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Batman The Animated Series: Joker's Favor

"Now, look, my rude friend, we can't have people cursing at each other on the freeway. It's simply not polite! I'm just going to have to teach you some manners."

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Gotham City is more than just an Art Deco playground for costumed heroes and villains. It's also a bustling metropolis (just not that Metropolis) where millions of average people live unexciting, 9-5 lives that don't involve dressing up in tights and going out at night to fight criminals (or rob banks).

One of those average citizens is poor Charlie Collins.

Charlie is the very epitome of a poor schmuck. He's overweight, bald with a comb over, can't get a raise at work, has a kid that needs braces he can't afford, and his wife is making meat loaf for dinner again. Bloody meat loaf! He's been the punchline for life's joke for too long and he's had enough. So when some jerk cuts him off on the highway he decides to chase the guy down and let him have it. And thus Charlie Collins makes the biggest mistake of his miserable life.

The jerk turns out to be none other than the Clown Prince of Crime himself and he doesn't take too kindly to Charlie's bad behaviour. Fortunately for Charlie, the Joker happily accepts a desperate I.O.U. and sends him on his way. Skip ahead two years and Charlie and his family are living under assumed names in Springdale, Ohio. He foolishly thinks he's safe, but he's about to discover that nowhere is safe from the Joker. Certainly not Ohio.

'Joker's Favor' is one of those episodes that has a really great central idea, but never really succeeds in exploring that idea to its fullest. Having a two year gap between Charlie's first and latest encounter with the Joker is a mistake as this upsets the flow of things and means that Charlie's role in the scheme is kinda rushed through. It might've been better if Charlie had got dragged along by the Joker from the very start and this was an entire episode of him as the Joker's hostage/unwilling accomplice.

'Joker's Favor' works better as a Joker showcase than as a tale about an average Joe getting caught in the crossfire between Batman and his nemesis. We really get to see how deviously clever and obsessive the Clown Prince of Crime is. No matter what Charlie does to try and get away, the Joker is always two steps ahead of him. He may be nuts, but sure as hell isn't stupid. But Charlie does get to have the perfect revenge on him by not only managing to out-prank the prankster, but by also getting a laugh out of Batman.

I mentioned in my review of 'The Underdwellers' that Batman: The Animated Series never really had any success at creating its own villains, with one major exception. This episode introduces that exception: Harley Quinn. Harley is far and away the show's biggest success story. Since her modest beginnings in this episode as one of the Joker's lackeys, she has gone on to become one of DCs best known and beloved characters. Understandably, there's very little to the character at this early stage. There's no hint yet of her full backstory or how deeply disturbed her relationship with the Joker really is. Be warned, if you actually ship her and the Joker and think of them as "relationships goalz" I advise you to check out now, because these reviews are not going to be to your liking.

Comic Book Connections

Harley Quinn wasn't incorporated into the main comic continuity until Batman: Harley Quinn (October 1999), seven years after this episode first aired. Prior to that she had appeared in the Elseworlds stories Batman: Thrillkiller and Batman: Thrillkiller '62 in 1997.

I Know That Voice

Charlie Collins was voiced by Ed Begley Jr., who previously voiced one of Roland Dagget's goons in 'Feat of Clay'. Harley was voiced by Arleen Sorkin, best known for playing Calliope Jones Bradford on Days of Our Lives. Paul Dini based the character on Sorkin and wrote it specifically for her to play.

Notes and Quotes

--This is the only episode where Batman genuinely laughs.

--Harley's disguise as a chauffeur would later be used for the design of Mercy Graves on Superman: The Animated Series.

--Charlie's driver's license puts Gotham City in New York state.

--One of the Joker's goons is reading a Tiny Toon Adventures comic.

Gordon: "If anyone should be getting a testimonial, it's you."
Batman: "I'm just the night shift. You deal with this mess twenty-four hours a day."

The Joker: "Jumping Jiminy Christmas! Charlie Collins. It's been forever. How are you, man? You look great! Lost a little weight. Lost a little hair, too."

Harley Quinn : "Here's to Gotham's Commissioner G., you lock up the weirdos, the crooks, and the geeks. You're a hero to all the boys in blue, but this time, baby, the joke's on you."

Charlie: "Wait! You promised to send me home!"
The Joker: "I never said alive!"
Charlie: "You dirty, evil..."
The Joker: "Sayonara, sucker!"

Three out of four major exceptions.

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

1 comment:

  1. HARLEY!!!!!!!

    Be polite to other drivers on the road. They may be supervillains.


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