beyond": Season One

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Will Friedle, and Sherman Howard
Released: 1999 (original TV premieres) / March 21, 2006 (DVD)
Synopsis: Once Gotham City's best line of defense, Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy, Justice League) is unable to fight crime as Batman due to old age.  When Bruce's company's employee Warren McGinnis (Michael Gross, Family Ties) is allegedly murdered by Bruce's business partner Derek Powers (Sherman Howard, Day of the Dead), Warren's son Terry (Will Friedle, Boy Meets World) teams up with Wayne and ends up becoming the new Batman.  However, though technology and society might have changed, criminals are still up to their same tricks.  With several villains on his trail, the new Batman will have to learn to think on his feet...or else, the criminals will win.

Artistic Merit

Plots: 5/5
I love superhero stories, even when they're not based on comic books.  Sure, the ending is obvious--the hero(es) will win!--but they're still entertaining, especially when they're as full of action and suspense as this series is.  It's not as happy or sprightly as Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but the darker tone serves this series well.

Production Values: 4.5/5
Though rough in a spot or two, most of the animation contained within this set is spot-on.  The voice work is great, though that's to be expected when you have screen veterans making up most of the cast.  No serious complaints in this department.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 3.5/5
As with many superhero stories, the main moral is simple: Crime doesn't pay! Terry also shows respect for his elders and people in general, even going as far as preventing his main nemesis from being killed.  Bruce Wayne is also there to offer advice, and serves as a second father after Terry loses his own.  Using strength-enhancing drugs is vilified.

Sexual Content: 4/5
A bit of kissing.  The dancing seen in a couple of episodes and in the opening sequence is mildly suggestive.

Nudity: 4/5
Most of the young women seen in these episodes wear revealing clothing, including the villainess in one episode.  Terry is also seen shirtless once.  Still, it isn't as sultry as it could be thanks to the stylizing of the characters.

Language: 4.5/5
One or two misuses of God's name.

Violence: 2.25/5
Wasn't this show on Kids' WB? Maybe so, but it's decidedly more violent than what I remember seeing on Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!.  Batman, the villains, police officers, and other random citizens get hit, kicked, blasted, punched, tossed around, shot at, etc., countless times.  There are even at least three scenes with (slight) bloodshed.  Explosions are also somewhat frequent.

Drugs: 4.5/5
As mentioned above, the usage of strength-enhancing drugs is vilified.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 1.5/5
Along with what was described in "Violence," the whole tone of the series is bleak.  Not only that, but the main villain--who isn't seen in every episode, but still in right many of them--is scary-looking, and a mishap turns an ordinary guy into a hideous man-blob.

Other: 4/5
The new Batman's quest starts out a bit vindictive, but he learns his lesson by the season's end.

Final Score: 4/5
Me and this series have an interesting history.  It first premiered when I was in fifth grade, and I avoided it like the plague, even though one of my best friends at school loved it.  When another friend of mine and I saw a scene during a middle of an episode thanks to leaving the TV on after watching Pokémon, it didn't make sense to us, and he said, "I don't understand that show." Looking back, I realized we probably would have if we'd seen the entire episode.  However, after discovering superhero cartoon series thanks to a random purchase of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward at a garage sale, I purchased the first season of Batman Beyond, and I have to say that I pretty much enjoyed it...but not quite as much as I thought I would have.  Still, if you're a fan of DC Comics' animated television shows, and you haven't seen this...what are you waiting for? As long as the above content concerns don't bother you, you should definitely check out this different take on the Caped Crusader.

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