The New Batman Adventures – “Love is a Croc”

love is a crocEpisode Number:  9 (94)

Original Air Date:  July 11, 1998

Directed by: Butch Lukic

Written by:  Steve Gerber

First Appearance:  None

 

There are no noteworthy first appearances in this week’s episode, “Love is a Croc,” but it almost feels like we have a pair. Killer Croc was a frequent contributor during the original run of Batman. He was sometimes portrayed as a vicious killer, and sometimes as a goof, but he was always voiced by Aron Kincaid. Kincaid is no longer a part of the show though, and he’s been replaced by Brooks Gardner. Perhaps less noticeable is the addition of Laraine Newman as the voice of Baby-Doll, replacing Alison LaPlaca. This is only less noteworthy because the character previously only had one appearance, but the difference between the two is pretty noticeable so I would guess that long-time fans picked up on it quite quickly.

chicken

Killer Croc is back with a new look, a new cell, and a new love for raw chicken. It’s finger-licking good!

The New Batman Adventures consists of many redesigns for villains, and today is no exception, and it also contains new directions for said characters. Perhaps the show was unsure of what to do with both Croc and Baby-Doll, so rather than create a new scheme for them on their own they decided to do an odd couple pairing. Baby-Doll is the sympathetic villain, as she has largely been victimized by her condition which is summed up in this episode as one that does not allow her to grow. Croc, on the other hand, has never been played for sympathy even though he has an obvious physical condition that could lend itself to such a portrayal, had the show wanted to explore that. Instead though, Croc seems quite happy as he is and enjoys looking rather freakish. Basically, Baby-Doll views her outward appearance as a betrayal of what she feels inside, while Croc’s is more like an accurate manifestation of the person, or reptile, he is on the inside. It’s certainly an interesting approach, so let’s see how it turned out.

The episode opens in black and white, a palette we were accustomed to in the first run of this show, but one that is now rare. And it’s colored that way because we’re watching an old clip of Love That Baby, the sitcom starring Mary Louise Dahl. It’s a little comedy piece that is there to remind us of Baby-Doll as we head into the episode proper.

mad mary

I think he made her mad.

A wife is helping her husband stumble into a hotel lobby. Judging by their attire, I’d say they’re on vacation in some place warm. The man is obviously drunk, which is probably a first for this show, and he’s lost his room key. The wife seems to have lost something as well, her patience, as she drops him and heads to the concierge. Working the desk is a diminutive woman with an oversized shirt on. She informs the guest that she can get her a duplicate. The woman watches as this host hops off of a large stool and pushes the stool over towards the wall where the keys are hanging. Drunk husband is also watching and he’s the first to notice her. Phrasing it as, “You used to be somebody,” he eventually remembers and starts reminding Mary of her past failures, including the whole trying to kill Batman thing. He tells her to do something funny, and eventually the former Baby-Doll snaps. She grabs the man by the nose and slams his face into a ledger before shutting it on his head violently. She then utters her catchphrase, “I didn’t mean to,” but not in her usual playful way.

Mary retreats to her own room where she angrily tosses aside her coat before settling into more of a depressive state. She asks why people can’t see her as an adult before plopping on the couch between two giant teddy bears (that might be contributing to your problem, Mary). Of course, her show is on television and she angrily changes the channel and finds some live courtroom show. Killer Croc is being presented to a judge and is shown pleading his case that he’s the victim of prejudice based on his appearance. And his new appearance is even more monstrous than before. He’s green-skinned now with monstrous eyes, claws, and these weird ridges on his body. In short, he more clearly resembles a crocodile.

croc escape

That seemed a little too easy.

The judge (Buster Jones) decides Croc is competent enough to stand trial, and Croc is not in agreement. Apparently wanting to prove the judge wrong, be breaks out of his restraints and goes on the attack. As he batters the police aside and makes his escape, Mary cheers him on from her couch apparently recognizing a kindred spirit.

croc batarang

Croc is clearly not impressed with Batman’s toys.

Croc’s escape from the courthouse does not mean he’s home free. Outside, he’s forced to contend with more police, and then a Batman. Batman swings in to deliver a nice kick, but Croc is up for a challenge. He starts putting on a show by tossing cars and crushing batarangs in his jaws, but he’s eventually subdued by the caped crusader. At this point, a crowd has formed to watch and Baby-Doll herself is among the spectators (so I guess her hotel is no where tropical?) and looks on with sadness as Croc is apprehended.

crocs confines

That bag of several chickens probably weighs more than she does.

Arkham Asylum is our next setting, and it seems they’ve made some modifications for old Croc. He’s shown swimming in a giant tube of water that’s open on top. A guard walks in to inform him that he has a visitor, and in strolls Baby-Doll. Croc has no interest in conversing with her, but she informs him she brought chicken. She tosses a whole, raw, chicken at Croc who devours it in one gulp bones and all. She’s brought more than one, and her strategy seems to have worked as Croc is willing to listen. She tells them their kindred spirits, and Croc seems disinterested owing to the fact that he’s being sent to jail tomorrow. Baby-Doll tells him not to lose hope by suggesting that accidents can happen on the way.

baby-doll and gun

They’ll let anyone be a villain these days.

The next day, Croc is being transported at night and everything seems to be going smooth, for now. The driver of the truck then notices a little girl appear in the road suddenly and he has to swerve in order to avoid her. The truck goes through a guardrail and flips over, and Baby-Doll is there to once again utilize that catch phrase. She goes around to the rear of the truck and finds two guards picking themselves up off the ground. They question what she’s doing there, and she pulls out a gun. It fires two suction cup-tipped darts that strike each man in the forehead. Each dart has a wire trailing out of it back to the gun and an electrical current shoots up it rendering the two unconscious. Baby-Doll then finds Croc inside and gives him a big hug (she’s about the size of his head and neck) while Croc wears a confused expression on his face as she tells him they can be together forever now.

croc welcome home

Welcome home, Precious.

Sometime later, Croc is shown returning home. Home appears to be in a sewer and it’s made up to look like a 1950’s kitchen. Croc comes strolling in to find Baby-Doll at the table in her high chair. She’s delighted to see that her precious has returned home, and Croc is equally delighted. He comes baring newspapers, local and out of town (The Daily Planet), which all feature he and Baby-Doll on the front page. It would seem they have a successful string of robberies under their collective belt, and the stacks of cash in the cupboard make Croc very happy indeed. He’s not here to chat long though as he tells Doll that he’s heading back out. He apparently subscribes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle philosophy that a trench coat and hat are all you need to disguise an otherwise noticeable appearance. Baby-Doll is sad that he’s leaving and she grabs onto the end of his coat imploring him to take her along. She’s clearly regressed back to an almost child-like persona as she speaks in the third person referring to herself as Baby. Croc spins around like he’s about to backhand her, but he relents. He then resumes his leaving while Baby-Doll tries to tell him they should plan a new job, but he informs her (and us) that’s her job as he disappears down a tunnel.

Batman and Batgirl are shown zipping around in the Bat Boat apparently in search of Croc and Baby-Doll. Batman informs Batgirl that all of their jobs have so far taken place near water tipping him off that Baby-Doll is taking advantage of her new beau’s obvious strengths. A casino cruise ship just happens to be roaming Gotham Harbor and that’s about as likely a hit as one will find for this particular duo. Croc and Baby-Doll enter the casino floor. Baby-Doll plays with a ball which attracts the attention of a security guard who moves to remove “the child” from the area. As she does so, she abandons her position beside the cashier and Croc reaches into his window and rips him through the wall. He heads inside to get the cash as the guard abandons Baby-Doll to go after him. Baby-Doll throws her ball at her and it explodes releasing a gas that takes out the guard as other patrons flee. Baby-Doll joins her man as the two grab as much cash as they can before beating a retreat.

spoiled getaway

They act surprised to see Batman, but how long did they think they could really keep this up before he’d show up?

Getting away won’t be easy though, as Batman and Batgirl show up and block their escape. Croc is clearly unnerved as he turns tail and runs. He ends up chucking a giant roulette wheel at the two, which initially misses but causes a whole host of problems for the two. Batgirl gets squashed under a table while Batman gets nailed by the ricocheting wheel. This provides enough cover for the two to escape, only they lost most of the money. Batman recovers and tells Batgirl they’re getting away, who seems irritated with him for not first making sure she was all right via a sarcastic remark. Batgirl joins Batman on the ship’s deck, and Batman spies the villains heading into a large sewer pipe he assumes is taking them home.

Back at their lair, Croc is livid by Batman’s interference. Baby-Doll tries to calm him down, but he’s not listening. He tells her he’s going out, causing her to give chase once again. This time, Croc doesn’t pull his backhand and he swats her away. Baby-Doll looks hurt, emotionally, by this display of aggression as she watches Croc once again vanish down the sewer pipe. On the waterfront, Croc is shown leaving a place called Live Bait (gross) with a woman on each arm and lipstick on his cheek. He’s bragging to the girls that he’s about to fly solo and confirms that he plans to ditch Baby-Doll. From the shadows, Baby-Doll is shown watching as tears well up in her eyes.

baby-doll hurt

Someone’s been caught.

Croc is shown sleeping on the couch until Baby jumps on him. She wraps her arms around his head and apologizes for before promising he can go out whenever he wants. Croc seems confused, but not concerned. She gives him a kiss and he bushes her aside. As he walks away she tells him she has a new job. Croc gets excited as he learns that this is The Big One and Baby-Doll promises that it will be the one that will allow he and her to live in warmth forever and ever. Her delivery is more than a little creepy so I don’t think this job is going to end well.

Batman and Batgirl are shown walking in ankle deep sewer water. Batgirl is complaining that the two days they’ve spent doing this will result in her suit being forever ruined, as well as her nose. Batman simply replies that it’s better than sitting around the cave. They soon find the happy home of their targets, only it’s empty. As Batman examines a childish drawing of an exploding nuclear power plant, Batgirl picks up a doll that was left on the table. The head rolls off and soon Baby-Doll’s voice is heard admonishing the intruders. A stuffed crocodile opens its mouth and a bomb is revealed. Batman and Batgirl have just enough time to jump back into the sewer water to avoid the explosion. An angry Batgirl emerges from the water expressing a sentiment that this girl needs a spanking (and she’s a-hankering, for some spankering!).

croc baby reactor

I think they’re about to break-up.

Croc and Baby-Doll are shown at the controls for Gotham’s nuclear power plant. There are no workers, no guards, and how they got there isn’t explained. Baby-Doll then cuts off the water supply which keeps the reactor cool. Croc is confused since they can’t accept ransom from a dead city. Baby-Doll informs him via limerick of her plan to destroy Gotham by causing a meltdown, in turn killing them as well. This is Baby-Doll’s punishment for Croc and the solution to his womanizing. First we had a drunk guy, now we have a plot involving a murder-suicide, this show sure has grown up.

Before the two can get into a lengthy argument, Batman comes swinging in and nails Croc. He tries to tell Batman that she’s crazy, but he responds with fists. Batgirl swings in and nails Baby-Doll before turning her attention to the controls. Batman asks if she can fix it, and she responds that he’ll either know in a minute, or he won’t care. She is successful, as Baby-Doll flees. Batman tells Batgirl to keep an eye on the reactor as Croc takes off after Baby-Doll and Batman is forced to pursue them both.

croc vs batman

It wasn’t that long ago we saw Bruce Wayne tangle with the real thing, so this doesn’t seem too threatening for Batman.

Croc reaches Baby-Doll first and he apparently isn’t going to forgive her for her little attempted murder. He grabs her, and dangles her over a large turbine seemingly intending to kill her. As he drops her, Batman is there to make the save as he usually does. This leaves him open to attack though as Croc pummels him into a wall. Hoisting him over his head, he heads back to the turbine to finish off Batman, only this time it’s Baby-Doll making the save. A little gun-like device fell off of Batman as Croc carried him, and Baby-Doll grabs it. It looks like an injection device, but when Baby-Doll uses it on Croc it behaves like a stun gun (shrugs). Croc is angered, but not really affected, but the distraction is enough to allow Batman to pull him down off of the catwalk they’re on and down onto another.

crying baby doll

Nothing but tears in the end for old Baby-Doll.

Croc then gets on top of Batman and tries forcing his head into the turbine (he’s really determined to make use of this turbine). As Batman’s “ears” enter the danger zone, the turbine clinks off of them revealing to us that Batman’s cowl is now reinforced with steel (clever bat). Batman kicks him off and into a wall covered with pipes. Croc ignores the warnings, and a verbal one from Batman, regarding the pipes and rips one off the wall. He’s rewarded with a face full of hot steam which knocks him to the ground. He looks dazed, and then appears to slip into unconsciousness. Beside him, Baby-Doll mourns for the relationship they could have had. Just as her debut episode ended, this one ends with her gentle sobs as Batman looks on.

This is another one of those episodes I wasn’t really looking forward to rewatching. Baby-Doll felt like a one-shot to me. She was fine in her original appearance and made for a unique and sympathetic villain. She was certainly memorable given her appearance, but she also struck me as someone who just needed some help and would then be able to live a semi-adjusted life. And apparently she did, for a time, until someone pushed her buttons too far and she was introduced to Killer Croc. It’s an odd pairing, but one that is mostly logical. Baby-Doll is a bit more mentally distressed it would seem, sd evidenced by her child-like state throughout the episode. It’s a bit strange as we were lead to believe she thinks of herself as an adult, but she certainly doesn’t act that way. She’s obviously not well though, so it’s not illogical to see her act this way, just different.

Killer Croc, on the other hand, is mostly true to his nature. It is a bit hard to get used to his new voice. Aron Kincaid brought this New York sleaziness to the character that is mostly replaced by just a deep, some-what monstrous, voice by Brooks Gardner. It’s fine on its own, but I definitely miss Kincaid. Otherwise, Croc just wants money and apparently girls, and remains a main without morals who just happens to resemble a crocodile.

With so much of the episode devoted to showing us the home life of our unlikely couple, there’s very little time for Batman and Batgirl to do much of anything. They write Batgirl much in the same way as they used to write Robin. She makes jokes and sarcastic remarks and is all together rather chatty compared with Batman. Batman is slightly more willing to banter now, as I feel like before he would have met Robin’s remarks with silence, but here he does not. When Batgirl openly wonders what Croc and Baby-Doll do on a date he takes a long pause before responding with a “I don’t want to think about it.” I think it would have been a touch more humorous to just have Batman let her question hang in the air rather than have him respond. I sometimes get the sense that the writers are trying to find Batman’s personality now that he’s always shown to have someone with him, where as his personality before was mostly just silent brooding. Something just feels “off” about Batman, and I keep waiting for things to click, but I’m not sure they will.

high angle croc ending

Baby-Doll’s second appearance ends the way her first did with an almost identical shot.

This is the final appearance for Baby-Doll, while Killer Croc will return. It was a surprise to see her brought back at all, so the fact that she won’t be making a third appearance is hardly a surprise. There’s only so much that can be done with her. Plus she basically tried to nuke Gotham, so she’s probably been sent somewhere that isn’t likely to set her free anytime soon. She did her job, and while her episodes are not among my favorites, they certainly weren’t bad.

 


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