Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season One (TV DVD)

(Note: This season is broken up among two DVD volumes, but I'm treating them as one set because screw you)

The Brave and the Bold is both a show about Batman showing up superpowered heroes and an exercise in taking the piss out of the Dark Knight, and the result is somewhat of a mixed bag. Some episodes are straight action, pitting Batman and a friend against any one number of DC villains. Sometimes it degrades into a kid's show, usually when the guest star is that teenage Blue Beetle character nobody cares about, or when it forces in some cheesy morality like in the episode with a caveman using a meteorite to give his cohorts super strength and Batman pulls a comment about trying to get something for nothing out of his ass. And I swear the writers were aware of the stigma around Aquaman, so his gimmick is he tells boring, long-winded, pointless stories, like his fish-communicating powers evolved into channeling Rose Nyland. I don't know if they were taking the piss out of him or trying to reinvent him, but his episodes are the worst of the bunch and for some shitawful reason he's the most common guest star (if not tied with the Blue Beetle). Imagine my surprise when I discovered he has the same voice actor as Bender from Futurama.

And then there's the comedy episodes. The wonderful, glorious comedy episodes. There'd be a couple bland episodes in a row and I'd start wondering if I was overrating the show, when out of nowhere comes something delightfully fucked up like the Bat-Mite or Music Meister episodes, the latter being a musical episode made all the greater by Batman not being in on the joke. Early on there's an episode with Plastic Man, which seems to exist just to incorporate Looney Tunes slapstick into a Batman show. The Brave and the Bold is also full of in-jokes for the most hardcore Batman fans including references to the Looney Tunes classic Duck Tracy cartoon in the Bat-Mite episode and the very screenshot I chose for this quickie.

Also, I never thought I'd see a poop joke from Batman.


Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy (Steve Campbell, Kindle eBook)

Now with a name and cover like that, how could I pass this up?

Unfortunately, the book isn't as over the top as I would have hoped. Hank is a negotiator on a crime-riddled space station, and is also a mutant who weighs thousands of pounds and is bulletproof (think a mashup of Roger Smith and The Blob). But after the station is attacked by alien robots that hadn't been seen in ages the navy decides to pay the station a visit, and it's a race against time for Belvaille to spackle over its closets of skeletons. As if that wasn't enough, the station's top scientist is being stalked by an indestructible robot, there's an angry 50-foot giant who doesn't like Hank, and Hank has accidentally befriended mutant siblings who escaped from a research lab, one with the power to control electricity and the other with the power to control reality when he gets stoned.

So yeah, not quite the wacky sci-fi comedy I was expecting, but I guess it was alright for what it was... right up until the ending, where it pulls a bait and switch. After all the buildup, it turns out the navy doesn't give a shit about Belvaille's rampant crime or the escaped mutants, and are actually concerned about an incoming vessel from an alien race that had never been mentioned before. Even more puzzling is that these aliens are then established to basically rule the galaxy, so you'd think they would have come up sooner. Also, Hank carries a weapon from a long-extince alien race, and in another "Huh?" moment he boards the alien vessel and finds it full ambassadors from alien races from all over the galaxy, including members of that alien race... and Hank doesn't question this. It's like Steven Campbell started out writing Sci-Fi Ankh Morpork, took a break 4/5 of the way through to play Mass Effect, then came got back to work without reading the old text for a refresher.


Cyborg Cop 2/ Rifftrax Audio

The title sounds like it's a cop who's also a cyborg, but it's actually about a perfectly normal cop hunting down a criminal who was turned into Mr. X from Resident Evil 2. What is it with bad B movies where people perform experiments on death row inmates and turn them into unstoppable death machines? There was also an MST3K episode where a prisoner was executed, then revived with impenetrable skin so he could go on a rampage after the people who got him thrown in prison. It's also great that these invincible juggernauts are then killed with electricity (spoiler alert).

As for the RiffTrax take on it, well, it's RiffTrax, and it's hilarious. Although I think the crew wondering aloud when the cop was going to become a cyborg or show off his cyborg powers wore thin when it became that obvious that the title doesn't mean he's a cop who's also a cyborg, but he's a cop who hunts cyborgs.


The Simpsons: Season Six (TV DVD)

Since it's widely considered the best season of the show, is there really anything I can say about Season Six of the Simpsons that you haven't already heard or decided for yourself? It's a perfect balance of absurdity, social commentary, heart, and good old fashioned Simpsons cruelty, and chock full of classic episodes and moments including but certainly not limited to Itchy and Scratchy Land, "I know those words, but that sign makes no sense", the Critic crossover, Bart's Comet, the 101 Dalmations parody and "See My Vest", "That's a paddling", and the first half of the Who Shot Mr. Burns mystery.

Actually, I guess there are a few nitpicks I can make. "Homer Badman" was supposed to be a criticism of the media courting controversy for ratings but it plays out more like a 24-minute strawman attack on feminists. And I know the Stonecutters episode is a classic, but it doesn't do much for me. It's like at the point when Homer is declared the Chosen One, the writers didn't know which direction to go in and just started flailing around until they reached a conclusion.

I don't know how many people listen to DVD commentaries, but the Simpsons ones are worth a shot. Some are as entertaining as the shows themselves (although I wish Jon Lovitz didn't spend so much of the Critic crossover commentary calling Al Jean and Mike Reiss gay), there's some interesting stories behind the show's set pieces, and the one for the clip show episode basically ignores the episode itself and instead is a discussion on the process of pitching, writing, and animating an episode.