|Index||2 reviews in total|
Animation has changed so much in the last few years, it is hard to even define the borders that distinguish it from live action today. Yes, there was a "dead zone" from the 60s to the 90s, when quality actually declined because no one wanted to spend the bucks for hand-drawn cells, and computers had not yet come along to fill the gap. And now we are back in a Golden Age of sorts, where, astonishingly, some of the product coming out of the US is as good as the stuff from Japan. Or better. Against this backdrop we have the Baby Doll episode from the Emmy winning multi-year series. While just a tad more satirical then the usual episodes (which are almost all GREAT) an astonishing script and an UNFORGETTABLE ending take this single episode to the status of legend.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Baby Doll" has to be the most pitiful villain ever to grace this excellent series. In my opinion the third season was somewhat lacking in the really emotionally deep and disturbing episodes, and this one always seemed to be very overlooked and underrated. It's about a washed-up ex child star turned boss of a criminal gang who suffers from a condition that prevents her from ever growing beyond the appearance of an adorable little girl, an image she constantly plays up to. Driven ever more bitter and deranged by the fact that her career never went anywhere, and presumably because she was unable to live a normal life due to her size, she embarks on the mad and improbable scheme of kidnapping all the cast members of her old show for the purpose of recreating her fictional childhood world... The first half starts out kind of slow but I love the way it subtly sets up the heartbreaking finale by showing several glimpses of Baby Doll's inner pain with what she's been through that she's willing to play out such a pathetic charade to appease her deluded mind. ::: The only things that I don't like about this episode are actually Baby Doll's character design, which I think looks a little cartoony...I get over it! And, I absolutely hate it when "Cousin Spunky" is revealed to be Robin in disguise. I also hated it in the classic "Almost Got 'Em", when Batman was disguised as Killer Croc, I just think it's a cheap cop-out and plain lazy. Although I personally think a lot of this one is fairly good, it truly kicks into high gear and turns into something exceptional when it gets to the final act where Batman pursues "Mary Dahl" through a fairground, funhouse, and eventually when she has no place left to go, a climactic scene to remember in a hall of mirrors... Baby Doll learns the hard way that the illusions she's allowed herself to become lost in have all come crashing to an end. That final scene once had me in tears when I was a kid. It's a very powerful image and visual metaphor how, after shooting out all the images of herself in the surrounding mirrors, she falters at the one remaining mirror that just happens to distort her reflection in such a way that it shows her as she would be as a normal full-sized beautiful woman without her affliction. It always brings a tear to my eye because I can strongly relate to that, wishing there was a 'real,' more idealised version of yourself on the inside that one may hold to be more beautiful than that which lies on the outside... And then of course she shatters that one as well and symbolically destroys any last efforts at pretending at what she knows deep down to be false. Batman just pities her in the end as she breaks down and unwittingly speaks her famous catchphrase one last time as the show draws to a spellbinding close... The best episodes were always the ones where you ended up feeling sorry for the bad guys, and the ending of this ranks right up there with "Heart of Ice" as far as I'm concerned. I think it's terrific.
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