Batman: The Animated Series: Revisited is back today with more episodes and this time I’ve reached stories that take place under the banner name of The New Adventures of Batman. Here’s a quick explanation…
The Adventures of Batman & Robin (aka the second season of Batman: The Animated Series) concluded in 1995. At this point, the show was 85 episodes long and pretty much over.
The following year, Warner Bros. Animation released a new show, Superman: The Animated Series, set within the same continuity of Batman: The Animated Series/The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Superman: The Animated Series began to air on The WB, opposite reruns of Batman: The Animated Series to form an hour of animated adventures.
The hour-long programming block proved popular – so popular in fact that the network decided to order new episodes of Batman: The Animated Series to accompany the new episodes of Superman. The team behind the show obliged but decided if a third series was to go ahead, a few changes would need to be made to keep things fresh.
For this third season – now titled The New Batman Adventures – the animation was streamlined, new characters were introduced and the timeline was pushed forward a couple of years. Other than that it was pretty much business as usual and the show aired and continued to be a hit with viewers and fans alike.
Right, with that little explanation out of the way it’s now time to crack on with more episodes. I’ve switched discs in my Blu-ray player so it’s time to get a little festive.
Disclaimer: The New Batman Adventures is set a number of years after the events of The Adventures of Batman & Robin. As such, most characters have been given new/modified costumes to depict the passage of time. This series also sees Dick Grayson take on the guise of Nightwing and Tim Drake become the new Robin.
1min – Holiday Knights is a Christmas-themed tale of three parts: The first focusing on Harley & Ivy, the second is a short Clayface story; and the third a Joker-centric entry.
2mins – Veronica Vreeland has made the jump to The New Adventures of Batman. Yeah, she looks pretty much the same as she did in the earlier episodes.
5mins – This first segment of Holiday Knights sees Poison Ivy put Bruce Wayne under her control. It’s a fun tale that mostly revolves around a Harley/Ivy/Bruce shopping trip.
6mins 35secs – Wacko Toys just got an onscreen mention. Wacko Toys is the same company the Riddler worked for in Riddler’s Reform.
9mins – Into the second segment now, with Montoya and Bullock under cover at a department store where there is a spate of thefts. Clayface is the culprit.
11mins – Barbara Gordon/Batgirl appears in this sequence. Tara Strong (credited as Tara Charendoff) has now taken over the role of Batgirl, following turns from Melissa Gilbert (Batman: The Animated Series) and Mary Kay Bergman (Batman: Subzero).
13mins – For the vast majority of the characters, the new designs look really good. I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of Clayface’s makeover. It’s not bad, and not really much different, but I preferred him the way he was.
14mins – And now into the final section of this three-part story. It’s time for the Joker!
14mins 20secs – I really like the new-look Joker. Plus, at this point, Mark Hamill is giving us THE BEST Joker possible. From this series on he nails the character at every opportunity.
15mins – Tim Drake, aka the new Robin has just made his debut. Matthew Valencia provides voice-over duties.
15mins 30secs – This episode also marks the first appearance of the Joker’s new henchmen.
A fun start to this new-look series, but not the best episode. It takes a moment to adjust to the new animation, but over the course of the season it becomes apparent this new look is a good thing.
Creating a time-jump gives Batman: The Animated Series a bit more depth and realism. It’s also good way to freshen up the package.
In terms of the animation, from this point onward the animation becomes a lot more consistent. In HD it looks fab!
Sins of the Father
Disclaimer: The events of this episode take place before Holiday Knights. Chronologically, this episode is the first episode of The New Batman Adventures.
1min – Sins of the Father is a Tim Drake/Robin origin story.
2min – Ah, the blood-red sky looks so lovely.
5mins – Tim Drake’s father has double-crossed Two-Face.
5mins 30secs – Two-Face has had a bit of a makeover, but in essence he looks more or less the same, only streamlined.
8mins – A Robin suit is hanging up in the Batcave. This is a bit confusing as this is not the same suit that Dick Grayson wore, so whose suit is it? It could be argued that Grayson wore this suit at some point in the past, but that doesn’t quite tally with the events of Old Wounds – the episode which explains why the original Batman & Robin went their separate ways.
12mins – In past discussions about Batman: The Animated Series I’ve mentioned how important the music is to this show. I want to mention this again as the music is even more important with these episodes. You see, while the character designs might be different, the music remains the same for the characters. So, Two-Face’s theme remains intact, reminding the audience this is the same character. Audio continuity is key.
13mins 30secs – Tim’s dad has been killed… off screen.
20mins 25secs – Dick Grayson has popped up, dropping a hint of what’s to come – i.e. Nightwing.
An OK episode, which details the origin of the show’s 2nd Robin, but it’s not the strongest story. Both the original Robin and Batgirl had great origin stories, but this one feels a little underwhelming.
I get that Tim Drake is supposed to be a tough kid, who learned to live on the streets of Gotham, but I don’t quite buy into the idea that he would be good enough to be a Robin. Maybe I’m missing something.
Right, before I crack on, let me just talk a little about these episodes and how I originally came to view them.
As discussed in previous posts, in the UK the original run of Batman: The Animated Series and The Adventures of Batman & Robin were broadcast on ITV. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe ITV aired any episodes of The New Adventures of Batman, so for many UK fans the show pretty much ended with the episode Batgirl Returns.
Thanks to SFX magazine, Chip Kidd & Paul Dini’s Batman: Animated book and of course, the internet, I was aware that this series continued. Unfortunately, I had no way to watch it.
The show aired in 1997; at this point in time the internet was not quite what it is today, so I couldn’t just hop online and watch an episode. I could read the odd story synopsis but that was it.
Moving into the ’00s, I gave up hope of seeing the show, that was until SKY began airing Batman: The Animated Series on a daily basis, which included episodes of The New Batman Adventures. One of my friends had access to SKY, so I asked if he would record whatever he could and he agreed.
My friend managed to record around eight episodes of The New Batman Adventures, and while this was only a third of the series, it was better than nothing. I then watched and re-watched those episodes endlessly.
I had to wait until late 2005 when the Region 1 DVDs of Batman: The Animated Series were released to finally view the remaining episodes of The New Batman Adventures. I can’t explain the joy of finally watching the episodes I’d read about for years (including fan-favourite episode, Over the Edge.)
In total, it took me 13 years (1992-2005) before I got to watch every episode of Batman: The Animated Series, but boy was it worth the wait. From TV to DVD, I followed the series as best as I could and never gave up.
OK, interlude over – back to the episodes.
1mins 40secs – Mr. Freeze returns!
2mins – This is Mr. Freeze’s fourth appearance, following Heart of Ice, Deep Freeze and the movie, Batman: Subzero (1998).
4mins – Up until this point in Freeze’s story, he’s come across as quite an interesting, tragic figure. I’d say this episode is the weakest of all his appearances as it positions him more as a generic villain, but it does at least further his journey.
6mins – A little bit of backstory: Nora Fries has been cured (see Subzero) and has remarried.
10mins – There are quite a few dust specks popping up in this episode.
15mins 40secs – Spider-Freeze!
15mins 55secs – Freeze’s body has deteriorated and all that remains is his head. This becomes an important plot point in the Batman Beyond episode, Meltdown.
OK, one final episode for today…
2mins – In the redesign, The Ventriloquist has lost all his hair and put on a little weight. He looks considerably different to how looked previously.
3mins 30secs – The Ventriloquist has been let out of Arkham. He’s got a new apartment and a new job at Wayne Enterprises.
4mins – Lucius Fox!
5mins – Muggsy and Rhino, two members from Scarface’s old gang are back. They’ve barely changed in the redesign, presumably because the audience would struggle to recall who they are.
7mins 45secs – Whoa! How have I never noticed this Lois & Clark cameo before?!
10mins 25secs – The Ventriloquist is being haunted by Scarface – but is it real or is it all just in his head?
19mins – Scarface’s gang was responsible for the ‘haunting’.
20mins 30secs – After turning on Scarface, The Ventriloquist decides he wants to lead a normal life. Although this normal life is fleeting as he makes his next (albeit brief) appearance in the episode, Over the Edge.
It’s rare that I revisit Double Talk, but that’s not to say it isn’t a good episode, because it is! Double Talk might not be as strong as Read My Lips or Catwalk, but it has some creepy moments and an interesting, psychological ending.
That’s it for today. More tomorrow.