DCAU #247: Critters

IN THIS ONE... Meet Farmer Brown and his monstrous barnyard animals.

CREDITS: Written by Joe R. Lansdale and Steve Gerber; directed by Dan Riba.

REVIEW: The New Batman Adventures are quickly turning into an action show, like the Superman Animated Series, trusting to crazy visuals and mayhem instead of character exploration. I'm not liking it. Farmer Brown is an interesting creation, don't get me wrong, lending itself to an imaginative HQ, mostly cool creatures based on barnyard animals (the giant mantis and chickens that look like pterodactyls are the weakest of the bunch, I'll talk about the strongest in moment), and unusual set pieces. But he's a cipher. Who is this man? What kind of a person feeds his own daughter beef steroids to give her super-strength? Is the whole "the FDA wouldn't approve my genetically engineered meat" thing enough of a motivation to turn to super-science crime? As usual when these shows get too actionny, they could easily drop one sequence in favor of a character-building scene.

"Critters" does give us the stupendously awesome scene with a goat genetically engineered to serve as messenger, its vocal cords/speech center modified to bray out exact words in an exact sequence. It's creepy as hell, and in that moment, you recognize Lansdale and Gerber's writing. Otherwise, it's by the numbers superhero stuff.

Not that there's anything wrong with more visual story telling, mind you, but while a monstrous bull attacking a china shop or giant chickens falling into a truckload of BBQ sauce are technically good visual gags... They feel forced to me. Neither Batman nor a member of his group even get a death pun out of it, which makes it feel like the storyboard artists did most of the work, and no one checked back with the writers. How thin are this scripts? And does Gotham City really have red double-decker buses? Or is this another visual pun I'm missing?

IN THE COMICS: Farmer Brown is original to the animated series. He did not then appear in the comics, though there's a reference to him in Streets of Gotham #4 (2009).

SOUNDS LIKE: Farmer Brown is played by television western actor Peter Breck who was Doc Holliday on the old Maverick show, and middle-son Nick on The Big Valley. Voice actress Dina Sherman (Bleach) plays his daughter Emmylou.

- Farmer Brown is an interesting new villain, but a little out of focus, and the script is too slim to demand a repeat engagement.


Andrew Gilbertson said...

Oh my word. This... this is...

This is a low point.

Just... 'why?' is the question that needs to be asked every 5 seconds. A silo-rocket in an underground, techno-farm environment? An electrified pitchfork? ANOTHER random mook that can somehow fight at the same level of the man who devoted his entire formative years to traveling the world and learning from the foremost masters of every art? The question always comes up, but here (as with Calendar Woman), it is especially glaring... HOW DOES HE HAVE THE MONEY TO BUILD ALL OF THIS???


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