Yesterday on Batman: The Animated Series: Revisited I watched 14 episodes of Batman.
That was a heck of a lot of Batman: The Animated Series, which involved some good episodes (Robin’s Reckoning, Heart of Steel, The Laughing Fish) and some not-so-good episodes (Moon of the Wolf, Day of the Samurai, Terror in the Sky).
In addition to Batman: The Animated Series, because I’ve been talking a little bit about What’s Up Doc?, the Saturday morning programme which aired B:TAS in the UK, yesterday morning I also watched the very first episode of that show too. If you’ve not watched any of What’s Up Doc? since it aired in the early ’90s, do yourself a favour and go back and watch it on YouTube – it’s bizarre but also a lot of fun.
So, what will today bring?
Well, it’s back to Batman: The Animated Series, so let’s find out as I talk about the next 5 episodes.
Almost Got ‘Im
1min – Written by Paul Dini, directed by Eric Radomski, Almost Got ‘Im is SUCH A GOOD EPISODE that mixes comedy, action and a couple of unexpected twists.
2mins – The episode opens up with Joker, Two-Face, Penguin and Killer Croc playing poker.
2mins 40secs – Poison Ivy has just joined the game and has made reference to the fact that she and Harvey Dent used to date (as seen in Pretty Poison).
3mins – Following on from The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne, which included four villains, Almost Got ‘Im includes five at the poker table, with another couple waiting in the wings. To date, this is the most villain-filled episode of the series, but all that will change with the arrival of Trial, a little later in the show’s run.
3mins 30secs – The premise of this episode is that each villain recounts a tale in which they almost bumped Batman off. This is the A-Plot because there’s a little more to this story than first appears, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
3mins 40secs – “I’d say ladies first, but since we don’t have any, ha ha, we’ll start with you, Pam.”
9mins – Ivy and Two-Face have just recounted their ‘almost got him’ stories. Now it’s the turn of Killer Croc. Croc’s story is that he threw a rock at Batman. Cue an awkward silence from the other four villains, wondering if that’s all there is to the story.
9mins 20secs – “It was a big rock.”
9mins 30secs – The Penguin tells his story.
13mins 30secs – It’s Joker’s turn now and this is where the B-plot kicks in.
14mins – Harley Quinn is part of this story. Catwoman will also make an appearance in a couple of minutes.
17mins – At first appearance, Joker’s story seems to just be yet another almost got him tale, that is until the story is over and it is revealed that following his encounter with Batman, the Joker has Catwoman held captive. Now comes the big surprise…
19mins – Batman reveals that he has been sat at the poker table the whole time, disguised as Killer Croc! He’s also not alone. The Gotham City Police Department are in the room too and this has all been a sting to capture the villains, while uncovering the location of Catwoman at the same time. The stories were all inconsequential – except Joker’s story, which gave Batman the opportunity to uncover information about Catwoman’s location.
21mins 15secs – A nice little moment between Batman and Catwoman to end the episode. I’ll say it once more: Catwoman should have had a spin-off show.
Almost Got ‘Im is one of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series – hands down. There’s no argument here – it simply is.
Brilliantly written, with dialogue that allows the cast to relish playing their respective characters, Almost Got ‘Im is a standout piece of storytelling and in HD it looks fantastic.
Oh, and one final side note: Two-Face’s story includes the appearance of a giant penny, which he later claims is now in the possession of Batman. The giant penny can be seen in the episode Off Balance (see below).
Birds of a Feather
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m not a huge fan of the Penguin. That said, this is the best Penguin episode of the show’s entire run and it’s actually pretty good.
4mins 30secs – Socialite, Veronica Vreeland makes her first appearance in this episode. Vreeland appears in a handful of episodes throughout the course of the series and always while crossing paths with one of the show’s villains.
10mins – Veronica has become friends with the Penguin, but it’s all part of a game she is playing with one of her high society friends. The whole point of the episode is to show that Penguin is being duped by Veronica.
12mins – This episode is about class – those who think they have it and those who don’t. It’s a well-worn story, but one that serves the Penguin here and gives voice actor, Paul Williams some great lines.
14mins – Bruce Wayne shares a moment with the Penguin and for a split second, you can see that he is starting to think that maybe the Penguin has reformed. But it really is just a split second, as the Penguin is up to his old tricks again.
18mins – The Penguin’s Duckie-mobile makes its first appearance in this episode. The vehicle looks almost identical to the one seen in the movie, Batman Returns.
Birds of a Feather looks good on the Blu-ray boxset. It’s nothing great, but it’s watchable enough.
What is Reality?
Disclaimer: In the UK, What is Reality? was the first Riddler episode to be broadcast on TV. Chronologically, this is the second episode to feature the Riddler.
1mins – This is yet another episode of Batman: The Animated Series which I watched on loop when I was a kid. I loved all the riddles and puzzles involved in the story so rewatched this episode multiple times.
2mins 30secs – Robin/Dick Grayson appears in this story.
9mins 45secs – The Riddler has created a virtual reality world – well, this is a ’90s genre show after all. Many genre shows from the ’90s included stories about virtual reality because at the time it was deemed to be the future of technology.
10mins – I love the fact that Robin has to explain the details of VR to Commissioner Gordon. This is as much for Gordon as it is for the audience.
14mins – When Batman enters Riddler’s VR world everything is coloured red. It looks pretty cool in HD.
17mins 20secs – Batman riding Pegasus is one of the show’s most bizarre moments – but it works within the context of the episode.
The HD looks good. Sure, some of the original animations looks a bit off here and there, but I really like this episode so I’m going to let it slide.
I Am the Night
I have no idea when this episode was first broadcast on UK TV screens and this lack of knowledge is really bugging me. In Part 6 of Batman: The Animated Series: Revisited I listed the UK broadcast order for the first 54 episodes. I Am the Night did not feature on this list.
I presumed that I Am the Night was broadcast in 1995, when Scratchy & Co started airing episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, but the more I think about it, the more I’m unsure if that was really the case.
This episode features Barbara Gordon, in what would appear to be her pre-Batgirl days. However, the first episodes of Batman: The Animated Series to air on Scratchy & Co were Shadow of the Bat – Part 1 & 2 – the debut episodes for Batgirl!
While it wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility for episodes to air out of order (see What is Reality? above), I’m not convinced this happened. I don’t remember this episode airing on Scratchy & Co.
So, when did it air? Anyone want to help me with this?
4mins – Leslie Thompkins makes another appearance in this episode. Both Leslie and Batman are in Crime Alley, paying respects to the Waynes. This scene suggests I Am the Night takes place at least one year after the events of Appointment in Crime Alley.
7mins – I Am the Night is a great episode, which takes the show back to its gangster/noir roots, following a string of high concept episodes and sci-fi plots. The episode sees Batman questioning his purpose, wondering if he’s actually making a difference in Gotham or not.
9mins – Commissioner Gordon has been hurt while on duty. This situation demonstrates that even someone like Gordon is not invincible.
11mins – Barbara Gordon puts in another appearance. The next time Barbara appears it is in the Batgirl origin story, Shadow of the Bat – Part 1 & Part 2.
14mins – Dick Grayson also appears in this episode.
20mins – A showdown in Gordon’s hospital room.
20mins 30secs – Great bit of interaction between Gordon and Batman helps the Caped Crusader understand he’s on the right path.
Strong writing and great animation, which looks even better in HD. This is one for all the Bat-fans who like classic Batman tales.
I Am the Night is an important episode in Batman: The Animated Series mythology which is best watched at this point in the show’s run, roughly midway through. It’s an episode which reminds viewers what the series is all about and ensures that however fantastical the programme becomes, it can always return to its roots when needed.
Time for one last episode for today…
Disclaimer: Off Balance was the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series to air on the second season of What’s Up Doc?. For UK audiences, this was the first new episode of Batman: The Animated Series to air in months, following a summer of no new episodes.
3mins 15secs – When this episode first aired, there was an animation error around this point in the cartoon, which made it look like one character (an assassin) had jumped onto Batman’s back. The error was fixed in later broadcasts.
3mins 50secs – A very dark opening, with an informant seemingly bumped off and two assassins committing suicide.
4mins – The first appearance of Talia al Ghul.
4mins 40secs – With this being a show aimed at kids, Batman couldn’t say that the assassins killed themselves, so they merely “erased their own minds”.
5mins 15secs – Another brief appearance from Lucius Fox.
6mins 20secs – Off Balance marks the first and only appearance from the villain, Count Vertigo. Michael York provides the voiceover duties for the character.
7mins 30secs – The animation is so cool in this episode.
8mins 30secs – Alfred is cleaning the giant penny in the Batcave. This is the penny that was mentioned in Almost Got ‘Im.
10mins – When I first watched this episode I knew nothing of Talia al Ghul, so I didn’t know if she was friend or foe. I figured it was likely to be foe.
11mins – Talia is voiced by Supergirl actress, Helen Slater.
16mins – Vertigo’s reality bending abilities look pretty cool in animation. Plus the character looks great in this episode. High definition is very much Vertigo’s friend.
20mins 10secs – And now for a double-cross from Talia.
21mins – As the episode reaches its conclusion, Ras al Ghul makes his first appearance. Once again, when this episode aired I had no idea who Ras al Ghul was, or his significance in Bat-mythology. David Warner provides the voice of al Ghul, who will make his next appearance in The Demon’s Quest – Part 1 & Part 2.
A brilliant start and a tremendous end to today’s collection of episodes. I’ve now watched 50 episodes in this Blu-ray boxset, so I’ve got another 59 to go.