CREDITS: Written by Jules Dennis, Richard Mueller and Sean Catherine Derek; directed by Boyd Kirkland.
REVIEW: The Forgotten has some good, thematically-linked, hooks, like showing the good Bruce Wayne does as a millionaire philanthropist in Depression-era Gotham City (face it, that's how it's portrayed), and giving him amnesia and the difficult problem of weeding out which of his identities is real. It starts off well, with doves flying over Gotham before we plunge down to the city's underbelly, but unfortunately, nothing else really flies, except for Alfred aboard the Batwing (in its first animated appearance), but that has its own set of problems. Much of my disinterest comes from the animation, which features some of the most sluggish action ever on a DCAU episode. Moves are choreographed and full of dead air, the pacing is flaccid, and even some interesting music - chain gang harmonica stuff - can't save it.
It doesn't help that the one-off villain is a failure. Boss Biggs is meant to be a grotesque character, always eating, an evil "have" who kidnaps and enslaves "have nots", but he's more laughable than monstrous. The camera shot from inside his mouth comes off as silly, and his defeat looks like the end of a Road Runner cartoon. In fact, there's something odd about the setting itself. A gold mine in Monuments Valley? Where does the show think Gotham is situated? It put me in mind of the Simpsons' Smallville or the Silver Age fluidity of Metropolis/Smallville, and though painting the orange canyons on black paper does give the place a hellish, burnt look, those are still distracting thoughts. Biggs it at his best putting people in hot boxes, but quickly devolves into shouting ineffectually. Second episode already to feature the downtrodden kidnapped and used as slaves by lackluster villains, too. That's not good.
Its saving grace should then be the psychological elements relating to Batman's amnesia, and the nightmares leading to his recovery. I'm just not sure how to interpret them here. Everyone tugging at Bruce Wayne as he starts to panic makes it seem like he doesn't like being milked dry, though I suppose it's meant to show he suffers from not being to save everyone with his money. Batman turning into the Joker is a nice image about his fear of being a monster too, but it's wasted because the episode isn't about that. After the funhouse mirrors which represent his confused identity, I'm afraid the symbolism kind of becomes meaningless, and Batman seems to snap out of it because well, the episode is almost over. But then this episode is full of really strange character inconsistencies. I like that Alfred investigates Master Bruce's disappearance, but it's ridiculous that he would climb aboard the Batwing. Half the time, Zimbalist Jr. doesn't even do the voice right. Bruce giving Alfred a silent punch on the arm seems likewise odd, and the snarky Batwing computer cracking wise? Come on.
IN THE COMICS: In the comics, the Batman's aircraft is more commonly called the Batplane. The Batwing - a VTOL (although not so much here, perhaps because of Alfred's inexperience) plane in the shape of the Bat symbol - is an invention of Anton Furst's for the 1989 Tim Burton film. Tracking Batplane designs in the comics, Batman simply doesn't use a plane for more than a decade after that movie, so the first "Batwing" design doesn't show up until 2003's Detective Comics #781 (with a possible sighting in 2002's Hush storyline, but you can't tell what shape the plane takes from that angle).
SOUNDS LIKE: Dorian Harewood plays Dan Riley; he'll go on to voice Ron Troupe on the Superman show, but is also recognizable from roles in Full Metal Jacket (Eightball), China Beach, and Roots: The Next Generations. Boss Biggins is played by George Murdock with his mouth full; you'll remember him as God in Star Trek V. ;-)
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Some good ideas hampered by dodgy animation, a lame villain, and ultimately, the pointlessness of its amnesia subplot.