Welcome to another edition of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Since it is my week to write, we are returning to Batman: The Animated series, because of course I am. I can’t help it that I am such of a fan of a well-made show that still holds up well today. And you all don’t mind, do you? If anyone has any objections, please speak up. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Well, since I hear no objections, I am going to continue on.
The episode I picked for this week’s feature is “A Bullet for Bullock,” written by Michael Reaves and directed by Frank Paur. The “Bullock” in this title refers to GCPD Detective Harvey Bullock. Bullock is the resident curmudgeon on the police force, that would often be just as happy to throw Batman into Arkham Asylum as he is any of Batman’s villains. When someone is out to kill Bullock, he needs Batman help to figure out who. Bullock has angered a lot of people in his life.
The episode starts off with an ominous set of eyes trying to run over Harvey Bullock on the street. He fires his gun at them, but they just drive off. This leads to him lighting the Bat-signal to ask Batman for help. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time someone tried to run him over. So reluctantly, he goes to Batman for help. He also admits that he doesn’t want to go to the department with this because he would rather not have internal affairs look too closely at him. No, he’s not on the take, but he doesn’t exactly play by the rules either. He gives Batman a floppy disk with 5 years worth of case files on it. This was amusing to me, because my first thought was, that that disk would probably struggle holding all of the pictures that are on this entry. Dang, now I feel old.
Anyways, Bullock heads back to his apartment, spreading mud into the lobby. He’s greeted by Nivens, the building owner or manager. Understandably, Nivens is frustrated by Bullock’s lack of caring about the mess he is creating. Bullock essentially tells him to shove off. At the end of the scene, Bullock makes a comment about being thankful for rent control. As a kid, that comment flew right over my head. But here is a major clue. Or maybe its a red herring. We are presented here with suspect #1. Nivens is clearly frustrated by Bullock’s actions, but is he frustrated enough to want to kill Bullock?
Batman enters Bullock’s case files into the Bat-computer, and decides to go back out on patrol, in case Bullock runs into more trouble. Meanwhile, Bullock and Renee Montoya are attempting to bust a few bank robbers. Bullock chases after one of the suspects, only to end up being saved by Batman when that suspect gets the jump on him. Of course Bullock is ungrateful. Bullock returns home to his apartment to find Batman already there. Batman tells him that he thinks someone is just trying to scare Bullock, and not kill him. Bullock is pretty skeptical.
On his way home from the doughnut shop, someone pushes Bullock from behind off of a subway platform, and onto the tracks. Bullock is able to roll out of the path of the train is time. The next morning, Bullock is visibly shaken by this encounter the next day. Batman meets with him, and asks Bullock about Vinnie the Shark. Bullock had taken down his drug lab, but Vinnie was now out of prison. Now we have suspect #2. Vinnie could be motivated by revenge. Bullock did take a successful life away from him, and someone with a criminal record probably doesn’t have any issues with taking out a cop.
Batman sends Bullock to meet with Summer Gleason about a report she had done on crack houses to see if she had any info about Vinnie. Summer tells Bullock to come back in an hour, but he decides to take a look through her files. Meanwhile, Batman is just swinging by, and picking drug dealers off of the street. Then dropping them a really long way down. Wonder how their necks don’t snap. Summer finds Bullock rummaging through her files, and promptly tosses him out. Now we have suspect #3. Nah, not really. This is more of a moment to show a couple things. First, Bullock is desperate to find out who is behind these threats. In this series, we had never really seen Bullock become so rattled by anything. He’s always been the tough guy. Secondly, it shows how quickly anyone can become angry with Bullock.
Batman picks up Bullock, and they head to where Vinnie should be. Batman is having doubts about it being Vinnie, as he’s not one to make idle threats. But either way, they go in to bust up Vinnie’s new drug factory. There’s a silly bit in the factory, where Vinnie drops a car onto Batman and Bullock, and they just end up inside the car. Luckily, it was just a frame of the car, and not the whole thing. Otherwise, they’d be squished, and not more Batman and Bullock. Of course Batman gets out with the cunning use of smoke bombs. And a gas mask. It’s kind of necessary, as there is a ridiculous amount of smoke from this one little gas bomb.
It should also be noted that this is a snappy jazz tune playing over this warehouse fight. It really lightens the mood of the fight. Instead of having a big, sweeping theme over top of the fight to enhance the moment, there is a quick jazz them. This effectively takes any drama out of the fight as Batman and Bullock takes out Vinnie’s henchmen. However, when Bullock confronts Vinnie 1-on-1, the music changes. The tempo slows down. We only hear a single instrument, drawing out each note. Gone are the upbeat rhythms of the ensemble, replaced by a solemn solo. With this change in music, we are cued into the fact that this is a serious moment. This is the moment when Bullock confronts the man he thinks is trying to kill him.
With Vinnie captured, Batman asks Bullock if he thinks things are over. Bullock is fairly certain that it had to have been Vinnie. However, Vinnie is claiming ignorance of the letters while being interrogated. Bullock is still certain that it had to be Vinnie. At home, Bullock is entering his building when he’s confronted by a man in a ski mask with a gun. The man tells Bullock that he should have listened to the letters and left town. He didn’t want it to come to this. The man is close to pulling the trigger when Batman swings in and knocks him down. Batman pulls the mask off, and reveals that it was Nivens. Nivens just wanted Bullock to be out of the building because he makes his life hell.
Bullock is left with the knowledge that this wasn’t some criminal he took down that was trying to kill him. Rather, it was just someone that he runs into in his everyday life, and is an absolute jerk to. If he’d just treated people with respect, he may not have been in this situation. But this episode was a fun time between Batman and Bullock. For the viewers, anyways. We don’t often see this pairing, and it’s nice to have episodes focused on people that aren’t Batman from time to time.
And that’s going to do it for this week’s entry. Hope you enjoyed it. We’ll be back next Saturday morning with another.