Tag Archives: Cartoon Network

Lamenting the loss of Beware the Batman

There are many, many animated action shows which have been deemed to be cancelled too early, Young Justice, Sym-Bionic Titan, Green Lantern the Animated Series just to name a few. And this streak wasn’t ended when Cartoon Network cancelled Beware the Batman last year.

When it was first announced, complaints were made, of course. “Why another Batman show?” “Why CGI?” “Why are they using secondary villains?” The problem any Batman series will have is that it is not Batman: The Animated Series, the pinnacle o Batman media, considered by some to be the best representation of Batman on screen. But you have to take things as they come, just because something doesn’t match up to a previous version, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. And that’s exactly what I did with Beware the Batman.

I actually thought it was quite refreshing that we got different Batman villains to what we are used to seeing, even if a couple were kind of just straight up replacements (Magpie was Catwoman, Anarky was The Joker). 2 of the most exciting villains were Humpty Dumpty and Killer Croc. Humpty Dumpty’s stand out episode was one he was hardly in but his fingerprints were all over, Games, a Saw style murder mystery that put the characters together in a house full of traps. Killer Croc was just brutal and his fight with Batman in the prison was probably the best of the series.

The show was split into 2 arcs, League of Assassins and the rise of Harvey Dent in the second. The second half was a lot stronger than the first and culminated in a great 3 parter that brought in the ubiquitous Deathstroke.

And that is why I am really upset about this ending, you had so many things set up in Season 1 that Season 2 could have built on. We saw the formation of The Outsiders in the season finale, consisting of Batman, Katana, Alfred, Barbara Gordon, Man-Bat and Metamorpho, imagine a season 2 becoming a team up show like a Justice League that allows different characters to have stand alone episodes. We know Harvey Dent would have completed the transition and become Two Face, something which had been built up really well in the final 13 episodes of the series. Anarky was still in the mix, as we saw in the last episode, his game of human chess had been won by Batman, but he was up to play again. And mentions of the Penguin were made. Would the series have introduced more of the classic villains? I like to think no, it had a decent rogues gallery, and with 75 years of comics mine, I’m sure more could have been introduced.

But these are all what ifs, as we all know another action show has been sent out to pasture,  which I don’t understand,  at a time where superhero movies are the biggest things in cinema, we can’t get a decent serialised superhero story in animation. These shows aren’t given a chance to grow and expand, instead cut of just as they begin to grow their wings

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Over the Garden Wall review

Cartoon Network has a real style right now. In the past you had the Cartoon Cartoons era, the era people of my age love to reminisce about and claim that nothing of this era is as good. And don’t get me wrong, that era is amazing, PowerPuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, these are all classic animated series. But the problem with nostalgia is that you think everything from your era is great and everything that came up to it will never match up. So I hear many people talk about how Regular Show and Adventure Time are stupid or gross (have you seen Ren and Stimpy) whereas many think that these are some of the best comedies on TV at the moment. So Cartoon Network is in a new era, I’m tempted to call it the Adventure Time era as we’re seeing many new shows coming from Adventure Time writers, or it could be the Flapjack era, JG Quintel and Pendleton Ward both worked on Flapjack. Regardless of what we call it, it is very fun and very touching. It takes surreal ideas and concepts and makes them beautiful. And I feel like Over the Garden Wall is the perfect example this.

I decided to watch Over the Garden Wall in one sitting, at just 10 episodes it equals about 110 so just under 2 hours, it’s the first miniseries from Cartoon Network, a decision I’m conflicted about. On the one hand the ending is beautiful and wraps everything up nicely, on the other hand, I want to explore this beautiful world more.

Oh yes this world, what a wonderful world it is, hearkening back to a time were things seemed more innocent, this miniseries plays out like the classic fairy tales of old while maintaining the sinister edge that many of these tales held. Our gateway into this world our 2 brothers, Wirt and Greg, well step brothers, as Wirt will point out at one point, they are lost, and as they explore this new world they find more and more strange characters. We meet up with walking pumpkins, talking birds and very fancy frogs which reminded me of something out of Wind in the Willows. The relationship between Wirt and Greg is interesting, Wirt is the cynical teenager and Greg is the free spirited and optimistic child, they obviously love each other but Wirt can get annoyed at his little brother and seeing their interactions is really cute.

It’s also very dark and quite scary, it was meant to be on for the week of Halloween but was postponed a week but it definitely shows it’s horror influence, the main antagonist, The Beast, stalks the wood enshrouded by darkness but manages to instill fear using his voice, eyes and silhouette. His presence is always felt even though he hardly appears. As Wirt and Greg go along their travels, they meet all these characters, helping to solve their problems, there was always that tension of The Beast, warnings about him from other characters.

This is  a miniseries that takes the old school aesthetic, taking fairy tales and classic Disney movies and combines it with newer sensibilities, the surrealness of an Adventure Time or Regular Show but turns it up a few notches. I hope Cartoon Network see the quality of this and decide to take more risks with animation, lets get to a point where animation isn’t seen as being just for kids, animation should just be another means to tell a story.