The Clock King

  Temple Fugate seeks revenge against Mayor Hill.
  Original Airdate: Septmeber 21, 1992
  Episode # 25
  Rating: * * * 1/2

Credits Cast

Written by David Wise
Directed by Kevin Altieri
Music by Carlos Rodriguez
Animation by Sunrise

Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred
Lloyd Bochner as Mayor Hill

Mari Devon as Summer Gleeson
Jeff Bennett as Office Boy
Alan Rachins as Temple Fugate

Not all the villains in the Batman universe are moved by psychosis; a gang boss named Rupert is a persistent Thorne in the side of the law.

Unfortunately, being recognizably human and relatively untouched by personal tragedy, these antagonists tend not to engage us emotionally, and the episodes in which they figure tend to be slack. Even where there is some lurid streak in them—Penguin's bizarre appearance, or Riddler's erudite snobbery—they tend to leave us bored, because their crimes are the crimes of the average criminal looking for a score. At least when the Joker steals something, he leaves everyone in the vicinity laughing his guts out.

Like Riddler and Penguin, the Clock King is a villain of the head, marked and moved by his intelligence rather than his passions. Like them he is dry, ironic, intellectual. (Sideshow Bob could relax in their company.) So why is Fugate so much more interesting than they are?

Partially because, although his actions are directed toward revenge, he does not let his end encumber his means. He is wise enough to retreat when the odds grow too great; he is so utterly remorseless that he dares not risk any setback that might prove permanent. When he closes a door, it's because he knows where there's a window open.

More important, he makes of his obsessive nature a servant and not a master. He likes clocks not in themselves but only for the precision and predictability they represent; he fetishizes efficiency for its utility. His mastery of minutiae and detail enable him to pull off remarkable stunts and effortless escapes without resorting to the gadgets, muscle, or "black magic" of the Joker or the other members of the Rogues Gallery. He is Laplace's daemon, able to step off a tall building because he knows that the 9:15 train, which always runs 6 minutes early, will be just below him. We like him because he flatters us into thinking that, if we were a little bit smarter, we could pull off stunts like that too.

And let's not overlook that unique tincture of personality; he is, to put it brutally, an a**hole and makes no bones about it. The puerility of the poster he unveils before a snarled traffic jam reveals the stunted personality working that clockwork mind.

"The Clock King" would be little more than a monotonous exercise in pyrotechnics if not for this tightly-wound little man. Still, a bit more ingenuity could have gone into the plot, more than just some haywire traffic signals and misdirected trains. A man of this ability should be able to conduct a symphony of chaos had he the city's computers under his fingers.

Production Notes
Bruce Timm on Fugate's design: "We originally intended it to suggest a stiff-upper-lip British gentleman. When the show came back, he was wearing brown. It ruined it for me. He just looks like a normal guy, not a supervillain."

Related Episodes
   * Time Out of Joint

What Others Are Saying ...
"[A] character study regarding a man doomed to failure by his own hand, blaming only others for his faults and his stress. It's a fascinating profile."Alex Weitzman, The Big Cartoon Database

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