Batman The Animated Series: The Last Laugh

"I believe I've contracted a giant case of the giggles!"

It's April Fools' Day in Gotham City and everyone is having a right good laugh, whether they want to or not.

'The Last Laugh' is the epitome of disposable, lightweight filler. Even for a 25 minute Saturday morning cartoon the plot is pretty basic. The Joker attacks the city with his laughing gas, spread by a submarine disguised as a garbage scow. Where did he get a submarine? Who knows, this is not the type of show to answer such questions. Anyway, while the citizens of Gotham are consumed by the giggles, the Joker and his gang go on a crime spree. Fortunately, the city's well trained and highly organised police force is there to stop him.

Just kidding.

It's Batman. It's always Batman. The GCPD couldn't catch a cold during a flu epidemic. 

Once the Dark Knight is on the case 'The Last Laugh' turns into just one long action sequence as our hero battles the Joker and his minions, including a robot clown sailor called Captain Clown. Where did the Joker get a robot? Again, who knows. Despite telling us early on that long term exposure to the laughing gas will lead to permanent insanity, the stakes never feel that high. Even after Alfred is exposed there's never any urgent race against time to stop the Joker and save the day.

Still, as forgettable as this episode is it's still a lot of fun thanks to Mr J's presence. He's one of those characters who always manages to lift up any episode he's in. I also really liked the bookend scenes of Alfred and Bruce playing some April Fools' pranks on each other. And it's really hard to hate any episode that gives us an image as priceless as this one:


I Know that Voice

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. takes over as Alfred from this episode. Outside of the DCAU, he's best known for starring in the TV series 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I. and having recurring roles on Maverick, Remington Steele (which starred his daughter, Stephanie), and Babylon 5.

Comic Book Connections 

Alfred was created by Don Cameron and Bob Kane and first appeared in Batman #16 (April 1943), although rumour has it that he was actually created by the writers of a 1943 Batman serial and DC told Cameron to include him in the comics prior to the serial's release. Originally called Alfred Beagle, he was an former actor who became Bruce Wayne's valet as a deathbed promise to his father. In his early appearances Alfred was an overweight, bumbling wannabe detective who served as the comic relief. As time went on his comedic side was toned down and his look modified to better resemble William Austin, who had played Alfred in the 1943 series.

Notes and Quotes

--First appearance of the Batboat, which also doubles as a submarine.

--Shirley Walker's score for this episode is a little odd.

--Of course the Joker would spray perfume underarm fully dressed.

--Gotta love Batman punching the periscope so hard it sent the Joker flying across the room.

--In this episode the entrance to the Batcave is behind a bookcase. In most episodes it's behind the grandfather clock.

--This episode was directed by Kevin Altieri who also directed 'On Leather Wings'. He was one of the series' most frequent and best directors.

The Joker: "When the going gets tough... the tough go shopping."

Summer Gleeson: "I'm here in Downtown Gotham where corporate CEOs have gone stark raving mad. It would appear the collapse of the stock market is now imminent. The question is: Will April Fools' Day mark the end of Gotham City as we know it?"
The Joker: "The only things gaining now are the Laughingstocks!"

Batman: "Clean up your act, Joker!"
Joker: "Oh, that's a joke, right? Batman finally told a joke!"

The Joker: "I never knew Batman could sink so low."

Two out of four clown robots.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

2 comments:

sunbunny said...

I like this one! It doesn't reinvent the wheel but as you said Mark Hamill's Joker elevates everything. I would almost say he's my favorite baddy of the series but there are just so many wonderful ones to choose from and they're almost all spectacular.

Sam Smith said...

I never watched the series as a kid but i got this episode in a cereal box, so i almost know it off by heart. One of my favourite episodes ever just because of the nostalgia