Thursday, July 18, 2013

Animation Celebration: Batman: The Brave and The Bold

Welcome back to Christmas in July: Animation Celebration!  July is the special time of the year that I turn the blog over to my readers.  All month long I'm posting essays written by people eager to share their passion and memories for animated Christmas entertainments.

Today's post is a review of the 2008 Christmas episode "Invasion of the Secret Santas!" from the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  This review comes to us from J.A. Morris and RigbyMel who also do reviews for their website Holiday Film Reviews.  Please check out their site.  Merry Christmas in July, everyone!

Premiered December 12, 2008

Red Tornado: I am lacking Christmas Spirit.
Batman: It's overrated.


After a cold-open fight with some bad guys, Blue Beetle (Will Friedle) invites Batman (Dedrich Bader) to spend Christmas Eve dinner with him.  Batman rebuffs the offer saying, "Crime doesn't take a holiday, and neither do I."  Batman is not a huge fan of the holiday.  When he was a child his parents were murdered in front of him on Christmas night.

Meanwhile, android superhero Red Tornado (Corey Burton) is also having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, despite extensive research and home decorating.  Red Tornado has never celebrated the holiday before and longs to experience the "tingling sensation" of good cheer.


Batman and Red Tornado's search for Christmas cheer is rudely interrupted when a villain called Fun Haus (Gary Anthony Williams) unleashes an army of evil robot Santas and dangerous toys on the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham City.


Red Tornando and Batman join forces to stop Fun Haus, but can even their combined might save Christmas, let alone their Holiday spirit?



J.A. Morris says:
This is one of my favorite modern Christmas episodes. I've always been a big fan of comic books and superheroes. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a great show and a reminder that Batman doesn't always need to be grim and gritty. There should be room for "Fun Batman," and this episode is lots of fun.  Any Christmas episode that features Batman riding a reindeer while chasing down a sleigh driven by a robot Santa Claus is a classic in my book!


But it's not all laughs. We learn that Batman doesn't celebrate Christmas because that's the day his parents were gunned down. Their deaths are shown via flashback and it's a very powerful moment in a show aimed at children.

Batman flashes back to the last Christmas he spent with his parents.

The Red Tornado's desire to learn about the holiday season (and become more human) was also very touching. The "robot who wants to be human" is a plot that's been done many times, but it's handled nicely here. Veteran voice actor Corey Burton does a great job portraying Red Tornado.

Red Tornado is reading a Christmas book by “Stuart Martha” (get it?)

There are also some nice references to other classic Christmas programming. We get a cool piano jazz tune on the soundtrack that's reminiscent of Vince Guaradi's music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Fun Haus is a new villain (his appearance is based on an old comic villain named Toyman) and he makes for a great Christmas antagonist. His "evil" toys and robot St. Nicks add to the Yuletide mayhem.

One note of caution: Some very young children may be frightened or saddened by the robot Santas and their onscreen destruction.


"Invasion of the Secret Santas!" (yes, the title has an exclamation point!) is available on DVD and also streams on Netflix and Amazon instant video.

It's been part of my annual Christmas viewing ever since 2008. It contains a great mix of action, comedy and Holiday sentiment.

My rating:
4 candy canes

RigbyMel says:
This is a great Christmas episode of a great series.  Part of what makes the whole Batman: The Brave and the Bold series so fun in general was the sense of humor and fun that prevailed in and around the great action sequences.

A robot Santa sucker punches Batman & Red Tornado!

This Christmas episode is no exception, and might even be a notch above the show's usual high "Fun Batman" standards.


The sense of fun is underscored by the many meta-awesome references that are sprinkled like Christmas ornaments throughout the show.


Red Tornado is shown teaching archeology at a local college a la Indiana Jones. Fun Haus's first ploy to attract Batman's attention involves flying saucers and makes me think of Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.  The evil robot Santas evoke several holiday themed Doctor Who episodes.  The theft of Christmas presents angle is reminiscent of The Grinch.


But don't think that this is just an arch collection of references, this episode really has heart as well. Red Tornado's quest to experience the "tingling sensation" brought on by the Christmas spirit is quite touching. He even goes so far as to give Batman a "World's Greatest Detective" mug (referencing Batman's first appearances in Detective Comics as well one of the monikers by which he is known). This is probably my favorite moment in the whole episode.


Getting to see Batman riding a reindeer is pretty awesome too, though.


The fun and heart are also mixed with pathos as we learn of the reason for Batman's dislike of the holiday season.


The range of emotions, great action sequences and the sense of wonder underlying this episode make it well worth adding to your annual holiday viewing.  Highly recommended.

My rating:
4 candy canes



4 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing about this episode! I love the gorgeous design of the animation in the stills you provided--very stylish and cool looking. Going to have to check this one out.

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  2. You both are right--nothing is more entertaining than seeing Batman riding a reindeer.

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  3. This is one I have not seen, so I'll have to check it out sometime. Yeah, that image of Batman riding the reindeer looks epic! haha

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  4. Thanks again to Joanna for the invite, and thanks to everyone who read our review. It's definitely worth checking out this episode, and the whole series for that matter.

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