The Matt Signal – Episode 71: The Terrible Trio

Plot summary: Three bored frat boys decide to wear masks and commit crimes for the thrills. IT’S VERY BAD, GET OUT NOW!

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Each Saturday and Sunday Matt Waters recaps an episode of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, building an overall ranking along the way. Plus best performances, the ever-popular Villain Watch and more!

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Notes

Episode Title: ‘The Terrible Trio’

Original Air Date: September 11th, 1995

Directed: Frank Paur (16)

Written: Alan Burnett (5) (story) & Michael Reaves (13)

Bruce Timm considers this the worst episode in the entire DC Animated Universe.

This is the only episode animated entirely by Hong Kong studio Jade Animation, who previously helped with ‘If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?’ and ‘Day of the Samurai’

Recap

A threesome of well-spoken thieves in animal masks rob a Gotham business. They toss the security guard a wad of cash, taking pity on how poorly he’s paid.

Batman & Robin arrive to chase them off, but they’re able to board a nearby speedboat and blow up the pier to prevent the Dynamic Duo from giving chase.

The next day, Bruce heads to Gotham Country Club for a spot of clay pigeon shooting and is told off by his three hoighty-toighty friends for talking to “the help” and engaging in charity work.

They comment on how little challenge there is left for them in the world and declare Bruce the dullest man in the city. Gee, I wonder if they’re the three men from the opening…

The Terrible Trio’s leader, Warren, writes a cheque for his girlfriend, Rebecca, who mostly mooches off her father…

But then they make him the target of the group’s next violent robbery in order to recoup the investment, hospitalising him in the process.

Batman chases the trio away from the scene, but Warren has them start throwing some of the stolen cash out the window. Naturally this draws the attention of bystanders, and Bruce has to swerve to avoid them, allowing the trio to get away.

Bruce visits Rebecca’s father in hospital, recognising the imprint of a class ring on his face. Consulting a database of members of the frat, he matches up the source of the family fortunes of the trio to the chosen masks of the criminals (land, sea and air.)

Warren convinces Rebecca to join him and his pals at their mountain lodge but accidentally drops a souvenir he claimed from her father, tipping her off. Warren decides she can’t be trusted, so chloroforms her.

The Trio mask up and try and dump her over a cliff face, but Batman & Robin are able to snatch her out of the air in the Batwing.

Batman ejects to engage them in combat, taking them out one at a time, with Warren naturally being last. There’s a brief snowmobile chase. It’s whatever.

Warren tries to bribe Batman with $1,000,000, but he of course refuses and Richie Rich gets tossed in prison with… a poor person!

Best Performance

As much as I don’t want to praise any aspect of The Terrible Trio, if we presume that Bill Mumy was tasked with sounding like an insufferable, morally reprehensible asshole, then he nailed it. You will definitely want to punch this character.

Hector Elizondo has about two lines as the rich father who gets robbed and assaulted and I considered rewarding him for just having a nice voice in general.

Ranking

Bruce Timm considers this the worst episode not only in the series, but the entire extended universe of shows, some of which were much worse than BTAS.

When you hinge the entirety of a story around a villain and they’re phenomenally underwhelming… there’s not really much to say. It’s a flop. A big one. There’s not much in the way of a moral lesson (bored rich people are bad and charity work is good). We don’t learn anything about Bruce, Dick or Gotham. You could delete this episode from history with zero consequences.

Perhaps the most concerning thing is that Bruce freakin’ Wayne would engage in some casual clay pigeon shooting, regardless of having to keep up playboy appearances. They made a similar mistakes in ‘The Underdwellers’ when he had a collection of antique firearms and that episode sucks too.

  1. The Laughing Fish
  2. Mask of the Phantasm
  3. Almost Got ‘Im
  4. Heart of Ice
  5. The Trial
  6. Shadow of the Bat Part I
  7. I Am the Night
  8. Robin’s Reckoning Part I
  9. The Man Who Killed Batman
  10. Perchance to Dream
  11. Two-Face Part I
  12. A Bullet For Bullock
  13. Joker’s Favor
  14. Read My Lips
  15. Feat of Clay Part II
  16. The Demon’s Quest Part II
  17. Harley and Ivy
  18. Robin’s Reckoning Part II
  19. House & Garden
  20. Beware the Gray Ghost
  21. Mad as a Hatter
  22. Heart of Steel Part II
  23. Appointment In Crime Alley
  24. Two-Face Part II
  25. Pretty Poison
  26. Shadow of the Bat Part II
  27. Feat of Clay Part I
  28. His Silicon Soul
  29. Off Balance
  30. Vendetta
  31. Birds of a Feather
  32. Heart of Steel Part I
  33. On Leather Wings
  34. See No Evil
  35. The Clock King
  36. It’s Never Too Late
  37. Joker’s Wild
  38. Eternal Youth
  39. The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
  40. The Cat and the Claw Part I
  41. Zatanna
  42. Day of the Samurai
  43. Avatar
  44. The Demon’s Quest Part I
  45. The Mechanic
  46. The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne
  47. Terror in the Sky
  48. P.O.V.
  49. Christmas with the Joker
  50. Fear of Victory
  51. Be a Clown
  52. The Worry Men
  53. What is Reality?
  54. Fire From Olympus
  55. Night of the Ninja
  56. Mudslide
  57. The Cat and the Claw Part II
  58. Nothing to Fear
  59. Prophecy of Doom
  60. Tyger, Tyger
  61. Blind as a Bat
  62. If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?
  63. Dreams In Darkness
  64. The Last Laugh
  65. Cat Scratch Fever
  66. Moon of the Wolf
  67. Paging the Crime Doctor
  68. Sideshow
  69. The Under-Dwellers
  70. The Forgotten
  71. The Terrible Trio (NEW ENTRY)
  72. I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

Villain Watch

The Terrible Trio (Bill Mumy/David Joliffe/Peter Scolari) (first appearance)

Even if I rated them as three separate individuals they’d be tied for last place. At least Montague Kane was voiced by Michael York!

What we have are three bored rich boys who wear animal masks loosely themed around the source of their family fortunes (land, air and sea). Warren (The Fox) is the mouthpiece and potentially the worst person to ever be on a show that regularly features a Murder Clown. Army (The Vulture) is the only one not down with murdering a woman, but is still a bad, snobby person. Gunther (The Shark)… is there? I guess?

I can’t even bring myself to compliment them for coming up with characters that are unlikeable in a way that makes it satisfying when they’re caught. They aren’t interesting, compelling, scary or funny. They don’t have a fun design. They’re just awful.

  1. The Joker
  2. Poison Ivy
  3. Mr. Freeze
  4. Harley Quinn
  5. Two-Face
  6. The Ventriloquist
  7. The Phantasm
  8. Mad Hatter
  9. Penguin
  10. Catwoman
  11. HARDAC (and Randa Duane)
  12. Clayface
  13. Ra’s al Ghul
  14. The Riddler
  15. Clock King
  16. Lloyd Ventrix
  17. Count Vertigo
  18. Killer Croc
  19. Nivens
  20. Josiah Wormwood
  21. Scarecrow
  22. Roland Daggett (and Germs & Bell!)
  23. Rupert Thorne
  24. Talia al Ghul
  25. Sid the Squid
  26. Thoth Khepera
  27. Maxie Zeus
  28. Jimmy ‘Jazzman’ Peake
  29. Tony Zucco
  30. Man-Bat
  31. Hugo Strange
  32. Red Claw
  33. Arnold Stromwell
  34. Mad Bomber
  35. Tygrus
  36. Rhino, Mugsy and Ratso
  37. Kyodai Ken
  38. Gil Mason
  39. Nostromos (and Lucas!)
  40. Cameron Kaiser
  41. Dr. Dorian (and Garth)
  42. Mad Dog
  43. Ubu
  44. Professor Milo
  45. Romulus
  46. Sewer King
  47. Boss Biggis
  48. Montague Kane
  49. The Terrible Trio

Plugs

Eager for more long-form coverage of Batman? Why not check out my podcast with Mike Thomas, The Tape Crusaders, which reviewed every Batman movie and delved a tiny bit into the animated series.

Published by

Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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