25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

Image result for SMALLVILLE LOGO
MAIN CAST
Tom Welling (The Fog)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Cursed)
Erica Durance (The Butterfly Effect 2)
Allison Mack (Riese)
John Glover (Batman & Robin)
Annette O’Toole (IT)
John Schneider (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Aaron Ashmore (The Skulls 2)

LEXMAS

GUEST CAST
Kenneth Welsh (The Day After Tomorrow)
Alisen Down (Stargate Universe)
Adrian Holmes (Cabin In The Woods)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Lex drives into a dark alley to meet Griff, who is being paid to do whatever Lex wants to destroy Jonathan in the race for State Senator. Lex hesitates and says that he wants 24 hours to decide if he wants to go down that path. As he heads for his car, he is mugged and shot, and left for dead in the street.
Lex’s Dream: It is Christmas Eve. Lex wakes up, shocked to see a very pregnant Lana in bed next to him. He also has a young son, Alexander. Lex lifts up his shirt and sees the scar on his side from the gun shot. His dead mother, Lillian, appears to Lex and says that it is not a dream and this can be his life if he makes the right choices. Lex is then seen to be lying unconscious in an alley.
Reality: At the farm, the Kents are getting ready for Christmas, and Clark has invited Lana to spend it with them. Clark gets an urgent call from Chloe, who is still at the Planet . The scene shifts to Lex being transported to the hospital as the doctors try to save his life. He slips back into his dream.
Lana says that it has been seven years since Lionel cut Lex out of the family fortune. He takes his son to go buy a Christmas tree. At the tree farm, Lex sees Clark and Chloe. Clark is now a full-fledged reporter at the Daily Planet and Chloe is publishing a book next month exposing LuthorCorp with Lex’s help.
In reality, Lionel is speaking with the doctors at the Hospital and demands to speak to the doctor in charge in order to push a risky surgery. In Metropolis, Clark meets Chloe at the Planet, and she explains that her Teamsters went on strike, and the thousands of presents they collected for Toys for Tots will be undelivered unless he helps her out. Clark agrees to help her distribute the toys. While zipping through the city, he sees a man dressed in a Santa Claus costume about to jump off a building with a liquor bottle in his hand. He says he was going to jump because the Christmas spirit is dead. Clark objects and tells him about how he gave up his first Christmas with Lana to help Chloe deliver toys. When Santa falls off, Clark saves him and sends him on his way. Dr. Scanlan explains to Lionel that Lex will most likely be paralyzed from the chest down because he is too unstable for surgery or transfer. Despite this, Lionel transfers Lex to the Davis Clinic in Metropolis for immediate but extremely risky surgery.
In the alternate reality, Lex and Lana Luthor go to the party at the Kents’ house. Jonathan Kent is now the current State Senator. He says that Lex is the best man he knows and announces that Lex will receive the Kansas Humanitarian Award. Lex steps outside where his mother’s spirit is. He marvels that he’s never been happier and she tells him that he could have this happiness in reality if he makes the right choice. He doesn’t understand but when he asks for more information, she disappears. Clark approaches and muses that he and Lana didn’t work out because Lex became a man she could love. However, they are still on good terms. Their conversation is interrupted by Martha, who reports that Lana has gone into labor. Lana delivers a baby girl on Christmas Eve. However, she starts to rapidly lose blood. Lex goes to Lionel in the Luthor Mansion to beg for resources to save his wife, but Lionel refuses to help them because Lex betrayed him seven years ago by dropping out of the Senate race. He tells him that he has no son. Lana dies and Lillian appears again. Lex tells her that he doesn’t want this alternate reality because everyone he’s ever loved has died. Reality: The man dressed as Santa Claus appears at the Daily Planet and offers to help Chloe with the gifts because Clark was willing to give up his Christmas with Lana. After Chloe reluctantly accepts Santa’s help, he and all the presents disappear. Back at the Kents’ party, Chloe tells Clark about the presents disappearing and says she thinks that he may have possibly been Santa Claus. Clark and Lana spend their first Christmas together as it snows. Lex wakes up with Lionel at his bedside. He is upset with Lionel for ordering surgery with very low odds of survival, asking him, “How dare you play God with my life?” When Griff asks Lex what his choice was, Lex decides that he will do anything it takes to win the Senate race. Lex says his only wish is to live happily ever after and the key to that is money and power because “once you have those two things, you can secure everything else.” In her reflection in the window, Lillian cries over the choice Lex just made and then disappears.
An amazing episode, its basically a dark version of It’s A Wonderful life showing what could of happened if Lex had taken different choices, but as he awakes he’s learnt to take what he wants. The Santa story was fun Chloe left wondering if it really was Santa.

GEMINI

GUEST CAST
Michael Cassidy (Argo)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Lois Lane and Grant Gabriel are kissing in a storage closet in the Daily Planet. She tells him that she doesn’t want to write the Lex Luthor exposé since it might raise eyebrows about her relationship with Grant. However, Grant says that Lex requested her. Meanwhile, Chloe Sullivan is trying to call Clark Kent, who has been missing for two weeks. Chloe has been covering for him in his absence, explaining that he is in Minnesota, but she is starting to get worried. Lois catches up with Chloe, who gives her all her research on LuthorCorp. While looking through the papers, Lois hears a phone ringing. Despite the fact that it doesn’t belong to her, she answers it and hears a mysterious caller tell her that Chloe has a bomb on her. If she doesn’t stop ignoring him, Chloe will die.
At the Luthor Mansion, Lex is fencing with Grant. Grant asks Lex to request that someone else besides Lois write the article since Lois has a way of uncovering significant facts, but Lex denies having anything to hide. Even though Grant seems to be concerned, Lex affirms that he always wins. The caller, whose name is Adrian Cross, is talking to Lois, telling her that he is an escaped clone from LuthorCorp. His body is aging at a rapid rate and he expects to die very soon. While she is talking to him, Lois attempts to send Chloe an e-mail to warn her, but her internet line is cut. Adrian calls her again and warns her not to disobey him. Frightened, Lois looks around the basement of the Daily Planet for men on phones. She spots a suspicious-looking delivery man and follows him into a secluded room, then attacks him. However, the man is innocent and he begins to walk away. He falls back toward Lois, dead from being stabbed with a pair of scissors. Lois’ cell phone rings and Adrian warns her to keep her mouth shut. Clark suddenly reappears on the Kent Farm to find Lana in the barn. He reveals that he was unable to find Kara. Lana tells him she has decided to stop obsessing over Lex, but Clark says he wants to see what she’s uncovered. She takes Clark to her secret room in the Isis Foundation, now filled with non-functioning surveillance equipment. Clark finds a folder on Project Scion and Lana shows him the vial filled with black liquid that she thought she destroyed when she wrecked his lab. Clark tells her that she couldn’t have destroyed alien technology, so she decides to show him more. Lois is still attempting to warn Chloe about the bomb. This time, she tries to get a woman to deliver a manila envelope to Chloe which has the warning written on the back. The woman hands the letter to Chloe, who tells Lois that Clark is back and she is leaving to go visit him. At this time, Lois receives a text message from Adrian, warning Lois not to tell Chloe anything. Chloe suspects that something is bothering Lois, but Lois doesn’t say anything.
Lana takes Clark to a LuthorCorp lab where Project Scion was tested and shows him Casey Brock, a woman who was found suffering from toxic levels of metal poisoning. Overnight, the amount of metal in her bloodstream dropped dramatically, meaning that whatever was in her bloodstream had left. Clark states that her incoherent speech patterns are actually Kryptonian and writes down what she is murmuring. Jimmy and Chloe both get into an elevator and share an awkward moment. They recall a Christmas party last year, when Chloe was still dating Jimmy. Chloe turns the envelope over and reads Lois’ warning message about the bomb. At this moment, the elevator suddenly brakes, trapping Chloe and Jimmy with the bomb.
Meanwhile, Lois notices an “out of service” sign on the elevator. She begins to walk toward it, but is stopped by Adrian, who is holding the detonator in his hand and demanding his story. In the elevator, Chloe empties her pocketbook to search for the bomb. She finds It, disguised as Chloe’s Secret Santa gift. Back in a Daily Planet office, Lois is showing Adrian her article about LuthorCorp’s first clone. Adrian tells her about his family and his Christmas memories, then reveals that they were all fictitious memories downloaded into his brain. Lois promises to publish the story if Adrian will let Chloe go, but Adrian has another mission for Lois. She must force Lex to confess what he’s done. Chloe is trying to call Clark in the elevator, but Jimmy is annoyed that Chloe would call Clark before she would call 911. The cell phone breaks when Chloe accidentally drops it.
Lois goes to her interview with Lex wearing a hidden camera and a device in her ear which allows Adrian to talk to her. If she can’t get a confession from Lex, Adrian will kill Chloe. At the same time, Clark and Lana go to the Daily Planet to see if Chloe can translate the code that Casey Brock was mumbling, but they can’t find her. Grant and Lex are both waiting for Lois, but they are surprised with her first question, a demand to know about Project Gemini. Adrian is still communicating with her through her earpiece, telling her exactly what to do. Lex claims he doesn’t have anything to do with cloning and he denies knowing a man named Adrian. Adrian orders Lois to aim a gun at Grant to get Lex to confess. Lois begins ranting about Adrian’s life story. Lex knocks her out and finds the hidden camera she was wearing. Shortly after, Adrian enters and tells Lex and Grant about more of his memories. Grant soon realizes that they have the exact same memories, even talking about their past experiences simultaneously. Adrian also says that they have the same DNA and history, only Adrian was a failed experiment and Grant was a successful one. In an outburst of anger, Lex shoots and kills Adrian, saying he was just a mistake. In his last seconds of life, Adrian presses the button on the bomb’s detonator. In a state of panic, Chloe and Jimmy bang on the elevator door, but no one can hear them. Thinking she is about to die, she confesses to Jimmy that she is a meteor freak. They share one last kiss as the detonater ticks down to the final seconds. In the basement of the Daily Planet, Lana turns on Lois’ computer screen and sees the email that Lois attempted to send Chloe, warning her about the bomb. Clark uses his super-hearing to locate the sound of the bomb, then he runs to the staircase, soars to an upper floor and superspeeds to the rescue. He opens the elevator door and finds Chloe and Jimmy kissing before he throws the bomb off the building roof, where it explodes harmlessly. Chloe and Jimmy are stunned to find that they are unharmed with the elevator doors open and many people staring at them.After Lois wakes up, Lex tells her that Chloe is fine, but Lois says she will expose his project to the world. Lex retorts by telling Lois that she has no evidence, and he recently bought the Daily Planet. Since he is now Lois’ boss, there is no way she can write the article.
 Jimmy catches up with Chloe and they talk about what happened. He wishes Chloe trusted him more to tell him about her meteor infection, but Chloe just says she had trouble accepting herself. Chloe demonstrates her powers for him by healing a cut on his finger. Even though this was not a major injury, Chloe still feels some slight internal pain from using her healing powers. Jimmy promises to keep Chloe’s powers a secret. While Lex is receiving the acquisition papers for the Daily Planet, Grant enters his office, sarcastically congratulating him for purchasing the Daily Planet. He is sick of always being under Lex’s control and is outraged for being nothing more than an experiment. Lex declares that all he wanted was a family, but Grant is anxious to break free from his control. Later, Grant visits Lois at the Talon apartment. Contrary to her first impression, she is not fired, in fact, Lex requested that she stay. Grant then breaks up with Lois, since he thinks their relationship is too complicated, especially after what happened today.Back at the Kent Farm, Chloe and Clark discuss the possibility of the Brain InterActive Construct’s return. The Kryptonian code Clark wrote down was an error message that a system encounters when it can’t boot up. Each time the code repeats, it learns from its mistakes and is getting closer to actually loading. Clark warns Chloe that the black fluid has evolved into technology willing to kill. Once Chloe leaves and Lana returns home, Clark and Lana share a warm moment. As they embrace, Clark’s face flashes white and his skin distorts, revealing that “Clark” has actually been Bizarro the entire time. Meanwhile, the real Clark is frozen in the Fortress of Solitude.
A great Christmas episode especially for Chloe and Jimmy, and that shocker ending when you find out Lana has been talking to Bizarro all the time and not Clark is just amazing.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SHAZAM

Starring

Zachary Levi (Chuck)
Asher Angel (Andi Mack)
Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes)
Jack Dylan Grazer (IT)
Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Faithe Herman (This Is Us)
Meagan Good (Saw V)
Grace Fulton (Annabelle: Creation)
Michelle Borth (Wonderland)
Ian Chen (A Dog’s Journey)
Ross Butler (13 Reasons Why)
Jovan Armand (The Middle)
D. J. Cotrona (G.I. Joe: Retalliation)
Cooper Andrews (The Walking Dead)
John Glover (Smallville)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

Mark Strong and Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)In 1974 Upstate New York, young Thaddeus Sivana is arguing with his father and older brother during a car trip when he is transported to the Rock of Eternity, a magical temple hidden in another dimension. He meets the ancient wizard Shazam, last of the Council of Wizards, who has spent centuries searching for a new champion who is “pure of heart” after the previous champion, driven by revenge, released the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world. Thaddeus is tempted by the Sins, entrapped in statues, and is deemed unworthy and returned to Earth.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)In present-day Philadelphia, foster child Billy Batson runs afoul of the law while searching for his birth mother and is placed in a group home run by Victor and Rosa Vasquez with five other foster children: Mary Bromfield, Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, Darla Dudley and superhero enthusiast Freddy Freeman. Meanwhile, an embittered adult Sivana discovers a way to return to the Rock of Eternity. There, he steals the Eye of Sin, becoming the Sins’ vessel and besting the Wizard before returning to Earth and using the Sins to murder his brother, father and Sivana Industries’ board of directors.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)At school, Billy saves Freddy from bullies and is chased into a subway, where Shazam summons Billy, chosen as the new champion. By calling Shazam’s name, Billy is transformed into an adult superhero endowed with the wizard’s name; thanking Billy, the Wizard turns to dust, leaving behind his staff. At home, Freddy helps Billy explore his newfound powers: electricity manipulation, near-invulnerability, super-strength, speed, and flight. Freddy’s videos of Shazam testing his powers become a viral sensation, and Billy begins skipping school to use his powers as Shazam for money and fame. Seeing Shazam save a bus on the news, Sivana challenges and easily defeats him, demanding he surrender his powers, but Shazam transforms back into Billy and escapes into a crowd. From the news, Sivana deduces Billy’s identity and abducts Freddy to find Billy. At the Vasquez home, the other children also infer Billy’s secret and tell him they have found his mother, who lives nearby.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)Billy reunites with his mother, but discovers she had abandoned him on purpose, feeling unqualified as a single teenage mother. Billy returns the compass she gave him as a toddler and leaves, telling her he needs to return to his real family. Sivana calls Billy, having taken his foster siblings hostage, and Billy as Shazam agrees to give Sivana his powers in exchange for the family’s safety. Sivana and Shazam travel to the Rock of Eternity where Sivana takes the wizard’s staff, but the siblings follow and attack Sivana. Shazam realizes that Sivana loses his powers when all seven Sins leave his body.Mark Strong and Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)Sivana pursues Shazam and his siblings to a winter carnival, unleashing the Sins upon the crowd. As Wrath battles Shazam, the other Sins capture his siblings, demanding his powers. When Sivana recalls the Sins, Shazam uses the opportunity to take the staff and stuns Sivana. Remembering the Wizard’s words, Billy uses the staff to share his powers, transforming his siblings into adult superheroes like him. Shazam breaks the staff and battles Sivana while his siblings distract the Sins. Shazam baits Envy out of Sivana’s body, leaving him powerless, and takes back the Eye of Sin which recaptures all the Sins. Billy and his siblings are hailed as heroes. Returning the Eye and the Sins to their prison, Billy and his siblings realize the Rock of Eternity can be their new lair. Later, Billy arrives at school as Shazam to have lunch with his siblings, revealing he has also invited Superman, to Freddy’s shock and joy.Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)In a mid-credits scene, an imprisoned Sivana is approached by a talking caterpillar, who proposes an alliance. In a post-credits scene, Shazam and Freddy test if the former can telepathically communicate with fish.Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)Shazam was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. If you either a comic book fan or not regardless you will enjoy it from start to end. Although Shazam doesn’t contain as much fighting scenes you would see in movies these days it still leaves you with a fully polished story and character development. Shazam shows a teenage kid that gets powers and what he uses it for and obviously its typical things teenage kids would do. If you are plotting on whether or not to see it, the obvious answer is YES!

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SCROOGED

Starring

Bill Murray (Ghostbusters)
Karen Allen (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
John Forsythe (The Trouble With HArry)
John Glover (Smallville)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
Bobcat Goldthwait (Blow)
David Johansen (Let It Ride)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear)
Michael J. Pollard (The Odyssey)
Mary Ellen Trainor (Roswell)
Mabel King (Black Vampire)
John Murray (Anna Pavlova)
Wendie Malick (American Housewife)
Brian Doyle-Murray (as Good As It Gets)
Lee Majors (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Robert Goulet (The Naked Gun 2)
Anne Ramsey (The Goonies)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Kathy Kinney (Arachnophobia)
Joel Murray (Mike & Molly)

Bill Murray and Alfre Woodard in Scrooged (1988)IBC Television president Frank Cross is pushing his company to broadcast an extravagant live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, making the staff work throughout the holiday. Frank fires executive Eliot Loudermilk for disagreeing with him, and sends cheap IBC-monogrammed towels to all on his Christmas list, including his personal assistant Grace, and his brother James. Frank’s boss Preston Rhinelander, seeing the stress Frank is under with the production, brings in Brice Cummings to provide assistance, though Brice secretly wants Frank’s job.Bill Murray and Anne Ramsey in Scrooged (1988)The night before the show, Frank is visited by the ghost of his mentor Lew Hayward, who died from a heart attack as an unloved miser. Lew warns him three more ghosts will appear to him over the next day to help Frank avoid the same fate. Before it vanishes, the ghost dials up Claire Phillips, Frank’s lost love from years ago. Claire comes to the network to talk to Frank, but Frank does not make time for her, and she returns to the homeless shelter where she works.Bill Murray and Karen Allen in Scrooged (1988)As rehearsals start, Frank is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, appearing as a taxi driver. He takes Frank to see his past: how he found solace in television after his mother left his father, and how he had fallen in love with Claire but lost her favor when he prioritized his television career over her. When back in the present, Frank goes to see Claire, hoping to make amends. However, his attitude quickly sours when shows his contempt for a homeless man named Herman and the shelter workers. He returns to the studio.Bill Murray and Carol Kane in Scrooged (1988)The Ghost of Christmas Present arrives as a clumsy fairy. She takes him to Grace’s apartment, showing his assistant’s struggles to support her large family, including her youngest son Calvin who has remained mute since seeing his father murdered. The Ghost then shows him James, who still respects Frank as his brother despite declining invitations to his Christmas celebrations and cheap gifts. The Ghost leaves him in a utility space under a sidewalk with Herman, now frozen to death. Frank desperately tries to escape, breaking through a boarded up door to end back up on the set of the production. Preston directs Brice to take over rehearsals to give Frank some time off.Bill Murray in Scrooged (1988)Retiring to his office, Frank finds Eliot waiting for him with a shotgun, ready to kill Frank for the loss of his job and family. Frank escapes into the elevator where the Grim Reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Future awaits. The Ghost takes him to the future, where Calvin has become catatonic and been institutionalized, and Claire has heeded Frank’s words and shunned the homeless to become just like Frank. Finally, the Ghost shows Frank’s cremation ceremony, with only James and his wife in attendance. Frank, having come to a revelation about his life, is shocked when he finds himself in the coffin as is it about to be incinerated, and breaks his way out, ending up back out of the elevator facing Eliot. Frank’s completely changed demeanor surprises Eliot, particularly when Frank offers him a high-level executive position.scrooged_2With Eliot’s help, Frank returns to the production set, secures Brice in the control room, and breaks the show’s live broadcast to speak of his new appreciation for life. He apologizes on air to Grace, James, and the cast and crew, and makes a passionate plea to Claire to come back to him. Claire sees this at the shelter, and makes for the network with the help of the Ghost of Christmas Past. As Frank and Claire reunite, Calvin comes up to Frank and speaks for the first time, reminding him to say the closing words of the Carol, “God bless us, everyone”, much to Grace’s elation. Frank leads the crew in singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, and sees Lew, the three Ghosts, and the ghost of Herman smile and wave back to him.ScroogedI liked “Scrooged,” as it is certainly a fantastic Christmas movie to watch, and is quite funny, especially just to see Murray get his comeuppance in a role that seems to suit him perfectly.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sharon Lawrence (The Ranch)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Renée Taylor (The Nanny)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Steve Sandor (The Yellow Rose)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Victor Brandt (The Batman)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
William H. Macy (Fargo)
Peter Gallagher (The Gifted)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mathew Valencia (The New Batman Advntures)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Glover (Smallville)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Bob Hastings (The Poseidon Adventure)
Charity James (Space Jam)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Melissa Joan Hart (No GOod Nick)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Bud Cort (Harold and Maude)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Gilbert Gottfried (Critters: A New Binge)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael P. Greco (Bleach)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Peter Mark Richman (Defenders of The Earth)
Melissa Disney (Superman vs The Elite)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Billy West (Futurama)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
David Warner (Tron)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

3447328-absolute-powerSuperman is everywhere. He’s also been everywhere; for nearly seventy years now the character has been inspiring us with his tales of heroism, adventure, and fantasy. Seventy years is a long time and with a character as popular as Superman it equates to a lot of different interpretations. From the original comic books to a radio series to a handful of television shows, it seems that the Last Son of Krypton has done it all. We are very lucky then to have these DVDs, because in all of that time, throughout all the years, the stories found in Superman: The Animated Series are his best. The fifty-four cartoon episodes (spread across three boxed sets) that make up the complete run of Superman: The Animated Series aren’t just the best take on the character because they’re faithful. Nor is it because they’re animated, for all ages, or very imaginative. It’s for all of these reasons. And several more.3447300-little_big_head_manThe creative team behind the series has plundered the rich mythology of the character and come up with a fantastic take on each and every piece of the Superman universe. For starters, their Clark Kent and Lois Lane interpretation is spot-on. Clark isn’t too much of a goof, nor is he too simple. Similarly, Lois is fiery, funny, and lovely. Seeing the characters come together at the end of Legacy, Part 2 makes for a great cathartic moment. Superman has saved Lois a countless number of times, it is only fitting then that Lois save him when he needs it. The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.maxresdefault (1)While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.stas-legacy7Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League. We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.Superman_TAS_2x27_001The animation is somewhat more limited when compared to the fancy digital effects that more modern shows exhibit, but the handcrafted style gives the show a wonderful atmosphere. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that a lot of effort has gone into the design of the animation – much more so than most animated series. The framing here is frequently packed. Helping flesh out the world are all of the voice actors; everyone from Tim Daly (as Superman/Clark) to Clancy Brown (as Lex Luthor) is perfect in his or her role. The only thing holding the show back, and this is a small point, is the fact that the stories, due to their child-friendly animated nature, are a little more limited than the best television shows tend to be. Even so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better adventure series – animated or live action.Superman_meets_SupergirlIn one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 4

Starring

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
Mathew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Marilu Henner (Taxi)
Liane Schirmer (Dark Wolf Gang)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Corey Burton (Transformers: The Movie)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Jeff Bennett (Johnny Bravo)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Cree Summer (Voltron)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Townsend Coleman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Billy Barty (Masters of The Universe)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
George Dzundza (Basic Instinct)
Mel Winkler (Coach Carter)
Paul Williams (Battle for TPOTA)
Allan Rich (Serpico)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Barry Bostwick (Spy Hard)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Dennis Haysbert (Heat)
Billy Zane (Titanic)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Henry Silva (Aove The Law)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Thomas F. Wilson (Legends of Tomorrow)
Brooks Gardner (Raw Deal)
Buster Jones (Transformers)
Laraine Newman (Coneheads)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)
Jim Piddock (Mascots)
Ian Buchanan (Stargate SG.1)
Pamela Hayden (The Simpsons)
Neil Ross (Transformers: Ther Movie)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Michael Ironside (Highlander 2)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Tim Matheson (Animal House)
Malachi Throne (Star Trek)
John Glover (Smallville)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Billy West (Futurama)

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The  this fourth boxed set Batman: The Animated Series is finally available on DVD in its entirety. For anyone that grew up loving this ’90s legend, that’s a very good thing indeed. Technically the show “ended” with the third volume, but when the producers moved on to Superman: The Animated Series, they were asked to bring back a Batman cartoon, and they did – making a few changes in the process.MV5BMzIwOTM3ZDYtMWVhMi00NDhlLWI1ZmItM2JlODc1NTgyYmE4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1342,1000_AL_Any fan can tell you that the new series, dubbed Gotham Knights and airing as the part of the double-feature The New Batman/Superman Adventures, wasn’t as good as what had come before. Even so, if you’re a fan then it’s certainly worth checking out as it serves as a nice precursor to what we’d get with the Justice League series. Plus, there are some great episodes here that any Bat-fan shouldn’t miss. An animated segment from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns? Yes, please! While the show is essentially the same as the previous version, there are some differences. For one, the episodes here take place two years after the events in the original show. The Bat family has been expanded to include Batgirl and Nightwing, and the first thing you will notice is the abundance of new character designs.MV5BZTA4ZjYzNzAtM2FkYS00Y2E2LTgxYTYtNjA3ODkwOWMzM2QwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_When coming up with a fresh take on the aging series, producer Bruce Timm decided that sprucing up the characters would give the show more punch. For the most part, he was right. Some of the characters got slight touch-ups while others were totally redesigned. For example, the new Joker looks more menacing, but the lack of red lips to surround his wicked grin takes away from the impact of the character. On the other hand you’ve got the new Scarecrow, with demented eyes staring out at Batman through a terrifying burlap mask, which is far creepier than the old design.MV5BZjg2OGFkMmUtYmQwNC00ZjIyLWFkMGEtNjJkNzA3YWY2YjY4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1340,1000_AL_Batman himself suffered some changes too; the costume loses the yellow around the Bat-insignia and the chin is longer, giving Bats’ head a more rectangular shape. Overall, the changes are welcome and they add more than they take away. While the cosmetic upgrades are easy to spot, they are not the most important change; after a few episodes you’ll see exactly what it is. The show just isn’t as good as it used to be. That isn’t to say that it’s bad – it’s still one of the better animated series out there, but the atmosphere and maturity of the earlier episodes is missing. The greater reliance on secondary characters (Robin, Batgirl) and gadgets (glider jetpack) injects the show with a more playful tone than it had in the past. You’ve got less character, but more characters. At first I saw this as a shortcoming, but I quickly came to see it as something different – an opportunity.MV5BYTI0Nzg2MmQtNTBiNC00NzBjLWE5NDItZTFmODRjYzZiN2EzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_You’ve already got three boxes worth of classic, wonderfully moody Batman material. If the showrunners want to take the show to hipper, more action-oriented place, I say let them. After all, as far as experimentation goes, there’s some great stuff here. There are a number of gimmicky episodes, but don’t count that out as a bad thing. There’s still a lot of fun to be had. Meanwhile, other DC Universe characters are brought in, making the show feel more connected to what would follow (Superman, Justice League). The Demon Within brings in the mystic characters of Etrigan/Jason Blood and Klarion the Witch Boy (talk about timely). Girl’s Nite Out sees Batgirl and guest Supergirl team up to take down Live Wire (from the Superman show), Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.MV5BMTUwMzU0OTUzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODE4OTQ1MjE@._V1_But, hand’s down, the standout episode of the box, and one of the coolest of the series, is Legends of the Dark Knight. A group of kids get together and swap stories of what they think Batman is “really” like. One kid tells the story of a campy, golden age interpretation of Batman… and we get to see it animated! It’s a classic story where Batman and Robin battle the Joker in a giant musical instrument museum (?!). The voices and music are hilarious and lovingly done in the ’50s Dick Sprang style; there is no sarcasm here. Seeing the Joker tie our heroes to giant piano strings and then jump on piano keys (in an attempt to squash them) is very amusing for its innocence and simplicity. Next, we have the second kid’s story: she thinks Batman is an old, stoic avenger. In other words, the interpretation that Frank Miller used to catapult Batman into the serious mainstream. We are then treated to a great segment from Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns book as it is brought to life.MV5BMjU3OWFhMWYtYzdlZS00NzRmLWFkMWMtZWZmMjYxMTk3YTg1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_Watching Batman take down the mutant leader in a mud-pit, set against grungy ’80s music, is a real treat. What you get with these two segments over the comics is the great voice acting and an additional storytelling layer by way of background music. The voices and music add a wonderful texture to these classic tales and the idea of juxtaposing bright and goofy with dark and serious makes for a very satisfying episode. While these action-focused and gimmicky episodes are not the show at its best, they are a great diversion and a fun reinterpretation of an aging show. It’s not as good as it used to be, but it’s still Batman: The Animated Series. And that makes it worth your time.

 

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 3

Starring

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Mari Devon (Digimon)
Melissa GIlbert (House on The Prairie)
John Vernon (Animal House)
Richard Moll (Scrry Movie 2)
Tim Matheson (The West Wing)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Paul Williams (Battle For TPOTA)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Manu Tupou (Payback)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
David Warner (The Lost world)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George DiCenzo (She-Ra)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Pat Fraley (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Steve Susskind (Star Trek V)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Bess Armstrong (Jaws 3D)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Neil Ross (Back To The Future – Part II)
Marilu Henner (Taxi)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Aron Kincaid (Transformers)
Brad Garrett (Ratatouille)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Stephanie Zimbalist (A Timeless Love)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Megan Mullally (Will & Grace)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Alan Rachins (Dharma & Greg)
Alan Oppenheimer (He-Man)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Roscoe Lee Browne (Logun’s Run)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Diane Michelle (Robotech: The Movie)
Alison La Placa (Fletch)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Jason Marsden (A Goofy Movie)
Robbie Rist (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Alan Young (The Time Machine)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween 2007)
Michael Bell (Transformers: The Movie)
Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched)
Bill McKinney (First Blood)
John Glover (Smallville)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
William Katt (Carrie)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Nicholas Guest (Trading Places)
Henry Polic II (Mighty Max)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Andrea Martin (SCTV Network)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Dan O’Herlihy (Robocop)
Edward Asner (Elf)

MV5BYzBmZjM1MzItNzU2Ny00MzcxLTg2YWYtZmM1NWQ4NzExMmE0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_One of the things Batman: The Animated Series does particularly well is infuse its villains with personality. They’re not a rotation of thugs with a different gimmick and costume each week — the writers go to great lengths to humanize these characters, and although they’re still unambiguously the bad guys, they still manage to be sympathetic at times. “His Silicon Soul”, following up on the two-part “Heart of Steel” from the previous collection, features a robotic duplicate of Batman unable to come to grips with the realization that he’s a machine. It’s surprisingly moving.MV5BYTFiODEyZDQtNmRmZi00ZjlhLWE1NDQtOTY3OWE2ODM0OWQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_The title character of “Baby-Doll” was created especially for the series. Think Webster with the race and gender reversed; Mary Louise Dahl was in her twenties but looked like a three-year-old, and she cashed in on that rare disability with a successful and hopelessly bland sitcom. An ill-advised career move derailed her as an actress, and a decade later, she’s systematically kidnapped all of her former co-stars in an attempt to reclaim those happy years. Again, as outlandish as the premise might sound, it really does work. You might smirk at reading about a teary-eyed Baby Doll attempting to fire an already-emptied doll-shaped pistol into a funhouse mirror, but the immeasurably talented writers are gifted enough to eke more pathos than I ever would have thought possible out of that.MV5BOTEwMmFhM2MtN2NmOC00ZGQ2LThmMGMtYTc4YWFjOTllOTY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1344,1000_AL_Redemption, whether seized or tossed aside, is also frequently touched upon. “Sideshow” opens with a grueling chase between Batman and an escaped Killer Croc, who manages to stumble upon a remote farm that’s home to a group of former sideshow acts. They offer Croc a chance at an honest life, but old habits die hard. Another example is “House and Garden”. When a poisonous plant-creature starts a reign of terror in Gotham, Batman naturally turns his sights towards the recently-released Poison Ivy. She insists that she’s rehabilitated, and by all accounts, Ivy is happily married and living the mundane suburban life. The investigation continues to point back to her, and the final revelation involves some of the creepiest imagery ever seen in the series.MV5BY2U0ZTAwZDYtNjZjNC00YzVhLWJjMGItZDg5MTMzYTM1MjhjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1334,1000_AL_Harley Quinn is also featured in a couple of episodes centered around her attempts to stick with the straight ‘n narrow. She’s a fan favorite for a reason, and these appearances are some of the most memorable episodes in this collection. “Harlequinade” is a chaotic team-up with Batman in an attempt to track down The Joker, who’s managed to get his hands on a bomb that’ll turn Gotham into a smoldering mushroom cloud. “Harley’s Holiday” documents her release from Arkham Asylum, and even though she’s determined to leave that life of crime behind her, an attempt to legitimately buy a pretty pink dress at a store spirals into a bad day…a really, really bad day, culminating in being chased by Batman, an underground gambling kingpin, Detective Bullock, and…gulp!…the military.MV5BMWNjYWJmNjQtNzQ3Ny00ZGQ2LTkzNjEtNmQ5OTcyM2EwYzBkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_It’s particularly great to see the villains interact with one another. That’s part of the fun of “Trial”, which has a reluctant prosecutor attempting to defend Batman in an insane trial when the inmates take over the asylum. The flipside of that coin is seen in “Lock-Up”, when a cruel jailer’s overzealousness gets him fired from Arkham and compels him to hunt down the left-leaning scum he blames for the state of the world. Another stand-out is “A Bullet for Bullock”, an episode in which the slovenly detective is rattled by death threats and reluctantly teams with Batman, and the ending is just one example of how clever the show’s writers can be. “Clever” is also the first word that instantly springs to mind for “Make ‘Em Laugh”, an episode where The Joker co-opts a fellow criminal’s technology to create a small army of fumbling costumed criminals with inane gimmicks.MV5BMmIzZTQ4NmItMjRlMS00ZDBiLTllNzktNDUwZTAyNjI3MWI3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_These episodes introduce a couple of recurring villains ripped from the pages of the comics. Most notable among them is Ra’s al Ghul, who makes his first appearance in a two-parter penned by Len Wein and Denny O’Neil, familiar names to longtime readers of Batman’s four-color incarnation. The centuries-old Ra’s has virtually unlimited resources at his disposal, equally intrigued by Batman’s boundless skills as a detective as he is frustrated by his foe’s determination to disrupt his machinations. Ra’s often lends a Saturday morning serial flavor to the show, from the globe-trotting in his first few appearances to the flared pants of “Avatar”. The charismatic character has such a presence that he’s able to carry “Showdown” largely by himself in an episode that barely features Batman or Robin in any capacity. “Showdown” is set during the westward expansion of the mid-1800’s as Ra’s’ opposition to the sprawling railroads is pitted against scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (one of the few DC characters not connected with the Batman mythos to appear on the show). The other noteworthy recurring villain is The Ventriloquist, a fairly timid-looking middle-aged man who seems more likely to be a CPA than a ruthless crimelord. Taken by himself, that seems to be the right impression, but when he has his puppet Scarface on the end of his arm… The Ventriloquist’s first appearance, “Read My Lips”, is one of my favorites of the season, and he returns twice after that.MV5BMjI2OTQ0NTMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM4MTg3MjE@._V1_Several other characters from the comics briefly appear, including Maxie Zeus, the back-breaking, Venom-fueled Bane, and the fairly obscure masked criminals of The Terrible Trio. The majority of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is present and accounted for, with The Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Scarecrow (though only as a supporting character; no “fear!” episodes this time around), Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze all wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City at some point or another. Even with the opening titles shifting on disc three from Batman: The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, there’s no discernable drop in quality.MV5BNGI1YTBiYzYtODI2ZS00NzUzLThkMjktMDhkMzI3Yzk5ODAxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Batman: The Animated Series does everything right. It doesn’t dumb itself down or resort to hyperkinetic editing to try to appeal to a younger crowd. The retro-styled art design and dark visuals contribute immeasurably to the overall tone of the show, as does the award-winning music. The writing’s consistently impressive, avoiding falling into some formulaic “villain of the week” trap, and the casting choices for its voice actors is incredibly inspired. Henry Silva, LeVar Burton, Dick Miller, Megan Mullally, Brad Garrett, Bill Mumy, David Warner, Elizabeth Montgomery, Jeffrey Jones, Adam Ant, William Katt, and Robert Pastorelli are just a few of the familiar voices contributing to the series for the first time, joining the usual favorites like Paul Williams, Mark Hamill, and Roddy McDowall. These three collections are required viewing for anyone with an interest in Batman, and fans who have picked up the first two collections should certainly consider buying this third set as well.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 2

Starring

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie Brown (Clueless)
Paddi Edwards (The Little Mermaid)
Diane Pershing (Defenders of The Earth)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Bud Cort (Coyote Ugly)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Eugene Roche (Soap)
Thomas F. Wilson (Legends of Tomorrow)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Mark Hamill (Star wars)
Arleen Sorkin (Gotham Girls)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
Buster Jones (Transformers: The Movie)
Robert Ito (Midway)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Brock Peters (Star trek IV)
Ingrid Oliu (Real Women Have Curves)
Mary McDonald-Lewis (G.I. Joe)
Treat Williams (The Phantom)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Paul Williams (Smokey and The Bandit)
Ray Buktenica (Heat)
Melissa Gilbert (Little House on The Prairie)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Jeff Bennett (Johnny Bravo)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
John Glover (Smallville)
Ernie Hudsdon (Ghostbusters)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Marc Singer (V)
Jim Cummings (Christopher Robbin)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Meredith MacRae (Bikini Beach)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Aron Kincaid (Transformers)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
Neil Ross (An American Tail)
Marilu Henner (Taxi)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Sal Viscuso (Spaceballs)
Barry Dennen (The Dark Crystal)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Michael York (Cabaret)
Matt Frewer (The Order)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Marcia Wallace (The Simpsons)
Joseph Campanella (Mannix)
Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)

MV5BODY3Mjk5ZWYtMWE5MC00MjdmLTkxZWItZTdhYWI0ZTkzNmRjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Having starred in radio shows, serials, a succession of movies, live action television shows and cartoons, Batman remained a consistently hot property since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. One of my favorite incarnations of the Dark Knight Detective was the 1992 cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Though that initial run has spawned over a dozen other series, it remains my favorite. Though it was positioned as a cartoon for kids, it was easily something that adult fans of the Caped Crusader could enjoy too. The cinematic staging and gothic designs gave it an undeniable visual appeal while the smart writing and first-rate voice acting made the whole show sophisticated and believable. To the great joy of longtime fans and those who missed the show in its initial run, Warner Brothers has just released Volume Two, a four-disc collection of 28 episodes.MV5BMDk1MjFmYjItYjkxNC00NTM1LWIzNWEtYWNlNTVjMWVjMmM1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_You’ll notice that these DVD sets are labeled “volume” rather than “season.” That’s because Batman: The Animated Series had a very unbalanced production schedule. Though the first season consisted of 60 episodes, the second through fourth seasons had less than half that number taken altogether.  The episodes on Volume Two are taken primarily from the second half of the show’s first season but it still leaves some gaps here and there. MV5BMmU5YjM4ZjEtODkzMC00OGIyLTgxYTktYjRmOWFjYjBjOTU2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_This volume has my all-time favorite episode, “The Man Who Killed Batman,” in which a small-time hood finds himself the hero and target of Gotham’s underworld after he apparently kills Batman. In “Almost Got ‘Im” some of Batman’s main enemies reminisce over poker about the times each of them almost killed the Caped Crusader. “The Mechanic” has the Penguin targeting the man who designed and built the Batmobile. “Harley and Ivy” is a great team-up story between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. In “I Am the Knight,” Batman begins to question his effectiveness after Commissioner Gordon is shot.MV5BNmZlODI1ODktMzU2ZC00MTI5LThlNGItNjcxM2IwMTAzZWZkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_You also get the first Riddler episode with “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” and the first Ra’s Al Ghul episode, “Off Balance.” This volume also includes two great two-part episodes. “Robin’s Reckoning” delves into the origin of Robin’s character and “Heart of Steel” introduces us to HARDAC, a computer that’s been replacing key figures in Gotham with look-alikes.MV5BMmQ2MjM3ZGUtNjg1MC00ZTQ2LWFlYTktNDBlZjIyMzFiNjk0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Since Warner has decided to release the episodes without regard to their production or airdate order, it would at least be nice to have more thematic continuity within this volume. HARDAC is introduced here but the final HARDAC episode, “His Silicon Soul,” isn’t included in this volume. Ditto for the introduction of Ra’s Al Ghul; his story won’t be wrapped up until the two-part “The Demon’s Quest.”MV5BZDc1NDM0MDItODEzZC00NDcwLTgwZTUtODc4MmU3YWNlZDc2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Dr. Langstrom is here in “Tyger, Tyger” and “Terror in the Sky” but his first episode, “On Leather Wings,” is on Volume One. You do get a few story arcs started and wrapped up on this disc, as with the story of Bruce’s old nemesis, Kyodai Ken, but you’ll still have to wait for the resolution of some of the more important story threads.