Readers of this column are well aware of my love for Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Myself, and many other admirers of this animated adventure series embrace this program for producing a loving tribute to a time when our biggest worries were if our brothers got to the new box of Lucky Charms before us, and grabbed the free toy surprise inside. Running to the television set, slipping and sliding in our footie pajamas, cereal spilling out of our bowls, leaving a trail of sugary sweetness from the kitchen to the living room, it didn’t take the world’s greatest detective to figure out who made these early morning messes.
Puzzling to those of us who anticipate each new B&B installment, are the Batman lovers who outright hate this wonderful homage of a more innocent time. These so-called Bat-fans prefer to consider themselves Bat-purists, and have nothing but disdain for the old Adam West show, Batman comics of the Silver Age and of course this show.
It’s clear there are many different incarnations of the Caped Crusader, and I have long maintained it’s perfectly viable to revere and accept each and every interpretation (except of course for Joel Schumacher’s version. The man is a silly sacrilegious hack.) With this in mind, this week’s long-awaited episode had something for everyone - unless you like erect bat nipples.
“Chill of the Night” is yet another re-telling of the classic Batman origin story, with other tradition elements thrown in as well. This story could have easily played as an installment of the highly regarded Batman the Animated Series. No surprise there because the writer was TAS veteran scribe, Paul Dini. Dini brought a good deal of his darker style to the script, and yet managed to retain just enough of the new B&B sensibility. Other TAS alumni included Kevin Conroy as the Phantom Stranger and Mark Hamill in the role of the decidedly prickish Specter. On the lighter side of Batman’s mythos, the casting department also brought in the vocal talents of the aforementioned, Adam West as Thomas Wayne, and playing the part of Martha Wayne was none other than the sexiest femme fatale to ever slide into a skintight shimmering leather body stocking, Julie Newmar.
It is interesting to note that Hamill portrayal of the vengeful hooded Spectre bore an uncanny likeness to a certain hooded vengeful emperor as he egged Batman over to a darker side, in order to “fulfill his destiny.”
True comic book undoubtedly enjoyed watching the flashback of the masquerade party in which Thomas Wayne donned a batsuit of his own. Thanks to the powers of the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, an adult Bruce Wayne was not only transported to that time and place in his very young life, he got to fight crime alongside his dear old dad. I have to confess, when Thomas Wayne called the masked Bruce his “old chum,” I grinned from ear to ear. Conversely, the sight of this obvious fictional cartoon character hugging his also obviously cartoon mother (who has been fictionally dead for 20 some years) so tightly, well, I choked up a little.
Another Easter egg for Bat maniacs was hearing Batman introduce himself to his parents as “Matthew” Malone.
Next we were treated to an amazing gathering of Gotham’s most notorious villains, and the Joker to his credit, managed to get off a subtle fart joke before the fracas started.
It came as no surprise that Joe Chill had to die in a Twilight Zone coincidence fashion after Bruce revealed himself as the man under the cowl while he was beating the snot out of the man who carelessly shot down his parents on that dark night in Crime Alley so many years before. Nor was it much of a shocker that Bruce chose not to pummel his enemy to a bloody death, but no one would have expected Batman to murder in any incarnation.
“Chill of the Night” ranks among the best of the B&B series, proving this show is as capable of presenting more than one version of the Dark Knight. Let’s just keep those nipples concealed.
Check out 3 clips and a gallery of images from the "Chill of the Night" episode of 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Rumor has it Buddy Hackett had a very interesting “oral” contract to perform his stand-up routine in Las Vegas during the early sixties. Want to find out why the word “oral” is in quotations? Visit Joe Oesterle’s blog and find out.