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On TV Today's Date:

The Batman
Call of the Cobblepot
Original airdate 9/18/04

The Batman adds another familiar face to his rogue's gallery this week. It seems there is a new villain in Gotham who steals priceless jewelry from the rich. No, it's not Catwoman. Here's a clue: he steals the jewels by commanding an army of birds. No, it's not The Owl. He's a Marvel character and you were stupid for guessing that.

It's Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot.!

The Oz-man has just returned from a tour of the orient and has decided to make his nest in Gotham. Along with his two geishas, Cobblepot crashes a private party hosted by Bruce Wayne. One of the guests is attacked by a bird shortly after Oz notices her pretty jewels. It's Alfred who eventually explains that he had heard the Cobblepots were once quite wealthy but lost their fortune after it had been squandered. After adding two and two, Batman begins snooping around the Penguin's roost.

This week was an improvement over last week. Penguin's redesign wasn't as radical as The Joker's and the episode instead focused on a more straight forward story.

"I hope it's the villains that bring out the Batman and not the Batman that brings out the villains".

I thought that was the most insightful line of the week. It's a question Batman has asked himself many times in the comics, but this show definitely seems saying that it's Batman that brings out the villains. How else could he have been Batman for three years without running into people like The Joker or The Penguin?

Batman's modernization continued this week with a few sly details. It's widely known even amongst casual fans that the entrance to the Batcave is hidden behind Bruce Wayne's grandfather clock. However, this Batman hides it behind a video game machine. I get the feeling this Bruce Wayne had a much happier childhood than we are accustomed to.

Penguin is much younger and far more athletic than we've ever seen him before. He manages to hold his own in a fight far better than Burgess Meredith or Danny DeVito ever could.

Interestingly, it's the Penguin who eventually gives himself the moniker of "The Penguin." Yes, he is portrayed here with the traditional long nose that the comics were moving away from for awhile, but the name "The Penguin" always struck me as nickname people called Oswald and that he resented them for it.

If I'm ever in charge of rebooting the Batman franchise, that's definitely the angle I'm going with.

Michael Goodson


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