The Joker escapes from Arkham on Christmas Eve.
Written by Eddie Gorodetsky
Directed by Kent Butterworth
Music by Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis & Shirley Walker
Animation by Akom
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne
Loren Lester as Dick Grayson
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
Robert Constanzo as Bullock
Mari Devon as Summer Gleeson
Mark Hamill as The Joker
Clive Revill as Alfred
If “The Laughing Fish,” “Joker’s Favor” and “Joker’s Wild” stand as the great trilogy of BTAS Joker stories, “Christmas with the Joker” joins “The Last Laugh” and "Be a Clown" in a trio that shows how much you do with minimal effort. The Joker is such a lurid and entertaining character that it is very easy just to give him an outrageous plot and let him do his thing. It takes a canny and ambitious talent to discover in a Joker tale the story of a frustrated comedian, a defrauded trademark holder, a stymied tycoon, a heart-rent adversary, a selfish lover--or to make him the supporting character in another man’s drama. But “Christmas with the Joker” just coasts along, like a sled down a not-very-steep hill, until it comes to a gentle stop with a pie-in-the-face gag.
All credit for its one discovery: Everyone turns sappy at Christmas, except for Batman and the Joker. But a more daring episode might have taken off from this insight and turned in something more naughty than a James Bond meets Snidely Whiplash story. At Christmas-time the world is lousy with the conceit that everyone should be jolly and joyful and nice to one’s fellow man. It would have made for a mordant little satire if our hero and villain had found themselves stuck on a shelf for the duration of the holidays despite their best efforts to make trouble. Imagine Batman frustrated by blandly cheerful cops too distracted by gift-distribution to help stop a monster; imagine the Joker incensed by the populace’s inane refusal to stop their shopping and egg-nogging long enough to pay attention to his antics. I never bought the conclusion of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” that the Grinch, confronted by the spirit of the season, should have his heart “grow three sizes” in one day--it’s easier for me to believe in him keeling over from apoplexy. It’s also easier for me to imagine Batman and the Joker standing vexed in the snow as carollers and last-minute shoppers saunter right on by.
Well, that would have been a silly tale. “Christmas with the Joker” works well enough as a middling story with a middle-brow sensibility. Which perhaps is all that is wanted at Christmas. Never forget that the above-mentioned Corollary is named for a man much beloved for his sleepy way with a syrupy lyric.
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