Batman: TBatB season one was a kooky but interesting departure from the unsmiling Batman shows that had come before. However there was still a skeleton of seriousness that tied the episodes together. This was highlighted by the two-part mid-season finale with Owl Man, and the season finale with Equinox.
Season two removed the skeleton leaving us with shtick filled flesh that could hardly stand taller than a single episode. And while we will admit that the flesh is of decent quality, it is still in the end not enough. The show’s format is more like the old Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons. We here in the Fortress are big fans of those cartoons, however standalone features with no consistency or arc will not work with Batman the same way.
The season two synopsis in a sentence? Batman spends 26 episodes doing really random wacky crap. That goes down in fortress takes history as the shortest one sentence synopsis ever.
We were okay with the lighter format in season one. The high quality writing managed to make C team heroes and villains alike dramatically interesting. Foregoing the drama season two bombards you with endless tongue-in-cheek writing and one-liners.
The show also stretches credulity farther than plastic man’s neck, and that is saying something. You just did not fear for Batman much anymore. His cape turned into jet powered glider upon demand, the Batmobile could pretty much turn into whatever he wanted, and of course there was the bat spaceship which he used to regularly patrol Earth space. Overuse of such unbelievability was too much to be dismissed with, “Oh it’s just tongue-in-cheek. We’re having fun with the character.”
You can take a character pretty far, but if you go too far their strengths and weaknesses become so distorted that the character loses its innate interest in value. Batman’s strengths were overly caricatured and his weaknesses were an inconsistent moving target. We are sorry to have to report it like this, because there were a few episodes we really enjoyed. But overall the season left us seriously under-entertained. It was like empty calories with no nutritional value.
Ambush Bug was an intentionally comical DC character who had 15 minutes of fame in the 1980’s. To boost circulation he interacted with A-list characters, often comically. Most of this season felt like that.
Some wacky 1970’s characters like Plastic Man can with effort be used both dramatically and comically. However losers like Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite deserve to be left in the dimension of stupidity where they belong.
Adding to this problem was the separation between prologue and show. They were rarely if ever connected. Now while this is a shtick that is sometimes acceptable they became so disconnected as to throw one off. What was Batman doing flying an airplane in World War I? Like most prologues we never find out. It got old.
So Batman: TBatB will end with an abbreviated 3rd season. We are not surprised, they drained their reservoir of viewer tolerance and goodwill. It took an adjustment to enjoy season 1, but we did. Enjoying season 2 requires another leap on top of your previous one. Some just will not do it. We do not blame. them.