Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rating the Kids shows part V- Batman: The Brave and the Bold

In the 60's DC Comics had a popular comic book series titled, The Brave and the Bold. At first, the series featured heroes from the past like Robin Hood and Knights but it moved on to showcasing new superheroes. The Justice League, Teen Titans and others made their debut during this time period. Eventually the series morphed into a team-up series where a random hero would team up with one of DC's most popular characters, Batman. The series ran for a long time until the 80's and then it eventually died during the comic rebirth and popularity of The Uncanny X-men. It did eventually get a revamp and the series is up and running again. Recently, Cartoon Network took the same concept, pair Batman with another DC hero, and debuted a new animated series for kids this past fall.

Gone is the dark brooding Batman that we've recently seen in great movies like Dark Knight and just about any comic book made in the past 30 years. The animators actually chose to use the silver age costume from the 60's where the costume is actually blue and not black or dark navy blue. Batman even smiles quite regularly in the show! As much as I enjoy the rich and complex stories of Batman and his obsessive drive to stop crime due to the murder of his parents, I also very much appreciate what direction, look and feel this show took.

It is a kid's show after all, and I once devoured superheroes when I was a kid as well. I watched corny and hokey cartoons like Spiderman and his Amazing Friends show, The Superfriends and even live action shows like Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. It's what ultimately drove me to read the comic books. As inane as some of the shows were, they were a joy to watch as a kid as you could fantasize that you yourself had superpowers and could save the world against super villains who lived in a huge Darth Vader head in the swamp.

This show reminds me of the superhero shows I would watch as a child, however, it took all the hokey and corny out but still kept it light, upbeat and most importantly, fun. The end result is something really good. It reminds me of the creative and innocent comics that came out of the 60's, which is why I think it was a good choice to use this format. The show usually starts with a 3 minute opening where Batman and another superhero like The Red Tornado are trapped by a villain. They make their way out of the trap in a clever or interesting manner and bring down the crooks. The show's theme then starts and a completely new story starts usually with another superhero. Most episodes are self contained and there's no long drawn out ongoing dramas or serial stories that need to be followed.

While the intended audience is 7-13 year old boys, I find myself looking to see when I could watch the show. It brings out the old fantasies and fancies that I had as a child myself. The violence is very light and the darkness of Batman is all but gone. This a truly fun show to enjoy with your son and watch.

The show isn't perfect, but I'm afraid to mention why as I know I'll be labeled as a comic book nerd. (ie. one thing that annoys me is that Aquaman is characterized as a pompous ass, which my son thinks is funny, but annoys the heck out of me since that's not the Aquaman I know and love!) But the flaws are small and only noticeable because the overall concept and execution itself is so well done. I give this show a 9 out of 10.

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