Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Adventures Of Batman: "The Great Scarecrow Scare"

First aired on November 9, 1968.

"Stuff this top cop in a closet, while I masquerade as the top cop masquerading as me!"
-The Scarecrow

It's Halloween, and Gotham City is holding its annual charity costume party.  Batman (), Robin () and Batgirl () are in attendance.  They're surprised to see their enemy the Scarecrow at the party.

But it turns out to be Commissioner Gordon () in a "Scarecrow" Halloween costume.  He says the "costume service" delivered it by mistake.  Gordon is there to act as MC of a charity auction.

But when the commissioner steps away, he's attacked by the real Scarecrow (also voiced by Knight) and his minions!

The villain takes out the commissioner with eggs that are filled with knockout-gas.  With Gordon captive, Scarecrow will pose as Gordon...dressed as the Scarecrow.

Batgirl has followed her father and gets gassed as well.  Scarecrow takes her hostage.  Batman says they can track her down through a transmitter on her utility belt.

But the Scarecrow discovers the transmitter and decides to use it to set a trap for the heroes.  The Dynamic Duo will do everything they can to save Batgirl.  Will the combined talents of the three heroes be enough to stop the Scarecrow?

J.A. Morris says:
This is a short, slight cartoon, about 8 minutes long.  It's about one step above "limited" animation.  It sort of falls in the "so bad it's good" category. The Scarecrow is the perfect villain for a Halloween episode.  But hardcore DC Comics fans might be disappointed that this version of the Scarecrow (and his costume) is dumbed down for Saturday morning fare.  He doesn't have his fear gas and is basically just a thug in a scarecrow costume.  But his eggs that shoot knock-out gas are sort of humorous!

Scarecrow steals a painting at the charity auction.
The Adventures Of Batman is (rightly) overshadowed today by later Batman animated series, but it was the first Batman cartoon.  This series featured Olan Soule and Casey Kasem as Batman and Robin (respectively), they would go on to voice the characters for the next decade in various Super Friends series.

At the last second, Robin is saved from getting threshed.
Speaking of voice actors, both the cackling Scarecrow and Commissioner Gordon are voiced by none other than Ted Baxter himself, Ted Knight!  As good as they are, the voice actors are, unfortunately the best thing about "The Great Scarecrow Scare".  It's a credit to Knight's talent that I didn't recognize his voice until I looked up this series on imdb.

At least Mary & Lou never had to deal with the Scarecrow!
The "plot" here is weak.  We see Scarecrow steal a painting at the charity auction that's worth a lot of money...and then the painting is never mentioned again, it just turns into a "Save Batgirl" story.  Did Scarecrow sell the painting on the black market offscreen?

And why would Gordon think it's a good idea to attend a Halloween party dressed like a wanted criminal?  Isn't that asking for trouble, one way or another?  The costume service screwed up so he had no choice but to wear it?  I'm guessing a police commissioner would be smart enough to attend without a costume instead.

Scarecrow cracks a whip at Batman & Robin, a bound & gagged Batgirl looks on.
The worst thing about it is the portrayal of  Batgirl.  She gets easily captured, then accidentally gasses both herself and Batman, allowing Scarecrow to their re-capture them.  Batgirl is nothing but a victim and an idiot here.  Not a very positive message about a smart & powerful woman (remember, Batgirl is both a superhero AND a librarian!) to put in a kids' cartoon, even by the standards of the late 1960s.  On a positive note, she does use a tractor... send an SOS to Batman!

But that's not enough to cancel out all the negatives.

This series can be found on several streaming video sites.  If you were a kid in the 60s or 70s, "The Great Scarecrow Scare" might be an enjoyable Halloween trip down memory lane, and it was fun to hear the voice actors again.  But without the nostalgia factor, there's not a lot to recommend here.

Batman throws a punch at Scarecrow's henchmen.

J.A. Morris' rating:

2 jack-o-lanterns

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