REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 2

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Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Floriana Lima (The Punisher)
Chris Wood (The Vampire DIaries)
David Harewood (Hoemland)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Frederick Schmidt (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Ian Gomez (The Morning Show)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls)
Nadine Crocker (Cabin Fever)
Laura Benanti (Royal Pains)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
William Mapother (Lost)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Robert Gant (13 Reasons Why)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Harley Quinn Smith (Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Brit Morgan (Friend Request)
Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Steven Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Peter Gadiot (Matador)
Ian Butcher (The 100)
Tamzin Merchant (Carnival Row)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Darren Criss (American Crime Story)
Michael J Rogers (Siren)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Gregg Henry (Black Lightning)
Jordana Taylor (A Wrinkle In Time)
Malina Weissman (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Supergirl went through some pretty fundamental changes in the transition from Season 1 to Season 2. Not only did the series add several key new cast members (and lose another), production shifted from Los Angeles to Vancouver as the series itself hopped from CBS to The CW. That shake-up wound up working in the show’s favor. unfortunately, over time it became clear that Supergirl still has some significant problems to work through before it can stand alongside the best of the Arrowverse.
The move to The CW did seem to work in the show’s favor for the most part. Even ignoring the fact that that it made crossovers with the other Arrowverse shows much easier, that shift helped Supergirl feel slightly more cohesive when held alongside its siblings. Stylistically and tonally, Supergirl felt very much like like a good-natured sister series to The Flash. And with The Flash often being unnecessarily mired in its own darkness this year, it often fell to Supergirl to be the bright, cheery, optimistic alternative.
Tyler Hoechlin and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)There’s also the fact that the crew working on these Arrowverse shows have gotten pretty skilled at making the most of their limited VFX budgets. Supergirl was a very expensive series for CBS, yet the often lackluster special effects didn’t always make it apparent how much money was being poured into the show. In Season 2, however, Supergirl looked better despite costing its new network less. That was especially true with the shots of Kara flying or those depicting Martian Manhunter in his true form. There were still cases where the show’s reach clearly exceeded its grasp in terms of special effects (particularly in the season finale), but on the whole Supergirl became a better-looking series in its second season.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)Bucking the usual trend, the new season picked up exactly where the previous one left off, with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) examining the mysterious space pod that crashed outside National City. That paved the way for the introduction of Mon-El (Chris Wood), a Daxamite refugee and new love interest for Kara. Mon-El’s arrival signaled a general change in direction for the series, one that saw the DEO set up a new headquarters in National City and the focus shift more towards the growing tension between Earth’s human citizens and the growing number of alien immigrants. The main villains of the season (including Brenda Strong’s Lillian Luthor and the members of Cadmus) sought to take advantage of that human/alien tension. Given the general state of the world these days, showrunners Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler could hardly have picked a more inspired and relevant direction for Season 2.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)That general direction worked because it was clearly and immediately topical and more because it spoke to the general appeal of the Superman franchise. More than ever, Kara emerged as a shining beacon of hope and optimism in troubled times. The season’s political elements were never really more political or controversial than a call for empathy and understanding among all peoples. And with a lead actress as charming as Benoist lighting the way, it’s impossible not to be won over by the show’s feel-good approach to superhero storytelling. More than ever, Benoist is the rock upon which this series rests.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Mon-El’s debut only furthered Kara’s growth this year. Wood proved a fun addition to the cast, but his character really shone whenever the series focused on the growing romance between Mon-El and Kara. As the prince of a xenophobic and hedonistic world, Mon-El arrived on his new homeworld with plenty of rough edges. It was a lot of fun watching Kara help smooth over those edges and inspire Mon-El to become a hero even as the two fell in love. The two characters experienced their share of ups and downs over the course oft he season, and while the general trajectory of their romance was often predictable, the execution never failed to impress.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Mon-El wasn’t the only high-profile addition to the series in the early Season 2 episodes. The show finally stopped playing coy with Superman and cast an actual actor in the role (Tyler Hoechlin) rather than simply obscuring a stunt double in shadow. That may well be the best change the series made in Season 2. Within seconds, it became clear that Hoechlin was a worthy successor to actors like Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain, bringing a warmth and charisma to the part that’s been sorely lacking in certain other live-action Superman performances lately. The only disappointing part about Superman’s inclusion this year is that he didn’t appear more often. I can understand the desire to keep the series focused on its title character, but the Kara/Clark dynamic is simply too good not to exploit to its fullest.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)This season also introduced two members of the Luthor clan in the form of the aforementioned Lillian and her estranged daughter, Lena (Katie McGrath). Lillian left quite a bit to be desired. One of the biggest problems with Season 1 was the show’s inability to generate nuanced, three-dimensional villains. Between Strong’s overly intense performance and the character’s general lack of memorable characteristics, Lillian did nothing to reverse that trend. Lena, at least, fared better than her mother, mostly because the writers had the foresight not to treat her as a villain. Instead, her defining struggle all season was her desire to redeem the Luthor name and prove that she shouldn’t be defined by her brother’s actions. The fact that Lena and Kara became close friends over the course of the season added an extra appeal to Lena’s character arc, as it only served to highlight the question of whether Lena is truly as selfless and noble as she claims. The season failed to deliver a satisfying conclusion to that arc, but I’ll get to that in a bit.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)Alex (Chyler Leigh) proved to be another dependable member of the Supergirl cast this year, with some of the season’s best moments focusing either on the bond between Alex and her sister or the romance between Alex and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). Alex’s struggle to come to terms with her sexuality proved to be one of the more compelling subplots of the season, particularly thanks to the terrifically executed coming out scene in “Changing.” As much as the Arrowverse can frustrate with the insistence on forcing every available character into some sort of romantic subplot, the Alex/Maggie material gave this season real sense of emotional weight. In a show crammed full of metahumans and aliens, the ordinary human drama often stood out more than anything else.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)If any portion of the show was damaged by the shift to The CW, it was the CatCo characters. Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) all but vanished this season as the move to Vancouver ƒwled to Flockhart departing as a series regular. The show was poorer for her absence. Worse, Cat’s absence called into question whether Supergirl even needs the CatCo elements at all, a question the show was never really able to answer this season. Sure, the perpetually cranky Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) made for an entertaining foil to the Kara as she pursued her budding journalism career, but too often the CatCo subplots felt superfluous and unnecessary to the larger picture. Does Kara actually need a day job in addition to her DEO work?Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)The two real casualties of the Season 2 shift were James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). The Kara/James romance was basically cut short as soon as it began in the Season 1 finale, leaving the latter character adrift and in search of a new purpose. That was disappointing, but the real frustration came with the decision to transform James from intrepid photojournalist to honest-to-goodness superhero. James’ transformation into Guardians never felt like a logical extension of his Season 1 journey. Nor did his ongoing Guardian exploits add anything to the show. Equally frustrating is the way Winn became sucked into James’ delusions of superhero grandeur, preventing him from having any real storylines of his own (apart from a rather underwhelming romance with an alien). Just as the show has been struggling to justify the continued focus on CatCo as a whole, this season did little to suggest that James should remain an active player going forward.Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath in Supergirl (2015)I mentioned how the move to The CW helped Supergirl in terms of facilitating more Arrowverse crossovers. The weird thing is that Supergirl itself didn’t benefit much from that trend. Yes, Kara was aMelissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015) big part of the “Invasion!” crossover, but the Supergirl episode, “Medusa,” barely tied into that crossover other than a bit of quick setup at the very end. And while the Flash/Supergirl musical team-up more than lived up to the hype, that was a Flash episode, not Supergirl. I’d like to see Supergirl benefit more directly from these crossovers in the future. Fortunately, that seems to be the case with next year’s four-way crossover. Supergirl definitely had its ups and downs over the course of Season 2, as all the Arrowverse shows tend to do. In general, the season hits its peak in February thanks to a string of excellent episodes focused on Lena’s troubled family history and the resurgent threat of Cadmus. Unfortunately, the show seemed to lose its momentum after that point, with the final three episodes ranking among the worst of the season. Supergirl seems to have inherited Arrow’s habit of completely falling apart in the homestretch.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)In many ways, Supergirl improved in its second season as the show moved to The CW and bolstered its already solid cast with several new favorites. This season not only looked better, it managed to blend epic superhuman conflicts with very real, authentic character drama and a status quo marked by plenty of anti-alien sentiment in National City.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 3

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (THe Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)
Tom Felton (Harry Potter)

Matt Letscher and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alex Désert (Swingers)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Todd Lasance (The Vampire Diaries)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Joey King (Slender Man)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Peter Flemming (Staragte SG.1)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Grey Damon (Aquarius)
Ashley Rickards (Pretty Little Stalker)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Franz Drameh (See)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Stephen Huszar (Faces In The Crowd)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Harewood (Homeland)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries)
Darren Criss (Glee)
David Dastmalchian (Reprisal)
Anne Dudek (White Chicks)

 

John Wesley Shipp and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Season 3 appears to be the real test for The CW’s Arrowverse shows. Arrow followed up its first two seasons with a much rockier third season, leaving that series in a hole of which it’s only just now managed to climb out. The Flash went through a similar series of hurdles this year. The Flash: Season 3 was noticeably more uneven than its predecessors, suggesting that maybe Barry Allen’s best days are behind him. Luckily, the show was able to recapture its footing where Arrow continued to struggle. The strong last couple months of the season went a long way towards making up for the mistakes that came before.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)It was clear right away that Season 3 faced a long, uphill battle. Season 2 ended with an exciting cliffhanger, as Barry (Grant Gustin) traveled back in time, undid his parents’ deaths and created the alternate timeline known as Flashpoint. Anyone who’s read the Flashpoint comic or watched the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was surely salivating at the thought of seeing a twisted, dystopian vision of the Arrowverse. What the premiere episode, “Flashpoint,” actually delivered was slightly less exciting. Aside from a few key differences, this world wasn’t a particularly dramatic change from the norm. There was still a definite appeal in seeing Barry briefly granted the happy, quiet life he’s always dreamed of.Tobin Bell in The Flash (2014)
Looking back at  the first half of Season 3, it wasn’t until the midseason finale that any episode scored above the low 8 range. That pretty much encapsulates the problems with the season right there. The show was often perfectly fine on a week-to-week basis, but it was rare for any episode to really stand out from the pack. The general status quo in the first half of the season too often struggled to measure up to the Reverse-Flash and Zoom conflicts from seasons past. The end result of Barry’s three months spent living in Flashpoint was a handful of changes to the Team Flash dynamic, many of which became all but irrelevant after a week or two. Flashpoint also resulted in the rise of two new villains – Doctor Alchemy and Savitar (both voiced by Tobin Bell). Alchemy never amounted to much more than a shadowy, mysterious string-puller, while it wasn’t until the final few episodes of the season that Savitar truly came into his own.Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)There was plenty of character drama to work through early on, much of it the direct result of Barry’s time-meddling. Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) dealt with a mutual estrangement. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) mourned the death of someone close to him. Both Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) dealt with the spontaneous appearance of metahuman powers (with the former dreading her transformations into Killer Frost and the latter relishing his opportunity to follow in Barry’s footsteps). That’s to say nothing of the complications created by Barry’s new co-worker/frenemy, Julian Desmond (Tom Felton). When all else failed, the Team Flash family drama could usually be relied upon to keep the show humming along.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Julian proved an entertaining and somewhat unpredictable addition to the recurring cast, adding a unique voice and temperament to the Team Flash dynamic. But the best addition this year was H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), the latest alternate universe incarnation of Harrison Wells. It’s part of The Flash’s charm that there must always be a Wells in the picture, even if Cisco and friends have to go on a recruitment drive to find one. Cavanagh again proved to be one of the show’s MVP’s, playing H.R. as a wholly distinct character compared to Season 1’s Dr. Wells and Season 2’s Harry. There were even a few opportunities to see Cavanagh play multiple Wellses in the same scene, just for kicks.Grant Gustin and Keiynan Lonsdale in The Flash (2014)

This season also got a lot of mileage out of John Wesley Shipp’s new role as the real Jay Garrick. Like Cavanagh, Shipp successfully managed to set his new character apart from the old, casting Jay as a grizzled veteran not entirely comfortable with his status as mentor to Barry and his fellow speedsters. The only complaint here is that the season never used Jay as often as it could. That was especially true with the midseason finale, “The Present,” which offered a tantalizingly brief glimpse of Jay’s rivalry with Earth-3’s Trickster (Mark Hamill).Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)Looking back, the one character who felt oddly underutilized this year was Wally. On paper, it was a big year for Wally, as he gained his speed powers and took his place alongside Barry. That paved the way for several memorable speedster team-ups (including one with Violett Beane’s Jesse Quick thrown in for good measure). But there was a specific point in the season where it seemed like the writers completely lost interest in Wally. He all but completely faded to the background and never recovered as a result. Andre Tricoteux in The Flash (2014)The character drama gave the early episodes weight where villains like Alchemy faltered, but that drama brought about its own set of problems. Not only was the scope of Flashpoint itself disappointingly limited, the fallout often felt small and perfunctory. Some subplots, particularly the Joe/Iris rift, were quickly resolved and forgotten, almost like they never happened at all. And at some point, the series simply felt too mired in darkness. Character drama is great, but this series has always thrived on its ability to balance that drama with lighthearted adventure and that ever-important sense of hope. But Barry Allen became more morose than ever this year, and his misery seemed to envelop everyone around him. It didn’t help that The Flash was airing new episodes at the same time as fellow Arrow-verse/CW series Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, two shows that did a much better job of balancing character drama with lighthearted fun this year.Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Once the reveal came and Savitar’s true endgame became apparent. The final five episodes went a long way towards reviving the Savitar conflict and building the character into someone worthy of Reverse-Flash and Zoom. That doesn’t necessarily excuse the writers for keeping their cards close to the vest for so long, nor their decision to focus on a third speedster villain when there are so many other worthy Flash villains who haven’t gotten their due yet.. But at the same time, the reveal did make it apparent why that prolonged secrecy was necessary. Moreover, the reveal wound up tying the season together, forcing Barry to confront his mistakes and his habit of being the architect of much of his own misery. For a villain who remained so aloof for much of the season, Savitar wound up becoming a surprisingly personal villain in the end.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It also didn’t hurt that the later episodes placed so much emphasis on Caitlin’s fall from grace. I still maintain that Killer Frost should have been the central villain of Season 3. But even as a supporting player in the Savitar conflict, Caitlin added a great deal of dramatic weight to the series, with the writers banking heavily on the strong bond linking Barry, Cisco and Caitlin and the tragedy that arose when those bonds were shattered. This was also a valuable chance for Panabaker to play Killer Frost not as an overt villain, but someone torn between her twisted metahuman side and the good, loyal friend that still remained within.
As for the dark tone, it’s no coincidence that some of the best episodes this season were those that diverged from the Savitar conflict and focused on the lighter side of Barry’s world. The two-part Gorilla Grodd storyline was very entertaining, offering fans their first real glimpse of Earth-2’s Gorilla City and suggesting that Grodd would make for an excellent recurring villain if not for the sheer expense involved in bringing the character to life. The series even took the opportunity to throw in a little levity right before the end, as “Infantino Street” offered a wonderfully entertaining Flash/Captain Cold team-up before moving into the dramatic fallout of Savitar’s final attack.But nowhere did the series shine brighter this season than in the long-awaited musical episode/Supergirl crossover “Duet.” For one glorious hour, all the darkness fell away and Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist were given free reign to sing, dance and just have fun playing superheroes. It certainly didn’t hurt that so many actors involved, including Victor Garber, John Barrowman and Jesse L. Martin have serious musical theater chops of their own. Not only did that episode strongly suggest that the musical crossover needs to become an annual tradition, it served as a crucial reminder of how enthralling The Flash can be when it focuses on the lighter side of Barry Allen’s life. Hopefully that episode, and the generally improved state of the series in the second half of Season 3, are signs of what to expect when the show returns in the fall.
The Flash: Season 3 is a clear step down from the show’s first two years. It’s not that there were many truly bad episodes this year, but more that the show struggled too long to find a compelling status quo and make the most of the fallout from “Flashpoint.” Some of the best episodes this season had little to do with the overarching Savitar conflict. Luckily, the show did find its footing in the final two months of Season 3, and that strong finish went a long way toward redeeming the season as a whole.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (Super hero Squad)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Corey Burton (Critters)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Vyvan Pham (Generator Rex)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Mikey Kelley (TMNT)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Jeff Bennett (James Bond Jr.)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Jeffrey Combs (Gothman)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam West (BAtman 60s)
Julie Newmar (Batman 60s)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and Thje X-Men)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Revels)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

There’s a gloriously meta moment in the back half of this season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where the show’s producers are raked over the coals at Comic-Con. One of the twentysomethings in the crowd grouses and groans about how the Caped Crusader in the cartoon isn’t his Batman, and…well, he’s not wrong. DC’s comics anymore are joylessly grim and gritty…22 monthly pages of misery and scowling and torture and dismemberment and death and high collars and way too much crosshatching. Batman: The Brave and the Bold, meanwhile, is defined by its vivid colors and clean, thick linework. It’s a series whose boundless imagination and thirst for high adventure make you feel like a six year old again, all wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear.


You know all about The Dark Knight’s war on crime, and in The Brave and the Bold , he’ll duke it out against any badnik, anywhere. He doesn’t go it alone, either, with every episode pairing Batman up with at least one other DC superhero. Heck, to keep it interesting, The Brave and the Bold shies away from the obvious choices like Superman and Wonder Woman. Instead, you get more interesting team-ups like Blue Beetle (more than one, even!), Elongated Man, Wildcat, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and B’wana Beast.
Other animated incarnations of Batman have been rooted in something close enough to reality. Sure, you might have androids and the occasional Man-Bat, but they tried to veer away from anything too fantastic. The Brave and tbe Bold has free reign to do just about whatever it wants. One week, maybe you’ll get an adventure in the far-flung reaches of space with a bunch of blobby alien amoebas who mistake Batman for Blue Beetle’s sidekick. The next might offer up Tolkien-esque high fantasy with dragons and dark sorcery. Later on, Aquaman and The Atom could play Fantastic Voyage inside Batman’s bloodstream, all while the Caped Crusader is swimming around in a thirty-story walking pile of toxic waste. He could be in a Western or a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a capes-and-cowls musical or even investigate a series of grisly something-or-anothers alongside Sherlock Holmes in Victorian England.

Batman has markedly different relationships with every one of those masked heroes. There’s the gadget geekery with an earlier incarnation of the Blue Beetle. With the younger, greener-but-still-blue Beetle, Batman takes on more of a mentor role.

More of a stern paternal figure for Plastic Man, and a rival for Green Arrow. Sometime it might not even be the most pleasant dynamic, such as a decidedly adult Robin who doesn’t feel like he can fully step outside the long shadow that Batman casts.

There are some really unique takes on iconic (and not so iconic!) DC superheroes here, and far and away the standout is Aquaman. This barrel-chested, adventure-loving braggart is my favorite incarnation of the king of the seven seas, and if Aquaman ever scores a cartoon of his own, I hope he looks and acts a lot like this. Oh, and The Brave and the Bold does a spectacular job mining DC’s longboxes for villains too, and along with some of the familiar favorites, you get a chance to boo and hiss at the likes of Kanjar Ro, The Sportsmaster, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, Chemo, Calendar ManKing, Crazy Quilt, and Shrapnel. The Brave and the Bold delivers its own versions of Toyman, Vandal Savage, and Libra while it’s at it, the latter of whom has the closest thing to a season arc that the series inches towards.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is every bit as fun and thrilling as you’d expect from a series where every episode’s title ends with an exclamation point. Each installment is fat-packed with action, and the series has a knack for piling it on in ways I never saw coming. Even with as imaginative and off-the-walls as The Brave and the Bold can get, it still sticks to its own internal logic, so the numerous twists, turns, and surprises are all very much earned.

The majority of the episodes have a cold open not related to the remainder of the episode. Despite its episodic nature, if you’re expecting a big storyline in these 26 episodes, you’re going to be pretty disappointed as the extent of an overarching story in the season is the occasional villain that appears more than once, like Starro, but that’s really the only connecting bridge between episodes.

Season 2 contains one of my favorite episodes of not only this particular season, but probably in the entire series, “Chill of the Night!”, which goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crime-fighter he would become, it’s one of the most well known origin stories in media, ever, but it’s done so well here. Another reason I love this episode is my blinding nostalgia for the voice cast.

The original 1960’s Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, who starred opposite of West as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne. My favorite Batman of all time, theatrical or not, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and various other series/movies/games, voices the Phantom Stranger. Lastly, the baddie of the episode, The Spectre, is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, the definitive voice of the Joker.

The Episodes in season 3 are wildly imaginative; so much so that purists will probably be put off, at least initially. They range from “Night of the Batmen”, where batman is incapacitated and it is up to Aquaman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man to don the cowl, and keep gotham safe. As weird as that may sound, this episode is pure fun, and a joy to watch. Other stand outs are the never before seen in the states “The Mask of Matches Malone”, “Shadow of the Bat”, “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Powerless”.

Special mention has to be made of the final episode of the series however, “Mitefall”. In this meta episode, Batmite does a fantastic job breaking down why the series is ending, and the disconnect of the so-called “purists”, whose baseless, closed minded, ignorance eventually doomed this excellent series.

When all is said and done, we received three outstanding, and criminally underrated, seasons and it is a joy to see.