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TV Review: Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1 Episode 4 – The Last Laugh

By: Adam Basciano

Batman TAS Rooftop opening

“The Joker’s plot to send all of Gotham into insanity with Joker-gas from a garbage scow leads to a battle on the water.”

Four episodes into the DVD set, and already this is the second episode starring The Joker. Not that I’m complaining of course, because the character is written so well, and voiced so perfectly. Setting this episode on April Fools is a nice touch, and fits in with our villainous clown.  The Joker is notorious for explosions and using poisons. The Christmas episodes featured several explosions, so the creative team evens it out with this episode by going the poison route. The show once again straddles the line in  showcasing The Jokers humorous side, but also reminding us that he’s a deadly homicidal maniac.  I don’t know if it’s the theme music, or because the show followed on the heels of the Tim Burton films, but The Joker’s plan reminded me of his plan in the 1989 film, where he poisoned cosmetic products with Joker-gas. The method of his plan is different, but his end game is the same. I thought that the Joker’s jokes were funnier compared to his last episode, and yet he was darker, and more vicious. There’s plenty of humor in this episode, specifically between Alfred and Bruce Wayne.  The interplay between the two really works here, specifically because Efrem Zimbalist Jr. voices Alfred. His voice is very lively and pops, despite being droll at times. There’s a great exchange between the two, where Alfred tells Bruce, he’s drawn him a bath. Bruce goes to the bath, but it’s empty. Bruce turns to Alfred, who holds up a picture of a bath and says “April Fool’s!”

Alfred draws a bath

Am I the last one to notice that Wayne Manor is shaped like a bat, specifically the roof looking like Batman’s cowl!? The animators continue to expand Gotham City, this time with the action taking place on the water front. And if you need proof that Batman looks cool in any scenario, he wears a gas mask most of the episode, and looks absolutely Bad Ass!  If you thought the animated series Batmobile looked cool, sleek and sexy, you should see the Bat-boat! Thanks to the work of these animators, Batman definitely has “wonderful toys.”  It was also great to see the Joker in a more traditional purple wardrobe, instead of his version of an “ugly Christmas sweater” from his previous episode.

In my opinion, this episode continues the trend of each episode improving from the previous installments.  Even though we know neither the Joker or Batman will ever truly defeat one another, it ultimately doesn’t matter when the stories and conflicts are as engaging as they are in “The Last Laugh.”

Joker Last Laugh

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