Monday, 27 December 2010

Remembering B:TAS

Teletoon Retro recently ran a Retro Hall of Fame, asking fans for their pick of the top five favorite cartoon characters. Despite my multiple votes for Cheetara, she didn't make it in. Luckily, my vote for Batman came in at #4. As such, they've been running a Batman marathon all day today.

This got me nostalgic (well, more so than usual) for the classic Batman: The Animated Series and it's impact on the franchise. The series began in 1992 to coincide with the release of Batman Returns but instead of just being a glorified toy commercial, it redefined how we look at Bats, Robin, and all of their villains who had been previously played off as goofy and bumbling during Adam West's reign.

The most pronounced impact has to be the voice cast. To most fans Kevin Conroy is the voice of Batman. Christian Bale might be in the best Bat-flicks but his cancer voice doesn't hold a candle to Conroy. Similarly, Mark Hamil (yes, Luke Skywalker!) was one of the best intrerpretations of the Joker. He was maniacal, unpredictable, hilarious, and creepy. Although the rest of the voice cast was memorable, these two especially have been so synonymous with the characters, they continued playing them well past the original series, in Justice League spinoffs up to the more recent Batman: Arkham Asylum video games.

Introducing new villains in the Bat-verse is always problematic. Writers have a hard time competing with the classic Rogues. Batman: The Animated Series bucked this trend by creating Harley Quinn. Originally just a henchgirl of the Joker, Harley became so popular with fans, she began to be featured more prominently throughout the series and was soon introduced in comics books, even boasting her own solo series and currently starring alongside Catwoman and Poison Ivy in Gotham City Sirens.

She also put a very adult-oriented spin on the series as her comedy was balanced by the tragedy of a very clear and unsettling domestic violence angle. Despite being beaten up, humiliated, and left for dead by Joker, poor Harley always came to her Puddin' time and again. For a Saturday morning cartoon, it was pretty heart wrenching...

Speaking of fleshed-out characters, the series helped more than just Harley. If Batman's known for anything, it's his cast of villains, collectively known as the Rogues Gallery, each of whom were featured and expanded upon. Mr. Freeze went from ice-inspired criminal to grieving widower, the Riddler went from Joker ripoff to obsessive compulsive. Two Face went from two-bit crook (yeah, pun intended) to a fallen hero. These three dimensional upgrades were sorely lacking not only in the general media but the comic books they had been spun from themselves. In many cases, these new versions of the villains were transplanted into their comic book counterparts and are still the standard to this day.

Another impact from cartoon-to-comic book was the character designs and costumes. Each costume was originally drafted to look like the definitive version of the character. However, in season 4 of the series the look of the show became decidedly darker.

Gone was all the yellow highlights in Batman's costume and the new Robin, Tim Drake, also lost the garish green in favor of black. Most notable, however, was Poison Ivy. Originally a plant-inspired black widow, Ivy began to literally turn more into the foliage she loved so much with a greener hue to her skin and a toxic touch. All these changes soon found themselves introduced into the comic book lore with Ivy's new look (and less duds) unveiled in the epic 2002-2003 story arc, Batman: Hush.

It's difficult for me to admit that this series is now considered "retro" but it has been almost ten years since it debuted I suppose. That said, its impact is still felt today, creating new characters, characteristics, and designs that introduced the public to a darker and more realistic Batman than the general public had ever seen. This also paved the way for later Batman cartoons, comics, and a certain Oscar Award-winning movie along the way.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Batman: The Animated Series marathon to get back to. I hope they play Almost Got 'Im!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Final Ch-ch-ch-ch-Christmas Chia Update

It's been two weeks so it's time for the final Chia Tree reveal!

Utilizing all my research on the proper methods of Chia Pet nurturing, I think I did a damn fine job. But I'm modest so the end result was actually more along the lines of the greatest horticultural exercise in history!

I suppose now I'm supposed to trim and, I dunno, sprinkle it on salads or put it along the sides of nice-looking dishes to make them look more classy.

Too bad I can't make nice-looking and classy dishes. Pizza toppings it is!

On the upside, Chia Pets that look this good are surely a chick magnet. Chicks dig Chia. It's like chest hair. Too bad I'm a 'mo.

Moral of this entire saga? Nothing really, I just got sucked in by the "As Seen on TV" sticker. If it's on TV, it has to be good right?

Right.

And it was.

Fin.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Playahs: The Next Generation

While waiting for my Chia Tree to grow, I've been watching reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, I hearted non-cartoon shows too! It's what makes me so complex and deep.

Although the Enterprise was chock full of horny explorers, one really takes the cake. Lt. Worf put on airs of honor and duty but he proved that players are replete in the distant future.

Worf's first conquest was a Human/Klingon ambassador named K'Ehleyr. Their courtship was like watching teenaged dogs try to beat each other up. So of course Worf proposed. Buuut was rejected.

The next time K'Ehleyr showed up, she arrived with a surprise: their illegitimate child, Alexander. This was Worf's first lesson as a player: deny the child and call her a whore. Maury Povich would be proud.

K'Ehleyr died soon after and so Worf, being the classy baby-daddy he is, sent his bastard son off to live with his grandparents.

That always turns out well...

Worf's next fling was with Deanna Troi, the ship's counsellor who was no stranger to fucking any and every alien who came on board, going so far as to even getting knocked up by an energy cloud.

Desperate much?

Making matters worse, Worf totally pulled a robbery since Will Riker, the Enterprise's first officer, was pawing at Troi's cookie jar for years!

Oh, and dating your therapist is also all kinds of wrong.

Worf eventually left the Enterprise and in a blatant ratings-grabber, joined the cast of Deep Space Nine. There he met Jadzia, a young science office who lived symbiotically with a centuries-old slug named Dax in her stomach. Combined together, Jadzia Dax was an old soul in a hot chick's bod who was all up in Worf's business.

The two eventually wed and planned to have a child but like his first love, she was murdered. Well, Jadzia was... the Dax symbiont survived and was transferred to a skittish counsellor named Ezri. Work and the now Ezri Dax had a brief fling before she graduated up to a doctor named Julian Bashir.

Despite his pattern of rejection, unethical screwing around with mental healthcare professionals, and a string of dead wives, Worf still managed to cram in some serious romance in over a decade of Star Trek spinoffs.

Not bad for a guy with a vagina for a forehead.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Chia Tree Update

So I'm jumping the gun here but figured I'd share my disgusting Christmas Chia Tree progress.

Despite some bald spots and a plastic tray full of seeds that slid off the side of its terracotta slope, it's not looking too shabby.

The spread of black antimatter sperm have transformed into... little green sperm. Kinda gross but it has a lush herby aroma at least.

With one more week to optimal Chia-age, I've called on the sinister Sith arts to spark more life into this sad lil' pot and make it look a bit more festive.

"Unlimited POWERRRR!"