Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts

Batman: The Animated Series

A Retrospective

Table of Conents

Season 1

1. The Cat and the Claw (Part 1)
2. The Cat and the Claw (Part 2)

3. On Leather Wings
4. Heart of Ice
5. Feat of Clay (Part 1)
6. Feat of Clay (Part 2)

7. It's Never Too Late
8. Joker's Favor
9. Pretty Poison
10. Nothing To Fear
11. Be A Clown

12. Appointment In Crime Alley
13. P.O.V.
14. The Clock King
15. The Last Laugh

16. Eternal Youth
17. Two-Face (Part 1)
18. Two-Face (Part 2)

19. Fear Of Victory

20. I've Got Batman In My Basement
21. Vendetta
22. Prophecy Of Doom
23. The Forgotten

24. Mad As A Hatter
25. The Cape & Cowl Conspiracy
26. Perchance To Dream

27. The Under-dwellers

28. Night Of The Ninja

29. The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne
30. Tyger, Tyger
31. Dreams In Darkness
32. Beware The Gray Ghost
33. Cat Scratch Fever

34. I Am The Night
35. Almost Got 'Im
36. Moon Of The Wolf
37. Terror In The Sky
38. Christmas With The Joker                 
39. Heart Of Steel (Part 1)
40. Heart Of Steel (Part 2)

41. If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?


 

 

 
42. Joker's Wild
43. His Silicon Soul
44. Off Balance

45. What Is Reality?

46. The Laughing Fish
47. Harley and Ivy

48. The Mechanic

49. The Man Who Killed Batman
50. Zatanna
51. Robin's Reckoning (Part 1)

52. Robin's Reckoning (Part 2)

53. Birds Of A Feather
54. Blind As A Bat
55. Day Of The Samurai

56. See No Evil

57. The Demon's Quest (Part 1)

58. The Demon's Quest (Part 2)

59. Read My Lips

60. Fire From Olympus

Season 2

61. Shadow of the Bat (Part 1)
62. Shadow of the Bat (Part 2)

63. Mudslide
64. The Worry Men

65. Paging the Crime Doctor

66. House and Garden
67. Sideshow

68. Avatar
69. Trial
70. Harlequinade

Season 3

71. Bane
72. Second Chance
73. Riddler's Reform
74. Baby Doll

75. Time Out of Joint

76. Harley's Holiday

77. Make 'Em Laugh

78. Batgirl Returns

79. Lock-Up

80. Deep Freeze

Season 4

81. The Terrible Trio
82. Showdown
83. Catwalk
84. A Bullet For Bullock
85. The Lion and the Unicorn

Movies

The New Batman Adventures Episodes 

Season 1 / 2

Forward


A QUICK MESSAGE

The format is as follows, and be wary of spoilers if that's something that concerns you, this series loved twists and manipulations. The summary is standard summary for reference for each episode, most taken from summaries online such as IMDB and so forth. The area known as "Thoughts" are my thoughts on each episode. Simple as that, so you can actually skip the summary part if you want, it's only there for reference.

Episodes are in order of air date and cover the four main seasons of The Animated Series and the two seasons of the New Batman Adventures. Before each I give a quick rundown of the major characters, voice actors and art designs as well. Of course, everything here is WB and DC copyrighted so credit goes to them and go and buy this on DVD if you haven't, let's explore why you should...

-JC

Click here for my Top Ten Favorite Episodes (coming soon)


 Batman: The Animated Series

The first four seasons, all of varying length, totaled 85 episodes and aired from 1992 to 1995. The main cast is as follows, along with my thoughts.

Batman: (Kevin Conroy) A classic, very clean look of Batman. Gray, black and the classic yellow Bat-logo in the middle. The voice by Kevin Conroy...well there's just no other. Every actor who would want to voice Batman will be compared, and most will come up short. The show manages to show the detective aspect of Batman well, along with his very brooding/hiding in shadows ability (it loves to play the "turn around and he's gone" angle, especially with Commissioner Gordon). He has his share of crazy action and fighting. You can just look at the guy and see he can kick you ass even when it's more a "caricature" of the character (and all the characters, really) than some realistic depiction.

Bruce Wayne: Strangely bulky, but the "sell" of Bruce Wayne is through Kevin Conroy's change in voice, not really his appearance. We actually see Bruce smile and laugh, even if it is an act most of the time, and there's enough separation on the mannerisms that get him away from just "Batman." The show takes an "Gotham's most eligible bachelor" approach with him, less the "playboy." He's smart and a good businessman when he's not punching criminals in the face. 

Robin: (Lorin Lester) The Animated Series picks up in the final years of Dick Grayson's Robin, mainly to appeal to the teenage crown. Dick is in college and developing a relationship with Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. We learn about his growing up entirely through flashbacks. I've always loved this design of Robin and his voice is spot-on.  

Batgirl/Barbara: (Melissa Gilbert) A bit of a generic look, but I like Barbara as a character and her turn into Batgirl is one of the better plots of the series.

Alfred: (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) It's Alfred. It's hard to screw up Alfred. 

The Joker: (Mark Hamill) Just a brilliant design. Very streamlined and sharp, and he is seen a number of costumes throughout the series, from trenchcoats and hats to the classic purple-joker suit. Voiced by Mark Hamill, many consider this the quintessential Joker. Not too dark, though there are times, and knows how to have a laugh at the world.

Commissioner Gordon: (Bob Hastings) Classic Jim Gordon. Mustache. White hair. Coat. That's all you need.

Det. Harvey Bullock: (Robert Costanzo) I love that Harvey is given a good amount of facetime in this series, he's never in the movies. He's exactly how he should be, and sounds exactly like you think he would. Big, loud, rough around the edges. They got him spot-on.

Harley Quinn: (Arleen Sorkin) Created for the show, Harley is one of the best things about it. The voice and attitude, the bubbly nature of her is just charming to no end.

Catwoman: (Adrienne Barbeau) I'm not going to lie, I don't like Catwoman. I just don't, not this version anyway. It's a bland, simple, very one-dimensional take on the character and she has an equally bland style to her. I do like her voice in this series, though.

Poison Ivy: (Diane Pershing) The show plays Ivy more human than I've seen her depicted in most comics. She still has control over plants, but she doesn't look as inhuman or plantlike - she just wears a lot of green, a bit more cute with a callous tone than malicious. As a result, she can come across as a bit boring looking and her personality doesn't quite grab you.

The Ventriloquist: (George Dzundza) One of my favorite characters. His mousiness is great and they used the same voiceactor for him and his little friend, Scarface.

Baby-Doll: I don't like Baby Doll at all as a character, but I do like her stories, a very What Ever Happened to Baby Jane take. I just don't buy her as a threat.

Two Face: (Richard Moll) An interesting take by more deforming his face than scarring it, apparently done because this is a cartoon, but it gets a lot right with the character. More interestingly is this is the first time there's an indication that Harvey Dent might have some mental issues before turning rogue. His other personality, Big Bad Harv, comes out once his life is ruined and his face destroyed. The show really knew how to handle this character and put out a nice design with him.

Clay Face: (Ron Pearlman) Another villain the show really knew how to tackle was Clay Face, a bit of a forgotten  rogue before the show took him to new height and blended a lot of various Clay Face interpretations into one. Clay Face is a complete, ruthless and selfish person, but he's not as evil as a lot of other villains and has a hit of sympathy going for him as well. He's a selfish guy that just got in over his head.

The Penguin: (Paul Williams) The Penguin is a popular villain, but he's actually not one of Batman's biggest threats. The 60s television show and Batman Returns made him more popular than he really ought to be. The show went for a combination of gentleman-meets-mutation, which isn't bad and gives him a good identity. Unfortunately the show really was hit and miss with the character a lot, often having him act very un-Penguin like and doing things that is more fitting to, say, The Joker, th Mad-Hatter or even Two-Face.

The Riddler: (John Glover) In the making of extras, producers and writers were all in agreement, The Riddler is just damn hard to write. They gave him a pretty solid origin story in the series, though, and I've always been a big fan of this particular design (hat, cane, green suit etc...). His voice is spot on, though. John Glover did an awesome job.

Mr. Freeze: (Richard Ansara) Perfect in every way. A sharp design, a great voice and, best of all, a tragic human story. That isn't' found in a lot of Batman's villains and wasn't in Mr. Freeze until this show came around.  

Scarecrow: (Henry Polic II) Like the Penguin, the show seemed to be pretty hit and miss on Scarecrow. His design was all over the place and the character wouldn't get his due until the New Batman Adventures came around. He's a bit of an idiot, often just a simple robber, and can look like a Muppet in the early episodes especially.

Mad Hatter: (Roddy McDowell) The show put a lot into Mad Hatter, and gave him a solid voice actor in Roddy McDowell. Hatter has a strong episode or two, Perchance to Dream being his strongest by far (though barely in it), but I've never been a huge fan. Especially when things start getting too elaborate (Riddler also has this problem)

Killer Croc: (Aron Kincaid) Croc is the dumb buffoon of the villains, which I can't say I like all that much. He's just an idiot, focused on just doing crimes and that's about it. He did have a pretty strong episode with Sideshow, though, but that's about the only episode I can honestly say I liked him in. His design feels awkward too.

Rupert Thorne: (John Vernon) The big gangster of Gotham, though there are many others. He's a legitimate threat in the episodes he's actually in and I like that not all of Batman's villains are "Supervillains" in this show.

 


 

SEASON 1                                      

The Cat and the Claw (Pt 1 and 2)

THE CAT AND THE CLAW (PART 1) 
 

The Catwoman steals a valuable necklace to fund the purchase of land for a mountain lion preserve. In the course of her escape she encounters Batman, and finds herself undeniably attracted to him. Afterward, Bruce Wayne dates Selina Kyle, Catwoman's alter ego, and finds himself undeniably attracted to her. In the midst of these budding romances, Selina/Catwoman learns that the land she wants has been snatched up by a mysterious cartel, although the cartel's reasons for buying it don't make sense. After infiltrating the cartel's headquarters, Catwoman discovers evidence of a military facility inside a mountain on the land in question. As it turns out, the cartel is fronting for an international terrorist group headed by the Red Claw, a mysterious woman terrorist. The group will be using the land for a staging area. Batman learns that Catwoman is getting in over her head, although she's not aware of it.

 

THE CAT AND THE CLAW (PART 2)

The terrorists put their plans into motion, stealing a virulent strain of plague which they use to hold the city for ransom. Meanwhile Catwoman infiltrates the terrorists' under mountain headquarters, not realizing what she's getting into. When Batman follows her there, they're both captured, trussed up, and left to die as victims of the viral plague. However, by working as a team, not only do they destroy the plague before it can do any harm, they also prevent the terrorists from fleeing the area before the authorities arrive. Unfortunately, despite Catwoman's assistance, Batman is compelled to turn her over to the police. Though he's grown quite fond of Selina, she is a thief and the law is the law.

Thoughts: I can’t say I’ve ever been a Catwoman fan. I’ve never loved her, but I’ve never really hated her either. She’s always felt tacked on and there’s few comics where I can say I actually liked her in it. She’s always just been “there” for me and in terms of the show, it’s no different. This also has Red Claw, another lesser character made for the show, which all makes me wonder that, despite this being the first official episode, why start off with some of the lesser characters, one being completely? Not a horrible two-parter, but a forgettable one.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


On Leather Wings

ON LEATHER WINGS 
 

When a horrifying bat creature terrorizes Gotham City, the authorities conclude it must be Batman and put out an all-points bulletin on the Dark Knight. Meanwhile, Batman's investigation leads him to the laboratory of Kirk Langstrom, a prominent zoologist, who has been experimenting with a formula that turns him into the ManBat creature. Not only does Batman have to capture Man-Bat in order to save Langstrom, but also to set the police straight and clear his name.

Thoughts: I’ll just say I’m not big fan of man-bat. It’s a one-note character that is just friggin boring.. This was the first episode produced (not aired) and it shows. It feels, for lack of a better word, uninspired. It’s a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story from an outsider perspective as Batman (who is great in this episode) looks to solve it, but it’s not that much of a mystery. The only good take on the plot is that people are mistaking this bat-creature for Batman himself. But like I said, I just never liked man-bat. I think that’s why I just don’t like this one (or the other man-bat episode for that matter) all that much.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Heart of Ice

HEART OF ICE
 

Brilliant cryogenics expert Dr. Victor Fries was hard at work on a freezing process to save his wife's life when the heartless corporation underwriting the project pulled the plug, literally. The freezing chamber exploded, destroying the doctor's wife and transforming Fries himself permanently into a pathetic creature only able to survive in sub-zero temperatures. He returns a year later as Mr. Freeze, thirsting for revenge against the sleazy CEO who destroyed his life. Batman's sympathy is with Freeze, but first he has to stop him from committing murder by destroying a building filled with innocent people in order to carry out his vendetta. 

Thoughts: In stark contrast to how the show handles The Penguin, we'll get to that soon, it does a damn good job with Victor Fries (Freeze). He’s easily the most sympathetic villain in Batman’s gallery and the show really does him justice with a classic "tragic hero" story, only it takes it one step further and adds the vendetta aspect to it as well. I also love how they designed him, lanky and robotic, and his voice is just spot-on. He’s the rare “shade of gray” villain. This episode shows his personal agenda wonderfully, but also that he’s not entirely in the wrong making him more than just a bad guy for our hero to take on. To him, it’s all logical and makes sense to the point it actually begins to make sense to us first. Well, on paper it does. But Batman knows better even though he obviously cares about how tragic Freeze is. One of my favorite episodes and it’s no surprise this one won an Emmy.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5


Feat of Clay (Pt 1 and 2)

FEAT OF CLAY (PART 1)

Matt Hagen, a popular actor renowned for his 'Man of a Thousand Faces' ability to play any part, has a terrible secret -- he's addicted to a strange chemical formula developed by Roland Daggett's labs. This chemical gives him the ability to alter his facial features without makeup, keeping his matinee idol looks so that his public doesn't know he was horribly disfigured in an accident years ago. But in return for the stuff, Daggett has him play 'roles" that aren't entirely legal. Hagen is Daggett's puppet, and resents it mightily. When Daggett has Hagen impersonate Bruce Wayne in order to obtain documents from Lucius Fox, Wayne's right hand man, a chain of events is started that results in Fox being wounded and Bruce Wayne arrested for assault. Hagen, attempting to break free from Daggett's control, is seized by Daggett's henchman and force-fed a large amount of the chemical enough to completely alter his genetic structure and turn him into Clayface an amorphous figure who can re-form his body into anything he wants. Part I ends with Wayne in jail and Clayface out for vengeance on Daggett.

FEAT OF CLAY (PART 2) 

Clayface learns that Daggett is going to appear on TV to hype his new product, the same chemical that was his downfall, as a skin conditioner. After a skirmish with Batman in Lucius Fox's hospital room, Clayface takes the disguise of a woman and joins the audience of Summer Gleeson's show. Batman is there, however, and a free-for-all in the Galaxy Broadcasting Building results. Batman eventually defeats Clayface by zapping him with an electric current. Clayface supposedly 'dies' -- however subsequent experiments in the Batcave with a fragment of Clayface's clay-like substance shows that electricity has no effect on it. Clayface was first and foremost an actor, after all -- and his death scene was played so convincingly that it fooled even Batman.

Thoughts: Man, Clayface is given a hell of a story arc here. In fact, most feel this is the best interpretation of Clayface out there. He’s a combination of tragic with misdirected villainy, countered with a man’s massive ego and vanity. This origin story is incredibly well written, very, very well animated (Seriously, seeing Clayface like this is pretty fun to watch) and really has you wonder if Batman can actually defeat him (turns out he kind of doesn’t…he’s improvising everything here). Clayface returns in a later episode that nearly outdoes this one too. A lesser-known character really coming into his own thanks to this show, which really treated a lot of the second tier rogue villains with class. Clayface is a perfect example of that.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


It's Never Too Late

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE 
 

An aging mob boss, Arnold Stromwell, is about to be rubbed out by a rival boss, Rupert Thorne. Batman saves Stromwell from Thorne's men and keeps the crime boss one step ahead of his enemies. In the process, Stromwell learns his drug dealings have caused his son to end up in a drug rehab center. By the end of the evening, after a reunion with his brother, a priest, and an emotion-wrenching recollection from their childhood, Stromwell turns state's evidence and vows to make amends.

Thoughts: A very, almost overly, sentimental episode. There’s no bad guys to be fought or mysteries to be solved. This is something a little different for Batman as he tries to “save the soul” of a villain by planning and anticipating his moves. I never understood the “why” he wants to do it, perhaps as a favor, but it’s an interesting episode and very well done. If anything, this episode shows there’s more to Batman’s world than just bad guys and good guys. There’s regular, conflicted people in Gotham and people surrounding them as well.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Joker's Favor

JOKER'S FAVOR
 

Charlie Collins, a nondescript accountant, accidentally runs afoul of the Joker. Pleading for his life, the run-of-the-mill every man promises the Joker anything, if he will only let him go. The notion amuses the Joker, who makes Charlie promise to do him a favor. If Charlie refuses, his family will fall prey to the Joker's thugs. The favor: Charlie must distract the Batman while the Joker infiltrates a testimonial dinner for Commissioner Gordon to plant a bomb. But the worm turns when Charlie decides he's had enough and takes on the Joker man to man. 

Thoughts: Though I don’t like the story particularly here, the payoff could have been handled a little better in my mind, I do love the Joker in this episode and the animation is very nice. This is one of those Joker episodes where he plays it straight and you see the “man” behind the “clown.” He’s not over the top or goofy, just a man with a plan and driving another man to the verge of insanity. The play between he and Charlie is the strength of the episode, and there's just some great moments with the Joker overall. Going by air date, this is the first aired episode to have the Joker in it, and it's a damn good one with a great intro to the character. There's this great scene of him tailing Charlie, our everyman caught in the middle, into the forest and just sitting and having a little chat with him. The way he's drawn, very classic outfit, combined with Mark Hamill's voice pretty much made this an instant classic and the animated version of the Joker a lot of peoples' favorite interpretation of him. It ends with a typical Joker-plan-fail that’s a bit ludicrous, but the set up to it is brilliant.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Pretty Poison

PRETTY POISON 

D.A. Harvey Dent becomes romantically involved with a mystery woman named Pamela Isley. When Dent is poisoned after a dinner date, Batman investigates and makes the horrifying discovery that the poison was administered through Pamela's lipstick. He tracks the woman down and discovers that she is really Poison Ivy, a plant-crazed villainess who harbors a secret vendetta against the D.A. Batman ends up in Poison Ivy' s lethal greenhouse, fighting for the life of his best friend, as well as his own.

Thoughts: This was the first episode that really started to put in over-arching stories into the show. We’re introduced to Poison Ivy and Dent isn’t Twoface yet. This sets up episodes for the future, even foreshadowing it a bit, showing that the show has a lot more than just one-shot episodes. It was creating something grandiose. The episode doesn’t do anything overly remarkable, but doesn’t undercut itself either by only using it as a form of set up to give us Ivy and Dent. It knows the story it wants and tells it easily, even if there’s not a whole lot of surprises.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Nothing to Fear

NOTHING TO FEAR
 

A horrifying villain, who goes by the name of Scarecrow, is spreading fear gas and wreaking havoc on Gotham State University. Batman investigates to discover that the culprit is really Professor Jonathan Crane, who was kicked out of the university years ago for conducting fear experiments and has returned as Scarecrow to get revenge. Under the influence of a treacherous fear gas, Batman must fight this wily strawman and his worst fear at the same time. 

Thoughts: Next to the Joker, Scarecrow is my favorite rogue villain from Batman’s universe. This version of him, though, just didn’t know what to do. All of the Scarecrow Episodes, while not horrible, just don’t seem to quite nail the dark attributes of the character. Not until the New Batman Adventures re-invent it. Perhaps that’s the limitations of doing a show geared for a younger audience, but the show has its share of dark attributes so I can’t really say why Scarecrow is, mostly, a bit of a punchline. Still, though, this is one of the better ones with him because you see Bats under the influence of Scarecrow’s gas, and it does a great job visually interpreting that.This is also an early one showing how weird the character looks in these early episodes. They clean him up a bit later on, even give him a completely darker look, but he looks damn ridiculous in this one.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Be a Clown

BE A CLOWN
 

Mayor Hill's son feels overlooked and unloved when his father throws him an elaborate birthday party that is more a political media event than a real celebration. Meanwhile, the Joker infiltrates the party dressed as a clown in order to plant a bomb. The Mayor's son, a budding magician, becomes so enamored of the clown's tricks that he steals away in the clown's truck when the Joker leaves. When Batman tracks down the Joker to a closed amusement park, the wily villain plays on the kid's naiveté and uses him to trap the Batman. In the end, Batman saves himself and the boy, and defeats the Joker atop a runaway roller coaster. Sadder, but wiser, the boy returns to his father, who now realizes how neglectful he was of his son's feelings.

Thoughts: Now this is the dark Joker I talked about. A bomb at a kid’s birthday party? Shit, that’s hardcore. This is one of the more iconic Joker episodes. The Joker here is just flat-out evil, often humorless (except to him) and very, very methodical in his plans. It also has one of the best “fights” in the series between Bats and The Joker with a classic roller-coaster showdown in an abandoned amusement park. Really a strong episode even though the story isn't going to wow you itself, just good characters.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Appointment in Crime Alley

APPOINTMENT IN CRIME ALLEY
 
Every year at the same time, Batman makes a pilgrimage to meet Dr. Leslie Thompkins, the woman who took care of the young Bruce Wayne after his parents were brutally murdered in Park Row. But this time a series of dangerous distractions keeps the Batman occupied, causing him to miss his appointment. This is. too bad, because Roland Daggett, a ruthless land developer and entrepreneur, has hired arsonists to make sure that the part of Park Row called Crime Alley goes up in flames to make way for his new condo development. And Dr. Thompkins is taken prisoner by the arsonists when she stumbles across their plans. Unless Batman can reach Crime Alley in time, the buildings -- and Dr. Thompkins -- will go up in smoke. 

Thoughts: I find it interesting the show added Thompkins at all. She’s usually forgotten about so it makes me think that the writers just wanted to giver her a little nod (this isn’t a Dini episode). I’m pretty unfamiliar with her, but the show at least introduces her well enough showing that she is  one of few who know Batman personally and that Batman cares for her a great deal as a mother-figure - best expressed here when he fears she may be dead.

More specifically, this is an example of telling us a lot about a history of a character (here Bruce Wayne) without shoving it down our throats. It's done through imagery, such as photos on a wall, and poignant dialogue. Not to mention just simple emotion, something that can be lost in a lot of animated shows that are more about action than characters. It goes to show just how good this series was at balancing that. It cared a great deal about the humanity behind it all. A good episode overall and nice to see a rather human-side to Bats once in a while. Sometimes we can forget that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


P.O.V.

P.O.V.

When Bullock botches a sting operation, he and the other officers involved, Montoya and rookie Wilkes, are questioned by Internal Affairs. Bullock's face saving story is so at odds with the other testimony that the I.A. investigator believes no one and suspends them all, pending further investigation. Eager to clear her name, Montoya follows up on some clues which lead her to the location of the gangsters they were after during the sting. With Batman's help she cracks the case and exonerates everyone involved, teaching Bullock a thing or two about the importance of teamwork.

Thoughts: You gotta love Bullock. Always a cool character and he’s prominent as hell in this series. Even when he’s just in a scene or two, he’s just awesome. Montoya, though, I completely forgot was even in this episode. She only appears this one time as far as I know in terms of significance  (has a brief cameo in a few other episodes but nothing story-important, such as Holiday Knights in The New Batman Adventures though) and they oddly made this pretty much her story entirely with Batman as a bit of a supporting role. Still, though, this is a solid episode and very well written. The idea just lends itself to a Batman story incredibly well and with the small-form of the series, it's a perfect fit.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


The Clock King

THE CLOCK KING 
 

Temple Fugate, a maniacally punctilious man whose life and business are ruled by the clock, is persuaded by then-attorney, Hamilton Hill, to shatter precedent and deviate fifteen minutes from his rigid, self-imposed schedule. Chaos for Fugate results as a result of this, culminating in a court case going against Fugate and for Hill's firm. Fugate is financially ruined, and swears revenge on Hill. Five years later, after Hill becomes Mayor, strange things begin happening in Gotham, all having to do with time. Synchronized traffic lights go awry, subway trains collide, etc. These disasters are a result of Fugate (who now calls himself the Clock King) attempting to discredit Mayor Hill. He finally kidnaps Hill and ties him to the minute hand of the Gotham Clock Tower. Unless Batman can rescue him, when the clock strikes midnight Hill will be crushed.

Thoughts: Not originally a Batman villain, The Clock King in this episode (he only appears twice, and this one far better) seems to be a replacement for the rarely-seen Calendar Man villain which actually is a Batman villain (and really only Long Halloween and Dark Victory actually do anything good with him, he’s a bit of a joke otherwise). It’s all about time and order and blah blah blah. I like how they show his origin, but overall, while the story here is pretty good, the Clock King is just not a compelling character at all. Maybe it's the voice or the stiffness combined with the lack of a hugely compelling plot, even if it's told well. I think this is a an episode that's a great example of a really good idea but a bit blandly realized. I do love that climax at the end, though. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


The Last Laugh

THE LAST LAUGH

The Joker employs a lethal mind altering laughing gas to transform the citizens of Gotham into total fools. If Batman doesn't stop the Clown Prince of crime, everyone will soon go totally mad, including his friend and butler, Alfred. 

Thoughts: Not a great Joker episode, really. It’s on par with the more goofy-style Joker you might have seen in the 60s television series (sometimes this Joker will be like that, other times a bit darker, but when he’s goofy it really stands out). At the same time, the Joker’s plans really take off. The man gets some stuff done rather than be “foiled again!” before anything can really happen. There are certainly goofier episodes than this one, but the fact he gets pretty far along in his plans is good to see (hey, you gotta route for the guy sometimes, right?)

Rating: 3 out of 5


Eternal Youth

ETERNAL YOUTH

A health spa which advertises a 'back to nature' rejuvenating potion lures Alfred and his friend, Maggie Paige, there. It is in fact being run by Poison Ivy, who is using a new form of chlorophyll to turn people into trees. Batman investigates, and is nearly transformed into a tree himself, before he finally stops Poison Ivy.

Thoughts: I've always liked Poison Ivy's personality in this series, but I've never been the biggest fan of her stories. When they play up Ivy as just a crazy gal who loves plants, she’s actually pretty cool. When they start having her turn people into trees…and for not real good reason other than “revenge,” she gets pretty stupid. Therefore, this is a pretty stupid one. Her plan makes no sense and is far too elaborate, though I do like that it focuses on Alfred who is pretty damn cool in this show and really my favorite angle to the whole thing. Just look at him there. On the phone in his trunks. That's one sexy butler. This is a lighter episode, more comedic at times, so if the tone-change is something you can accept, you might find it enjoyable.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Two-Face (Pt 1 and 2)

TWO FACE (PART 1)

District Attorney Harvey Dent is hiding a deep dark secret, even from his best friend Bruce Wayne. He has a second personality, that of Big Bad Harv, a hard nosed gangster. When crime boss Rupert Thorne learns of Dent's sickness, he tries to blackmail him. Unfortunately, Dent's "bad" side comes to the fore, and he physically attacks Thorne and his men just as Batman arrives on the scene. In the ensuing melee, a chemical explosion sends Dent to the hospital. When Dent's bandages are removed, the left side of his face is scarred and deformed, and his second personality becomes dominant. As the crazed Dent races from the hospital, we are informed the story is TO BE CONTINUED.

 
 

 TWO FACE (PART 2) 

Two Face begins an aggressive campaign against his hated rival, Rupert Thorne, who puts out a two-million dollar contract an him. Since Two Face used to be Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne's best friend, Batman wants to find him before Thorne does. Thorne's people snare Two Face first by using his former fiancee, Grace, as bait. Just as Thorne is about to rub him out, Batman intervenes, allowing Two Face to get the drop on Thorne. When Two Face flips his coin to decide how he's going to get rid of Thorne, Batman tips over a box of silver dollars, burying the coin and throwing Two Face into a frenzy of uncertainty -- he can't make up his mind without his precious coin. Thus subdued, Two Face is accompanied to the prison hospital by Grace, who hopes to help him recover from his tormented mental state.

Thoughts: Here we go, a two-parter that is probably as good as the two-parters get on this show. This is a dark and overall serious two episodes with little action on top of it, believe it or not. It uses action set-pieces very sparingly. It’s character-driven and the strength in Dini’s writing is probably never going to be as high as it is here (maybe next to Heart of Ice). We see Dent succumb to becoming Two Face, brilliant foreshadowing of his anger and a tragic reveal as he becomes one of the best rogues for Batman to face. He always has been and is a personal favorite villain of mine as well. The thing is, this episode (and the previous episodes with Dent) make him a very likable character. He's the DA of Gotham, taking on villains, and is one of Wayne's best friends making it a very personal story for Batman as well. To see his fall is just brilliant tragedy.

It’s interesting to note that the show actually spends time telling the origins of a good number of Batman villains. Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, The Riddler, Twoface (Two-Face? Two Face? Twoface? I've seen it written in a lot of different ways so pardon the jumping around in this retrospective) and Mr. Freeze. Here, though, they just nail it. The idea of Dent's anger as an issue before he becomes the rogue is just fantastic, in paritcular a scene with a therapist where "Big Bad Harv" comes to make himeslf known. The writing of that scene and the animator's aiblity to convey a menace with only dialogue is top-notch. 

Rating: 5 out of 5


Fear of Victory

FEAR OF VICTORY 
 

The Scarecrow has come up with a fear chemical that is triggered by the release of adrenaline. He uses the chemical on Gotham's greatest athletes, then bets against them to rake in the winnings. Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, learns about this scheme after his college roommate, a football star, inexplicably becomes terrified during a game. While trying to help Batman track down the Scarecrow, Robin is infected by the chemical and becomes stricken senseless with fear every time his adrenaline pumps. In the end, Robin is placed in a position in which he must overcome this overwhelming fear in order to prevent Scarecrow from spilling his formula over a stadium filled with spectators.

Thoughts: Damn, Scarecrow gets jobbed in this one. The entire plan…everything really…it’s just really stupid. Read that summary up there..yeah, that sounds stupid because it is in the show. If this was an episode for the 60s TV show where it was meant to be satirical or comical, then it would be great…but this plays it dead serious and it’s just horrible. To be a good episode, you need the "idea" to not be so goofy.

Rating: 2 out of 5


I've Got Batman in my Basement

I'VE GOT BATMAN IN MY BASEMENT
 

While attempting to regain a stolen Faberge Egg from the Penguin, Batman is sprayed with nerve gas by the fowl fellow. Our unconscious hero is rescued by a 12-year-old aspiring detective who hides him in his basement. It's up to the precocious kid to figure out how to revive the comatose crime fighter before the Penguin finds him. 

Thoughts: The Penguin...what can I say about The Penguin? Like a few other major villains, the series kind of wasn't sure where to take him or how to handle him. I liked how they presented him personality-wise, a "gentleman/socialite on the outside looking in" but his episodes are overall pretty week. This one is no exception, but I mainly don’t like it because it all feels very forced. Batman’s unconscious, some kids help him…it feels dated and old even by early 90s standards. Some shows used to do this a lot: have the main characters out of action and a group of kids be the focus. I guess we were supposed to “relate” to them, but I know I never did. Now we just look back and see a rather dated and ridiculous episode of a great show.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Vendetta

VENDETTA 
 

Detective Harvey Bullock is framed for suspected murder and goes to jail. Batman, though he has no great love for Bullock, thinks he's innocent. His investigation reveals that the real criminal is Killer Croc, a mutant hit man who wants revenge on Bullock because Bullock sent him to jail years ago.

Thoughts: Killer Croc is a pretty boring villain, but especially boring here. Bullock is a really cool character, and pretty cool here.  So this episode is kind of awash. It’s not bad, but not great either. There’s a better Croc episode down the road though this one does a decent enough of job introducing the character and showing what he is and isn't capable of. All straightforward and really not much to talk about otherwise.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Prophecy of Doom

PROPHECY OF DOOM 
 

Bruce Wayne becomes concerned when some of his richest friends are seduced into a new age Brotherhood scam by Nostromos, a fraudulent psychic. Bruce joins the Brotherhood in an attempt to debunk Nostromos' claims. Nostromos, predicting the fall of civilization, urges his acolytes to transfer their bank funds to the Brotherhood's coffers. Batman exposes Nostromos' scheme to bilk the members of their money, and captures him after a chase through a planetarium. In the end, Bruce's friends learn an important lesson about where to place their faith.

Thoughts: A weak episode. It’s straightforward and uninteresting and Nostormos is a complete bore of a villain. The guy looks like he’s taken right out of some old b-movie serial from the 30s and acts accordingly as such, making everything feel out of place and disjointed once you thrust Batman into the plot. I mean…Nostoromos biggest threat is a guy named Lucas. Lucas? That’s about as intimidating as the name Nostromos, which sounds like a sexually transmitted disease.

Rating: 2 out of 5


The Forgotten

THE FORGOTTEN 
 

When indigent men start disappearing from the bowery, Bruce goes undercover as lowlife Gaff Morgan to investigate. He is soon assaulted by several men, hit over the head and shanghaied, and ends up as an amnesia victim forced to work with other kidnapped men in a treacherous and remote mining camp. Despite his memory loss, Bruce's defiant nature causes trouble for his captors, who end up locking him in a sweat box. During this harrowing punishment however, his memory returns, and with newfound strength Bruce is able to escape, transform into Batman and defeat his captors once and for all. Later, as Bruce Wayne, he is also able to offer jobs to several of his kidnapped companions, thereby giving them a new lease on life.

Thoughts: Less a Batman episode and more a Bruce Wayne episode, again showing the writers took the time to flesh out the Bruce side of the character alongside the Batman side. With The Forgotten, we have a cheesy, goofy and overall dumb amnesia story that feels cheap..but at the same time it's not a tall that bad because it manages to really hit some emotional and thematic beats incredibly well. I won’t deny that once he fully “remembers” everything and realizes who he is…it’s a damn cool feeling, like a symphony building to a crescendo. I think the best thing I can write about this particular episode is that the story isn't great, but it's told remarkably well.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Mad as a Hatter

MAD AS A HATTER
 

The Mad Hatter develops a form of mind control which he implements by placing devices in people's hats. He uses this to impress Alice, a woman he's smitten with, turning all of Gotham into a wonderland to please her every whim. When he learns she's in love with another, the jealous Hatter decides to use his mind control power to do away with her beau. He then kidnaps Alice and takes her to Gotham's Central Park. Batman must fight his way through a bizarre chess board composed of living pieces, all under the Hatter's power.

Thoughts: A bit on the nose in terms of writing (Kidnapping Alice…there’s a Wonderland exhibit…) but on top of that, is there really any Mad Hatter fans out there? Most look at him as a lesser version of the Joker meets a lesser version of the Riddler meets a lesser version of a mentally handicapped person. I’ll say this: the story is well told and the characters AROUND Hatter are interesting, but Hatter himself? I don’t know what I should be feeling for him. Tragic? Sad? Dumb? Silly? He’s all over the place. He's no likable enough to feel a bit sad for but he's not evil enough to feel he's a threat to anything. At least not in this episode.

Rating: 3 out of 5


The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy

THE CAPE & COWL CONSPIRACY
 

Batman investigates a theft of bearer bonds intended for the starving people of Byelocroatia. One suspect is Baron Waclow Jozek, a European nobleman. He confronts Jozek, who tells him that Josiah Wormwood is responsible for theft. Batman has heard of him; the 'deathtrap specialist", a man who conceives fiendishly elaborate mazes of psychological torture designed to force people to tell him valuable secrets. Jozek contacts Wormwood and sets him a task; to use his talents to get Batman's cape and cowl. Wormwood agrees. Batman, tracking down Wormwood, follows clues that eventually lead him to the wax museum, where the Dark Knight is trapped. Wormwood claims the cape and cowl. He contacts Jozek, who shows up to claim the prize -- and who turns out in reality to be Batman. The Dark Knight has outfoxed Wormwood, who now faces a long prison sentence.

Thoughts: Batman is just as much brains as he is brawn. There are some holes in this story, but overall it’s a pretty good one. Batman also shows that he can’t just drop off criminals, he needs evidence as well to give the police to ensure they get the conviction. The thing is, I feel this episode is working more with an idea than actual fleshed-out story and plot. It has some moments but doesn't quite meet its concept, and Wormword might have benefited more from just being The Riddler. This is a brainy episode and a pretty good one, but ultimately a bit forgettable.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Perchance to Dream

PERCHANCE TO DREAM 
 

Bruce Wayne wakes up to find his dearest wish has come true: his parents are not dead, and he is not and has never been Batman. Not only that, but he's engaged to Selina Kyle. At first he's ecstatic, but a number of clues force him to the conclusion that somehow this is all an elaborate charade. His quest to find the truth eventually pits Bruce against Batman in a surreal battle atop a church tower. Batman is unmasked and revealed to be the Mad Hatter, who has put Bruce in a forced dream state. Bruce's only way to wake up is to throw himself from the tower, which he does -- and returns to his life as the Dark Knight.

Thoughts: Well seeing as how the Mad Hatter origin episode is a bit mediocre, they took the approach they took with Scarecrow in Dreams in Darkness. Hatter is much more in the background here, but you can see his result when he’s given a good plan and written “around” rather than directly into the story. Another episode with a lot of great animation as well as Wayne’s dreams can be pretty daunting at times, but it's the concept of Bruce Wayne in a world he always dreamed of that is so wonderfully realized. He's truly happy here, making his sacrifice as Batman that much more meaningful. Seeing his reaction to his parents alive is one of the most endearing moments we get form him. He's human here, moreso than the Batman.  A strong episode through and through.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The Under-Dwellers

THE UNDER-DWELLERS
 

Batman encounters mysterious 'wee green people,' who have been committing petty crimes. He saves one from a speeding train and finds it is a small boy who doesn't speak. Batman soon learns that the boy belongs to a gang of forgotten runaways, the 'Under-Dwellers," who live deep within the Gotham sewer system. Their leader is the crazed Sewer King who forces the children to steal food and supplies for him. Batman leads a revolt, defeats the Sewer King, and frees the Under-Dwellers.

Thoughts: Not one of my favorites. It’s a “Save the Cat” episode for Batman, certainly - meaning it's set up to show how heroic our hero is. It’s entirely here to show his sympathy and compassion and not much else. The villain, the plot, almost everything else is absolutely forgettable and overall rather uninteresting.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Night of the Ninja

NIGHT OF THE NINJA
 

Wayne Enterprises' various companies are robbed by a mysterious figure known as the Ninja. Batman- and Robin discover that the Ninja is actually Kyodai Ken, the only man who could beat Bruce Wayne when they studied martial arts together as boys in Japan. Bruce exposed Kyodai's attempt to rob the dojo, which got Kyodai expelled from the place. Now Kyodai is back for revenge. He traps Bruce Wayne, Summer Gleeson and Robin, and challenges Bruce to a martial arts duel. Bruce cannot fight back in front of Summer for fear of exposing his secret identity. It's up to. Robin to arrange a diversion that will allow Bruce to defeat his old enemy

Thoughts: A few episodes dealt with the backstory of Bruce Wayne, from martial arts to learning magic to studying how to be ninja. This one wasn’t bad, but I just don’t like Kyodai all that much, or main villain. He’s not a very interesting character and the ending feels a bit like a cop out. We know Bruce can take him, it’s easy to see that, but it takes a large rug rolling over a “witness” to make it happen. Feels a little cheap, but I like that the show is touching on his past even though Summer Gleeson feels like a tacked on unneeded character here.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne

THE STRANGE SECRET OF BRUCE WAYNE 
 

When Judge Vargas, a friend of Gordon's and Bruce Wayne's, is blackmailed by Dr. Hugo Strange, Bruce journeys to Strange's health resort in Yucca Springs to investigate. Strange has invented a machine that can see people's thoughts, and he uses this on Bruce to discover that Bruce is Batman. He then attempts to auction Batman's secret identity to the Joker, Two-Face and the Penguin. Batman turns the tables on Strange by using the mind-reading machine to literally "imagine" a taped scenario of Strange cheating the three villains out of their money. Enraged, the three villains attempt to kill Strange, and Batman saves the day. Robin poses as Bruce Wayne at the end to convince Strange that Bruce is not Batman. 

Thoughts: Sweet. Hugo Strange. One of my Top 5 favorite Batman villains as well, though he’s used very, very rarely in this show (in fact, this is his only appearance) Even better is they throw in Joker, Two-Face and Penguin as well, almost like saying “Hey, you guys know these other popular characters, where here’s one you may not know quite as well but is every bit as good (if not better).”

Unfortunately, this episode is a pure definition of "middle ground." The extra villains aren't really needed, I think just having Batman try and prevent Strange from finding out would have been far more interesting and probably handle the tension and severity of the situation, especially considering they don't bother to bring him back and continue the plotline. A one-shot just doesn't seem to fit. Plus, I have a hard time believing The Joker would just go and do what Strange says.

Anyways, it’s a decent episode and we get to see a good amount of Bruce as Bruce here rather than Batman, and I like how he plays both sides. I just think Strange could have been written a little better, his intellect is there but he does some dumb things that just don’t fit, but overall I like what it has going for it. It’s too bad he’s not given more in the show to do.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Tyger, Tyger

TYGER,TYGER
 

Selina Kyle is kidnapped and taken to an offshore island by Dr. Emile Dorian, a genetic engineer with a fondness for cats. He has created a man-cat hybrid named Tygrus, and wishes to provide him with a mate. He injects Selina with a serum which makes her a cat woman in body as well as in name.. Batman learns of this and comes to the island to rescue Selina. He is captured and forced into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse (or cat-and-bat). Tygrus, as the cat-man, hunts Batman through the island's jungles. With Selina's help, Batman manages to convince Tygrus that Dorian, whom Tygrus reveres as his father, is wrong to experiment with peoples' lives. Tygrus attacks Dorian to free Selina and causes an explosion which destroys the laboratory. Batman and Selina escape, and Tygrus rescues Dorian. He asks Batman to take Dorian back to justice and gives Selina the antidote for her mutation, though what he wants most is for her to stay with him. Batman and Selina leave, taking Dorian with them, and Tygrus remains in lonely exile.

Thoughts: The worst Catwoman episode in my mind. It wants to be a little Island of Dr. Moreau with a dash of Batman, but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m already not a big Catwoman fan, at least this show’s version of her, so for me to buy this over-the-top story was already miniscule in the first place. I think some of what I don’t like about the Man-Bat episodes relate here: people turning into animals just feels a bit goofy.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Dreams in Darkness

DREAMS IN DARKNESS
 

When Batman attempts to thwart the Scarecrow's plan to poison Gotham's water supply with a chemical that induces non-stop nightmares and hallucinations, the Dark Knight is infected with the concoction. Unable to tell reality from fantasy, he is committed to Arkham Asylum. He must find a way to escape and stop the Scarecrow from plunging the people of Gotham into a nightmare without end. 

Thoughts: I. Love. This. Episode.

Here’s the thing about Scarecrow. It’s not so much he himself that is scary, it’s what he does or can do that is. It's the threat of him, not him as a personality or villain (though The New Batman Adventures give him a great personality along with it). Few episodes of this series really grasp that, making Scarecrow a far less compelling villain than he should be. This episode is different: it gets it right. Here he has a great plan (very similar to Batman Begins) and we see Batman pretty much losing his mind. Great animation work here and a great episode for both Scarecrow (who is often in the background of this story, where he really should be as he’s never been a very theatrical rogue) and especially for Batman locked away in Arkham.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Beware the Gray Ghost

BEWARE THE GRAY GHOST

Batman realizes that a pattern of recent bombings in Gotham is based on an episode of an old television series featuring his favorite boyhood hero, the "Gray Ghost." Seeking information, Batman visits the actor who played the Gray Ghost, only to discover that over the years, he's become a victim of type-casting and has not been able to find other work. Though the "Gray Ghost" is reluctant to help Batman at first, he has a change of heart and appears at the scene of the next bombing just when Batman needs him. As Batman continues his investigation with the Gray Ghost, the actor begins to see parallels between Batman and 'the Gray Ghost's methodology, and comes to realize what an important part he must have played in Batman's early life. Not only does this revelation give the actor a new sense of worth, but when he and Batman succeed in capturing the mysterious bomber, the ensuing publicity completely revitalizes the Gray Ghost's sagging career.

Thoughts: There’s so much story here I don’t even know where to begin. You see, it’s not about “The Gray Ghost” as much as it is about “Batman” and paying homage to those that came before in this rather self-aware, meta episode. In this case, casting Adam West as The Gray Ghost and how that influenced Bruce Wayne, our current Batman as a child, says a ton already. But it's also an analogy to what influenced Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger (notably Fairbanks’ Zorro or The Shadow) combined with paying respect to the various incarnations before the Animated Series. Just a brilliant episode with a lot of heart and really made for Batman Fans. The entire episode is a passing of the torch using the plot as just a vehicle to pay homage and give nods...and it does it with complete class. It could have been completely sappy and dumb, but as it turns out we get one of the more smart and sentimental episodes of the entire series.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Cat Scratch Fever

CAT SCRATCH FEVER 
 

While tracking down her missing cat, Selina Kyle (Catwoman) uncovers a plot by industrialist Roland Daggett and his company scientist, Professor Milo, to infect animals with a disease that will spread through the city's strays and eventually affect the human populace as well. Daggett, of course, has the only cure, which he plans to introduce onto the market. It will not only make him millions, but give him a new image as a public hero. When Catwoman herself becomes infected by the disease, Batman races against time to save her and stop the fiendish plot before the infected animals are released.

Thoughts: So like rabies only worse. Ok. Another overly-elaborate plan from a villain, but Daggett is more or less an idiot and I could see him thinking it looked good on paper. The episode does a good job with tension, and I love that it shows that even though Batman doesn’t approve of her, he still cares for Catwoman. The "race against time" plot actually isn't used a ton in this series, it's more about trying to be a step or two ahead most of the time. Here, the plot is simple and Batman needs to get it done before it's too late. One of the better Catwoman episodes, certainly.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


I am the Night

I AM THE NIGHT
 

On the anniversary of the death of Bruce's parents, Batman accompanies Dr. Leslie Thompkins to Crime Alley to deposit roses on the spot where they were gunned down. Batman expresses doubts about whether or not he should continue his one-man war against crime; is it doing any good? Is he fooling himself? While in the alley, he rescues a teen-aged street kid nicknamed Wizard from two thugs. Wizard is less than grateful, and Batman delivers him to a halfway house. Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon, Bullock and Montoya are on stakeout to arrest the Jazzman, a gangster with a penchant for music and mayhem. Batman had promised to be there, and so Gordon delays the arrest until he can't wait any longer. Batman arrives to find a gun battle going on. He helps defeat the gangsters and arrest the Jazzman, but at a high cost -- Gordon is severely wounded. 

Batman is crushed by this; he feels it's his fault because he wasn't there on time. He decides to give up being the Dark Knight, before any more of his friends are hurt through his neglect. Neither Alfred nor Dick can dissuade him. Meanwhile, the Jazzman manages to escape from jail and goes gunning for Gordon in the hospital. When Bruce learns of this he realizes he can't quit -- there are still people who depend on him. He confronts the Jazzman in a dramatic showdown in Gordon's hospital room, saving Gordon from being shot again. Afterward, Gordon comes out of his coma and tells Batman never to give up the fight. On his way home, Batman encounters Wizard at the bus station, and the teenager thanks the Dark Knight, telling him he's heading back home to his parents. Batman realizes that even one life saved is enough to continue his crusade against crime.

Thoughts: A damn good episode, written by Michael Reaves who didn’t do a ton of episodes, though a solid chunk, but has some of the best, notably Feat of Clay, A Bullet for Bullock and this one. This one has Batman questioning everything, including being Batman. What I like is how well this episode shows there is risk and bad things happening in this world. It’s not just some loon out of Arkham that Batman captures, Batman returns to Arkham and just calls it a day. I particularly love how it bookends a very human story with Wizard, a kid that might be going down the wrong path before Batman stepped in. The entire episode shows there’s a subtler, smaller “crusade” that parallels those loons and their desire to kill or get rich. Sure, Jazzman is a bit...I don't know...unmemorable I suppose, but that's merely a means to a fantastic end here.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Almost Got 'Im

ALMOST GOT 'EM
 

While hiding out from the police, a group of Batman's deadliest enemies (The Joker, The Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc) gather at the criminals-only Stacked Deck Club to play cards and swap stories about their mutual nemesis. Each one has an 'Almost Got 'Im' story when it comes to trying to do in Batman: Poison Ivy's attempt with poisoned pumpkins, Two-Face's giant penny, Penguin's killer birds, even the big rock Croc tossed at him. However, the Joker's Tonight Show-style electrocution puts the others to shame.' In fact, if it weren't for the timely intervention of Catwoman, the Joker really would have ended the Dark Knight's career. Still, he admits he did manage to put one over on Batman by spiriting Catwoman away unseen during the confusion. That's just what Batman, who has been there all the time disguised as Croc, needs to hear.. After taking care of the surprised crooks, Batman races off to confront the Joker's girl, Harley Quinn, who has orders to kill Catwoman if the Joker doesn't return. Catwoman is saved, and even she has an 'Almost Got Im' story to add by the episode's end. 

Thoughts: A very cool episode. All (not all, but some big ones) of the rogues discussing how they almost got Batman over a cardgame, then some awesome twists in the process. Smart writing all around. It easily could have ended up campy and dumb, but it pulls it off. Hell, I even liked Catwoman in this episode. You have mini-stories framed by a card game, that's writing 101 and executed perfectly. So perfectly, you don't even realize how much is crammed into this episode and how seamless it all flows.

I particularly like the Joker here. It’s really his episode at heart and you can see it as he sits and waits for his turn to tell a story. Remember when animated shows used subtlety like that? Mannersisms? Facial expressions? A sly grin followed by a beat? Now it’s either “throw everything at you” or some cheap flash-animation with everyone a side-shot and only move the minimum amount that is more regression (see Flintsones or Scooby Doo) than progression (see the more dynamic Ninja Turtles or Animaniacs from the late 80s/early 90s). It's one of the best directed episodes yet has some of the smallest, less "wow factor" animation. Turns out, some of the best episodes of this series have that as well.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Moon of the Wolf

MOON OF THE WOLF

Batman investigates the appearance of a wolf creature in Gotham, not realizing that the monster happens to be one of Bruce Wayne's associates - Anthony Romulus, ex-Olympic champion and media spokesman. As we discover in the course of the story, years ago Romulus approached the devious Professor Milo for a steroid formula that would help him win the decathlon. Unfortunately the formula included a wolf hormone, which produced recurring lycanthropic side effects. Now Romulus must do Milo's bidding as a wolf creature if he is to ever receive a cure. Milo decides to use the Romulus wolf as the instrument to destroy Batman. However, when Milo sics the Romulus wolf on the Dark Knight, the creature turns on his creator, giving Batman the opportunity to defeat them both. Even so, the wolf creature escapes into a river. Though neither Romulus or the wolf are seen again, you can hear an eerie howl from the countryside whenever the full moon rises over Gotham City.

Thoughts: A werewolf tale, and for the most part it’s about what you’d expect. Very straightforward and nothing particularly special here. I really don't have much to say her eother than Professor Milo is a dick.

Final Rating: 2 out of 5


Terror in the Sky

TERROR IN THE SKY 

When a man-sized bat ransacks Gotham harbor, Batman suspects that Dr. Kirk Langstrom is up to his old tricks, taking the Man-Bat formula again. Batman isn't the only one. Kirk's wife, Francine, is so distrustful of her husband that she decides to leave him. Though Kirk maintains that he's innocent, it takes a DNA test to prove to Batman that he's telling the truth. After further investigation, Batman discovers that Francine was accidentally infected by the Man-Bat formula and is probably the one transforming into the bat creature. By this time Francine is an a plane, flying out of Gotham. And she is starting to transform. It's a flight to the finish as Batman uses the Batwing to catch up to the plane and administer the antidote that will cure her She-Bat condition once and for all.

Thoughts: This episode just feels lazy. I already wasn’t a fan of the first Man-Bat episode, and this follow up seems cheap to me. I really don’t like this one for a number of reasons, but the biggest being that all the doctors are just idiots. You didn’t learn your lesson the first time? Jesus. I don’t care about them at all, and therefore I don’t care about the story.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Christmas with the Joker

CHRISTMAS WITH THE JOKER
 

The Joker takes over Gotham's airwaves and terrorizes the city during Christmas. He's hiding in a TV studio, holding Commissioner Gordon, Detective Bullock, and Summer Gleason hostage. He challenges Batman to find him before midnight, or else the hostages will have a very un-merry Christmas.

Thoughts: There’s no doubt that some of the strongest episodes of the whole series involved The Joker (or Two Face, those are usually good too). The series’ interpretation of the Joker, along with Mark Hammil’s voice, is a lot of peoples’ favorite including mine. This one is a very straightforward Joker episode and he's running amok and as funny as ever; just classic Joker through and through. His plan is ridiculous, but with a bit of fun (at least for the Joker) which sets it all right in his realm. Straightforward and simple? Yes. But that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes a great character is all you need to carry something, and that's what we have here.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Heart of Steel (Pt 1 and 2)

HEART OF STEEL (PART 1)

High-tech secrets are stolen from Wayne Enterprises by a robot. Bruce Wayne knows that the only one capable of building such sophisticated robots is Karl Rossum, owner of Cybertron Labs. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon suspects that her father, the Commissioner, is not himself. She's right -- he's been replaced by a look-alike robot, as have Bullock and Mayor Hill. It is all part of a plan by HARDAC, an Artificial Intelligence computer created by Rossum, to supplant humanity with machines. When Rossum learns of this plan, HARDAC replaces him as well. Bruce Wayne invites Randa Duane to dinner, not knowing that she's a robot also. She discovers the secret entrance to the Batcave, and sets up an interface connection between the Batcomputer and HARDAC. When Batman tries to use the Batcomputer, it attacks him, using robotic arms to seize him and begin to crush him. As Batman struggles futilely in the arms' grip, we END PART ONE

 

HEART OF STEEL (PART 2)

Batman manages to free himself from the Batcomputer's clutches and HARDAC breaks the connection before the Dark Knight can trace it back to Cybertron. Batman is summoned by Barbara Gordon, using the Bat signal. She tells him she thinks her Father has been somehow replaced. Bullock spots them on the roof Cybertron. Rossum is saved, as are Gordon, Bullock and Hill, and their robot duplicates are destroyed.

Thoughts: The HARDAC stories were pretty interesting and certainly the more science-fiction stories of the series. Thankfully, they were all done pretty well with elements of Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets I Robot, a nifty blend that gives us some paranoia with thematic complexity. Concepts and ideas of AI and “life” are dealt with smartly and incorporated into a solid story overall, even though the "mystery" is a bit easy to deduce and you wonder what is taking Batman so long to do so. The ending feels a little rushed, odd considering we get two episodes to tell this story, but overall these episodes were pretty good.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?

IF YOU'RE SO SMART WHY AREN'T YOU RICH? 

When Edward Nygma, the genius behind the computer game, "Riddle of the Minotaur," demands his rightful share of profits for the game from his greedy and manipulative boss, Mockridge, he is summarily fired. Nygma vows revenge, and years later when Mockridge is selling his company to Wayne Enterprises, Nygma makes his move, in a new guise, that of the Riddler! He kidnaps Mockridge, but not before encountering Batman and Robin. Batman quickly deduces the Riddler's real identity. In order to rid himself of the Dark Knight and "his brat," the Riddler uses Mockridge to lure Batman and Robin into a giant 'Minotaur' maze, based on the computer game. The only way Batman can save Mockridge and leave the maze is by solving a series of deadly riddles.

Thoughts: Another origin story and this time it’s The Riddler, and even though the show doesn’t use the Riddler a whole lot, for a one-episode origin tale it does a pretty decent job. I like the take of the Riddler here, he’s a frustrated but very smart guy. The climax feels a little cheap (a little unlike Riddler, really) but overall, it plays the entire Riddler story well even if his riddles aren’t the best (other Riddler episodes incorporate his riddles far more effectively) I don't have a lot to complain about. The take on the Riddler in the show is pretty solid, great look and so on, but The Riddler is notoriously difficult to write for as most people who have handled Batman in various incarnations seem to agree on. 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Joker's Wild

JOKER'S WILD
 

An enraged Joker breaks out of Arkham Asylum when he learns billionaire developer Cameron Kaiser has built a gambling casino, Joker's Wild, exploiting the evil clown's likeness. Batman is also infuriated, knowing the Joker will destroy the casino and everyone in it to avenge his wounded pride. This is all part of Kaiser's plan, for he's counting on collecting a fortune in insurance money when the Joker blows the place up. Unpredictable as always, the Joker later decides to kill Kaiser and run the casino himself. Batman's last-minute intervention saves Kaiser's life and sends the Joker back to Arkham.

Thoughts: I don’t like seeing the Joker manipulated like this. He’s the manipulator, or should be. Here you have some random person feeling he’ll piss off The Joker so he’ll burn down the Casino? Really? That story alone is dumb as hell, but then you have The Joker so damn subservient. Still, though, there’s some damn good scenes here, notably a card game between The Joker and Bruce Wayne, some fun dialogue there and an exciting climax at the end with a good twist.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


His Silicon Soul

HIS SILICON SOUL
 

Thieves break into a warehouse containing remnants of Cybertron's robotic machines and electronics. They are interrupted in their robbery by Batman, who bursts out of a crate and mops up the floor with two of the three thugs. The third fires a gun point-blank at Batman, only to discover, along with the astonished Dark Knight, that Batman is a robot when his electronic insides are exposed. The robot Batman, believing himself to be the real McCoy and sorely confused, makes his way back to Wayne Manor, where Alfred accuses him of being one of Karl Rossum's duplicants. Alfred flees to the Batcave and tries to incapacitate the robot, but the robot knocks Alfred out instead. The robot learns from the Batcomputer the present whereabouts of Karl Rossum -- on a farm outside Gotham City. Meanwhile, the real Batman learns that an impersonator is capturing criminals. He deduces that Rossum is somehow involved and confronts Rossum in his greenhouse. Rossum denies implication -- "I don't try to build life anymore, I just grow it' -- and Batman leaves. The robot Batman then shows up. Still believing he's really Batman, he tells Rossum that somehow his mind has been implanted in a robotic body. Rossum, initially astonished, convinces the robot that he is not human. The real Batman then shows up and a battle between the two doppelgangers takes place, destroying the greenhouse. The robot. Batman goes to the GCPD impound yard and discovers a data chip containing the core memory files of HARDAC, the Artificial Intelligence computer Rossum created. When the chip is inserted in the robot's head, HARDAC is reactivated. He explains that the robot Batman was a final duplicant created just before Cybertron was destroyed (as chronicled in 'Heart of Steel' Part I and Part II) but never activated.

He assumes control of the robot in order to continue his plan to replace humanity with robot duplicants. The robot returns to the Batcave and uploads the HARDAC files to the Batcomputer, telling Alfred that in five minutes HARDAC will have access to a global network of computers via modem. The real Batman shows up and a battle royale in the Batcave commences, ending with the real Batman falling into a chasm. The robot Batman believes he's taken a life and, filled with remorse, destroys the Batcomputer, incinerating himself in the process. Alfred rescues Batman from the pit and they sadly regard the charred remains of the robot, who, like Batman, was willing to die to protect humanity.

Thoughts: So close to being a perfect episode, His Silicon Soul really has you thinking about some high-concept science fiction. He’s Batman…but he’s not Batman. He has his thoughts, his memories, but it’s not him…is he alive? The ending is spot-on perfect as it’s not done through violence but done through Batman thinking and knowing that if this robot is truly like him, he will feel remorse over taking a life. Pretty brilliant writing there. The only thing that makes it “nearly” perfect is that it really needed more from Batman. There’s really no thoughts on his part that maybe this robot has the right to live. Sure, he didn’t intend for it to kill himself, but he never questions that he simply looks at the mecha-bat as an enemy to vanquished. The episode is complex in many regards, but I felt Batman himself takes a far too simplistic approach to the situation. Perhaps a better epilogue (this one feels rather short) would have done better. Still, though, a really really good episode that ties in well with the previous HARDAC episodes.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Off Balance

OFF BALANCE 
 

The Batman investigates the notorious global crime cartel, The Society of Shadows, which has begun to operate in Gotham City. Led by the man known only as Vertigo, they plan to hijack a certain freight train due to arrive the following night. Aboard the train is the sonic drill, a digging tool that uses ultrasound waves ... and a device that could become a fearsome, deadly weapon in the wrong hands. While trying to stop the hijacking, the Dark Knight falls victim to the amazing vertigo device. This is Vertigo's unique weapon whose radiation scrambles the victim's senses to create the illusion that the world has gone topsy-turvy. Victims of the Vertigo Effect might think they're floating upside-down, for example, or standing on a wall. Despite this, however, Batman gets the upper hand ... until a mysterious, leather-clad Lady In Black, armed with an unusual crossbow-gun, appears on the scene. She fires an arrow that separates Batman and Vertigo as they grapple, allowing Vertigo to escape.

Following Vertigo's trail, Batman encounters the Lady In Black again ... and learns that she is Talia, daughter of the real head of the Society of Shadows. And she is actually Vertigo's enemy -- sent by her father to prevent the capture of the sonic drill. After being trapped by Vertigo and imprisoned together, the Batman and Talia join forces to escape and take on Vertigo anew, this time defeating him. In the course of this, they develop a grudging mutual respect that borders on physical attraction. But Batman remains off-balance as to where Talia's true loyalties lie when she turns her weapon on him to prevent him from leaving with the sonic drill. It turns out that Vertigo was once her father's second-in-command, but sought to control the Society himself. Now Talia will take command of her mysterious father's organization ... as well as take the sonic drill! But Batman has sabotaged the drill, rendering it useless to Talia's father who is revealed as the ancient, madman Ra's Al Ghul. Which leaves the sinister immortal with quite a score to settle with The Dark Knight...

Thoughts: Entirely a set-up episode. This introduces Talia Al Ghul and foreshadows Ra’s. Everything with Vertigo and being captured by his "powers"…well it’s all pretty damn stupid, actually. I guess they needed some sort of plot to get the main points of Talia and Ra’s across for some future episodes, because Vertigo is an idiot and his plot even dumber. I do like the very surreal animation here, though. The show is always good about playing with its visuals to give you interpretations of a world falling apart, losing your mind, dreams or virtual reality. Speaking of...

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


What is Reality?

WHAT IS REALITY?
 

Seeking to prove once and for all that his is the superior mind, the Riddler lures Batman into a riddle-solving contest inside a computer game of virtual reality. In the course of solving the riddles and escaping the Riddler's traps, Batman learns that he is able to manipulate the virtual reality landscape much like the Riddler does. With this newfound power Batman causes the Riddler to lose his concentration. As the virtual reality background collapses on Riddler, his "superior" mind is thrown into a state of catatonia, perhaps for all time. 

 

Thoughts: Virtual Reality was all the rage back in the 90s. While the idea fits the character of the Riddler, this type of plot was pretty tired during this time. Someone sucked into virtual reality, has to figure out how to get out…yadda yadda yadda. I don’t dislike the episode, though. Even if it was tired, it at least was enjoyable and the various puzzles and riddles put Batman and Robin’s way are well done. The advent of manipulation the world in accordance with the Riddles was a nice angle to approach a Riddler story, I thought.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


The Laughing Fish

THE LAUGHING FISH
 

The Joker has developed a chemical which induces "Joker" smiles on fish. He makes a visit to the Gotham copyright offices, demanding a copyright for his Joker fish. When the frightened bureaucrats tell him that such a copyright is impossible, he threatens to kill them one by one until he gets what he wants. Fortunately for the city employees, Batman comes to their rescue, and tracks the Joker to an old seaquarium, where he defeats the grinning villain in a dramatic battle involving a great white shark.

Thoughts: The show giveth, the show takeith away. This is an awful Joker episode. I mean just horrible. He wants to copyright fish and make money? Seriously? Who wrote this one? One sec.

Dini!? Goddamnit, Dini! Oh, and Bruce Timm directed it. Yes, the EXACT people in the same places that did Heart of Ice and won an Emmy did this one. Bah…

The thing is, a lot of people love this episode. I’ve concluded it’s less about the episode and more that the Joker is just really strong and fun in this episode. The story is stupid. Completely stupid. I honestly can’t get my head around that. But the Joker makes it at least watchable, as he always does.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Harley and Ivy

HARLEY AND IVY
 

After being booted out of the Joker's service, Harley Quinn forms a partnership with Poison Ivy. By day, they're house mates and best pals, by night, they're a deadly duo, billed 'The New Queens of Crime' by the Gotham tabloids. The Joker has a fit when he hears of their "Thelma and Louise"-style crime spree, and sets out to get Harley (and more important, the loot she stole) back. Batman has also figured out where the girls are, and both he and the Joker arrive at Ivy's hideout (a model house built over a toxic waste dump) to have it out with them. In an explosive battle Batman takes out the Joker and his men, but a surprise assist from Officer Montoya helps the Dark Knight finally collar Harley and Ivy.

Thoughts: Just a fun episode. You have to love Harley her energy and occasional stupidity is just so endearing, and put up against the coldness of Ivy is a great dynamic. They’re women, they’re crazy, they deserve to be treated as equals to their crazy-men-counterparts and be taken seriously. One of the more light and funny episodes that makes you want to spend more time with this Odd Couple criminal duo. Whoever thought of teaming these two up, because we'll see them again alter on, should have been given a award.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


The Mechanic

THE MECHANIC
 

When THE PENGUIN sends his goons to pull off a burglary, Batman and Robin pursue the distinctive Penguin limo in their Batmobile. Thanks to a freak accident during the high-speed chase, The Penguin Ganggets away and the Batmobile is virtually demolished. And so the Dark Knight must do as he always does in this situation -- turn to Earl Cooper, the former automotive engineer who designed the present version of the Batmobile. Cooper has been financed and outfitted by the Batman with his own secret body shop. There, Earl works "on retainer" -always on call to repair the Batmobile in emergencies like this one. However, when an employee of one of Earl's suppliers turns out to be an informant for The Penguin, the Felonious Fowl is able to make the connection between Batman and Earl Cooper! 

Infiltrating Earl's shop, The Penguin and his men hold Earl's daughter hostage in exchange for Earl's cooperation in setting a trap for the Batman. Earl will design and construct a device that puts The Penguin in the driver's seat -- by remote control By disengaging the brake system and all the safety features, then accelerating the Batmobile through a series of dangerous maneuvers, The Penguin intends to ace out Batman and Robin once and for all But the masked crime fighters are one step ahead of The Penguin -- thanks to the clever clues Earl slips Batman, in a coded message. Though the Batmobile is ultimately demolished once again, the Batman and Robin eject in time. And in the end, time is exactly what The Penguin winds up doing ... while Earl designs and constructs a new, improved Batmobile in his brand-new, top-secret shop.

Thoughts: This, honestly, doesn’t feel like The Penguin to me. The fun and antics he puts on them is more in line with The Joker or, at the very least, The Riddler. He comes across as an idiot as well, which is odd because he’s one of the more “cultured” Batman villains out there. This honestly feels below him, far less thought-out than what we’ve seen The Penguin do even in this series. Maybe it’s because it’s so focused on having him take Batman out for no real reason other than “revenge.” The Penguin wasn’t really interested in that, actually. He’s more about being a “gentlemen” and getting money and wine-and-dine on the town and planning elaborate robberies or swindling people for money. He’s never about going out of his way to “go at” Batman, not like The Joker or Riddler. I’m not a huge Penguin fan, don’t get me wrong, but I know when something “fits” and doesn’t “fft” and this just doesn’t quite “fit.”

That being said, I do like the idea of the story even if it isn’t the best executing it. Batman can’t do everything himself and seeing how his life impacts the others that look to help him is refreshing because we don't get that lot, even with Alfred around all the time.

Final Rating: 2 out of 5


The Man Who Killed Batman

THE MAN WHO KILLED BATMAN

Third-rate mob stumble-bum, Sidney Debris, crawls to crime kingpin Rupert Thorne begging for help. It seems Sidney has done the impossible and become the man who killed Batman. Sidney explains (in a flashback that takes up most of the episode) that while he was acting as look-out for drug-runners, Batman surprised him on a warehouse roof. The two struggled, and Sid's bumbling caused Batman to pitch off the roof and into a shed of explosive gas. After the ensuing fire, the only thing found was Batman's cape and cowl. At first lauded as a hero by the underworld, Sidney soon became the man to beat. Suddenly everybody wanted a piece of the man who killed Batman, particularly the Joker, who had his henchwench Harley bring Sidney to him for corroboration of the tale. Once the Joker believed Batman was gone, his grief was considerable, and he held a wake for the Dark Knight at the chemical plant where they first "met.'

 

The capper of the ceremony was to be Sidney's own execution at the Joker's hands (for killing Batman before the Joker could, of course), but a lucky fluke allowed Sid to escape. As the flashback ends, Sid begs Thorne to get him safely out of town. But it turns out Thorne already heard the rumors, and suspects Sidney of playing dumb as a way of advancing upwards in his mob. Just then Batman shows up alive and well to save Sidney from Thorne's wrath. It seems Batman was trying to find out who was calling the shots behind the drug-runners, and he knew if he stayed out of sight and followed Sidney, he'd eventually find the kingpin. Sidney is sent to jail for his original part in Thorne's operation, but he earns new respect in prison as "The Man Who Nearly Off'ed The Bat."

Thoughts: Another Dini/Timm episode and another unique one at that. This is a third-party story about Batman rather than about Batman himself. It’s that outside-observer approach. How does Batman appear to the world of thugs and gangsters? What about this one guy who is believed to have killed him? Throw in the Joker, although briefly, and you have a very smart and well-rounded episode that rarely even has Batman himself in it. This is one of the best written episodes of the entire series.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5


Zatanna

ZATANNA
 

When the glamorous magician Zatanna is framed for a robbery during her act, Batman swings to her defense. Zatanna is grateful though a little puzzled by the Dark Knight's commitment to prove her innocence, and we learn in flashback that ir young Bruce Wayne met the then-teen-aged Zatanna when he was working as an assistant to her magician father, Zatara. The two heroes unite and use the skills Zatara taught them to expose and combat an evil illusionist. Zatanna is cleared of the crime and she and Batman share a fond but wistful farewell.

Thoughts: Another backstory-centric episode and done pretty damn well. Batman studied a lot before really becoming “Batman” and magic was one of those things. The epsidoe creates a backstory between Wayne and Zatanna on a romantic angle (which is actually a pretty decent fit and the first time that approach with the two characters is used to my knowledge, but I could be wrong). By blending Batman’s past with the Zatanna character, it makes something pretty new while still keeping pretty faithful to everything. The episode itself? Well…it’s ok. I’m far more interested in Wayne’s time with Zatara than Zatanna, but that’s just me. Maybe if there were more episodes with her I would’t be so down on it.

Final Rating: 2 out of 5


 

Robin's Reckoning

ROBIN'S RECKONING (PART 1)
 

When Batman and Robin bust up an extortion ring trying to damage a high-rise under construction, Batman learns the name of the gang leader. To Robin's surprise, he refuses to let Robin continue the investigating with him, preferring to work alone instead. Miffed, Robin accesses the Batcomputer to learn what Batman wouldn't tell him on their case. To his shock, he finds that the case is connected with Tony Zucco, a gangster who was responsible for the death of Robin's parents during the latter's high-wire act. Robin decides to take matters into his own hands and deal with Zucco on his own, despite Batman's orders not to.

 

ROBIN'S RECKONING (PART 2)

Robin heads off in hot pursuit of Tony Zucco, the thug who was responsible for his parents' death, despite Batman's forbidding him to do it. Some tricky detective work takes him to the crook's hideout at the old amusement pier -where Zucco has accidentally trapped Batman. Thanks to Robin's timely arrival, Batman and the Boy Wonder capture Zucco. In the process, Robin learns that Batman had tried to keep him away not because he thought that Robin's emotion might get the best of him -- but because Batman couldn't stand the thought that Zucco, who had taken so much from Robin, might have taken Robin, too.

Thoughts: Robin came and went throughout the show, but the only time I can say he was without-a-doubt “great” was this two parter, a combination of Batman trying to handle Robin, Robin “growing up” and the telling of Robin’s backstory. It’s absolutely faithful to its source material too and the way the show tragically presents Grayson’s parents dying (the show had its share of death, mind you) was brilliant and a good way to get around something so finite on a children’s show. We really see their camaraderie and especially Dick as a bit of a dick sometimes, but even more with Bruce as a protector/father figure to him on top of it all. A blend of a revenge tale, a good dose of action (Robin’s final few scenes are brilliantly played out and voiced) and a bit of heart to it all too. One of the better episodes in the series.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Birds of a Feather

BIRDS OF A FEATHER 
 

Penguin's being released from prison, and he's disappointed to find that none of his friends are around to greet him. In fact, none of his friends are around, period. Meanwhile, Veronica Vreeland, a slipping A-list socialite is looking for a way to create a splash with her next party and arrives at the idea of having a criminal in attendance -- especially if there's one whose manners would create a stir. Penguin fits the bill perfectly. In the process of convincing the Penguin to come to her party, Veronica finds she likes the corpulent little guy. For his part, the Penguin begins to fall in love with her. Instead of allowing a nice friendship to develop, Veronica's cohort, Pierce, keeps her focused on simply using the Penguin for her social climbing purposes. At the big party Penguin discovers he was just being used. Enraged, he kidnaps Veronica and demands Pierce deliver her family's huge ransom. It's up to Batman to track down the Penguin and save the two selfish socialites.

Thoughts: Probably the only really good Penguin episode in the series.  You get a sense of Batman keeping an eye on his enemies all the time, here you really see him doing just that. Hell, he even wants to believe the Penguin is reformed…and technically he was. It’s an interesting dynamic because this episode makes the Penguin, at least for a little while, rather sympathetic. Then he just flips the fuck out. It doesn’t come out of nowhere, you could sense that underneath him the entire time. I just wish the socialites got more coming to them, they were more villains here than Penguin was.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


 

Blind as a Bat

BLIND AS A BAT 
 

Pandemonium strikes the unveiling of the Raven X-1 1 1 -- an experimental police helicopter with state-of-the-art weaponry, developed by WayneTech -- as it is demonstrated for the police. The Penguin has pulled off a plot to hijack the armored chopper and, in the course of The Penguin's raid, Bruce Wayne is temporarily blinded. Now Dr. Leslie Thompkins gives Bruce strict instructions to keep his eyes bandaged for forty-eight hours or risk losing his sight permanently. But when The Penguin starts using the Raven's weaponry to b low up famous Gotham landmarks, as part of his plan to extort a fabulous sum from the city treasury, it's up to the Batman to stop him -- blindness or no blindness. Only by rigging up a special helmet, utilizing the Raven technology perfected by WayneTech, can the Batman function -- a helmet which translates the Raven's radar and sonar signals into images fed directly to his brain. So armed, the Batman sets a trap for The Penguin at the ransom drop-sight -- a Gotham steel mill. But when the device malfunctions, it comes down to a mano-a-mano battle between The Penguin, armed with his umbrella weapons, and a near-helpless Dark Knight who is literally 'blind as a bat'.

Thoughts: The Penguin stealing something and extorts people, that’s more like it. Well, that’s the thing with The Penguin, if someone else has something, and it’s rare, he probably wants it, and then when he gets it he’ll somehow use it to get even more money. The man likes his bling. The blindness angle isn’t bad but at the same time this is one of those episodes where you ask “where’s Robin?” The show dipped Robin out from time to time, and here he’s not around. If he was, there wouldn’t be an issue. A good episode, but that nagging question still bugs me.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Day of the Samurai

DAY OF THE SAMURAI
 

Kyodai Ken, the Ninja who hates Bruce Wayne (see 'Night of the Ninja"), kidnaps the daughter of Sensei Yoru, the martial arts instructor who taught both Kyodai and Bruce. His ransom for her is a scroll that teaches the location of the fabled Death Touch. Bruce Wayne and Alfred travel to Japan to help Yoru regain his daughter. This is particularly dangerous, as Kyodai, having fought both Batman and Bruce, knows that they are the same man because their fighting styles are identical.

Batman rescues Yoru's daughter, but Kyodai manages to get the scroll. He then kidnaps Alfred, and challenges Batman to a duel, the stakes of which are Alfred's life. Batman agrees to meet Kyodai on the slopes of a volcano, and the two fight while the mountain begins to erupt. Kyodai tries the Death Touch on Batman, but to his shock finds that it doesn't work -- Batman has figured out a way to render it ineffectual. A volcanic fissure separates them, and rising lava traps Kyodai. Batman attempts to save him, but the Ninja finds a remnant of honor by refusing to be saved.

Thoughts: A sequel to the Night of the Ninja but with an amazing climax. Seriously: a beat-up Batman taking on a martial arts master on the side of a volcano as it erupts. That’s some eye candy there. The story isn’t half-bad either, it at least makes Kyodai a little more interesting of an opponent this time and brings a closure that is pretty rare for an animated series.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


See No Evil

SEE NO EVIL
 

Somewhere in a middle-class suburb of Gotham, little KIMBERLY VENTRIS is regularly visited by her imaginary playmate, "MOJO." However, the mysterious, unseen Mojo seems awfully tangible -- and vocal -- for an "imaginary" friend. At about the same time, a fortune in valuables disappears as if by magic from a gem exposition at which Bruce Wayne is among the patrons. Assuming his Batman identity, Bruce investigates, and finds himself battling an invisible man! The Dark Knight's further investigation uncovers the fact that an independent optics researcher, Dr. Abner Carrows, had developed what he called a "cloak of invisibility" -- a plastic of his own invention which, when electrified by Carrows's patented process, refracts light so as to make the material and anything covered by it invisible. But Carrows has recently died and, according to the scientist's assistant, a quantity of the special plastic is missing from his lab. The trail leads to ex-con LLOYD VENTRIS, who "embezzled" the material while working as a janitor in Carrows's lab.

Thoughts: Another sentimental episode. The show tried to balance the action with some human drama and this one, despite the fact I don’t like our bad guy at all, actually does a good job with it. This was also does a good job showcasing Batman’s detective ability. He’s really pinning down this mystery on who this guy is and what it allowing him to appear invisible to the naked eye. A well done episode, but I honestly have it low on my own list.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


The Demon's Quest (Pt 1 and 2)

THE DEMON'S QUEST (PART 1)
 

When Robin is mysteriously abducted from his college campus, the Batman begins a fruitless search ... until he is astounded by the sudden appearance in the Batcave of Ra's Al Ghul -- the mysterious cult leader whose name means "The Demon's Head.' Ra's quickly reveals himself to be the leader of The Society of Shadows (whom the Batman encountered in 'Off-Balance") ... as well as the father of Talia, the femme fatale whom the Dark Knight also met in that episode. It seems that Talia has been abducted under circumstances similar to Robin's -suggesting that the same persons are responsible. So begins an uneasy truce -the Batman and 'The Demon" teaming up to find the kidnap victims. After Batman survives a number of traps en route -- in one of which Ra's Al Ghul is apparently killed -- it comes down to the Batman on the trail alone. His quest ends in a mountain fortress where he finds Robin held captive -- alone.

It's only after freeing Robin that the Batman reveals what he'd suspected from the first: that the abductions, and the search, were all engineered by Ra's as an arcane test of Batman's mettle. In this manner, Ra's hoped to gauge Batman's worthiness to succeed him as leader of The Society of Shadows. It seems that Talia -- who now appears here, clearly nobody's prisoner -- is in love with Batman. And Ra's -- who is thousands of years old thanks to the rejuvenating properties of his Lazarus Pit -believes his body will not withstand another near-death and resurrection. Now he needs an heir, and Batman has been elected. As Batman curtly refuses the offer, Ra's collapses and is rushed into the Pit, from which he unexpectedly emerges. And, as the episode concludes, we learn that a by-product of the rejuvenating process is that the subject emerges temporarily insane ... and with the physical strength of ten menl Now, it is this formidable opponent -- this enraged juggernaut -- who seeks revenge on Batman for spurning him ... even if he must destroy his own daughter to get it.

 

 

THE DEMON'S QUEST (PART 2)

After freeing Talia from her father's clutches, Batman engages Ra's Al Ghul in bat-tie, holding him at bay long enough for the maddening effects of the Lazarus Pit to wear off. Whereupon Ra's activates a self-destruct mechanism in his mountain lair and beats a hasty retreat with Talia, leaving Batman and Robin to be finished off by a cave-in. The pair escape in time and narrowly avoid being buried alive in an avalanche, giving Ra's more than enough time to vanish. Only two clues to his whereabouts remain: while a prisoner, Robin hear Ra's speak of repairing to his 'desert stronghold,' as well as hearing the word "Orpheus" repeated over and over. It turns out that Orpheus is the name of a satellite in synchronous orbit over a specific point in the Sahara Desert. A location that turns out to hide Ra's Al Ghul's desert fortress.

There, the Batman is overcome by attackers and thrown in to a dungeon, after learning of the ecologically-conscious Demon's ultimate, made plan. It turns out that the Lazarus Pit we saw was merely one of many -- each of which is a kind of "spring' fed by the same magma-like layer of rolling chemicals deep beneath Earth's crust. Now, here in the desert, Ra's mans the computerized controls that activate a device aboard the Orpheus satellite. The satellite is actually a weapon which will explosively destroy all the Lazarus Pits simultaneously, throughout the world. The resulting flood of Lazarus Pit chemicals will wash. over Earth like a tidal wave -- almost instantly returning Earth to the lush, green, eco-balanced sphere it was in its infancy ... but in the process destroying all life that now exists on the planet. The fate of everything and everyone now living hangs in the balance as Batman races to free himself from imprisonment ... and dispatch Ra's Al Ghul in a duel to the death, in time to prevent the Orpheus Weapon from doing its cataclysmic work!

Thoughts: A pretty good take on Ra’s Al Ghul here. He was already implied in an earlier episode and this is his full reveal. He’s a fascinating villain, that’s for sure, because he’s not exactly a “bad guy” but just someone who goes through different means to get what he feels is the same end. He’s more there to show that Batman has shared goals with others, but there are numerous ways that could go about achieving them. Ra’s is more her eto strengthen Batman than anything, showing how moral and just he is and his unwavering dedication to his one path. At the same time it’s manages to show Ra’s as a fully three-dimensional character and bring about a deeper understanding of what is right and wrong in a world full of Jokers and Two-Faces. There are multiple paths that a person can take and perspectives that can be looked from.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Read My Lips

READ MY LIPS 
 

Gotham Police are baffled by a series of crimes executed with clockwork-like precision. Batman investigates and discovers that the crimes. are planned by a mob boss known as Scarface. He traces Scarface to his lair -- a deserted mannequin warehouse -- and discovers, to his astonishment, that the crime czar is a wooden dummy, manipulated by a mild-mannered man called the Ventriloquist. Batman tries to get the Ventriloquist to agree to turn state's evidence against Scarface, but the Ventriloquist is terrified of his alter ego. It's a classic case of split personality. Batman plants a hidden transceiver on the Ventriloquist and learns of the gang's next crime. When he arrives to prevent it, however, he's ambushed and taken prisoner. He wakens to find himself tied up and dangling over a pit full of disembodied and sharpened mannequin arms. Scarface taunts him, telling him that the Ventriloquist confessed he had spoken with Batman.

Batman manages to convince the paranoid Scarface that the Ventriloquist is a traitor, leading to a bizarre confrontation between the two personalities as Scarface tries to kill the Ventriloquist. A fight ensues, with Batman triumphant. Scarface is destroyed by a stray burst of gunfire. The Ventriloquist is taken to Arkham, where he is last seen carving a new dummy from wood.

Thoughts: Aw yeah, it’s Scarface, as the show always did a damn good job with him because it’s not so much Scarface that’s the story as much as it is The Ventriloquist (the actual name of the Rogue). His disorder is pretty unique and done wonderfully, causing Batman to really think and plan different than he would a simple “Here I am Bats, stop me!” villain. I really loved this episode and the turn and reveal is just wonderfully handled. One of the best episodes.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Fire From Olympus

FIRE FROM OLYMPUS
 

Believing himself to be the reincarnation of the Greek God Zeus, mad shipping magnate Maxie Zeus hijacks an experimental electron cannon. Mounting the weapon atop his penthouse, Maxie plans to rain 'lightning bolts' down on the wicked mortals' below. After breaking into the building, Batman must under go a series of Herculean challenges before finally confronting Maxie for control of the deadly cannon.

 

Thoughts: A filler episode if there ever was one. The story is by Dini, but he didn’t write the script and though it’s directed by the capable Dan Riba (who began his directing some Episodes around Zatanna), it just isn’t very good. I don’t know anyone who likes Zeus. He’s rarely seen in the first place in the Batman universe, but the guy is just a delusional moron with seemingly no real point. “I’m Zeus!” blah blah blah. I do like his voice here, though. It’s like King Tut from the original television show. Some guy thinks he’s this weird God-like figure and just…does stuff. Really, that’s all he does here. He doesn’t have much of a goal, other than that he’s a God and wants to smite some people.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


 

SEASON 2                                      

Shadow of the Bat (Pt 1 and 2)

SHADOW OF THE BAT (PART 1)
 

When Commissioner Gordon is framed for taking bribes from gangland boss Rupert Thorne, his daughter Barbara pleads with Batman to show up at a rally being put on in the commissioner's behalf by Assistant Commissioner Gil Mason. Batman, hot on the trail of the mysterious figure behind the frame-up, declines, preferring to send Robin in his place. Barbara determined that one way or another the Dark Knight will make an appearance, so she rents a Batman costume and, using her gymnastic abilities, impersonates Batman. Her plan backfires, however, when an unexpected drive-by shooting by gangsters reveals her as a girl. The next day the papers are trumpeting the question, "Who is Batgirl?"

Batman, in disguise as Matches Malone, infiltrates the headquarters of the one responsible for the frame-up and finds it's Two Face. Before he can escape, he's knocked unconscious and captured. Meanwhile, Barbara discovers information that Gil Mason is actually in cahoots with whoever framed her father. With Batman missing and no one else to turn to, she decides to redesign the costume and investigate the case as Batgirl.

 


SHADOW OF THE BAT (PART 2)

Robin discovers that Gil Mason is in league with the underworld and goes to investigate him. He encounters Batgirl along the way, who is also trying to get to the bottom of things to clear her father's name. Each learns, without knowing that the other knows it, that Mason is to meet the mysterious gang leader in an abandoned subway in South Gotham. There's no love lost between Batgirl and Robin and so they go separate ways, each arriving at the subway station independently. Mason joins Two Face, who has decided to execute Matches Malone. Batgirl tries to stop this, but bungles it, and she, along with Robin and Matches, are trapped in the subway. Two Face floods the subway tunnel.

Two Face has Gordon busted out of jail as part of his two-part plan to discredit the Commissioner and establish Gil Mason as head of police, while Two Face takes over the gangs. He takes Gordon to Bayshore Wharf, planning to execute him there. In the subway, Matches changes to Batman, and manages to help Batgirl escape via his grappling gun through a hole in the ceiling. Before she can rescue him and Robin, however, the two are swept away by the flood. Batgirl realizes it's up to her to save her father, and heads for Bayshore Wharf. Batman and Robin manage to escape by crashing a subway car through an embankment wall. They arrive at Bayshore Wharf and, along with Batgirl, tackle the crooks. Two-Face is captured and Gordon freed, but Mason escapes in a speedboat. Batgirl leaps into the boat and struggles with him, managing to pull him into the water just as the boat strikes the Statue of Freedom and explodes. Gordon is cleared of all charges, and Gil Mason, horribly disfigured and crippled, is in a coma and will be a vegetable for the rest of his life. Bruce and Dick agree that Batgirl, whoever she is, acquitted herself nobly. Barbara, hearing this, smiles as the two speculate on whether they'll ever see Batgirl again.

 

 

The animated series certainly loved the form-fitting/big boob costumes.

Thoughts: Sweet. We see Batman going out as Matches Malone, this being the only episode where he does that. The show really does manage to show that Batman is also a master of disguise, he’s in disguise quite a lot (Almost Got Im and The Man Who Killed Batman have him in disguise). His most prominent identity is Matches Malone, who is a gangster and allows Batman to get in good with gangs and get info.

Of course that’s not the point of this episode. This is actually about Batgirl. For what Batgirl is, the show does her well and the story of Gordon’s frame-up is well done on top of it. I suppose that goes hand-in-hand, for Batgirl’s story to be convincing, the story of her “why” needs to be good as well. This is also a big Barbara episode as well and she’s probably one of the stronger female characters in the show (maybe next to Ivy, but Ivy comes and goes). She’s determined but at the same time a little reckless, which is a good element for her character considering she’s young and not trained.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Mudslide

MUDSLIDE 
 

Clayface is falling apart -- literally. His clay like body is virtually disintegrating. Fortunately, a woman scientist he knew from his movie star days is working on a remedy. However, he is forced to steal money to pay for the expensive components of the remedy. Because he can't hold a shape for more than an hour or so, the doctor has created a flexible exoskeleton in which he can maneuver. He is in this shell receiving his final treatment, after which he should be able to maintain his shape indefinitely, when Batman arrives onto the scene and foils the scheme. In a deadly fight, Clayface is washed away into the ocean, where he is gone forever. Or is he?

Thoughts: The tragic story of Clayface comes to an end. There’s no opening here, despite what the summary above might indicate. He’s actually most likely dead, making his story all the more tragic. The conflict we saw within Clayface in Feat of Clay is ten-fold here. He wants his body, his life back. He’s not out there to hurt people or rob them except if they get in his way or he needs the money to fund his experiments to fix his body. It’s a moral question that actually doesn’t have a clear answer, and we say farewell in a rather poetic way for him.*

(of course that’s if you don’t watch The New Batman Adventures, the follow up show that brings him back for one episode)

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The Worry Men

THE WORRY MEN 

 

Wealthy socialite Veronica Vreeland returns from Central America bringing tiny handmade dolls for all her friends. According to native legend, once placed under a pillow the dolls do the sleeper's worrying for them. Unknown to Veronica or her guests, each of the dolls contains a tiny microchip which plants hypnotic suggestions inside the sleepers' brains. And the man controlling the dolls? None other than the Mad Hatter, who is using the dolls' powers in an elaborate extortion scheme against Gotham's wealthiest citizens, including Bruce Wayne! Batman tracks the Hatter to his hideout in an abandoned costume warehouse where the madman gets the jump on the Dark Knight and tries to remove his cowl, head and all, in a guillotine.

Thoughts: Not a good episode at all. Much like The Laughing Fish, I just can’t buy the Hatter’s plan here. Think about this: He has to find out that Veronica is going to Central America. He has to find out exactly where. He has to follow her. He has to create mind-control dolls with the assumption that Veronica will go to the market one day and buy them. Specifically them. He has to assume she will put them under her pillow. He then has to assume she will come back and given them to all her friends who will do EXACTLY as she instructs.

That’s just too many “ifs” and assuming here for me to buy. I just flat-out dislike this episode. By suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 5


Paging the Crime Doctor

PAGING THE CRIME DOCTOR
 

Dr. Matthew Thorne, forced into losing his medical license and becoming the crime doctor by his younger brother, crime bass Rupert Thorne, must perform delicate surgery on Rupert. He can't do it alone, and kidnaps Dr. Leslie Thompkins to assist. Batman discovers Leslie's disappearance, and rushes to track her down. In the process we learn how Matthew is basically a good man: when he learns that Rupert's men will ultimately kill Leslie, he goes against his brother to save her.

Thoughts: I like yet don’t like this one. I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe it’s because I feel the story stretches itself to try and fill some time, or maybe I just don’t care all that much about the Thornes and Thompkins, but I never got a "click" of a vested interested in the whole thing despite a solid concept. Either way, it’s a capable episode, sure, but I can’t say exactly why I just didn’t get into it.

I haven't mentioned a ton about Thorne in this retrospective. For the most part, I like the character a lot. He comes and goes through a lot of episodes but is usually more in the background which is nice. He's not in-your-race, he's just that ever-present criminal underworld overlord that is a constant, selfish asshole. He's not there to test Batman, not there to make a point, just wants to run his business making him a good "baseline" villain to go up against Riddlers and Two Faces. You need that baseline, otherwise everyone is insane. While he never really has a "great" story, he has a pretty important purpose.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


House and Garden

HOUSE & GARDEN
 

Not only has Poison Ivy been released from Arkham Asylum, she's also married her doctor and settled down to help him raise his two sons. Still, wealthy Gotham bachelors are being poisoned and robbed in ways that exactly mirror Ivy's old crimes. The attacks take a personal turn when Bruce Wayne's ward Dick (Robin) Grayson is kidnapped by the mysterious assailant. Is Ivy responsible? And if so, how can Batman prove it? 

 

Thoughts: Eventually, this show is going to go to this well too many times: the rogue being reformed. Hell, it kind of already has by this point, but it’s not tired yet.

I don't know if I really like this episode or not, to be honest. I think Ivy is great in it, and I love the "family" she's created, but Batman seems a bit stupid at times. I mean, if she's reformed, as in not doing criminal acts, why the hell does she still have deadly vines and plants and shit in plain sight? Batman should probably be written a little better than he is here, and I think it's that which really brings the whole thing down. Yet, Ivy is damn good and, outside of her duos with Harley (and maybe the episode "Chemistry"), this is probably her strongest episode.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Sideshow

SIDESHOW
 

En route to an upstate prison, Killer Croc escapes and leads Batman on a dangerous chase through the wilderness. After throwing Batman temporarily off his trail, the reptile-man takes refuge with a group of retired circus freaks, and convinces them to help him. When Batman arrives, Croc and the freaks band together to capture him. But when Croc attempts to kill the Dark Knight, the freaks see Croc's true colors and come to Batman's rescue.

Thoughts: It occurred to me on this episode that the best way to handle Killer Croc is to downplay him. This doesn’t try to make him extravagant or over the top, does a bigger focus of Batman more than anything for the story, and culminates into a really well done fight between Croc and Batman both in variety and in animation. This one is done pretty damn well, especially for a Croc episode, with ideas of equality and acceptance to play around with too. Overall, not bad at all and surprisingly good as well.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Avatar

AVATAR
 

A mystic Egyptian scroll donated to the Gotham museum by Bruce Wayne is stolen by Ra's Al Ghul, and Batman and Talia must join forces to prevent the power-mad Ra's from unlocking the scroll's secrets of life and death. Their quest takes them to a hidden temple deep beneath the Egyptian desert. There the Dark Knight is forced into a terrifying battle with an ancient Egyptian sorceress who seeks to destroy them all.

Thoughts: A rare globe-trotting Batman episode and one of the better ones. It’s a bit Indiana Jones on top of it all, at least as good as 30 minutes or less will get you for a world-trotting, Indy adventure. It occurred to me on this episode that Talia is just a bitch. Seriously, just doesn’t get it. She’s like one of those women that is constantly beaten by their husband and keeps going back to him. This one plays the Batman/Talia game well, though. They have great chemistry and their relationship really well written, even if she is just a bitch.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Trial

TRIAL 
 

Gotham's deadliest criminals, The Joker, Twoface, Mad Hatter, Ventriloquist, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, kidnap Batman and put him on trial in Arkham Asylum. The Dark Knight's only hope rests with District Attorney Janet Van Dorn who, despite her anti-Batman stance, is forced into defending the Caped Crusader's life as well as her own.

Thoughts: Countering the small and subtle episodes, like A Bullet for Bullock, we have a rather crazy and a bit cheesy of an episode in Trial. The Rogues take over Arkham and put Batman on trial. A good twist at the end, but the path there feels so cliché and silly it’s hard to take seriously. There's just too much it seems this episode wants to do and it can't find a way to cram it all in. Still, this is a really cool concept and idea for an episode and a decent one overall.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Harlequinade

HARLEQUINADE
 

Batman and Robin form an uneasy alliance with Harley Quinn in order to learn where the Joker has hidden a stolen atomic bomb. Harley leads them on a madcap hunt through Gotham, and eventually into a deadly show-down with the Clown Prince of Crime himself. Harley is torn between her promise to help Batman and her twisted love for the Joker, but her better nature wins out in the end. 

Thoughts: The series certainly had its share of Harley Quinn, and they always took time to give her some damn good episodes too. I suppose they should considering she was made specifically for this show. With no mythology or history to try and summarize or live up to, they pretty much just start from scratch and go crazy with her. She is just flat-out a fun and hugely entertaining character. It’s impossible to not like her, even when her voice gets really shrill which can so-often do. This one shows that Harley isn’t all bad. In fact, a lot of her episodes show that she’s conflicted, but this one in particular. From the beginning to the end, you really don’t know who’s side she’s on. Then you realize that it’s more about how she’s treated and respected, not that she’s on any one side. In other words, if you don’t cross her, she won’t cross you. She’s not so much “good” and “bad” a she is just wanting to be accepted to whoever will take her. If the Joker is around giving her attention, she’ll be with him. If it’s Batman, it’ll be him. If one pisses her off…look out.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


 

SEASON 3                                      

Bane

BANE
 

Batman comes face to face with his most powerful adversary yet, the chemically charged assassin, Bane. Originally hired by Rupert Thorne to kill Batman, Bane plans on taking control of Thorne's criminal empire once Batman is destroyed. It's a fight to the death with all of Gotham in the balance as Batman takes on the man who has vowed to "Break the bat!"

Thoughts: You know, if there were later Bane episodes, this one wouldn’t be that bad. Well, it’s not that bad to begin with, but it certainly feels more like a set-up for a story arc than something that should be kept as a one-off. Even though I’m not a fan of Bane’s voice here, you get the impression that he’s a very smart guy and is one-step ahead of Batman, with bigger plans on the side of even that. The climax is…well it’s not very good, actually. It feels like it’s just searching for a way to end it all, but as an episode as a whole, it’s a solid one.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


 

Second Chance

SECOND CHANCE
 

Just before he is to undergo the operation that will restore his face, Harvey (Twoface) Dent is kidnapped by a mysterious villain. Batman and Robin split up to nab the criminal mastermind behind the scheme. Is it the Penguin, Rupert Thorne, or someone with a more personal reason for hating Harvey Dent?

Thoughts: This show really knew how to write Two Face. This is a spot-on episode of the character as well as Batman himself, who really pulls out the “detective” aspect of his persona in trying to uncover who kidnapped Dent. It's a story of clues and intrigue and hard questions as only Batman can answer, not to mention showing that, despite all that Two-Face has done, Batman still has an ounce of hope that Dent can return as the friend he once knew. Other than his two-part origin episode, this is easily the strongest writing for any Two Face material on the show. It’s a fantastic episode and a personal favorite of mine.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Riddler's Reform

RIDDLER'S REFORM 
 

Upon his release from Arkham, the Riddler becomes an instant celebrity with his own line of toys and games. Soon he's rich, well-liked and happy, except for the fact that he's never managed to best Batman in a battle of wits. Realizing that he's still obsessed with beating the Dark Knight and that the obsession will lead to his downfall, the Riddler lures Batman into a death-trap puzzle to get rid of his opponent and end the riddle games.

Thoughts: A little bit of treading water here, we’ve seen this plot a few times (and, in fact, will see still again before the show is over). It’s at this point where I just don’t have an investment in the idea. We’ve seen it: the reformed villains are full of shit and/or will crack and go back to crime at some point. I will say the Riddler sells it better than some others though. He plays it well and utilizing his riddles to trick Batman is a nice angle to have a little more than just "look, I"m better" then pull the rug out.  This one has a bit of a buildup and Bats works to turn the tables Even though it feels tired, it is still a pretty enjoyable episode with a unique set of Riddles this go around for Bats to figure out.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Baby Doll

BABY-DOLL
 

A former child star, now grown bitter and insane, kidnaps her TV family and holds them prisoner on an abandoned sound stage. While Robin works fast to free the actors from Baby-Doll's explosive death-trap, Batman pursues the tiny fiend through a deadly carnival fun house.

Thoughts: I had to go back and re-watch this one, because I absolutely don’t remember it. Considering I JUST finished watching the whole series just a week ago, that doesn’t’ bode well. It's a bit of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane meets having Gilligan and the Skipper as gun-toting criminals. Actually, that sounds kind of cool. 

But really, Baby Doll is pretty annoying. Her voice grates on the ears and she is more irritating than anything. It's just a forgettable episode because you don't find yourself all that invested into Baby Doll, which is why I forgot all about it. It does make a good job of poking fun at old television shows, Robin obviously not enjoying having to watch the old episodes of Baby Doll's show, and the moments when Baby Doll actually changes her voice to normal are moments of good voice acting, but, despite a surprisingly well done ending, this is one that could easily be skipped.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Time Out of the Joint

TIME OUT OF JOINT

The Clock King returns to carry out his vendetta against Mayor Hill. This time the clock-mad criminal hopes to murder Hill with the help of a stolen invention that allows him to warp time and travel at super-speed. Securing another device from its creator, Batman and Robin take on the Clock King in a furious high-speed battle for the mayor's life. 

Thoughts: Way too over the top and way too unbelievable for my tastes. It also makes me think of a Ducktales episode that took the same idea. The MacGuffin here is the time-device, and the problem with that is that it’s never really explained. It’s just…I don’t know expository science or something. SCIENCE!
Anyways. It tells us what it does, but it’s also a pretty big-time device that really bends the bounds that this series sets for itself. Much of what it takes on is pretty grounded in some form, if not that then it’s at least explained to mystical magic and the like. Here you have a piece of technology that manipulates time. That’s a bit hard for me to swallow and not something that should have been handled as lightly as it is here.  That being said, it does find some interesting things to actually do with the device here and there, notably the trap the Clock King sets for Batman and Robin while they’re in the Batmobile and the lose a few days in just a matter of minutes. An OK episode, but a bit too much for this show I found. Things like Eugenics and gene splicing, manipulating matter even artificial intelligent robots…believe it or not that stuff I can buy…controlling time is just one of those things I feel should be handled smartly. There’s flashes here and there, certainly some cool scenes and animation showcasing it, but I just don’t buy it.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Harley's Holiday

HARLEY'S HOLIDAY 
 

Discharged from Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn tries to lead a sane, normal life. Sadly, she just can't seem to stay out of trouble, and when a misunderstanding occurs, Harley makes the situation worse by stealing Bruce Wayne's car and kidnapping his girlfriend. This ignites a screwball chase that not only involves Batman and Robin, but the police, army, and Gotham's most dangerous gangsters as well.

Thoughts: I think this is the last “not really reformed” episode, but it’s actually a pretty good one. In fact, out of all the villains-not-reformed episodes, this one is probably the best. Why? Because it’s actually really, really sweet. The ending is surprisingly touching and makes you feel happy for Harley and even Bats, who shows a different side than what we’ve seen when it comes to this type of plot. I don’t know where this is in my personal favorites. I liked it, though. Harley is just genuine and you absolutely want the best for her. She's impossible to not love in this one.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Make 'em Laugh

MAKE 'EM LAUGH
 

Gotham City is plagued by a rash of crazy crimes all committed by bizarre villains. Batman and Robin investigate, discovering the "criminals" are actually famous comedians brainwashed by the Joker. It seems the comedians had the disguised Joker tossed out of the annual Gotham Comedy Competition the year before and the jealous clown has sworn to destroy their reputations in return.

Thoughts: I like some of this episode, as non-descript as that is. I think the climax is better than the foreplay, if you know what I mean. The lead up to the reveal and the point of the Joker’s plan is pretty mediocre. Yet, when it all comes together…it’s actually pretty entertaining. The idea of the Joker obsessed with being the "funniest man in Gotham" makes a lot of sense because he puts his own demented twist on it with how it plays out, similar to his Christmas celebration with Christmas with the Joker.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Batgirl Returns

BATGIRL RETURNS
 

Though she fantasizes about rescuing Batman from the Joker, Penguin and Twoface, Barbara Gordon has given up her double life as Batgirl. That is, until a rare cat statue is stolen from her university museum. All clues point to Catwoman as the thief, but when Batgirl investigates, she discovers another crook actually committed the crime. Teaming up, Batgirl and Catwoman discover Roland Daggett masterminded the scheme, and with a little assist from Robin, succeed in putting the villain away for good.

Thoughts: For a Batgirl/Catwoman episode, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I like Batgirl in this show, they do a good job really bringing out Barbara first, Batgirl second, but I've never expected an episode with no Batman and completely reliant on her to actually carry this well. Catwoman is pretty damn good in this episode too as they all team up with Robin (though only a little) for a pretty fun and entertaining episode.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Lock-Up

LOCK-UP
 

Several Arkham inmates, including the Scarecrow, Ventriloquist and Harley Quinn lodge complaints against Lyle Bolton, the Asylum's sadistic new chief of security. When Bolton is fired, he vows revenge on societies' true lunatics, the officials whose policies have turned Gotham City into a haven for crime. Taking on the new identity of master jailer Lock-Up, Bolton kidnaps several prominent Gothamites, including Commissioner Gordon and Mayor Hill, and locks them away on an abandoned prison ship. It's up to Batman and Robin to confront Lock-Up and battle him for the lives of those he's wrongfully imprisoned.

Thoughts: If Batman can do it, why not someone else? This episode is mainly used to show Batman’s boundaries - what he will and absolutely will not do when it comes to fighting crime. He will not cross the lines Bolton crosses no matter what. I like that idea and actually and wish this episode wasn’t as straightforward as it ended up being. It plays out exactly like you'd expect and Lock-Up, despite getting a little bit of popularity off this episode, never really did it for me. I feel they could have done a lot more, but overall a pretty solid  one.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Deep Freeze

DEEP FREEZE
 

Mr. Freeze is sprung from Arkham by aging billionaire Grant Walker, who is looking to freeze the world and recreate it according to his own design. Batman and Robin infiltrate the billionaire's underwater city and combat both high-tech robots and Mr. Freeze himself, who has decided to do Walker's bidding and cover the earth in a new ice age.

Thoughts: I wonder if the creators of Bioshock saw this episode. Rich mogul. Underwater City. You get the idea. A solid, but altogether forgettable Mr. Freeze episode. It’s entertaining and interesting, even if the Underwater City just outside of Gotham feels a tad out of place.

I've realized by this point that it's damn near impossible to write a bad Mr. Freeze episode in this series. There's only a handful of them to begin with, but they all play out the character so damn well. 

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


 

SEASON 4                                      

The Terrible Trio

THE TERRIBLE TRIO
 
 
 Three wealthy, bored friends of Bruce Wayne's decide to seek new thrills by becoming master criminals. As the Fox, the Shark and the Vulture, the Terrible Trio pick Gotham clean, until they encounter the one person who cannot be bought off -- Batman. 

Thoughts: Maybe if the Terrible Trio were engaging or entertaining in any way, this might have been a cool episode. Afterall, Bruce isn’t the only rich guy in Gotham. Other rich guys can go off and do the same things he’s doing (and fail…or just become incompetent criminals which is the case here). I just don’t like them. I think the idea is there, but we know they’re so in over their head that when Batman enters the fold, they just don’t have a chance. There’s no risk in this episode and it just doesn’t draw you in.

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 5


Showdown

SHOWDOWN
 

While attempting to rescue one of his immortal followers from a hospital, Ra's Al Ghul tells Batman and Robin a tale from his mysterious past. Along with Batman and Robin, we learn of Ra's attempts in the 1800's to destroy the fledgling railroad and seize control of the US government. The one person standing in his way is the renegade bounty hunter, Jonah Hex. How Ra's battle with Hex is tied to his present-day battle with Batman is revealed in a surprise ending. 

Thoughts: Not a Batman episode at all, we’re told the tale of Jonah Hex. Now I’m not big into Hex. I hav a general understanding of him and what he’s all about, but I’ve never read the comics. The story here isn’t bad, though I can imagine some fans of the show getting pissed back in the 90s when this one kicked off, but my problem is more that Batman just lets Al Ghul sit around and tell the story. It’s nice to see Batman show some heart, but in the continuity of the show,  the last episode had Ghul escaping on horseback leaving Batman in the middle of the desert after he just saved his ass. In a way, this is a repeat of that ending which basically says “Batman let him go… twice.” A weird, though very nicely animated (Some Stempunk influence here) episode that doesn’t have Batman.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Catwalk

CATWALK
 
 
 

Anxious to take up her old ways as Catwoman, Selina Kyle joins forces with the Ventriloquist and Scarface to humiliate socialite Veronica Vreeland. But the real victim is Catwoman herself, who has been secretly set up by Scarface to take the fall for another robbery. Batman has to intercede before the furious feline makes things worse by killing the double-talking Ventriloquist.

Thoughts: A pretty strong Catwoman and Scarface episode. Catwoman is so out of her league here, it's almost sad...so I do like the extra dose of sympathy considering Scarface is just a mean SOB all the way around. Note that I'm saying "Scarface" here because the Ventriloquist kind of takes a backseat, which is good because I think having two overly-sympathetic characters would ruin the episode completely. I like how he just manipulates everyone here and Catwoman clawing (see what I did there...see?) her way out of the hole she dug is a good arc for her character.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


A Bullet for Bullock

A BULLET FOR BULLOCK
 
 

Someone has put a hit out on Gotham's toughest cop, Harvey Bullock. After surviving several near misses, Bullock realizes he has no choice but to ask his arch-rival Batman to help him discover who is behind the murder attempts. During their investigation Bullock learns that his gruff and mean-spirited manner has created enemies in the unlikeliest of people. 

Thoughts: A full-on Bullock episode, and if you know anything about Bullock, you know that it can make for a damn interesting story especially with Batman “helping” him (something he obviously doesn’t like). Bullock really learns a lot about himself here, and you can see his character really learn and even change as the episode goes on. It’s well written and directed like a classic film noir with a lot of mystery tracking and dark alleyways abound. It’s a “small” episode, completely about character and really giving a good presentation of a pretty big hard-ass detective.  For most of the series, you kind of like Bullock, but at the same time don't due to his disdain towards Batman. Here, you (and he, actually) realize they aren't too different and might have made for an awesome team if Harvey wasn't such a dick.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The Lion and the Unicorn

THE LION AND THE UNICORN
 
 
International terrorist Red Claw has Alfred kidnapped when the butler makes a visit to his native England. It seems Alfred once worked for the British Secret service, and Red Claw has learned he was entrusted with the firing code to a hidden long range missile. Batman and Robin have to rescue Alfred before Red Claw learns the firing code, or else she will use the missile to bring England to its knees.
 
Thoughts: Remember when I called Red Claw a poor-man’s James Bond villain? Well that’s exactly what she is, and especially here as we come full circle to bring her back and see that Alfred isn’t so much a butler as much as he is a retired British Agent. This is an enjoyable Alfred storyline, but not particularly a great episode. It's not horrible, though, and has some highlight (just going into Alfred's past at least makes for a nice angle)
 
And that's the last episode. Kind of an odd way to go out, really, though the actual final "produced" episode was Batgirl Returns, which would have been an equally odd way to go out. Placement doesn't really matter much in this series, though.
 
Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Animated Movies                          

The Mask of the Phantasm

Batman is wrongly implicated in a series of murders of mob bosses actually done by a new vigilante assassin.

The Good: Take the quality writing and style of Batman the Animated Series and make if feature length. Same writers, same dark-deco art style, same composers and directors. That's what this movie is and it makes no attept to try and be otherwise. Truth is, I don't think fans would have wanted it any other way. If there was some other Batman animated film that came out in 1993, it would have been compared to the series and, most likely, be deemed inferior considering the series was already doing so much right.

This Batman animated film isn't about action and fighting crime, necessarily. It's a character study of Bruce Wayne with a mystery to be solved. Through flashbacks we learn the elements of Bruce and, what I would have to say, is the one true love in his life - the woman that almost deterred him from being Batman entirely. He wasn't always cold and brooding, there was a time when he laughed and loved.

The animation expresses that emotion well. The setting of scenes and how they're staged brings out Bruce's sense of self-hatred and loneliness. Yes, there's he's a superhero and he has to figure out the mystery of the Phantasm along with taking on his arch-nemesis, The Joker, but he's still a man. It's that element, almost study of a psyche, that makes Batman such a unique superhero in the first place, and Mask of the Phantasm honors that tradition with a fantastic sense of style and class.

The Bad: It's just so easy to figure this one out. That's really the only thing that keeps Batman: Mask of the Phantasm being great rather than just really good. It hinges on its mystery and reveal, but we've figured it out long before even Batman has because the way the story is structured and set up, it makes it obvious. New costume character appearing at the same time as this other new character? Keeping one or the other mysterious or not as relevant to Bruce's story would have made for a far better mystery. As it is, we just have a good time with Batman and the moments with The Joker and the Phantasm, because the twists and turns just aren't there. In fact, the biggest twist is The Joker and his story arc. That alone makes much of this worthwhile (and he doesn't appear until 40 minutes in, talk about quality over quantity).

We end up more a story about Batman's conflict, even though it tries to plug in the mystery factor for a good hook. As strange as it is, if the story had spent less time with the Phantasm and did even more with the story of Batman/Bruce and Andrea, we might have had a better film. But because we know the mystery, many of the scenes with the Phantasm almost feel as filler.

The Ugly: The acceptance scene is one of the most powerful scenes in anything Batman. Bruce finally puts on his cowl and turns to Alfred, who no longer recognizing the boy he helped raise. It's goosebump-educing. The writers intentionally made this the most pivotal scene in the entire film, overshadowing anything else the Joker, Batman or the Phantasm would do. It's brilliant.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Sub-Zero

When a desperate Mr. Freeze, to save his dying wife, kidnaps Barbara (Batgirl) Gordan as an involuntary organ donor, Batman and Robin must find her before the operation can begin.

The Good: It was an odd time, the 1990s. When it came to Batman, at least. After the run of Batman the Animated Series, the only source of Batman entertainment was really awful live-action movies directed by Joel Schumacher. Fans would take anything they could, I think the creators of the series probably knew this and look to take advantage of it now that the series was off the air. The result was a direct to video release of Batman/Mr. Freeze SubZero, putting to shame the Schumacher film with Mr. Freeze that came out around the same time.

So, by comparison, you have something good simply be default. However, even by not comparing it, you have a very well told story with solid animation, something the creators were certainly accustomed to. The story is nothing new or special, it’s simply told well, and that’s all you really have to do with it. Mr. Freeze is pulled back into a world of crime (or, at the very least, questionable morality and a unique perspective on what is right and wrong). Freeze is interesting in that, to him, much has to do with logic, not emotion. He’s like the Spock of Batman villains: his wife needs a new organ and Barbara Gordon just happens to be a close match. As unlikely as that is, let’s face it it’s a bit of a forced plot point, it allows for some tense moments and I don’t know if we would have as good and emotional ending as we would if we didn’t.

And that emotion is what has always carried this incarnation of Mr. Freeze. For a man who shows none, his stories are full of heartache and tragedy. He has always walked that line of good and evil, never falling too far on either side, and that dynamic is certainly tested here. Batman, especially, knows this and is able to use that knowledge in his approach to Mr. Freeze. Well directed by Boyd Kirkland with a solid Paul Dini Script, and legendary voice acting of Kevin Conroy and Michael Ansara, SubZero is often an overlooked animated film that Batman fans shouldn’t miss.

The Bad: A bit too brisk, but when your film is only a little over an hour long (in other words, two episodes of the Animated Series), you have to really cram as much as you can. It’s not as well paced and as sharp as the production team is often known for, but it’s also curious as to why they didn’t work in an extra twenty minutes either. They don’t have restrictions on time so they could have expanded and developed the material far better than what’s given. What’s given is fine, as mentioned it’s well told, but it’s also as basic and simple of a story as you will see. As a result, things happen quickly and sometimes forcefully, such as the aforementioned plot point of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, which is less for a twist and more just to push things along and make things happen. More time, maybe more grandeur in plot and location and action, and you might have had something...well you might have had Mask of the Phantasm, I suppose. That’s a good thing.

The Ugly: I love the ending, yet absolutely loathe it. To spoil it, as I’m about to do....Bruce Wayne cures Freeze’s wife. She’s awake, not in a chamber, perfectly healthy and there’s no explanation as to the how and why. The way Freeze made it sound, it was damn near impossible. He had to do it illegally...but to finally see Mr. Freeze cry. That’s just something beautiful.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


The New Batman Adventures

The “new” series is really just a new art direction and some slight changes here and there for the characters (Grayson is now Night wing, Tim Drake is Robin etc…) as well as jumping ahead two years. Everything (character arcs, stories etc..) are still canon and the creative team is still the same. So with these changes, here’s some thoughts of the new styles. Most voice are the same, but I'll note the new characters and if there are new actors in old roles.

Batman: His ears are longer and his logo different, but it’s still the same look we’ve known. It’s hard to fuck up Batman’s look…unless your name is Joel Schumacher.

Bruce Wayne: I actually like this rendering of Bruce better than the first series. The rigid jawline is gone and he feels more like a man in the crowd and doesn’t stick out as much. He’s still bulky and in shape, but the alternation in the face is what makes it superior to me.

Robin: (Matthew Valencia) Much younger now with Tim Drake…certainly the more "boy" of the term "boy wonder." I still prefer Grayson. Drake can be a bit irritating, but Grayson is now Nightwing and, despite the bad hair, he's pretty cool. The show puts a lot of focus on him, and they do a good job with his origin story and he has some very strong moments, notably in Never Fear with in Growing Pains. 

Batgirl/Barbara: Love this version much much more. Barbara looks the same, but the new colors of Batgirl are a better fit and she feels more capable as a superhero. I suppose jumping ahead a few years helps mature a lot of characters like her. Tara Strong is the new voice actress here.

The Joker: Nearly the same except the eyes and slightly paler…but I don’t like the eyes here. They’re hollow and dark, maybe to make him more menacing, but they lack expression like they used to. Still, the Joker is still the Joker and Hammill still sells the voice perfectly, so it’s a minor gripe.

Commissioner Gordon: Thinner, but overall the same. I’ve always loved his voice.

Bullock: Damn, he’s been eating a lot of donuts. I mean, wow. Bullock was always a big guy, but here he’s just exploded. I don’t like or dislike it, though. Bullock is still Bullock at heart, and the voice (like most here) hasn’t changed.

Harley Quinn: No change at all. Thank God because she was perfect.

Ivy: Paler, but I like it. I do find it odd that for a woman who loves nature, plants and flowers she wouldn’t have at least a little bit of a tan.

The Ventriloquist: No change here either. He has a hell of a strong episode I might add.

Two Face: No change. He seems a little sharper in his drawing and animation, though.

Clay face: I hate the fact they brought him back, but I’ll address that when I get to it. No change here.

The Penguin: I actually don’t like this version as much. Probably the only change I can say I just don’t like. The original design was a great combination of a slightly non-human looking Pegnuin but still a human-looking one. This one just doesn’t do it for me. However, I absolutely love the way The Penguin is written in this new series. He’s less a super villain and more a shifty and shady businessman.

The Riddler: Even though The Riddler only appears briefly in this series (there’s no episode that has him as the main bad guy), the few glimpses we get show a horrible re-design.  The suit and bowler hat were perfect in the first series, certainly more reflective of some of the better Riddler interpretations in the comics as well…this just feels cheesy as it is nearly identical to the Gorshin look.

Mr. Freeze: The biggest change out of all the characters, but I’m cool with it. This is a different Mr. Freeze. Gone is the tragic man that made him popular in the original series and Sub-Zero, so with change in personality comes a change in design. I'm not 100% sure about the Spider-Head, but I have to admit it's an original and interesting take and, timeline wise, it fits.

Scarecrow: Holy shit. I mean…holy shit. Amazing design and seriously darker visually and…I’ll get to that later as well because the new approach to him as a character is also amazing. Point being, amazing redesign and the darker approach is what they needed from the get-go. Notably, though, Jeffrey Combs is now the voice actor. That's a big change.

Mad Hatter: Not seen all that much, but this take is far better design wise. Roddy is still the actor, thank god.

Killer Croc:  Another new voice actor here, Brooks Gardner. Not a huge difference voice wise, but design-wise this Killer Croc looks a lot tougher and more menacing. Not much of Croc is seen, thoguh.

Firefly: (Mark Rolston) The new addition in terms of villains, and I just don't like him all that much. Goofy design, poor story. Forgettable.

I think that's about it as far as a rundown on changes. The writing itself is about the same, though there is more references to death and murder here and there, a bit more blood and the darker design of some of the characters make them darker characters as a whole (Scarecrow and Freeze notably). Other than that, this is a great continuation story-wise to the characters we've come to know in the show already.

Also, I’m not 100% sure the order these are intended to be in. The DVD has them in this order, and this is how they’re commonly listed online, but story-wise some should probably be before others (such as introducing Tim Drake)


Holiday Knights

HOLIDAY KNIGHTS

Three holiday-themed vignettes. (1) Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn kidnap Bruce Wayne and use his credit cards for a shopping spree. (2) While shopping for a gift for her father, Barbara Gordon spots a group of shoplifters that turn out to be portions of Clayface. (3) Batman and Robin race to stop the Joker from killing the crowd at the Gotham City New Year Celebration. Note: This episode takes place after the episode "Sins of the Father," and likely "Growing Pains" as well, because it reveals the reappearance of Clayface after his supposed death in "Mudslide." 

Thoughts: I feel this one is meant to be a finale of some sort as it uses the idea of Christmas as a brilliant framing device for some short stories. The first has Ivy and Harley together again, and that’s always cool. The girls are fun when they’re together. The second is easilyt he weakest as it appears Clayface can go down with one good kick from Batgirl (I also find it odd that he is, apparently, dead…this story isn’t well done at all). The third is Batman versus Joker and that’s always top-notch. First thin I noticed is a reference to The Joker killing someone. That’s interesting.  Second thing I noticed is Tim Drake, who just appears here and isn’t given a story until the next episode (which makes me think this one is suppose to go in to the timeline far down the road) The plan is classic Joker and pretty cool, but the tag at the end with Batman and Gordon sharing a cup of coffee on new years eve to salute the survival of each other is awesome.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Sins of the Father

SINS OF THE FATHER

Young orphan Tim Drake becomes Batman's new ward when he becomes involved in one of Two-Face's deadly plots. 

Thoughts: Say hello to Tim Drake. You’ll probably warm up to him eventually. He’s brash and a bit of a dick but this is his origin story, so it’s only natural for him to be rough around the edges as he becomes the new Robin. I think the show did a good job giving us a new younger Robin and still saying “hello” to Mr. Grayson who appears at the very end (we don’t know he’s Nightwing yet, that’s not for a few more episodes).

This episode gives us a damn good looking Two Face too. He’s sharp and streamlined, I really like his character in this new art-revamp and I recall the DVD extras noting how much the producers liked him too - noting that if there's one character that really made the new style look good, Two Face was it. Same personality, only now looking sharper.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Cold Comfort

COLD COMFORT

After the events in "SubZero" Mr. Freeze has been forced to be bound to a new robotic body. His wife Nora has been revived, but believing him dead, she has remarried and left Gotham. If Freeze can't have a life of happiness, nobody can, so he begins lashing out at the city by destroying what people care about so they can feel the same pain he feels. 

Thoughts: I still can’t decide if I like this new Freeze, but I know I feel the same way as Batman and Batgirl when it’s finally revealed: damn shocked. Freeze is not what you expect, that's for sure. Next to Scarecrow, this was one major overhauled design that really turns the character on its head. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at the same time it’s a fitting arc for him considering his story isn’t done in vignettes but a long-stretching narrative and the SubZero movie plays an integral part here. This is certainly one way he could end up.

The thing is, the change in the character's design is so shocking, you kind of forget about the story. Well, it's kind of a bore of a story, it turns out. Freeze kind of turns one-dimensional in exchange for being a bit more menacing. 

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Never Fear

NEVER FEAR

The Scarecrow develops a new toxin that, rather than inducing fear, eliminates it, making average people incredibly reckless and dangerous. 

Thoughts: Man, did this new series know how to do some Scarecrow. This twist…taking away fear rather than implementing it, is just fantastic and Scarecrow is genuinely frightening here. His voice especially is what nightmares are afraid of and, finally, he has a point to his existence in this series.

By the way. Batman kills a giant alligator. Just flat out takes it out. I laughed.

This episode is a strong one for Tim Drake too. It shows that Batman needs him and that Tim is a lot smarter than he seems. A very, very well done episode, really well done, I love the animation and the.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


You Scratch My Back

YOU SCRACH MY BACK

In an effort to further distance himself from Batman, Nightwing tries to go it alone to stop a smuggling ring and gets unexpected help from the seductive Catwoman. 

Thoughts: Good lord I hate Catwoman’s new design, not that I liked the old one either. It feels more like an insect than a cat. She’s lanky and weird looking and I hate the eyes and petite look of it all.  I hate it almost as much as I hate Nightwing’s long hair that can look like a mullet in some shots. But it’s Nightwing/Grayson who’s just damn cool so he can do whatever he wants.

I will say I love the way they animate the fighting here, though. In fact, all the animation in the newer series is really top notch and moves incredibly well (the first did as well, but not as smoothly). Catwoman and Nightwing are graceful and the animation just smooth as hell.  I don’t know if I fully like the story here, I felt the twist was a little cheap, but it shows that Batman (and Nightwing) are one step ahead. One thing I’ve been noticing is the fights and violence and blood is taken up a notch in these New Adventures. A lot darker overall, even though I think it lacks a little bit of “character” visually.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Double Talk

 
DOUBLE TALK
 
 
Arnold Wesker is released from Arkham, completely free of his Scarface persona. But Scarface's old gang, needing their old boss back, begin working to drive Wesker back to his old ways. 


T
houghts: The Ventriloquist is such a fascinating and fun villain - Mainly because it’s not him, but it is him. I always look forward to an episode with him because the series does his character so well. This one is no different. The first thing I noticed is this animation in the opening dream sequence. It’s flat-out gorgeous as the occasional bouts of surrealism the show sometimes goes into brings out some of the most impressive animation and directing with it. Batman obviously cares about Wesker and it shows, and I like that little touch. Like his initial episode years earlier, Batman approaches the situation in a far different and delicate manner, knowing you really need to treat it with kids gloves.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Joker's Millions

JOKER'S MILLIONS

Crime boss Edward "The King" Barlow dies and in his will leaves his arch-rival, the Joker, a large fortune. The Joker immediately goes on a shopping spree, even searching for a replacement for Harley Quinn, but realizes too late that almost all of the money is fake. 

Thoughts: What a great Joker episode this one is. In fact, it could be my favorite one even though I know there are better written ones in this series. We see Joker at the top and at the bottom with all the places in between. I especially love Harley in this one too and the side characters of Penguin and Ivy are a nice touch, making it all feel well-rounded. I have to think this episode was cathartic for the writers. Honestly, if the Joker had everything he wanted, what would he do? This explores that, and it's pretty awesome. Of course this is assuming the thieving version of the Joker, not the anarchy for anarchy's sake...but I still love this episode. It's just incredibly fun, and to the twist is just perfect. But let's be honest, the quality of writing isn't as big in a Joker episode as much as it is the Joker himself, and he's ALWAYS great.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Growing Pains

GROWING PAINS

Robin fights to protect a young girl with amnesia who is being stalked by her "father", who turns out to be Clayface. Having created the girl from his own body to scout out the city, he now intends to reabsorb her.

Thoughts: What a strange episode this is, but in a good way. This is a direct sequel to our last Clayface episode, Mudslide (showing the first episode certainly should have come later in the New Adventures season) and it’s probably one of the sweetest and heartfelt episodes out there. It’s tragic.  Plain and simple. It really tugs at your heartstrings at times too. Robin feels he’s found someone he can truly help and it’s just stripped from him. There’s some interesting conflict between Batman and Robin here as well, showing that Batman is pretty protective of his sidekick and doesn’t quite have full control over him, but at the same time he understands him and knows he wants to do the right thing. It's certainly an important episode for Drake, he's not given a ton of focus but this quality over quantity approach really fleshes him out quickly. A very dark, emotional episode, but really one of the best I think.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Mean Seasons

MEAN SEASONS

Batman pursues an ex-model, who is now looking for revenge and calling herself "Calendar Girl". 

Thoughts: Switching up the gender doesn’t make Calendar “Insert sex here” any better. Not a strong episode. Calendar Girl is just dumb, her motives and firework sparklers equally as dumb, I don’t buy a bunch of models posing a threat and the wannabe Riddler notes feel tacked on and only there to help people find out who she is (why would she do that…and so easily?). I’m also calling bullshit on a sudden appearance by a robot T-rex. Come on…The only good thing I enjoyed here was the underlying theme of aging and Batman seeing that he’s getting up there in age.

Final Rating: 2 out of 5


The Demon Within

THE DEMON WITHIN

 

Batman and Robin assist occultist Jason Blood when Klarion the Witch-boy takes control of Blood's alter-ego, Etrigan the Demon. This episode was the final performance of actor Stephen Wolfe Smith (Klarion), who died shortly afterwards. 

Thoughts: Having Batman as a passive spectator in this story is annoying. He’s basically manipulated between a fight of two demons/wizards and is just tossed around like a toy. I also don’t like the whole demon/immortal/magic thin in the first place. Way overboard. I don’t know if there was anything I can say I loved on this story despite some great looking animation with buildings falling and magic cast left and right.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Over the Edge

OVER THE EDGE

During a fight with the Scarecrow, Batgirl is ambushed on a rooftop and falls to her death. Having watched his daughter's demise, Jim Gordon blames Batman for her fate and vows revenge, even recruiting Bane in the process. 

Thoughts: Talk about a dark and very daring episode, even if it ends up not the way you think. Yes, it’s all a dream thanks to Scarecrow’s gas, and we never find out what actually happened with him (not sure if an oversight, but I can assume they caught him), yet the writing and the story and the animation are just fantastic (really, this is just some amazing storytelling with one of the best five minutes or so of any episode), so I find it interesting that some fans aren't as big into it. I think it's an original unique episode that's a bit daring, even though it "technically" goes against how the Scarecrow's fear gas is supposed to work (Barbara is the one having these hallucinations, but they are more in line with Batman's fears...not hers). I especially love the open ended nature of this one with Barbara sitting down with her dad. Does the Commish know? Makes you wonder.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Torch Song

TORCH SONG

A lovelorn pyrotechnic engineer, Garfield Lynns, gets dumped by a big time singer named Cassidy. Lynns becomes the supervillain Firefly, bent on burning the woman who burned him. 

Thoughts: I don’t know if anyone cares about Firefly, he lacks a personality that’s for sure, but he damn sure kicks the shit out of Batman more than once (and Batgirl as well). This episode is intense. No, it’s not the best written or will wow you in regards to its characters and plot, but there’s a ton of tension from the get-go and has our heroes shown as pretty vulnerable. Even Batman has to re think his approach to how to tackle his enemy, including a slick new Batsuit. Not a memorable episode, but an entertaining one.

A nice little Animaniacs nod as well, BTW.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Love is a Croc

LOVE IS A CROC

Baby Doll becomes enamored of Killer Croc, and the pair forms a very unlikely yet very successful criminal duo. However, their partnership soon falls apart when Baby Doll learns that Croc is only using her to further his own criminal career. 

Thoughts: I don’t like Baby Doll and I can take or leave Croc. Croc is a little less dumb in this re-invention, but it’s not entirely an improvement. Now he’s just a brute, but I prefer this take than having him be an idiot. I suppose I can take or leave this episode too. It’s got some good action sequences, especially with Croc busting through the court into a showdown with Batman in the streets. (BTW, how did Baby Doll get there so fast?)

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


The Ultimate Thrill

THE ULTIMATE THRILL

Former stuntwoman and adrenaline junkie Roxanne Sutton becomes the rocket-riding thief Roxy Rocket, to chase danger and excitement. 

Thoughts: Roxy Rocket will annoy the hell out of you. Just obnoxious. I know she’s supposed to be risk-taking strong female enemy, but her one-liners and voice get on my nerves. More importantly is that this episode made me realize that even though I prefer the previous Penguin design, the “take” on his character in these New Adventures is spot on. He’s sophisticated and smart, loves him some riches and money and hides his villainous deeds behind the moniker of “legitimate business.” This episode has some spectacular action sequences, notably a case with Bats and Roxy, but I still can’t get myself to enjoy Roxy at all. Sorry Roxy fans (if there are any).

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Critters

CRITTERS 

A genetic engineer goes overboard in creating bigger livestock and loses all his money. A year later, an army of mutant farm animals terrorize Gotham City. 

 

Thoughts: A surprisingly fun episode, though far from a strong one. Yes, Farmer Brown and his Steroid fiend of a daughter are pretty pathetic, but there’s some good action set pieces, highlighted by Batman driving an armored truck into a rocket as it takes off. It’s all very straightforward, not much to write about actually, but overall not bad at all. I can understand why it's a polarizing one, though.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Cult of the Cat

CULT OF THE CAT

Batman tries to help Catwoman, who is being chased by a cat cult due to a statue she stole. 

Thoughts: It’s odd that I feel as though I’m dropped right into the middle of an epsidoe, as though there’s some Part One out there that should have come first. I don’t know who any of these bad guys are or why Selena wishes to have the statue. I found this one of the better Catwoman-Batman relationship episodes certainly despite some hiccups and rough start. I like how they made Catwoman a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to stealing stuff. She just can’t control herself, but she plays the line of right and wrong well in this one.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Animal Act

ANIMAL ACT

A series of thefts is being committed by circus animals in a town where Nightwing's old circus is performing. Is it an old friend that is training the animals to steal, or someone else? 

Thoughts: Well, here we have The Hatter, and the Hatter is far different than last time we saw him. Like I have a few others in these New Adventures, I like the slightly altered approach to his character. The mind control is still there, but he’s figured out a way to use animals, which makes sense and fits into what he’s capable of. The Grayson and Circus connection is a little contrived, but it’s minor. The episode has some subtle nods to Grayson’s past, it’s still something he carries with him, is a nice touch.

I don’t quite get Tim Drake in this episode, though. He kind of comes and goes and the ending makes it seem as though he had some sort of story or “point” to it all, but he didn’t.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Old Wounds

OLD WOUNDS

When on patrol on his own, Robin runs into Nightwing and he tells Robin the story of how he and Batman grew apart. The story reveals how Batgirl discovered Batman and Robin's true identities, and also explains some of the romantic flare between Barbara and Dick.

Thoughts: Because the show jumped ahead a couple of years, there’s a lot of holes and things that need to be addressed. This is an entire flashback episode and does a great job with it. It also shows that despite the fact he’s our hero (or any of them for that matter) they all have personal and serious issues. He’s cold, sometimes uncarring despite the good he does. Hey, Bats has been through a lot, and the rift between he and friends seems a common thread going back to Two Face and Robin’s Reckoning episodes. Even Nightwing himself notes that what they are doing isn’t “normal.” The scene in the apartment as he threatens a father in front of his son paints him a very dark light, but the following scene where he reveals to Barbara everything shows he cares about his friends…and the man struggles to balance it all. A very dramatic episode that explores our characters a little deeper, plus it has The Joker so what’s not to like?

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Legends of the Dark Knight

LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT

A group of Gotham City youths tell their stories about what they believe the Dark Knight to really be like. One story is reminiscent of the style of 1940s Batman artist Dick Sprang. Another is inspired by Frank Miller's 1986 limited series The Dark Knight Returns. 

Thoughts: A lot of people love this one. So much so it’s a lot of peoples’ favorite. I like it…but I don’t love it and it really has to do with how it finishes itself off. You have a couple of pretty epic takes on Batman, then you end with a rather boring fight with Firefly in a theater. I certainly like the change up in art style and voice to tell the tales and the animation, particularly during the apocalyptic/Frank Miller segment, is incredible. The alterations in animation and art style is just cool to see, and it's a bit funny to see them so non-Batman TAS, if only it gave TAS a better sendoff with its segment.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5


Girls' Night Out

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT

Livewire escapes during a prison transfer and runs amok in Gotham, joining forces with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. With the Dark Knight away, Batgirl teams up with Supergirl to face the deadly trio. 

Thoughts: Well this is definitely a strange one. Batgirl, Supergirl, Livewire. It’s a strange mash-up for a girl-focused episode. This episode makes you wonder exactly what the boundries are. There’s Batman, then there’s Batman in a world of superheros with powers and flying around. The original series strictly kept those out and I think it was better for it. It focused on Batman and Robin and Gotham. Super powers were never in the picture. As a result, this one episode honestly feels completely out of place, especially when you look at the previous and following episodes that play Batman’s world pretty straight and grounded (yes, including Lazarus Pits). This episode feels like it’s from a completely different series (maybe it was just cross-promotion for the Superman cartoon at the same time).

Yet, it IS a fun episode. Harley and Ivy are great together as always. I can’t say I like Livewire at all, just seems so cliché, and Supergirl/Batgirl make for a nice team up. A good episode overall, but not an overly strong or memorable one.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5


Chemistry

CHEMISTRY
 

Bruce Wayne, along with other wealthy denizens of Gotham, fall in love with their ideal mate, who all happen to have green eyes. Wayne decides to marry, and gives up being Batman forever. However, an old enemy's latest plot is being set into motion...

Thoughts: If it weren’t for the abrupt ending, I might have liked this episode a lot more. As it is…it’s just ok. I can't quite tell if Wayne willingly falls for the woman of his dreams, or if it's some sort of, I don't know, "spell." It's just that it all feels really rushed. For a 30 minute episode, I suppose that comes with the territory, but maybe something played out over a longer period, actually make Batman debate more fiercely about hanging it up (it's a subject I like explored, but not so quickly), then I think this would have ended up a far better episode.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Judgment Day

JUDGMENT DAY
 

A new, mysterious vigilante known as "The Judge" appears and targets Gotham's rogues gallery with ruthless fury.

Thoughts: If the episode Second Chance didn’t exist, I would consider this an absolute brilliant episode. As it is, it’s good but just can’t be great due to it re-hashing a similar plotline from earlier and you’ll pretty much figure it out quickly.

Now it's not EXACTLY like it, but it feels very much based on it and with the reveal essentially the same, you have it figured out easily and can't help but feel a letdown. I like the character of The Judge, though, and how he outwits a lot of people, including Batman. There's a great scene when he gets Bats trapped, Bats being a bit overzealous and getting ahead of himself when he should have known better.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Beware the Creeper

BEWARE THE CREEPER
 

Exposure to a weird mixture of chemicals, including the Joker's laughing gas, changes straitlaced newsman Jack Ryder into the crazed Creeper. He looks to kill the Joker, and develops a much unwanted crush on Harley.

Thoughts: The opening with Joker and the chemical plant = brilliant. Everything else = ungh. The Creeper is so goddamn annoying and it's one of those characters I can't quite get why people like so much. You really just want him to shut up and probably not even finish the episode. It's just more annoying than anything. The Joker opening is so damn good, though. I mean real good, so it saves a lot of this episode for me even if it goes into a bit too much once The Creeper starts taking over the story. Yes, it has some funny moments, notably an Adam West Batman mask, and that helps but gets old. Oh, and “Want some of my pie?” isn’t a euphemism at all.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Mad Love

MAD LOVE

Harley reflects on her first meeting with the Joker as she plots to eliminate her main competition in his attentions - Batman. 

Thoughts: Potentially the best Joker/Harley episode out there, and probably one of the top five best in the entire series. The story of Harley and Joker’s first meeting and the finale are just told perfectly. This is an episode you just have to watch to fully appreciate, me going on about the best scenes would take forever (but my favorite is Batman v. Joker on the train…classic stuff….and Joker explaining the point of a joke to Harley).

It's such a well written, structured and paced episode that the ONLY gripe I have is Batman falling for Harley's trick a little too easily. But the way he gets out of it, and the climax...it's worth it. It's pretty much a flawless episode and is one that any Batman fan, even if you've not seen the show, should certainly see.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5


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