Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Written by Paul Dini; directed by Ben Jones
Batman: The Brave and the Bold finished its three-season run with one of the oddest half hours of animation ever produced. Depending on your preferences, it’s either embarrassingly self-indulgent or creatively brilliant.
The pre-credits teaser has Batman (Diedrich Bader) traveling not just back in time, but into an alternate reality to help Abe Lincoln (Peter Renaday) defeat Robo-John Wilkes Booth (Dee Bradley Baker). Not like this sort of thing didn’t happen regularly during the series. Batman has inexplicably teamed up with the likes of Space Ghost, Kamandi, Jonah Hex, and other heroes past and future many times. Doesn’t Batman have enough crime to fight in present-day Gotham City (and it’s never explained how he travels through time)?
But then things get weird—Bat-Mite (Paul Reubens) appears. In a series typified by an unending succession of little known DC characters, Bat-Mite has to be one of the craziest and campiest. A magical imp from the fifth dimension, Bat-Mite is capable of almost unlimited mischief in his quest to emulate and “help” his idol Batman. When Bat-Mite decides that Batman: The Brave and the Bold is not dark enough, he sets out to get the show canceled. Some of his antics include replacing the bat-suit and bat-gadgets with the awful ones only seen with toy action figures, such as the Neon Talking Super Street Bat-Luge, and replacing John Di Maggio’s blustering baritone Aquaman with Ted McGinley who Bat-Mite believes is the episodic “kiss of death.”
Then Ambush Bug (Henry Winkler) joins the fun (and yes, Ambush Bug is a real DC character dressed in a green, skin-tight suit with two yellow antennae), helping the show “jump the shark” (get the joke?). Ambush Bug runs a short preview of the in-production Beware the Batman CGI series slated for 2013, proving that in a grittier version of Batman there would be no room for Bat-Mite’s juvenile tricks. Bat-Mite slowly fades away as Batman and his many co-stars stand on stage waving good-bye.
After 65 episodes, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is mercifully over. It’s rare for cartoons to have finales, but Batman: The Brave and the Bold has never been a conventional series. With its emphasis on simple action and humor, featuring some of the more obscure heroes in the DC inventory, it was not afraid to dismantle the invisible fourth wall in its final minutes. Love it or hate it, this is a series that will not be duplicated.