Thursday, October 11, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. Moon Man (1977)

From The New Adventures of Batman comes a 1-shot villain called the Moon Man.

Scott Rogers (voice of Len Weinrib), a college friend of Bruce Wayne (Adam West), is bunking with Wayne & Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) at Wayne Manor while in town for a series of speaking engagements. Concurrently, the Moon Man is stealing moon-related items in a twisted crusade that would be typical of the period.

A few quirks. Take for example, Bat-Mite. I've often believed Len Weinrib also did his voice, but most sources credit co-producer Lou Scheimer, who didn't take any credit for any of the supporting characters he did in any Filmation cartoon until the 80's.  Weinrib also had the task of voicing Commissioner Gordon, while Melendy Britt stepped in for Jane Webb as Batgirl, even though Ms. Webb could've been brought back, seeing as how she returned for The Archie-Sabrina Hour 7 months later. Also, Bat-Mite not only has the crush on Batgirl I've talked about before, but he has green skin, something that I don't think was the case in the comics. As noted previously, right around this time, DC was teasing making Robin & Batgirl a romantic couple, but it was only after years of flirtacious pursuit---and Robin eventually becoming Nightwing---before things finally got serious. With The Mary Tyler Moore Show having ended production, Ted Knight could've been brought back as Commissioner James Gordon, but apparently, he'd sworn off cartoons after his last work for Filmation, Lassie's Rescue Rangers, had tanked 4 years earlier.

If you listen close to Len Weinrib's characterization of Scott Rogers, you'd think Weinrib was attempting to mimic Casey Kasem, who was now firmly entrenched at Hanna-Barbera......!

I remember missing this when it first aired, instead picking up a subsequent rerun feed----on the radio, after all the shuffling of affiliates.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I definitely agree that Weinrib was trying to go for a "young but mature" voice - something like a younger Jim Gordon for his voicework on Scott Rogers.

I thought the toon was sneaking in some environmental message with Moonman's rabid protection of the moon's resources. I guess if we didn't use any of Earth's resources, we'd never have had fire much less civilization. Even as a kid I wasn't going for it.

Also harder to suspend belief with B&R's chair copters being able to bridge the rollercoaster rails!

It's a shame TPTB didn't try to hook up (in a G rated way) Dick & Barbara in this incarnation. It would have been funny seeing Bat Mite trying to compete for her! Of course that would mean Barbara couldn't be the Gotham City DA any more since her position would imply she was much older than Dick Grayson.

I think Ted Knight didn't come back to do voicework because he was working steadily on cam. He had MTM and later, Too Close For Comfort.

I always wondered if Scheimer really did do Bat Mite's voice. Hearing Lou in interviews you wouldn't think he could do it. He never demonstrated it either. Perhaps since Weinrib was all over this show vocally, maybe Scheimer decided to take the credit to keep costs down.

hobbyfan said...

I think Knight retired from toons after Lassie's Rescue Rangers bombed, and he wasn't hired back when they revived Super Friends, since Bill Woodson replaced him as narrator there.

In the comics, Barbara was flitting back and forth between Gotham & Washington (and was elected to Congress-I'm still trying to figure out that one), so I can't see why they placed her as DA on this show. Made no sense.

magicdog said...

I think it was because of "Women's Lib". More and more women were in the workplace and in important positions. Making her a mere librarian in the late 70s was apparently too weak a position for her in the eyes of feminists. Plus it seemed to give her a reason to hang around her dad's office. TPTB probably wanted to make her appeal to girls to aspire to something higher.

hobbyfan said...

Plus, the scenes with Babs in her father's office looked like re-do's from the 1968 series.....