Batman The Animated Series: The Underdwellers

"I think this is a job for Batman"

Batman: The Animated Series excelled at many things. Unfortunately, creating its own villains was not one of them. In fact, it was one of the few things the show failed at without exception. Well okay, there was one major exception, but it's far too soon to be talking about her.

'The Underdwellers' is really as bad as BTAS gets. You know what type of episode you're in for when the first scene is an eye-rolling sequence where Batman saves a kid playing chicken on top of a train and then quips "You play chicken long enough, you fry" like this is some bad 80s action movie. And that isn't even the worst offender. There are so many dialogue disasters in this episode I'm surprised Roland Emmerich hasn't made a movie out of them.

After that annoying act of adolescent idiocy, it's on to the actual plot (or what passes for it). A rich lady gets her purse stolen by a kid wearing a green cape that she thinks is a leprechaun. Yes, you read that right, a bleedin' leprechaun. What's worse is that Batman believes it too. The World's Greatest Detective and he actually thinks he saw a genuine leprechaun.

Batman finds the "leprechaun" and once he realises it's a child in need he naturally takes him back to the Batcave and then lets him run around Stately Wayne Manor without a care for his secret identity. He probably also put in a call to his lawyer to start filling out the adoption forms. What follows is some painfully unfunny comedy as Alfred runs around after this annoying prat, who has taken to wearing some random shades that were just lying around for some bizarre reason.

This wannabe Artful Dodger works for the villain of the piece: the loathsome (in every way) Sewer King. He's a lame, ridiculous looking Fagin knock-off who lives underground, has more alligators than Florida and controls a small army of street urchins that look like they were airlifted in from the world's most depressing production of Oliver! How he came by all these children (and the alligators)  is never fully explained. I can only imagine that child services in Gotham must be a complete shambles for them to lose track of this many children. Maybe if billionaire Bruce Wayne invested his money into supporting public services instead of toys for his one man war on crime stuff like this wouldn't happen and we'd be spared episodes like this.


I Know That Voice

The Sewer King was voiced by character actor Michael Pataki. He previously played Amenophis Tewfik, a minion of King Tut on the Adam West series, making him one of the few people to play a bad guy on both shows. He also played Korax, the Klingon who insults the Enterprise and gets Scotty's fist in his face, in classic Star Trek episode 'The Trouble with Tribbles' and Captain Barbera on The Amazing Spider-Man.

Comic Book Connections

The Sewer King was created for the show and only had a single appearance in the comics, as a corpse for one panel in 52 #25 (December 2006).

Notes and Quotes

--Alfred, who effectively raised both Bruce and Dick, claims that he knows nothing about children.

--The Batmobile is capable of disguising itself as a dumpster. 

--The piece of music Alfred was listening to was Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, 4th Movement by Johannes Brahms. The theme for the Underdwellers is clearly based on Gabriel Fauré's 'Pavane.'

--Why does the Sewer King have his urchins doing agricultural work? They live in a bloody sewer, what are they hoping to grow without sunlight?

Batman: "Children and guns do not mix. Ever."

Batman: "I don't pass sentence. That's for the courts, but this time... this time... I am sorely tempted to do the job myself."

Alfred: "I do believe a break from Wayne Enterprises and crimefighting would do wonders. Perhaps a vacation. A little golf?"
Bruce: "Sounds boring."
Alfred: "In the Bahamas?"
Bruce: "Hot. And boring."

Alfred: "Rise and shine, Master Leprechaun."

One out of four better things you could do with your time than watching this drivel.

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

1 comment:

sunbunny said...

This episode is AWFUL. I rewatched it knowing you were coming up to it and I thought hey maybe it wasn't as bad as I remember but no it is as bad as I remember. It's AWFUL. I do not like it, Sam I Am.