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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: The Joker Blogs: Further Evidence

The Joker Blogs: Further Evidence is the interquel series, set in between Series 1 and Series 2 of The Joker Blogs. In the six four to ten minute long episodes, various characters who will play a role in Series 2 are examined. These character include Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, Alberto Falcone, Dr. Harleen Quinzel Kopski, Detective Harvey Bullock, Lock-Up, and, of course, the Joker. These stories are partly found footage and partly cinematic, as the creators have said Series 2 will be.

First off, I just want to say that everything that was good about Series 1 of The Joker Blogs is good here. The acting is great all around, and the production values are really sweet. Even though I think that the creators changed some of the actors, why they did so is explained in their Top Ten Questions video. At any rate, all of the new additions are altogether excellent.

Now, onto the individual episodes, which range from clever to creepy to funny. The first episode, "He Can't Because He's Dead", is enthralling in it's simplicity as it explains how the Joker came up with his plan for Series 1. The shout outs to Lex Luthor and other aspects of the bigger DC Universe (Joker name drops Clock King) are some of my favorite things about this series as a whole. The second episode, "Pull the Plug", has Dr. Jeremiah Arkham giving is some chilling backstory about his dark and troubled past, and was my least favorite episode. My feelings about the aforementioned chilling backstory aside, this episode was mainly just Arkham talking, with all of the sparse action saved for the end. It wasn't strictly speaking bad, but the rest of the series was better in comparison.

Episode #3, "Phantom Pains", gives us a look at Alberto Falcone on his birthday. The preview for this episode also introduced the Penguin, who some have said sounds suspiciously like Philip Seymour Hoffman. Anyhow, this episode was a short character study of Alberto, drug and alcohol content plus some gore notwithstanding. It was my second favorite episode of Further Evidence, garnering awesomeness points for a very awesome guest star. The fourth episode, "Under Lock-Up and Key", features an uncharacteristically goofy look at Detective Harvey Bullock and Cindy Reynolds of all people as his Skype date, which soon goes awry when Lock-Up arrives. I laughed at this episode, but it felt a bit out of place among the seriousness of the preceding episode and the mellow following episode.

This fifth episode, "The Doctor Is In," featuring show creator Scott McClure, who also plays the Joker, as Dr. Tommy Elliot, provides a window into the life of the good doctor, who is subtly implied to be psychopath, going for the Dr. Jerk angle. The reason I liked this episode so much was because of all the references to the greater DC Universe, not as many as Episode 18 of Series 1, but a lot nonetheless. A woman implied to be Selina Kyle shows up, as does our old friend Alberto Falcone and newcomer Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who I hear is actually mentioned in the novelization of Batman Begins, with Bruce Wayne just barely staying outside of the shot. The Frank Sinatra song "The Good Life" was also a nice touch. Downsides include the highlights of Elliot's sexual exploits, which are mostly played for laughs with nothing terribly graphic shown. I will say that McClure is as good in his role of the subtle psychopathology of Tommy Elliot as he is with the overt psychopathology of the Joker, and I think I like him better in the role of the former.

The sixths and final episode, "Therapy Ends", finally brings us back to Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who had changed her name to Harleen Kopski. Here, it is suggested that she is slowly losing her mind following everything the Joker has done to her, as she begins to cut herself off from all of her friends and family, seeking out the Joker to vent her anger and sadness. It seems to me that Harleen, being a therapist, would understand that she needs  to talk about her pain, not bottle it up, but oh well. One thing I didn't like about this series is the insistence on referring to Arkham as an "Asylum." I know that this comes from the comics, but "asylum" is such an outdated term that only serves to further illustrate the fault of many writers in portraying the mentally ill. At any rate, this episode had some good drama, nicely providing a set up for Series 2, which is set to finally come out in April.

In conclusion, The Joker Blogs: Further Evidence is a good prelude to what is to come, nicely studying each individual character after spending all that time with the Joker. Based on this, I eagerly look forward to the coming release of Series 2, subtitled One Bad Day, an obvious shout out to Allan Moor's The Killing Joke. Thusly, I highly recommend this series to persons 15 or older.

RATING: 9.5/10