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Tales of the Dark Knight
November 3, 2011 5:35 PM   Subscribe

The 10 Best Episodes of 'Batman: The Animated Series'
posted by Artw (97 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not clear if he includes The New Batman Adventures to be a part of B:TAS. If he is, then where's Legends of the Dark Knight and Mad Love?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:43 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad it includes "The Forgotten", which for all the flaws he points out, is one of the most memorable episodes from my childhood. It did so many things right in terms of creating some actual tension and a compelling change from all the other episodes. It also has some pretty great music. I haven't watched Batman: Animated Series in awhile, so I'm a bit scared to go back.

I'd really like to find a good source of the HD transfers they did for satellite/cable TV, since near as I can tell, there's been no Bluray release. Someone posted a sat TV rip in 1080 of the opening. Once I saw that, I knew I'd want to rewatch a nice modern HD transfer (original aspect, of course).
posted by skynxnex at 5:45 PM on November 3, 2011


The AV Club has been running an interesting retrospective review series on the show.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:46 PM on November 3, 2011


Welp, there goes five hours of my weekend. Thanks for nothing, Artw.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:46 PM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I still gotta watch this thing one of these days!
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:49 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


skynxnex: I haven't watched Batman: Animated Series in awhile, so I'm a bit scared to go back.

I grabbed a few discs worth via zip.ca a few months ago.

It's still solid--one of the few pieces from my childhood that really is as awesome as I remember it being.

Sadly, amazon.ca no longer has any of the boxed sets. :/
posted by Decimask at 5:57 PM on November 3, 2011


No Baby Doll?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:02 PM on November 3, 2011


No Baby Doll, No If You're So Smart How Come You're Not Rich, No Harley's Day Out?

Laaaaaaame.
posted by The Whelk at 6:04 PM on November 3, 2011


I haven't watched Batman: Animated Series in awhile, so I'm a bit scared to go back.

I started rewatching these a couple weeks ago. I, too, saw it on its first run, and it definitely holds up.
posted by ignignokt at 6:08 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perchance to Dream needs more than just a name-drop. And what about Heart of Steel?

Seriously, Mefi Comics Podcast, people. I suspect this argument is a show at least.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:15 PM on November 3, 2011


No Harley and Ivy?
posted by Ryvar at 6:15 PM on November 3, 2011


BEWARE THE GREY GHOST
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:18 PM on November 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I could have sworn there was another recent top-10 made by the same people, which featured different episodes like Harley's Day Out, Baby Doll, the Grey Ghost, and Penguin's reformation.
posted by CancerMan at 6:27 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bought the first season a few months ago after reading another MetaFilter thread where everyone was raving about it. I never caught any episodes on TV.

Maybe I'll bust it out tonight.
posted by formless at 6:38 PM on November 3, 2011


CancerMan: Comics Alliance wrote the similarly-themed The 14 Best Title Cards From 'Batman: The Animated Series' which was posted on the blue in April
posted by John Shaft at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2011


I agree that it holds up. BTAS episodes are really the only videos I've ever watched on my iPhone. (Animation looks great on those devices.) I loved the 1960s Batman show as a kid, and I'm so glad this cartoon was around for my young-adult renewed interest phase. It's just wonderful television.
posted by cribcage at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2011


(At least, that's what this article reminded me of.)
posted by John Shaft at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2011


"Two-Face" above universally lauded "Heart of Ice?"

Yeah, I agree. "Heart of Ice" is excellent, but its central tragedy is less affecting than the fall of Harvey Dent.

Never did see the Ra's al-Ghul episode. Hm. TO NETFLIX! HO!
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:42 PM on November 3, 2011


Hm. TO NETFLIX! HO!

THAT IS THUNDERCATS NOT BATMAN GODDAMN IT GET YOUR CARTOON REFERENCES STRAIGHT.

[This thread is awesome!]
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:46 PM on November 3, 2011


See, and I was pissed that my download of Arkham Asylum is going to take half the night. Now I got plans!
posted by middleclasstool at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2011


Nah, that's just me being BOLD INTERNET NERD calling for ACTION. Like, "To the INTERNET! HO!" or "Let us away to the tavern, wherein platters of cheese fries await! HO!"

A Thundercats riff would have been like "BATMAN! BATMAN! BATMAN! HOOOOO!!!"

Just sayin'.

posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2011


Bah! Here's an answer: "any one with Clayface." The best Harley Quinn episodes are allowed. But c'mon, Clayface!
posted by furiousthought at 6:54 PM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just sayin'.

Ah. I concede the point. To lunch! HO!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:55 PM on November 3, 2011


I love Batman: The Animated Series to the point of almost embarrassing fandom. While any of the Ivy/Harley episodes deliver the most sheer unfettered joy, Heart of Ice was deeply moving on a whole other level. It took Mr. Freeze someplace so sympathetic and moving that even now whenever I see him in something my heart just breaks a little.
posted by troublewithwolves at 7:10 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been wanting to watch this again for a while. Is there anywhere that legally streams it?
posted by codacorolla at 7:14 PM on November 3, 2011


Most of the choices made are solid (I don't care about the ordering). But the real thing this list is reminding me of is how, despite the occasional failure of an episode... There are way more than ten brilliant episodes of this show, and awesomely, it really has held up very well over the years.

It's one of my favorite shows of all time. It manages to work on a more eleveated/arty level (more often than not) while still pushing all the buttons you need to to be a good kids TV show.

I haven't read all of them, but I found the perspective of the AV club reviewer interesting as well.
posted by sparkletone at 7:14 PM on November 3, 2011


I sometimes watched B:TAS back in the day. Mostly because it was on after Animaniacs and I didn't feel like turning off the TV, but I ended up liking it in its own right. And let me tell you, it holds up several orders of magnitude better than Animaniacs.

One of the show's greatest mysteries, though, is who the Kolus Cat is, and why he keeps getting head injuries. Does Batman have to get him down from trees on the weekend?
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:15 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


codacorolla - I can't find any source that meets your qualified statement. But if drop the l-word . . .

Agreed on this excellent perspective. Also I couldn't help myself from imaging what episode would come next (as if this writer were IN MY HEAD!) Was spot on except I put the episode with the invisible dad (how is it that you know what I mean?) at a bottom 7 or 8 slot and they did not.
posted by oblio_one at 7:17 PM on November 3, 2011


I love Batman: The Animated Series to the point of almost embarrassing fandom.

I'm comfortable crossing the line into embarrassing fandom for this.
posted by mikelieman at 7:18 PM on November 3, 2011


I'll just leave these here
posted by mikelieman at 7:21 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


And let me tell you, it holds up several orders of magnitude better than Animaniacs.

I keep hearing people say this, and I'm glad I haven't gone back and watched Animaniacs again. I adored it back then and can't bear the thought that it would be destroyed by a re-watch.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:23 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


another thing about this writer, they do an AMAZING job of speaking plainly to a Batman stories faults:

and as much as this really just boils down to a story that pits the world's greatest crimefighter against a fat guy...

On Mr. Freeze "The fact that they were able to do it with a blue man in a robot suit and a bubble head who gets defeated by chicken soup is mind-blowing"

While exhibiting unquestionable devotion to Batman and the show at the same time. Remarkable, I wish I were able to communicate half as well.
posted by oblio_one at 7:24 PM on November 3, 2011


Goddamn, that was some good television. The superman animated series that came out after it was pretty damn good too.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:30 PM on November 3, 2011


I used to run home from the bus stop after school so I could get home in time to catch this show. My brothers and I loved it. We especially loved The Forgotten, mainly because the music in that episode is especially choice (so I'm glad to see it on this list).

I also really love the episode Mudslide, where Clayface is losing his structural integrity. When he falls into the sea at the end, you don't know if he's gone or not, but I don't recall him ever appearing in another episode. I was very sad for that character at the time.
posted by King Bee at 7:41 PM on November 3, 2011


Seconding "Beware the Gray Ghost", the team-up at the end is magic and I believe it's Bruce Timm himself voicing the toy collector...

I'm also very fond of "Heart of Steel" and the Poison Ivy episode where she has a family--wow does that one pack a wallop. "Robin's Reckoning" is also quite good, I'd put it up there with "The Demon's Quest" as a two-parter that really holds together.

The Justice League series is also worth checking out--it starts out a bit slow when there is just the core cast of 7 and every episode is 2 or 3 parts, but the later seasons with the expanded cast really take off and Kevin Conroy's portrayal of Batman never stops being awesome.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:42 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need Batman to come save me from this guy who's WAILING ON MY NOSTALGIA BONE.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:43 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slight derail: Animaniacs ain't so bad. The "Good Idea/Bad Idea" shorts are still awesome.

Good idea: Playing catch with your grandfather.
Bad idea: Playing catch with your grandfather.
posted by King Bee at 7:53 PM on November 3, 2011


oh man how could I forget Grey Ghost and Heart Of Steel, that show had a great batting average AND TOTALLY holds up as an adult (note if you're trying to get your SO into it, don't start with the first episode, it is kind of bad).
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 PM on November 3, 2011


Nthing that the series holds up. We watched the first season earlier this year and I think we'll be going back for season two after we finish our current season of Clone Wars. B:TAS is pretty much the definitive version of Batman for me. I'm not sorry to give up the current run of Batman comics but I'll be in the "embarrassing fandom" category for this series forever.
posted by immlass at 8:03 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I saw the post and thought, "... by Chris Sims, obviously." Yup!
posted by painquale at 8:11 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the best things about Batman:TAS is the fabulous scoring by the super badass screen composer, the late Shirley Walker.

She scored and orchestrated (and conducted a fair whack of) nearly all the music on Batman:TAS, New Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and Mask of the Phantasm. She was a longtime collaborator with Danny Elfman, and even conducted for the Burton Batman film.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:40 PM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah if we're adding in the other stuff? No Mad Love? What?
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 PM on November 3, 2011


(part of the reason the show holds up is, remember, it was planned to be a prime-time show aimed at teenagers and young adults)

Some of the stuff they had to do to get around censors (cause it was still animation and shown on re-runs on children's tv) was hilarious. Baby Doll has that grown adult female bodyguard, but Batman Can't Hit Girls, so what do you do?

Apparently shoving them through walls is not "hitting" so you do that.
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


His Silicon Soul is missing, uri smash.
posted by uri at 9:00 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mad as a Hatter managed to humanize and give a compelling, tragic backstory to a villain whose primary theme is an Alice in Wonderland character.

Seriously.
posted by Ndwright at 9:04 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, weird.* My friend and I were just watching B:TAS tonight. We watched "The Demon's Quest," "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" "Perchance to Dream," "The Man Who Killed Batman," and "Harley and Ivy." All top-notch episodes, although I would only put "Harvey and Ivy" and maybe "The Man Who Killed Batman" in my personal Top Ten.

This is a pretty odd list. It's got some good stuff, but "Over the Edge" isn't as good as the similar "Perchance to Dream," "Showdown" is kind of goofy, and "The Forgotten" is just stupid (sorry, skynxnex). As others have pointed out, "Grey Ghost" is conspicuously absent as is "Mad Love." Still, anything that reminds people how awesome the show was can't be all bad.

*Actually, it's not really that weird, since there's at least a 40-50% chance that I will be watching Batman at some point in the day.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:08 PM on November 3, 2011


Smash away, uri. That's easily my favorite episode, closely followed by the Mr. Freeze and Clayface stories. I've been wondering what to put on my phone once I finish with my current series. I believe I may have found it. Thanks for the post, artw.

Seriously, I saw the post was on Batman TAS, and I knew without looking who'd posted it. Good work as always.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:27 PM on November 3, 2011


Er, that's "Harley and Ivy," not "Harvey and Ivy," which is presumably an unproduced spinoff about Two-Face and Ivy getting married and moving to the suburbs, where they have to deal with Two-Face's demanding new boss The Clock King and their annoying next-door neighbor Killer Croc.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:42 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Animaniacs was always pretty uneven, with a lot of flat segments and a few pretty inspired bits. The thing about it is that it was the second or third step out of the Hanna-Barbera darkness for kids' weekday afternoon funny-cartoons (after Tiny Toons and I dunno if you want to throw Darkwing Duck or Danger Mouse in there).
posted by furiousthought at 10:02 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Animaniacs' musical numbers hold as zany entertainment, the rest? Ehhhh, it's rarely just *bad* it's not as funny as it was when you're 8.

YOu want WB stuff that still holds up? Freakazoid.

Or you want Late Night Cartoons born ten years too early? Duckman. It would be tame, narrative normal on Adult Swim now

You want your early stealth bombers on kid's TV? Eek The Cat. The Tick.

(We will not speak of Invader Zim, cause everyone still loves that.)
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


We had a thread on B:TAS last year sometime, and I watched the whole thing for the first time then. It is outstanding, even if you're an adult watching it without nostalgia. As I commented at the time, it was eerie how similar it was to the Arkham Asylum game, and if you liked either one, but haven't experienced the other, you need to correct this sorry state of affairs.

I can't say the same about Arkham City, though. There's kind of a sweet goofiness weaved throughout B:TAS and Arkham Asylum that's completely missing in Arkham City. City is all hard edges and nastiness, and it's not nearly as much fun, plot-wise, as the other offerings. I'd call it much inferior to Asylum, which is one of the best games in the last ten years.
posted by Malor at 10:35 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Animaniacs musical segments still hold up. Everything... not so much.
The entire run of Batman, Superman and even (and I know I might get some flack for this) Batman Beyond hold a special place in my memory. These all came out while I was in college, so there was no running home from school to catch them (that didn't exist in the 80s.. it was Saturday morning cartoons for me).

And yes, hats off to Shirley Walker.
posted by linux at 10:52 PM on November 3, 2011


Eek the Cat was about in the Animaniacs part of the comedy spectrum. The Tick was The Tick, way out there, about as stealthy as Ren & Stimpy. But both of those shows were on Saturday mornings which was less hidebound of a time slot, though there was plenty of terrible stuff.
posted by furiousthought at 11:26 PM on November 3, 2011


Eek the Cat was about in the Animaniacs part of the comedy spectrum.

O hell no. Eek! was pure awesome. Animaniacs go down the hole.
posted by Hoopo at 12:37 AM on November 4, 2011


BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is the only incarnation of Batman that I have ever really liked - as a general rule, Batman leaves me cold, since I find the idea of a billionaire running around fighting crime by punching the mentally ill to be a bit distasteful; since that hysterical fascist Frank Miller got hold of it, Batman almost always seems to play into a kind of frightened, authoritarian mindset that wants a big booted daddy to save us from the bad men.

But BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES isn't like that and that's why I love it. It wasn't an action movie or a vigilante revenge drama - it was a swashbuckler. And as such, it was really, really stylish - stylish down to its bones. I loved the art deco design, the stark backgrounds and the use of light and shadow - it was clearly heavily influenced by German Expressionism and many of its best moments have a kind of expressionist quality (Harvey Dent in the psychiatrist's office; the opening credits).

This was BATMAN as a kind of retro-romance, full of big-hearted heroes and old-fashioned style. And that just works better for Batman, for me: I know I'm rare in thinking this way, but I think Batman is just not an idea that can sustain the weight of much moral seriousness - the end result is a sort of ridiculously po-faced and somehow rather mean-spirited camp. But the animated series managed to produce something that felt principled and light and had some absolutely terrific action sequences.

And Mark Hamill's voice turning cartwheels as the Joker! Absolutely brilliant - Heath Ledger created *a* joker, a very good joker, but somehow for me Hammill will always be *the* joker.
posted by lucien_reeve at 12:59 AM on November 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


BTAS's theme tune is still the cannonical Batman theme tune for me.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:49 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah Hamill's Joker is really the only Joker voice that works for me. Also the BTAS original version of the Joker is the design I like best. The Joker needs to be crazy thin and pointy, that's what offsets him from Bats. Also the Batman/Joker dynamic is literally the best thing about the Batman media empire. Joker exists because Batman does, the purest platonic relationship imaginable.
posted by Peztopiary at 2:22 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I really agree: the batman/joker relationship has somehow emerged as a very primal battle between order and chaos. In Batman, chaos is generally presented as bad, but I've always had a bit of sympathy for the Joker - there's nothing inherently wrong with chaos, after all.
posted by lucien_reeve at 2:35 AM on November 4, 2011


Now I'll mention The Batman and watch everyone's genitalia retract into their bodies.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:59 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


For some reason, my dear Robocop, your comment sparked an odd sideways thought:

Frank Miller writes Batman the way the Joker would write Batman. Or possibly the way that the Joker thinks Batman actually is.

I mean, can't you just hear Mark Hammill's joker reading that immortal line: "What are you, dense? Are you retarded or something? I'm the Goddamn Batman!"
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:24 AM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


If I recall, B:TAS was what they called the show on FOX. When it moved to the WB in reruns it became The Adventures of Batman & Robin. After the Superman Animated Series came out, and the surprising success of the Batman: Subzero home video*, they made Batman: The New Adventures, which featured a subtle shift in character design (which would become the template for the Justice Leagiue & JLU) in addition to introducing the Tim Drake Robin in the show while Dick Grayson made guest appearances as Nightwing. B:TNA also featured the terrifying cyborg version of Mr. Freeze (post Sub Zero). The episode where he is reintroduced still stands in my mind as featuring one of the most horrifying events shown on television when Batgirl discovers just what has been done to Freeze.

* Rumor has it that Warner Brothers was going to release the movie in theaters in conjunction with Batman Forever but were afraid of the embarrassing publicity that would result when the animated "kids" movie was deemed better than the live action one it was meant to support.

posted by KingEdRa at 3:31 AM on November 4, 2011


I dunno, lucien. I think Joker totally understands Batman way more than Frank Miller does. Miller certainly really, really understands aspects of Batman, but not the whole package. That's why his best Batman work is limited to, well, limited aspects of Batman - the start and end of his career. In Year One, Miller's lack of understanding is hidden by Batman's still unformed understanding of his role in the world. In Dark Knight Returns, Miller's understanding of only one aspect of Batman works because the Batman he's writing about is the distilled avatar of that aspect - he's chopped away everything in Batman's life that was extraneous to that aspect.

Joker, especially the One Bad Day embracing Joker, gets Bats on a much broader level than Miller. He understands that Batman is a construction formed from the rubble of One Bad Day, a way for a victim to put themselves back together. Joker's response to the OBD was to think 'Why put myself back together? The world will just tear it down again.' By interacting with Batman, Joker realizes, though, that that tact is in a way a construction as well, that he's actually built himself up again into a persona the same way Bats apparently did. This binds Joker to Batman. Joker focuses so much attention on tearing down Batman because if he breaks that construct, then that means his own construct will too be broken (or better yet, retroactively never built).

Now, if you want to argue that the Batman from The Batman, the latter day Bat-toon where Mr.Freeze was a diamond thief and the Ventriloquist was sometimes a 14 foot tall robot (which brings to mind that the Ventriloquist is sadly missing from Sims' list. "Read My Lips" was pretty damn good, especially the end reveal), then I'm totally with you. Although I doubt Joker would have cast himself as a motley fool.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:38 AM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


And yes, I did just type a few paragraphs comparing a fictional character's knowledge of a fictional character to a real person's.

Livin the dream, yo.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:41 AM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Gosh, Robocop, that's an excellent analysis of Miller.

As far as the Joker goes, I think it depends on which Joker. It sounds like you're thinking of the Joker from The Killing Joke (which, given that it is by Alan Moore, is unsurprisingly the most compassionate and psychologically interesting version of the character).

I was thinking more of the Mark Hamill version - who, if I recall correctly, flies into murderous rages when people don't get his jokes and thinks of Batman as a stiff, humourless bore. He refuses to die on stage and insists that audience dies in his stead. To me, Miller's dialogue sounds like Hamill's joker losing his patience with an insufficiently appreciative audience member, possibly as a prelude to murdering them with a spring-loaded boxing glove or something.
posted by lucien_reeve at 4:56 AM on November 4, 2011


On a related note, I would watch the hell out of a Harley and Ivy movie. Someone needs to make that happen.
posted by giraffe at 6:37 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Animaniacs:
Tiny Toons was quite overrated when it came out. Animaniacs still has some of that lameness, but when it's firing on all cylinders it's excellent. Same goes for Pinky and the Brain, except at its best it's even better. Both shows tend to improve somewhat later in their runs, as they learn which bits work and which don't.

For PatB, exhibit A: almost any episode that starts out from anyplace other than Acme Labs. Exhibit B: How many of the episodes joke around with the "traditional" PatB ending ("Gee Brain what are we going to do tonight?"/"Same thing we do every night Pinky, TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.") Newsflash for writers: it's only funny to change the established ending if you've taken the trouble to establish the ending beforehand. Far more episodes joke around with the ending than feature it.

Freakazoid, however, holds up very well. If anything it's better now than when it first came out, because the internet has basically grown into F!'s mode of humor. If only it had lasted more than two seasons, or been allowed to do more with the excellent B features from the first season -- I still think Lord Bravery and The Huntsman could hold down shows of their own. (The one episode Jonny Quest parody can be recognized as the spiritual forefather of The Venture Brothers.)
posted by JHarris at 7:42 AM on November 4, 2011


Freakazoid, however, holds up very well. If anything it's better now than when it first came out, because the internet has basically grown into F!'s mode of humor.

We watched Freakazoid again a while back (earlier this year or late last year) and it is still hilarious. I'm bummed that the Animaniacs don't hold up as well; I have the Animaniacs album and when one of the songs rolls up on my shuffle, it always makes me smile. The sketches may not have aged well but the songs are classic.
posted by immlass at 7:46 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


We watched Freakazoid again a while back ... and it is still hilarious.

"I'm going to need more rope!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:47 AM on November 4, 2011


Now I'll mention The Batman and watch everyone's genitalia retract into their bodies.

I've tried watching that a couple of times, and it just doesn't work for me - the character design is all ugly, characterisations are all off, and there seems to be a self conscious effort to make it edgey and give everybody attitude. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

They're going to be replacing the excellent Batman: The Brave and The Bold with a new "darker" series - I imagine it will be much the same.
posted by Artw at 7:52 AM on November 4, 2011


What, actually address the topic? Okay.

nthing everyone's appreciation for Hamill's Joker. (Who would have thought his best role would be as an amazing Batman voice actor, and not as that other guy, you know, the one from those movies. Space Fights, called something like that.) Everything Joker says is golden.

I'll say this much for Miller. He gave us Batman: Year One, which is my vote for the best Batman story of all. The character fights supervillains, sure, but the thing that gets me is that it doesn't need supervillains to work. My favorite stories tend to be those where Batman fights ordinary criminals, because that's the thing, even the strongest, smartest person in the world, if a street thug gets in one lucky shot against him, he's dead. Batman stories that remember this fact tend to be more realistic and grounded than those where he fights the Murdering Clown, the Leafy Forest Nymph or the Robot Man With The Freeze Gun, and although those stories are great too in a mythic way, myths are the purview of Superman. Batman is an ordinary guy who has elevated himself to mythic status, and so ordinary people can still work as effective foils for him.

But yes, Batman: Year One. It turns out there is a recent animated adaptation of it, and it follows the print comic almost slavishly. I can't recommend it enough.
posted by JHarris at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2011


But yes, Batman: Year One. It turns out there is a recent animated adaptation of it, and it follows the print comic almost slavishly. I can't recommend it enough.

I can't recommend avoiding the animated adaptation enough. It slavishly follows Miller's comic, yes. But Miller's dialogue is not meant to be spoken aloud. The cartoon is simply grimly ridiculous.
posted by mightygodking at 8:11 AM on November 4, 2011


Now I'll mention The Batman and watch everyone's genitalia retract into their bodies.

I will take the brave stance of saying that I like The Batman, in some ways more than TAS.

The way that fans have fixated on certain elements of TAS (e.g. the voice acting of Kevin Conroy & Mark Hamill) to the point where they object strenuously to any other interpretation aggravates me, insofar as I allow myself to get aggravated by discussions of comics and related media.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:01 AM on November 4, 2011


I can't recommend avoiding the animated adaptation enough. It slavishly follows Miller's comic, yes. But Miller's dialogue is not meant to be spoken aloud. The cartoon is simply grimly ridiculous.

Hm, this is interesting, I hadn't thought of it like that. It has been a while since I read the comic, maybe that explains the disconnect in our perceptions.
posted by JHarris at 9:14 AM on November 4, 2011


The way that fans have fixated on certain elements of TAS

TAS is a great series, but it's a series that included "I've got Batman in my Basement"

"The Batman" found it's legs after a couple of seasons. I didn't like their characterization of the Joker (why u no wear shoes Joker?) or demoting Mr. Freeze back down to common street thug but with ice. Their version of Batgirl always struck me as absurdly young. I guess Robin was crazy young too, but he's always been portrayed as adopted son so that's less jarring.

They had a fresh-ish take on the Batman / Superman relationship, with Superman playing the reluctant lone-wolf and Batman being the surprising team-player. And I appreciate that they tried for a different style from the DCAU - it allowed them to break continuity and try some things out.

Yeah, it's not as strong as TAS - but not much is.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold however is a delicious action and irony sandwich with super-sauce.
posted by device55 at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2011


I suspect I'm the only one who loves Superman:The Animated Series equally.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


A thing Batman: Year One has in common with TAS is that, as grim as it is, Batman is not bitter. Frustrated, maybe, but he's trying new stuff that he's not good at (gets whomped by a common burglar wielding a TV, even), and there's an understated excitement about new techniques and gadgets. Even his harsh self-assessments regarding incidents have an implicit hopefulness about the future. Seeing Batman excited about something once in a while makes him that much more robust and three-dimensional.

TAS's and Mazucchelli's more rounded style (as compared to Miller and even, say, Neil Adams) kinda bring this vibe out as well.
posted by ignignokt at 10:21 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked Superman just fine, but Justice League (Unlimited) more. The Cadmus Arc, especially the finale of Season 1 of Unlimited with Flash running around the world as a wind-up to a punch multiple times is still one of my favorite storylines I've ever seen on TV.

I also love Batman Brave and the Bold. It's happy, forward looking, but still super dark at times (The Death of the Waynes, for example, was moved up to Christmas Day. Why? Because baby Bruce rejected a Nutcracker gift that had been in his Dad's family for years, wanting instead a Zorro figure. So they took him to the movies instead.). The version of Aquaman presented there is now my ideal version - swashbuckling bravo adventurer (plus that sitcom opening? Yes.).

The Batman, however? Yech. You can almost feel the design committee and network notes Poochie-fying the characters oozing off the screen. GUITAR WAIL.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:31 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I call this the one where I express my love for the Batman Brave and the Bold version of Aquaman too!
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


(For a counter example of how NOT to make Aquaman cool ,see the nu52 DC comic, where they pretty much have him shout "LOOK HOW COOL I AM! I DON'T SUCK! LOVE ME!" every other panel)
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on November 4, 2011


Seriously, nu52 Aquaman is always one panel away from casually mentioning that he totally has a girlfriend you guys, she's just from Canada and that's why you haven't met her.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:59 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He totally has a girlfriend? Didn't he tell you? She is from UNDER the SEA!
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on November 4, 2011


Have no fear, Artw, it was the Superman Animated Series that made me go back and rewatch B:TAS in the first place. Man, the writing on that show was top notch!
posted by KingEdRa at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2011


Dan Turpin forever!
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


No Baby Doll, No If You're So Smart How Come You're Not Rich, No Harley's Day Out?...

Like most of us who grew up with this show, I can quickly skim over a list of episodes and easily find the top 12 shows I'd put in my personal top 10 list. Sims has earned enough of an international reputation as a Batmanologist that I'm willing to hear out his somewhat idiosyncratic choices.

Artw, it's safe to go back. The show has a timeless look, and especially in its best episodes it holds up well.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:25 PM on November 4, 2011


Dan Turpin forever!

I still choke up when I watch the end of this scene.
posted by KingEdRa at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Earth's Greatest Hero.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2011


This show is still as good as it was years ago.

The new game is also stellar.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2011


BTW, I found this clip while looking for the Dan Turpin clip. This may be single greatest Batman moment EVER.
posted by KingEdRa at 3:05 PM on November 4, 2011


Thinking back on this, its damn shame they left off P.O.V.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:45 PM on November 4, 2011


The Superman show was great too, yes. My favorite was the Mytzlplk episode, which could have been handled so badly but turned out great.
posted by JHarris at 8:54 AM on November 5, 2011


(Also, Mytzie had the perfect voice.)
posted by JHarris at 8:54 AM on November 5, 2011


A 1966 Magazine Uncovers 'The Whisper Campaign Against Batman & Robin'
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I MAY BE ON MY SECOND BOTTLE OF CHIMAY, BUT THE BATMAN-OF-ZUR-EN-ARRH EPIDSODE OF BRAVE AND THE BOLD IS KINDA BLOWING MY MIND. Original animated series voice actors Kevin Conroy, Clancey Brown, and Dana Delaney guest.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:56 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, they ported that to TV?
posted by middleclasstool at 5:35 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many is the time that Brave and the Bold has made me say "Holy shit, they're doing THAT?"
posted by Artw at 6:12 PM on November 6, 2011


Best thing Brave and the Bold has done so far is put out a bunch of boardbooks for toddlers. My 15 month old will now sit with one of his Batman books and flips through it, laughing.

Get'm young, DC. Get'm young.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:35 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The comic is pretty awesome also.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2011


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