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Friday, March 21, 2014

'Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham' S1 Part 1 BD: Awesome Batman Series for the 2010s

Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham Season 1 Part 1 (BD) (13eps)
Warner Archive following up its December 2013 Blu-ray release of the first season of the wonderfully campy Cartoon Network series "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" with an equally awesome February 2014 Blu-ray release of "Beware the Batman" S1 Part 1 shows that Archive fully has the backs of old and new present day batfans.

Those of us who grew up with both the wonderfully mod '60s Adam West series and the '70s incarnation of the Justice League in the "Super Friends" series love the silly "Brave" series; true fanboys and budding fantweens and teens will derive just as much joy from the darker "Beware."

The "Beware" release a few weeks ago also created restrained hope that Archive would adopt the similar Cartoon Network show "Green Lantern: The Animated Series." Both series present a very modern take on classic heroes in video game style CGI forms, which are tailor-made for Blu-ray, that have action sequences that likely find their way into those games.

Learning earlier this week that Archive released the complete "Lantern" series on March 18, 2014 was very exciting. Unreal TV is checking the mailbox every day for this one and will review it in mid-April 2014.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the promo for "Beware" does a great job conveying the aforementioned visual style and fast pace of this series.

The "Beware" adventures do not follow the same open-ended quest story arc as "Lantern" but do have continuous themes, which include the titular character grooming someone to be the equivalent of Robin.

"Beware" also retains the awesome visual and story-related atmospheric elements of the Christopher Nolan "Batman" trilogy. Our animated hero still uses darkness to create fear and realizes that he is as damaged as the crazed villains whom he pursues. 

The pilot sets the tone of the new series by establishing that Bruce Wayne's butler/Batman's assistant Pennyworth, Alfred Pennyworth is a former MI-6 operative who relishes assertively speaking out of turn when necessary. This episode additionally follows the modern trend of presenting one-percenters in a very negative light.

Villains who come along for the ride in the League episodes include the chaos-loving Anarky (voiced by Wallace Langham of the '90s sitcom "Veronica's Closet" and the current procedural the original "CSI.") and someone from the universe of the wonderfully wacky Magpie.

As a side note, many other notable veterans of screens large and small (and real-life and animated) and some voice actors from prior "Batman" series lend their talents to this series. One example of the latter is Cree Summers of the '80s sitcom "A Different World," who also provides the voice of Max in the uber-awesome 1999-2001 animated series "Batman Beyond."

Including subtle homages to classic films is another fun element of "Beware." Scenes in which Alfred launches a ninja-style attack on Bruce Wayne as a training exercise has great shades of the classic "Pink Panther" film series, and one adventure very aptly brings Batman to a house that looks very much like the Bates abode in the "Psycho" films and the current "Bates Motel" television series.

Multi-story arcs revolve around a new innovation that Bruce Wayne's company has developed and battles with Lady Sheba and the League of Assassins for possession of a mystical article known as the soultaker sword, which makes Exclaibur look like a plastic souvenir from a Renaissance fair.

The final episode in the set nicely unites the themes from the 12 that precede it; it offers the bonuses of some great flashbacks with a very arrogant tween Bruce Wayne and a separate cliffhanger that has batfans drooling for Archive's release of the second half of of "Beware's" first season.

The dramatic conclusion to all this is that "Beware" offers long-term batfans a chance to watch a fun and exciting series starring the caped crusader/dark knight in a format that the wifi keyboard kids of today will equally enjoy.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Beware" or anything else Batman related will waste their time shining a symbol of a sofaspud in the sky but are welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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