Catwalk

   Scarface uses Selena as a catspaw in a robbery.
  Original Airdate: September 13, 1995
  Episode # 74
  Rating: * * *




Credits Cast

Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Boyd Kirkland
Music by Kristopher Carter
Animation by Dong Yang

Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne
Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman
Marilu Henner as Veronica Vreeland

George Dzundza as Scarface/Ventriloq.
Earl Boen as Rhino
John Rubinow as Museum Guard

That an animated show occupying part of a children's bloc of programming should have difficulty dealing with the subject of s-x should require neither mention nor explanation. But it creates obvious difficulties for the Batman/Catwoman relationship, since physical attraction is clearly its mainspring. Bruce Wayne knows all about Selena's double life, of course, so the show's creative team has an easier time with his side of the relationship. They can pretend that his interest in her is strictly honorable and so can studiously ignore impolite questions about what portion(s) of his anatomy Catwoman stirs. Not so with Selena. She knows only Batman, and she knows him only as a magnificent physique. There can be little doubt that her interest in him is not platonic.

So the show twitches nervously when pussy comes calling: there is a sense that taste and decorum are in imminent danger of being breached and a consequent uncertainty about how to keep matters on the up-and-up. In "Almost Got 'Im" honor is intact only because the episode is clearly a joke and Catwoman's appearance the punchline: when she sighs "Almost got him" at the end, the coiled sexual tension is sprung as a pun. "Tyger Tyger" and "Cat Scratch Fever" escape for altogether inferior reasons, being just dull action pieces with little attention to character. So it is in "The Cat and the Claw" and "Catwalk" that the dynamic of the Batman/Catwoman relationship is at its most blatant and most treacherous. The former is all elbows and knees; Selena's veiled glances and silky purrs are just embarrassing. Of course, the ideas of love and romance are easily suggested in animation (see Disney), as are lust (Avery) and graphic sex (Bakshi). But serious, non-pornographic sexual energy and attraction, of the kind exhibited by, say, Bogart and Bacall, may be beyond the art form. I have no argument for this assertion, but I suspect sexual energy is an electrical spark requiring contact between real human skins and real human glances, not just animated facsimiles.

"Catwalk" does better by sublimating the energy. Catwoman is an uninhibited girl who knows what she wants and takes it. But one of the things she wants is Batman, and in demanding that she give up her life of crime he demands something which she is not willing to give: self-control within a stable, legally-sanctioned place in society. Stated this way, the metaphor is obvious. By playing their relationship out in the arena of crime vs. justice while subtly winking at the real roots of their disagreement—sex vs. marriage—the episode is able to have its cake and eat it too.

The plotting of "Catwalk" is clever (although Selena's little soliloquy at the beginning is distracting and unnecessary), and it is nice to meet up with Scarface again and find that he is just as smart and mean as ever. Still, the harping on about extinct animals made me restless. When Catwoman threw the stuffed tiger into the flames at the end, challenging Batman to rescue it, I was rooting for him to clap the darbies on her and let it burn, remarking that her precious tiger was only so much sawdust.


Related Episodes
   * The Cat and the Claw
   * Cult of the Cat
   * You Scratch My Back
   * The Ultimate Thrill

What Others Are Saying ...
" An unlikely team-up of sorts between Catwoman and Scarface/Ventriloquist, but it was well handled. "World's Finest


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