Warning: Contains spoilers for Harley Quinn: Episode 2
The first episode of the new “Harley Quinn” animated series set a high bar, something acknowledged in the pun-tastic title of the second episode. That’s not to say that the new episode (“A High Bar”) fails to deliver.
The animation is fluid and well-timed. The characters feel as if they have real weight and the animation team uses tried-and-true techniques such as the smear technique and squash-and-stretch to bring various scenes to life. Voice acting remains top notch, with an ensemble cast delivering fresh interpretations of classic Batman villains.
There are some issues but they lie more with the script than with the production values, which are superb. One of my associates pointed out that a number of nameless (and summarily threatened, dispatched or injured) henchmen and victims are people of color while the main cast, being true to Batman mythos, are mostly Caucasian. At this point, it’s unclear if this will become a reoccurring issue or is just an attempt to portray a more diverse Gotham.
And while still capable of delivering some genuine belly laughs, this episode uses somewhat uncomfortable subject matter as a source of humor. For example, Harley Quinn unnerves a barely teenage boy by asking him if he ever “finger-banged” anyone. If you swapped the gender of the parties (for example, if it was an adult man asking a 13 year old girl about her sexual experiences), the episode would have been received with far more hostility.
One expects a better quality of humor from a clearly gifted creative team, who otherwise deliver an almost perfect follow-up to the lauded debut episode. However, this is an adult cartoon and therefore under no obligation to adhere to the standards of good taste. “A High Bar” script is snappy, well-paced and delivers a clever blend of sitcom scenario and sin-black humor. Despite what some may perceive as potentially upsetting elements, the show is still addictive. Whether or not it will cross the line from “outrageous” to “bad taste” remains to be seen.