Thursday, December 12, 2013

Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "Invasion of the Secret Santas!"

Red Tornado:"I am lacking Christmas Spirit."
Batman:"It's overrated."

After a brief fight with some bad guys at a Christmas bowling tournament, Blue Beetle (Will Friedle) invites Batman (Dedrich Bader) to spend Christmas Eve dinner with him.   Batman rebuffs the offer saying, "Crime doesn't take a holiday, and neither do I." Batman is not a huge fan of the holiday season, since his parents were murdered in front of him on Christmas night.

Meanwhile, android superhero Red Tornado (Corey Burton) is also having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, despite extensive research and home decorating.   Red Tornado has never celebrated the holiday before and longs to experience the "tingling sensation" of good cheer.

Batman and Red Tornado's search for Christmas cheer is rudely interrupted when a villain called Fun Haus (Gary Anthony Williams) unleashes an army of evil robot Santas and dangerous toys on the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham City.

Red Tornando and Batman join forces to stop Fun Haus, but can even their combined might save Christmas, let alone their Holiday spirit?  

J.A. Morris says:
This is one of my favorite modern Christmas episodes.  I've always been a big fan of comic books and superheroes. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a great show and a reminder that Batman doesn't always need to be grim and gritty.  There should always be room for "Fun Batman," and this episode is lots of fun.  Any Christmas episode that features Batman riding a reindeer while chasing down a sleigh driven by a robot Santa Claus is a classic in my book!

But it's not all laughs.  We learn that Batman doesn't celebrate Christmas because that's the day his parents were gunned down.  Their deaths are shown via flashback and it's a very powerful moment in for show aimed at children.

The Red Tornado's desire to learn about the Holiday season (and become more human) was very touching. The "robot who wants to be human" is a plot that's been done many times, but it's handled nicely here.  Veteran voice actor Corey Burton does a great job portraying Red Tornado.

There are also some nice references to other classic Christmas programming.  We get a cool piano jazz holiday tune on the soundtrack that's reminiscent of Vince Guaradi's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.

Fun Haus is a new villain  (his appearance is based on an old comic villain named Toyman) and he makes for a great Christmas antagonist.  His "evil" toys and robot St. Nicks add to the Yultide mayhem.

One note of caution: Some very young children may be frightened or saddened by the robot Santas and their onscreen destruction.

"Invasion of the Secret Santas!" (yes, the title has an exclamation point!) is available on DVD & Blu Ray and also streams on Netflix and Amazon instant video.

It's been part of my annual Christmas viewing ever since 2008.  It contains a great mix of action, comedy and Holiday sentiment.

J.A. Morris' rating:


4 candy canes!

RigbyMel says: 
This is a great Christmas episode of a great series.   Part of what makes the whole Batman: The Brave and the Bold series so fun in general is the sense of humor and fun that prevailed in and around the great action sequences.

This Christmas episode is no exception, and might even be a notch above the show's usual high "Fun Batman" standards.  

The sense of fun is underscored by the many meta-awesome references that are sprinkled like Christmas ornaments throughout the show.

Red Tornado is shown teaching archaeology at a local college a la Indiana Jones.  Fun Haus' first ploy to attract Batman's attention involves flying saucers and makes me think of Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.   The evil robot Santas evoke several holiday themed Doctor Who episodes.  The theft of Christmas presents angle is reminiscent of the Grinch.

But don't think that this is just an arch collection of references, this episode really has heart as well.  Red Tornado's quest to experience the "tingling sensation" brought on by the Christmas spirit is quite touching.  He even goes so far as to give Batman a "World's Greatest Detective" mug (referencing Batman's first appearances in Detective Comics as well one of the monikers by which he is known). This is probably my favorite moment in the whole episode.

Getting to see Batman riding a reindeer is pretty awesome too, though.  

The fun and heart are also mixed with pathos as we learn of the reason for Batman's dislike of the holiday season.  

The range of emotions, great action sequences and the sense of wonder underlying this episode make it well worth adding to your annual holiday viewing.  Highly recommended.

Rigbymel's rating:

4 candy canes!

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