"The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season" 2-Disc DVD Review
November 19, 2007 by James Harvey
From the start The Batman has been one show which widely divided the fan community. Some liked it, others reviled it. While the show did get off to an admittedly shaky start, it founded solid footing in the second season before slipping mildly in the third. However, with the third, the show roared back with improved writing and some great story-telling. Of course, the fourth season also brought in Robin and some slight redesigns. Overall, this season is home-run smash and belongs in any Bat-fans's collection. And onto the synopsis!
Society can sleep soundly knowing America’s favorite crime-fighters are on the job. Warner Home Video and DC Comics bring the next installment of superhero tales to DVD with the release of The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season. With the fifth season currently airing on Saturdays on the Kids WB!, The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season features a redesign of Batman, Batgirl returning as an official member of Batman’s team and Dick Grayson’s arrival as his trusty sidekick Robin comes just in time as evil villains Killer Moth, Black Mask, and Everywhere Man try to invade Gotham City. Watch as the Dynamic Duo becomes a trio in the 2-Disc edition of the Emmy-winning animated series.
So, where to start here? Well, why not at the beginning, and then we'll go from there? The season opens with "A Matter of Family," introducing Robin into The Batman mythos. All Bat-fans know the story of young Dick Grayson, a circus performer who lost his parents who quickly became Batman's sidekick, Robin. While the episode does feel a bit rushed, I think it definitely does the story justice. The writing is well done and it probably one of The Batman more low-key and less "fantastic" episodes. This episode and "Seconds" are easily two of the best episodes of the season, maybe even the series.
From there the series moves on at breakneck speed, bringing us a host of refreshing and sometimes shocking episodes. Another highlight of the season is, undoubtedly, the introduction of Harley Quinn into The Batman's universe in a very well-handled episode written by Paul Dini. A fun episode which brings a nice twist to the character. Other great episodes include the previously mentioned (and must-see) "Seconds," the two-part season finale "The Joining," the simply brilliant "Artifacts," and the hilarious "Team Penguin." That's not the say the rest are stinkers, but these are the episodes I truly enjoyed this past season, save for one exception. I just want to quickly mention "The Everywhere Man," featuring Superman Returns's Brandon Routh (DVD review) and Smallville's Allison Mack. While the episode is somewhat standard and gimmick-driven, I found it to be a really enjoyable episode overall and something all Superman fans should give watch.
It's a great season, and probably the best of the entire series. Now, there is still some clunky writing but the animation is still top-notch. I found the series also did an excellent job approaching Robin's introduction, many others called foul, stating that it was a knock-off of Batman: The Animated Series, which would be inaccurate. The Batman simply offered their interpretation of Robin's classic origin, and, in no way, ripped off Batman: The Animated Series. I find fans can be too fickle at times and this show has sadly, and unfairly, suffered from said fickleness. This show has genuinely improved, and having watched from day one, I can say this is the best season to date. The action is more intense, the writing seems more mature, the introduction of Robin was brilliantly handled, and this season seems to pack more of a punch than any before.
Does the DVD also pack a solid punch? Well, not really. It's really the same extras that we get time and time again. Included is the featurette "The Batman Season 4 Unmasked," which highlights “Robin, the Boy Wonder.” The featurette looks at how the creators opted for this incarnation of Robin as well as the character’s impact on the Dark Knight and his relationship with Batgirl. A standard featurette which, while being too short with a run time of less than ten minutes, fans should find interesting. The DVD also includes a selection of trailers, including the upcoming Justice League: The New Frontier DTV. The episodes are, of course, in full screen, but the audio and video on this set is pretty solid, above broadcast quality. If you picked up The Batman: The Complete Third Season, then you know what to expect for the audio and video transfers.
For fans of The Batman, picking up The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season is a no-brainer. Yeah, the extras are a bit slim, as usual, but the episodes themselves are more than worth it here. This is the best season of the series to date, and this collection really should be added to every Bat-fans collection. While the writing can sometimes feel clunky and average, the animation always remains top quality and the visuals stunning. Plus, you get a lot of great villains, the addition of Robin, and some really stunning episodes. It's a great season, and this collection comes Recommended. I just wish more extras and a widescreen transfer were available for the collection. With the new season underway, newbies may want to check out this DVD collection for more great action.
The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season is available Nov. 20th, 2007 on DVD.
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