Batman: The Animated Series has finally arrived on Blu-ray! To celebrate this milestone release, I am publishing Batman: The Animated Series: Revisited – a collection of posts which focus specifically on the show’s recent upgrade to high definition (HD).
The aim of these posts is to talk about the long awaited digital upgrade through a discussion of each episode (in order of their appearance on the Blu-ray box set). If you want to play catch-up, then check out Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series.
So far on Batman: The Animated Series: Revisited I’ve watched and talked about 26 episodes, which means the next episode on my list is Mad as a Hatter.
Let’s get started…
Mad as a Hatter
2mins – Jervis Tetch – aka the Mad Hatter – works for Wayne Industries, he has an obsessive personality and he has invented a device that manipulates the mind. These plot points bear a similarity to the Riddler and his story line in the movie, Batman Forever (1995) – although they are used in a different way.
5mins – Jervis is voiced by the late actor, Roddy McDowall. McDowall plays the role six times throughout the course of the series and one time in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series (Knight Time).
13mins 50secs – I love how Alice, a secretary at the office Jervis works at, takes a personal telephone call in front of Bruce Wayne – the owner of the company!
16mins – Tetch is another one of Gotham’s obsessives. What are they putting in the water in Gotham City?
17mins – Paul Dini is the writer of Mad as a Hatter. During the course of the series, Dini would pen most of the fan-favourite episodes.
20mins 15secs – “I’ve waited my whole lonely life for her!”
I really do like Mad as a Hatter. Once again, the show takes a gimmicky villain and elevates him into a menacing threat.
Not much to say about the HD on this episode. Everything looks crisp and clear, with only a few dust spots showing up now and again.
Dreams in Darkness
1min 30secs – Batman is trapped (as a patient) in Arkham Asylum.
2mins – This episode marks the first appearance of Arkham Asylum psychiatrist, Dr. Bartholomew. Bartholomew also appears in the episode Lock-up and makes a cameo appearance in Trial and Mad Love.
5mins – Batman is hallucinating as a result of the Scarecrow’s fear toxin. The first person he sees while under the influence of the toxin is the Joker.
7mins 20secs – Another hallucination, this time in the form of Robin.
8mins 30secs – So the crux of this episode is that Batman is infected by the Scarecrow’s fear toxin, he starts hallucinating and ends up locked away in Arkham.
9mins 30secs – Dr. Bartholomew has just mentioned that Jack Napier it the real name of the Joker. This is the only episode in the entire run of the series where the Joker is referred to as Jack Napier.
11mins – More hallucinations and this time a sequence involving Crime Alley. Once again the series makes reference to the death of the Waynes without being specific about the events.
13mins – This is a great episode, by the way.
15mins 50secs – Even more hallucinations, including the Joker (again), Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Robin and Alfred. Loren Lester and Efrem Zimbalist Jr provide dialogue for Robin and Alfred, respectively, but none of the villains speak. The Joker can be heard laughing, but it’s not a laugh provided by Joker voice actor, Mark Hamill.
A great episode! I really do like Scarecrow episodes. 🙂
If you hadn’t guessed from the image above, Eternal Youth is a Poison Ivy episode. It’s watchable, but it’s not as good as Ivy’s debut episode, Pretty Poison and it’s nowhere near as awesome as House and Garden – an episode I’ve yet to come to in this Blu-ray box set.
30seconds – Midway through the opening credits and the one thing I’ve yet to mention during the course of these blog posts is the way the HD makeover has helped smooth out the pans. Check out this comparison video of the opening credits which explains exactly what I mean. If you look at the way the screen pans up and down on the left-hand side of the screen you’ll see the difference when compared to the right. No juddering!
3mins – Even though I’m not a huge fan of this episode, I do love Poison Ivy.
4mins – This episode gives Alfred the opportunity to step into the spotlight. It’s rare that Alfred becomes the focus of an episode. Here he is even given a love interest called Maggie.
4mins 30secs – Of course, Maggie is never seen again after this episode. Alfred is such a player.
14mins – Alfred has spent a fair bit of this episode in the company of Poison Ivy. Sure, Ivy is in disguise but you’d think he would have realised who she is. Come on Alfred, we all know you go snooping on the Batcomputer when Batman is out on patrol.
15mins – Batman just used the Batglider. This is yet another one of his toys that pops up from time to time.
Not much to say about this episode. It is what it is.
Perchance to Dream
Disclaimer: According to voice actor, Kevin Conroy, Perchance to Dream is his favourite episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Disclaimer II: According to me, this is a bloody good episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
1min – (SPOILER) The twist in this episode is that Batman becomes trapped in a dream world created by the Mad Hatter. If you’re paying attention to the music played over the title card you can tell this is a Mad Hatter episode because of the theme that is being used.
4mins – So, Bruce Wayne has just woken up to discover there’s no such person as Robin; he’s dating Selina Kyle (who isn’t Catwoman); there’s no Batcave; and Thomas and Martha Wayne are alive. That was some sleep!
4mins 10secs – Thomas Wayne is voiced by Kevin Conroy. Conroy also voices Batman, Bruce Wayne and the dreamworld version of Batman in this episode. This is the reason why Conroy loves this episode – he got to play four parts!
8mins 50secs – Leslie Thompkins is making her second appearance in the series. Here she is delivering some exposition to explain what is going on – or at least explaining away what could be going on. Basically she’s convinced Bruce that the life he thought he had (as Batman) was all just an illusion and that this is the real world. Of course, it isn’t. But then, she’s not really Leslie Thompkins – she’s just a figment of Bruce’s imagination.
13mins – Bruce is rejecting this perfect life.
14mins – Bruce is heading for the cemetery. There’s no real indication why he’s drawn to the cemetery, but presumably it’s metaphorical – it’s a place to say goodbye to this life.
16mins 30secs – Bruce Wayne Vs Batman.
18mins – The dream Batman has just been unmasked, revealing the Mad Hatter as the villain of this episode and the architect of this dream world.
18mins 30secs – This isn’t the real Mad Hatter, just a figment of Bruce’s imagination. This is a rather handy way of getting around the fact that the Hatter and Bruce Wayne are interacting.
20mins 30secs – A bold ending. In order to escape the dream world Bruce has to jump from a clock tower. If he’s wrong about all this then he’s just committed suicide.
21mins 20secs – “I was willing to give you whatever life you wanted, just to keep you out of mine!”
Such a great episode. Not only is it entertaining, but it also offers a window into Bruce’s mind. Plus, Roddy McDowall = perfection as the Mad Hatter.
The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
And now onto an episode which left me feeling a little confused the first time I watched it – The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy, an episode which seems like a Riddler episode but doesn’t feature the Riddler at all.
Up until this point in the show’s run, the Riddler had not made an appearance and had not even been mentioned in Batman: The Animated Series. So imagine my surprise when I tuned into this story the first time around to see a character who could easily have been the Riddler… but who wasn’t.
The character in question is Josiah Wormwood – a one-time only Bat-villain who sets a series of riddles for Batman to solve. This is all part of a plot to obtain the Dark Knight’s cape and cowl.
Sounds a bit like a Riddler caper, right?
Yep – and what doesn’t help is the fact that the character looks like the Riddler!
I was confused when this episode aired in 1993 and to this day I’m still a little confused as to why Wormwood wasn’t switched out for the Riddler. Perhaps its because the story is based on an old issue of Detective Comics (The Cape and Cowl Death Trap!) which also didn’t feature the Riddler.
Ah, well, Riddler or no Riddler, let’s see how The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy all fairs in HD…
3mins – Yeah, it looks good. This is actually a really fun episode – with a twist!
6mins – Batman is threatening a character called the Baron. The Baron appears throughout the rest of the episode, but from here onward the Baron is actually Batman in disguise. It’s quite a clever twist because at this point there’s no indication that Batman has replaced the Baron.
10mins – When I was a kid, what I really liked about this episode were the riddles & traps that Wormwood devised to capture Batman. Such fun!
16mins – The writing here is really clever:
- Wormwood sets a series of riddles for Batman to decipher.
- Wormwood tells the Baron what the solutions are.
- As Batman is disguised as the Baron, Wormwood is giving him the solutions to the riddles without realising it.
- Batman lets Wormwood believe he has the upper hand throughout.
- Batman actually has the upper hand throughout.
17mins 40secs – And now here comes the big reveal. Wormwood has just realised he has been duped and Batman has been playing him for a fool this whole time. Boom! Take that, Wormwood!
A great story to finish on. It’s one of those tales that I always kind of forget about when naming really great episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, but the truth is, it is a really great episode!
OK, so I’ve watched 31 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series so far, which means I’ve got 78 to go!