Monday, August 09, 2004

"Teen Titans": How a fluffy show can create nitpicky thoughts

Saturday's episode of "Teen Titans" was notable in at least one respect: it spelled out that the Titans' Robin was Dick Grayson, originator of the role.

In one way this goes against the show's unspoken rules: no origins, no backstories, and no connections to the other DC animated series. As far as the show is concerned, Robin's real name is unimportant (or it's just "Robin" -- but I can't remember if the show ever alluded to him wanting to protect a secret identity).

Still, in another way it's in keeping with that credo: for many people, the only Robin is Dick Grayson. Flashing "Tim Drake" on the screen could create questions the Titans producers don't want to answer; like who's Tim Drake and how'd he become Robin? (Tim's origin was told in an episode of the Batman animated series, just as Dick's exit from the Robin role got its own episode.)

An earlier episode did postulate that Robin would "grow up" to be Nightwing, just as Dick did; but to me that wasn't conclusive. It could have been Tim following in Dick's footsteps. It merely reinforced that Robin is a kid's role, and Nightwing is an adult's. (Robin : Menudo :: Nightwing : Ricky Martin?)

No, this is significant because if you're going to connect Teen Titans with the other DC shows, it means TT takes place in the past. In fact, when the Batman animated series started in 1992, Dick was already in college. Therefore, these would be Dick's adventures on his "weekends off" from working with Batman.

Anyway, my point with all of this is just that one little detail, probably designed to quell debate, has instead sparked a whole chain of continuity-minded thinking in my little nerd brain. Part of me is glad to know, because Dick was the Robin involved with these other characters in the comics; but part wishes they'd just left the whole thing alone.

Never mind how they live in a skyscraper without adult supervision, and they might not even be eligible to vote yet....


Shane Bailey said...

Is the show really worth watching?

Tom Bondurant said...

You mean Teen Titans itself, or the episode?

The episode concerned a Bat-Mite-like Robin from another dimension, if that gives you any indication.

More often than not I've found the show to be entertaining. It has a decent amount of respect for the source material -- Marv Wolfman is one of the consultants -- but it presents the old stories in a kind of twisted light. To me it's established a separate identity, which makes comparing it to the comic a little more difficult. I think it's pretty fun overall, but I know many other fans disagree. To each his own.

Neil said...

Since initially dismissing the show after seeing its premiere last year, I have since grown to love its wackiness. And my 4 year old daughter loves it too!

It was a neat way to throw in the fact that this Robin is Dick, or rather he at least shares the same DNA as Nosyarg Kcid, er...Larry.

It also adds to the ending to the two-part episode where Slade uses Robin against the Titans. Deathstroke, oops, I mean Slade, says something akin to the fact that he could be Robin's father.

Robin answers back, "I already have a father", as we hear music akin to the music used in B:TAS and we see bats flying around. Since Tim's father is still alive (I think he was a crook in the animated series), it makes more sense for that line to be said by Dick, since Tim has never looked at Batman as being his father, at least in the ocmics. The most we get is an inclination that perhaps Tim, in the past at least, wished his father was more like Bruce.

Overall though, it does make sense to keep mum on the secret ID thing. It woudl distract from the fun. And those of us who know DC Comics in general and the Titans in specific, can imagine that Cyborg's dad helped build the Twower and Bruce is helping fund it, especially their rather large repair bills.

Tom Bondurant said...

Good points, neil. Wasn't that episode you mentioned the same one with Robin standing in front of a big "WAYNE" sign?

Neil said...

Actually, I think you're right.

Definately seems like they left the clues for those who know, but kept it seperate enough for those who don't.

Which does make sense, no reason my 4 year old should be concerned with which Robin this is. I'll explain that one when she gets older.

Anonymous said...

On the show Static Shock (which, apparently, now counts as part of the DCUA "continuity"), the Robin on Teen Titans is Tim Drake. Some throwaway dialogue along the lines of "Where's Robin?" "It's his weekend with the Teen Titans."

But considering that this show also included a time traveling episode in which Static met the Batman Beyond cast, that negates the idea that Tim Drake could be Robin in Teen Titans as he would have already been kidnapped by Joker and turned into "Junior J" by the age that Teen Titans would take place, given his relative age in Static Shock...

So either Tim Drake is Robin (with gaping plot holes), Static Shock cannot be taken as part of continuity (no problem here, as it's a crappy show), or we have an Earth-1/Earth-2 situation. Take your pick. :-)

Casity said...

Crazy thought - it's Jason Todd! Bleh. (To those who don't read the comics - he's Robin number dos! Ha. He was pretty cool.)

I sure hope it's not Tim, considering he has a crush on Nightwing's ex. Ewww, that'd be awkward to go home and explain. "Hey, you know that girl you use to like, wellll, we have something going on." Not to mention the show doesn't have Kid Flash, Superboy, or Wondergirl. (Boo-hoo, no Bart Allen!)

I thought Dick only worked with Raven, Cyborg and the others as Nightwing? Or am I totally off? Anyhow, I don't think it's Dick... especially if this show is at all related to the JLA. Dick's best friend was Wally, who is the Flash (and they're both the same age). I can't tell you how many fanfics I read where Dick is Robin and The Flash is Wally. I just wanna' gut myself.

Jason worked with those Titans, and he was Bruce's son - seeing how he was adopted before Dick was. (To Neil's comment). And it'd be ok if he liked Starfire, he at least was only a few years apart... unlike Tim!!! :-0 Ewww, I sure hope it's not Tim. Gross!

But I don't watch the show, and I don't really read the comics. Ok, I don't read the comics at all. So I might miss important stuff. My knowledge doesn't compare with my ignorance. Hmmm. Bleh.

Batman Love,