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TELEVISION & RADIO : REVIEW

Batman knows teamwork

In Cartoon Network's new series, the Caped Crusader joins with a fellow hero each week.

November 14, 2008|ROBERT LLOYD | TELEVISION CRITIC
  • TRex chases Plastic Man and Batman in "Batman: The Brave and The Bold."
TRex chases Plastic Man and Batman in "Batman: The Brave and The Bold." (Warner Bros. Ent. Inc. /…)

Another day, another "Batman," another Batman cartoon.

Hot on the heels of Cartoon Network's "The Batman," and somewhat less hot on the heels of "Batman: The Animated Series," "The New Batman Adventures" and "Batman Beyond" (not to mention a couple of "Justice League" animated series), comes CN's "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." (Warner Bros. Animation is the producing body; Cartoon Network is a Time/Warner company.)

It is perhaps heretical, if not in fact perverse from an "artistic" point of view, but I was never much for the "Dark Knight" Batman -- the Frank Miller/Tim Burton/Christopher Nolan take on the Caped Crusader, which might be either construed as revisionism or as a return, sort of, to the hero's pulpy roots. I prefer the candy-colored Pop Art Batman of "Pow!" and "Splat!" and "To the Bat-pole," who did not curse or even question having been born to put his time back into joint. He just got on with the job. You can have Christian Bale; I'll take Adam West.

With its thick outlines, ripped-from-the-comics look and jazz-brass-and-Ventures-guitar score, "Batman and Beyond" is retro all the way. The new series opens mid-cliffhanger, to recall the TV series of old, with Batman and Green Arrow tied to the pendulum of a giant cuckoo clock -- an evil giant cuckoo clock -- and about to be dipped into a huge vat of acid, labeled "Acid." The villain himself has the face of a clock, a comical German accent and henchmen whose sweatshirts read, respectively, Tick and Tock.

It's not exactly Baby Batman, but it is intentionally little-kid-friendly, and the premise promises weekly lessons in cooperation. "The Brave and the Bold," from which the new cartoon takes its name, was a DC Comics series that teamed various heroes in crime-fighting or world-saving adventures, and that is the big idea here: Batman will work each episode with a different partner (Green Arrow, Aquaman, Plastic Man -- happy to see him back -- and so on). Up first (after the opening teaser) is the teenaged Blue Beetle, with whom Batman is sucked through a wormhole to a planet of cute little protozoa people who are being threatened by supervillain Kanjar Ro.

"It's better to die on your feet than live on your knees," says Blue Beetle in a speech to the protozoans.

"They don't have knees," says Batman, whose friends call him "Bats."

It is mostly like that.

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robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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'Batman: The Brave and the Bold'

Where: Cartoon Network

When: 8 tonight

Rating: Not rated

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