The Matt Signal – Episode 73: Time Out of Joint

Plot summary: The Clock King resurfaces armed with technology capable of temporarily slowing the passage of time, with Mayor Hamilton Hill once again in his sights.

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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: ‘Time Out of Joint’

Original Air Date: October 8th, 1994

Directed: Dan Riba (6)

Written: Alan Burnett (6) (story) & Steve Perry (6)

A cursed episode as it’s the sixth script for Dan Riba, Alan Burnett and Steve Perry. 666!

The title for this episodes comes from an episode of Batman 66’ in which Clock King appeared.

Recap

Another episode, another auction for the opening scene. This one is legitimate though, with Gotham’s elite bidding on antiquities for charity.

Bruce wins a clock once owned by Marie Antoinette… only for it to be snatched by The Clock King… who can teleport now!

The next day, Fugate brings a doctor, Wakati, his breakfast and medicine, ostensibly working as his butler. Dr. Wakati demonstrates his invention, a device that can slow and accelerate time, but expresses his doubts about humanity being able to be trusted with such power.

Clock King of course steals the device and makes his move against Mayor Hill despite heavy GCPD security, using the gadget to waltz in unseen. He makes some vague threats before Batman & Robin arrive to fail miserably at capturing him.

Fugate partially damages the device during his escape, giving Batman a lead, and requiring him to reveal his true nature to Dr. Wakati, demanding he repair it.

The Dynamic Duo race over to Wakati’s mansion, but Fugate left a second device on the Batmobile, freezing it in time!

Batman explains that hours are passing in seconds around them and that if another car hit them it could cause an atomic explosion. So we DO have two episodes in a row with an atom bomb!

Bruce instead locates the device and destroys it, sending them careening back into real time and crashing the Batmobile. Worse still, they lost 48 hours of investigation time!

Arriving at Wakati’s, they find the doctor in a similar condition of quantum stasis. Once freed he fills them in on Fugate’s plan to blow up the Mayor during the opening of a new courthouse. They take a pair of time dilation devices and ride back to Gotham in seconds.

Arriving after the bomb has already been triggered, Bruce instead sprints it out to open water in the nanoseconds before it explodes. Fugate trips over AGAIN while trying to escape and gets arrested.

Best Performance

For as solid as Alan Rachins is as Clock King, I’m giving the nod to Roscoe Lee Brown for his small part as Dr. Wakati. While he got an Emmy Award for his recurring role as The Kingpin on rival show, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, his distinctive voice overpowers everybody else in this episode, even with limited dialogue. The most impressive thing for me was his ability to avoid the trope of older actor getting lost in utterly ridiculous faux-techno babble. What a pro.

Alan Oppenheimer is a really fun auctioneer, too. And I guess Loren Lester is good at sounding bored.

Ranking

So… what was going on here with the devices? Fugate clearly already has one of the devices at the start of the episode, and yet when Wakati demonstrates it to him in their first scene together, it’s presented as though he’s just finished the first prototype. And even if that was a flashback or something, does he not later notice his tech going missing? There end up being a half dozen or so of these devices in play during the runtime, and it’s implied Fugate relies on Wakati to build and/or repair them, with Batman outright stating he isn’t clever enough to do it himself.

That kind of sloppiness is debilitating, but even without that, for some reason the time dilation tech bothered me more than the literal werewolf and other assorted monsters. It feels like something that could have worked in a comic, but to see it playing out with ‘look how fast they’re going!’ gags, it just feels wrong.

It’s just fundamentally not a very interesting episode, putting all of its eggs in the basket of the time dilation. They draw it well, making everything affected by the device blue, but as I said, the gags aren’t all that good and there’s nothing else to sink your teeth into.

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

Villain Watch

The Clock King (Alan Rachins) (second appearance)

For a while now I’ve been worried that I underrated Clock King, as he was pretty solid in his debut episode, but this dissuaded me from that notion and if anything, he’s going down another few spots.

He was well utilised as an idiosyncratic intellectual, but that’s thrown out the window in favour of a guy using stolen tech to move faster than the human eye can perceive. He trips over twice while doing this, and just generally comes across as more of a buffoon than before. A shame, as I enjoyed the opening with him throwing away the priceless antique clock after stealing it.

  1. The Joker
  2. Poison Ivy
  3. Harley Quinn
  4. Mr. Freeze
  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. Lloyd Ventrix
  16. Count Vertigo
  17. Clock King
  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.

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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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