Home > B, Batman Beyond > Batman Beyond, Episode 34: “The Eggbaby”

Batman Beyond, Episode 34: “The Eggbaby”

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Story by Hilary J. Bader, Alan Burnett
Teleplay by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by James Tucker
Originally Aired: April 1, 2000. Indeed.
DVD: Batman Beyond, Volume 2

Summary: Desperate to make up his grades, Terry gets stuck babysitting a virtual egg baby for Family Studies class… which throws a wrench into the works on his night job.

Site Notes: Remember to follow this blog on Twitter to be instantly informed when a new episode is posted. What wonders of technology we utilise without further thought, etc., etc.

Background:

Batman Beyond was always ostensibly a show for kids, but after he concept was developed the show wound up being a lot darker and more intense than anyone at Warner Brothers originally intended. However, that wound up working against the show when it came to critical recognition; when time came for the Emmys to awarded every year, DCAU productions wound up inevitably losing to more child-friendly animated shows like Rugrats (or, appallingly, the freakish crime against humanity that was Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain). So for Batman Beyond’s second season, the writers deliberately came up with the goofiest, most child-appealing episode they could think of… and came back with two Emmy wins. Go fig.

There’s not much more background stuff in this one that isn’t covered in the commentary track, and I’m not going to step on the toes. Go pop in the DVD and listen to it; Will Friedle has a great passage about his casting, and Bruce Timm and James Tucker talk a bit more about the computer colouring problems that plagued the episodes made during this time period (which I think I already talked about back in one of the early Justice League reviews).

Thoughts on the Episode:

I know that Bruce Timm says on the commentary track that fans hate this episode, but it’s not that bad. A goofy, lighter episode once in a while isn’t bad, especially when, as in this episode, it’s presented as very knowingly goofy (of course, I tend to love change-of-pace episodes; for instance, my favourite episode of my favourite television series ever is unrelentingly comedic). While there’s funnier episodes in DCAU history, taking Batman Beyond – a series intentionally developed to have a funnier lead character – in this direction works pretty well.

Basically, the whole episode is a reminder that Terry has a far different status quo than Bruce ever did. Although the writers of BTAS and Justice League would occasionally construct a hindrance for Bruce to deal with over the course of an entire episode (Summer Gleason hanging around during Night of the Ninja, for instance), Batman’s isolated nature meant that he generally operated in the clear.

Terry isn’t the same character; he has a girlfriend, a family, and a life at school that he’s can’t hand off to his COO. This episode hammers that point home by showing Terry trying to avoid having to deal with his school assignment, and then trying to find a way to juggle it – literally, in a couple of cases – with his responsibilities as Batman. Of course, it’s more than a little bit cliche (I remember being stunned when a high school girlfriend came home from her family studies class toting an egg, as I’d honestly thought that type of thing was an urban legend made up by bad sitcom writers), but cliches generally lead to good comedy. The eggbaby’s reaction shots are a continuing gag throughout the episode, becoming more and more ridiculous as the show goes along.

The villains of this episode are actually pretty neat. In contrast with Batman Beyond’s usual style of technological villains, Ma Mayhem and her boys are a throwback to the simpler villains of such prior episodes as “The Terrible Trio.” Although she was apparently based on a Kirby character, and then visually designed as “Kingpin in a dress”, she actually comes across as a take on Ma Parker, one of the numerous goofy one-off villains from the 60s Batman. The visual of her throwing down with Terry, who’s already less physically imposing than Bruce, makes for a good fight scene to close the episode (complete with over-the top destruction of her deadly… purse…), and is one of the times showing its Spidey inspirations. Her interactions with her sons are a bit underplayed, in fact – you get the feeling that they could have played up the “disapproving parent” aspect, especially with Andy Dick playing one of the sons.

There would of course be better Batman Beyond episodes, but for the amusement value this is worth checking out. Nothing wrong with a change of pace, after all.

Grade: B. Could be funnier, could be more dramatic, but entertaining in spite of all that.

Random Thoughts:

  • From the sounds of the commentary track, James Tucker – in his first directoral assignment with Glen Murakami busy with Return of the Joker – punched up a lot of the final act after receiving the script.
  • Another fun voice actor for this episode – Seth Green as Nelson Nash, the school bully.

Line of the Episode: “I’ll have to take Family Studies… AGAIN. Have you ever taken Family Studies?” Terry, my man, I feel for ya.

Next Justice League: The debut of a villain that’s faded a bit from his 80s prominence in “Eclipsed”

Next Time: Bruce Timm’s favourite Superman episode. I’m going to set a record for typos.

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