DCAU #118: The Lion and the Unicorn

IN THIS ONE... Alfred is kidnapped by Red Claw to get British missile codes out of him.

CREDITS: Written by Diane Duane (best known for some of the better received Star Trek novels), Peter Morwood (author of the Horse Lords series, he also wrote Star Trek novels, one of them with wife Diane Duane) and Steve Perry; directed by Boyd Kirkland.

REVIEW: The first episode of the series broadcast featured the terrorist Red Claw, and the last does too. But while the stakes are always high with her involved, she never really came into her own as a Batman villain. The series might have better ended with an A-lister involved. Instead, the exploration of Alfred's early life feels last minute and a little futile. There's just no promise that we'd ever see M1-2-3 in later adventures, even though I think they'd make a fun group to tune into for Britain-based stories. Ah well.

The episode does feature some nice atmosphere, foggy London well represented by various effects. And the action is intense, accompanied by driving music, and featuring a moment where Red Claw unmasks Batman but nary gets a look before he ejects her from the Batwing. The missile almost hits London before being blown out of the sky; the ticking clock element worlds. Now if only Red Claw had justification for firing the missile. She's in it for the money - 5 billion pounds of it! - and really doesn't need to accelerate matters when Batman shows up. I mean, what's the point unless you were going to nuke the city all along?

In addition, the episode has some pacing issues. The padding up front has Dick silently practice gymnastics as if a contingent of the audience tuned in every week for his shirtless exertions. Once Batman gets to the castle (and I'm pretty sure we've seen that matte painting before), there's a simple, and aimless, series of challenges for him to go through, which I found rather dull. Thankfully, the last act puts the show into hyperdrive.

IN THE COMICS: Alfred has a government agent background in the comics too, though since Dick Grayson often called him "Alfie", no problem with the nickname as he does in this episode.

SOUNDS LIKE: Alfred's friend Frederick is played by Roy Dotrice, recognizable as Roger Wyndham-Pryce on Angel and Pyromancer Hallyne on Game of Thrones. The Cockney thugs, Bert and Ernie (ha!) are played by rock singer Adam Ant and voice artist Richard Doyle (Enoch on Ben 10, for example). Among the government shadow men, we find Kenneth Mars (previously seen as the hunchback Richard in Sideshow) and Betty Jean Ward (the voice of the Super-Friends' Jayna and Galactic Guardians-era Wonder Woman).

- I don't begrudge Alfred the attention, and there are some exciting moments, but the episode is nonetheless something of a limp mess.


Andrew Gilbertson said...

Edit: I found it to be an exciting and epic climax to the series.


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