As a fan of genre television, I’m well aware of the fact that you should never judge a series by its first episode. Serialized plots need to be laid out, characters need to time to be fleshed out, and the show as a whole needs time to show you what it’s truly about. With that being said, I wanted to revisit Beware The Batman and High School USA! now that they’ve both had a handful of episodes air.
Beware The Batman
My original review of this show was mostly on the positive side, though I didn’t like what they had done with Alfred’s character being an ex-spy, rather than the gentle, elderly butler we all know and love from every other version of Batman on the screen (Not reading comics, I honestly can’t say what his character was like in those). I’m still not the biggest fan of Alfred being a spy, but it works for the story, and was a good way to introduce Tatsu Yamashiro into the Bruce Wayne’s life.
Beware the Batman takes place during the early career of Bruce Wayne as Batman. This is made clear by things like Alfred being his sparring partner in the first episode, Jim Gordon being Lieutenant rather than Commissioner, and why the crime he’s fighting in Gothom is made up of such obscure villains from the Batman universe, like Magpie, Anarky and Humpty Dumpty. I wonder if they’ll ever introduce the big villains everyone knows, or if they’ll stick with the smaller ones, keeping Batman as young as he is in these first few episodes.
I’m definitely warming up to Anthony Ruivivar as the voice of Batman as well. As I said in my previous review, I have nothing against him, it was just odd hearing anyone else voice Batman other than Kevin Conroy after he’s been doing it for over 20 years. Ruivivar is starting to sound natural and confident in the role, and it’s making the experience more enjoyable for me.
I definitely intend to keep watching Beware The Batman, and if you’re a fan of the character, I advise that you ignore the fact that it’s a Saturday morning cartoon, and check it out for yourself.
High School USA!
While not necessarily a serialized show, like other mature cartoons such as Home Movies and Sealab 2021, you need a little time to understand the characters before you start finding them funny. If you watch a random episode of a series like these, you might get a chuckle here or there, but the same episode can become funny on a completely different level once you start to understand who the characters are, and what makes them tick. I’m slowly seeing this happen with High School USA!, and my opinion of it is becoming more positive.
Here’s a breakdown of the main characters:
- Marsh – The leader of the group, who always seems to have a moment “he’s proud of,” similar to Stan on South Park, who always “learned something today,” (and whose last name is Marsh, probably not a coincidence).
- Blackstein – A nerdy half Black, half White/Jewish guy (hence the nickname Blackstein), whose parents are so about breaking down racial stereotypes and being supportive that they’re letting their son become a complete failure at everything he does.
- Amber – The ditzy valley girl of the group. She is very close with her mother (who tries to relive her youth through her daughter), and takes Adderall to help concentrate during tests.
- Brad – The jock of the group. Not the brightest guy, he hates bullies, not realizing he is one.
- Cassandra – Probably the least defined character so far. She is superficial, and is always trying to find the easy way out of things rather than working hard (though she states she is 100% Asian, she tries to prove she is part Native American to help improve her odds of getting into college because she doesn’t study at all).
Since my somewhat negative/indifferent review of the first episode, the show has tackled topics such as sexting, heroes, and the importance extracurricular activities play in getting into college, all of which made me laugh pretty hard. I still think episode one was pretty weak, but it has vastly improved given the time to flesh out the characters. I stick to my first review that Fox is 12 years late to the mature cartoon game, but High School Usa! and Axe Cop are both pretty solid efforts. If they continue to add new shows that are this good, maybe Adult Swim truly will have some real competition for the first time ever.