Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The DC Animated Universe Weekly Review - Batman: The Animated Series

 Batman: The Animated Series

Episode 6

The Underdwellers

This is a heavy episode.  Probably heavier than intended.  There’s a crime spree occurring in Gotham which is being committed by a bunch of kids.  Very similar to the plot of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 


Batman happens to capture one of the kids Frog, takes him to the Bat Cave, and has Alfred to care for him.  Some cutsie shenanigans happen with Alfred bumbling to care for the child.  The show takes the opportunity to show the dangers of firearms when Frog picks up an antique gun and points it at Alfred.  Batman appears and takes it from the kid, gives him a scary Batman lecture about gun safety which resonates way better than any 80s cartoon PSA.  Then Batman asks for Frog’s help to find the rest of the kids living underground.


Frog takes Batman to the sewer and he finds an entire city of children being used as slave labor.  Batman is super pissed off.  He starts taking pictures of the kids and their conditions.  The writers have him verbally utters the worlds “evidence” so we the audience doesn’t think Batman is a creep and understand he’s gathering proof for the police to bust the Sewer King.  It’s expositiony but serves a purpose for the kid audience to understand what’s happening. 


Batman then confronts Sewer King, he fights his giant alligators, then him.  As Sewer King is about to fall to his death Batman saves him.  Sewer King asks why Batman saved him and Batman tells him it’s not his job to pass judgment, it’s the courts job, but he was tempted to make an exception because Sewer King is a sicko.  The show only shows slave labor, physical abuse, and mental abuse.  Sewer King was probably up to far worse which couldn’t be put in a cartoon show.  A creepy dude, dressed in 18th century garb, living in the sewers, enslaving a bunch of kids; the math seems pretty clear.  If anyone deserved true vigilante justice, it would have been Sewer King.  


Sewer King’s tactic of verbal abuse and brainwashing would recur in the Batman Beyond episode The Last Resort.  A different take on the episode unique enough to recycle the theme and come up with something fresh.  


The episode ends with the kids being freed, coming out of the sewer, and seeing the sun and being happy.  This is a good episode but almost too dark of a story to truly enjoy.  The goofy antics with Frog and Alfred don’t balance out the darker theme of child abuse.  Still an excellent episode since it doesn’t talk down on the subject.  .  


Written by
Joseph Ammendolea
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®