Batman: The Animated Series

Season 1 Episode 20

I've Got Batman in My Basement

Aired Saturday 9:00 AM Sep 30, 1992 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
157 votes

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Episode Summary


Two young aspiring detectives help Batman when he is knocked unconscious by the Penguin's nerve gas while trying to stop a jewel heist.

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  • This one's for the kids, so why write a good story, right?

    The problem with the episode is that it relies on the young characters to hold our interest. Sherman and Roberta follow a vulture, rarely seen in Gotham City (a ludicrous premise), and find themselves in the middle of a battle between Batman and the Penguin, who has stolen a bejeweled egg. As Batman is gassed unconscious, the story relies on the children's thrills as they use Batman's gadgets and the Batmobile to thwart the Penguin and his cronies. The episode references the Macaulay Culkin film Home Alone as the story culminates in Sherman's own house. These children are overly adventurous, and they learn nothing by the story's ed. Their curiosity and meddling got them into a life-threatening situation, but the last scene reveals that their interest in being detectives has not waned.

    As usual, the score and sound effects are fantastic. The Penguin's motif, usually heard in the xylophone, is passed in variation from the strings to the brass on occasion.

    Children watching the episode are supposed to relate to the child characters and thrill as they keep the Penguin at bay. The children may stare in delight, but adults can only cringe. This episode does no justice to the spirit and prestige of this wonderful cartoon series.moreless
  • I've Got Batman In My Basement

    After a streak of complex, emotionally intense episodes, Batman: The Animated Series becomes the exact kind of show the creators tried to avoid, as writers Sam Graham and Chris Hubbell turn in the first complete turd of the series: "I've Got Batman In My Ignoring some of the essential tenets of the seriesavoid camp at all costs, create darker interpretations of the villains, keep the focus on BatmanGraham and Hubbell craft a story that is as juvenile as it is implausible. In the first appearance of the Penguin, poor Oswald Cobblepot is characterized as an utterly incompetent jewel thief with an avian fixation and not much else. The better episodes of this series humanize the villain in some way or at least give a modicum of a motive for their behavior, but Penguin's episode has neither; he occupies a role that could be filled by any villain with a gimmick-weapon and a hyper-intelligent animal sidekick.

    I'd like to think Penguin's pet vulture/henchman Scrap is a shout out to the Mad Scientist's crow in the first Fleischer Superman short, but the laziness of this script suggests that it's more of a happy coincidence. Actually, an unhappy coincidence, because watching Batman wrestle a vulture is one of the stupidest moments of this series. It's a bird, Batman. You fight serial killers and ninjas on a daily basis. This really shouldn't be that difficult. B:TAS has a few recurring animal sidekicksCatwoman's kitty Isis, Joker's pet hyenas Bud and Loubut Scrap thankfully makes only one appearance as the rest of the series tries to recover Penguin's character from his abysmal introduction. One of the many problems with Penguin's characterization is that it is centered on a gimmick rather than any kind of emotional motivation. With a lair in a birdseed factory, an assortment of poultry-related puns, and a Faberge egg bounty, Penguin has the bird thing down, but beyond that, he's an empty shell of a character.

    The episode begins with two of Penguin's henchmen stealing the Vonalster Faberg egg, and as Batman interrupts their escape, Scrap comes to their rescue. Distracting Batman long enough for the men to get away with the egg, the bat/bird fight is pathetic, and it's only the beginning of the stupidity. Enter Sherman, a wannabe child detective, and Roberta, the wise-cracking Robin to his Batman. While being bullied by his neighbors, Sherman sees Scrap with his binoculars and, deducing that "a vulture in Gotham City is a mystery worth checking out," rallies with Roberta to follow the bird back to Penguin's hideout. They sneak into the condemned factory and spy from the cat walks, apparently requiring Sherman to pour birdseed at the same time for some inexplicable reason, when Penguin finally appears.

    From the first moment he opens his mouth, Cobblepot is a joke, letting out a hilariously campy squawk to call his pet to him. As Penguin dotes over his bejeweled prize, Batman appears to take back the egg and save Sherman and Roberta, who have foolishly started a conveyor belt prepared to grind them to death. After rescuing the kids, Batman is hit with knockout gas from the Penguin's umbrella, and he collapses in the Batmobile before he is able to get away with the egg. We've seen Batman survive exposure to gas for longer periods of time in earlier episodes, but the writers ignore that tidbit because it isn't convenient to their horrible plot. Sherman rushes to help Batman, with Roberta reluctantly obeying his commands, and once they get into the Batmobile, the episode officially switches into full-on kiddie show mode, as our hero is relegated to supporting status by the children, who are as incompetent as they are irritating.

    More than anything, "I've Got Batman In My Basement" is just plain stupid, and the kids are forced to act idiotically in order to make the plot marginally believable. After escaping in the Batmobile, Sherman takes Batman to his house, keeping him in his basement. When Batman momentarily regains consciousness, he only has the strength to utter two words: "capsule" and Sherman and Roberta missed that day of vocab, though, because they're struck dumb. The boy who could tell that Scrap was a South American vulture by its wingspan and the size of its head can't figure out what capsule and visor means? Some shitty detective work right here, folks. It's not until the bullies from earlier begin playing around in the Batmobile that Sherman finds the antitoxin capsules in the visor. That extra delay allows Batman to stay weakened for longer and lets the kids continue in the spotlight, as they guard Sherman's home from an intruding Penguin. What follows is the B:TAS version of Home Alone, with the kids using various objects from Batman's tool belt to stall Penguin and his men until our hero is back to his old fighting self. While watching kids protect Batman by using all his cool gadgets and driving the Batmobile around is standard wish-fulfillment for any child watching the series, it doesn't make for riveting television, especially when the quality of the writing and animation is so poor.

    The most popular rogues represent larger themes, and their conflicts with Batman reveal our hero's opinions on particular ideas, creating a deeper relationship between Batman and his villains than most heroes. Joker represents complete insanity, Two-Face the duality of the human psyche, Catwoman romance, Clayface vanity, and so on. It's unfortunate that it takes so long for the writers to find a theme for Penguin, but Cobblepot's potential is explored later in "Birds Of A Feather," tapping into his personal insecurities. When he puts on the guise of a "legitimate" businessman as owner of The Iceberg Lounge further down the line, he finally becomes a Penguin that should be familiar to Batman fans. Until then, we're stuck with a buffoon that inserts scrambled egg jokes in Shakespeare sonnets.

    Penguin's backstory from Batman Returns is rife with dramatic potential, but the parallels between Penguin and Batman go unexplored in B:TAS. Cobblepot, born into wealth but abandoned by his parents because of his physical deformities, puts on the appearance of a gentleman, but his mind is as warped as his body, preventing him from ever entering high society. Ultimately, the only club that takes Penguin is the one that he owns. Compare this to Batman, a perfect physical specimen with two loving parents, yet similarly scarred by tragedy. Their circumstances push them in two very different directions, but exploring the similarities between the characters adds depth to the conflict.

    This episode's focus on children was the perfect opportunity for some villain pathos, but it is ignored in favor of juvenile hijinx. Frank Paur's direction doesn't help matters, lacking the cinematic flair of the other directors and turning in a product as bland in visuals as it is in narrative. Compare the Batmobile sequence in "I've Got Batman In My Basement" with the one next episode. The former looks like something off a Sega Genesis cartridge, while the latter is actually a dynamic piece of visual storytelling. There's nothing spectacular about the action in this episode. Bird wrestling aside, the big fight between Batman and Penguin is a screwdriver-umbrella fencing match, which is intended to be cute but is just really goddamn lame. B:TAS should never be lame. Thankfully, "I've Got Batman In My Basement" is about to get shot with a freeze gun and shattered into a thousand inconsequential little pieces, as Paul Dini and Bruce Timm erase the memory of this dreadful episode with their Emmy-winning "Heart Ofmoreless
  • ....TRUELY AMAZING!!!!!

    Batman in the Basement-This was one of my old time favorite cartoons... It had all the best voice actors, and was the first to have the kids be the hero to batman in this episode. Would have loved to see more work from the character Roberta she had such a sweet voice...Definitely a great collectors item… classic. I think this was the most original cartoon of them all. I think it brings out the child in us. Because for the first time we can dream about helping batman. I could picture myself right there feeling every emotion roberta and her brother felt when they realized Batman was in THEIR basement....TRUELY AMAZING!!!!!moreless
  • Click on continue to hate the episode :p

    A very poor introduction for the Penguin, 10 year old kids fighting as sidekicks from batman. Yiieeeaaak. Batman Fighting Penguin With a Screwdriver?????!!!!! stop kidding, please. I think it maybe the worst episode from Batman: The Animated Series. For a great character like the penguin, with his excellent episodes like Blind as a Bat and Birds of Prey...this is an insult for his name. OMG. I won't be watching that episode for at least 50 years... or more. Batmn being unconscius maybe half episode was weard, becuase two little boys and girls must take the deal with penguin...(?). And the older brother from that kid...No comments. Horrible.moreless
  • Good but too childish

    Batman is knocked out by Penguin's nerve-gas and two kids have to hind him in their basement so that Penguin doesn't find them. I find the plot alright but it was way way way way way way way way way too childish! The dialog was 5-year-old interpretable, the children looked to be at least 10 but were acting 4 and Penguin seemed kinda OOC here. If you're recommending episodes to a friend who has never seen Batman The Animated Series and he isn't much of a Batman fan, don't recomment "I've Got Batman in my Basement" or your friend will be turned off of to Batman forever.moreless

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