I am vengeance! I am the night! I am Batman!
Everyone has their favorite television show; they can be a great place of escapism and can bring hoards of people together. I have fallen in love with many great shows throughout my life; Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Wire but for me one show trumps them all. Batman: The Animated Series, created in 1992 by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski who at the time were working on Tiny Toones for FOX, Warner Bros. Animation decided it was time to venture into an animated Batman series due to the success of Tim Burton’s Batman movie. They pegged these two to shoot a short pilot episode, which ultimately ended up becoming the opening credits for the show. From the get go this show was praised for its quality of animation, which to this day is still considered to be top notch. The darker tones and overall thematic complexity of the show, which again dealt with some mature situations and subjects for being a kid’s show. It had a very film noir look to it, bullets fly (but they never hit anyone, terrible aim those bad guys!) the villains are out for blood, and in certain episodes a lot is at stake. I know people may think, this is just a cartoon, how can that be? For being a kids cartoon, it certainly has an adult feel to it and it’s one of the main reasons I fell in love with it from the very start. All of that makes the show feel timeless, and again the show was praised for its modernization of its titled character. For me, the thing I love most about this show, aside from the storytelling has to be the cast. The voice acting is some of the best to ever be in animation, and as the casting director Andrea Romano put it, they wanted to cast voices with character. Not just people doing cartoon voices. Kevin Conroy (Bruce Wayne/Batman) and Mark Hamill (The Joker) for me will always be those two iconic characters, and have been providing their voices in animation and video games for almost 30 years now! The show works so well, because in the end it wasn’t made with a younger audience in mind and I think that’s the main reason why I think the show still holds up so well today. Considered to be one of the greatest cartoons ever produced, actually only The Simpsons is held in higher regard. They produced 109 episodes, all unique and special in their own way. This show is responsible for some of the best Batman stories ever told, which is quite the feat, considering you are working with almost 80 years of Batman mythos and history. Batman: The Animated Series is actually responsible for the creation of Harley Quinn, and we can thank one of the shows writers Paul Dini for that. My only gripe with this show was how they changed the animation up after season 3. It never resonated with me, and when I stop and think about it, it honestly makes me angry. I understand why they did it, they wanted to have a more kid friendly show, but it almost ruins the experience. That’s the only problem I’ve ever had with Batman The Animated Series. I have a yearly tradition where I sit back and watch every episode, and I thought this time, I would rank every single one. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do, all the two part episodes will be considered as one, so in total I’ll be ranking 102! This show has a special place in my heart and I consider it to be the greatest representation of The Dark Knight outside of the comic books. So sit back, relax and enjoy this, because I know I’m going to enjoy writing it. I’m going to break it down into 5 parts! Here are the numbers 102-83! The grades don’t reflect the rankings; they are just there so you can get a better sense of the episodes
102- Prophecy of Doom. Season 1, Episode 19 – Director: Frank Paur, Story: Dennis Marks
This guy was the villain of the episode need I say more? Starting off the list was the very forgetful episode, in which we see Batman take down a cult. The Brotherhood is run by the mystic Nostromos who has the ability to “predict the future.” Turns out he’s just a con artist who rigs near fatal accidents so he can warm up to Gotham’s elite and later take their money. One of the few episodes I will actually skip in my yearly run through, it’s just that bad. Grade F
“Do not apologize. She will believe. They all will believe….after the great fall” – Nostromos
101 – The Underdwellers. Season 1, Episode 6 – Director: Frank Paur, Story: Tom Ruegger
Batman wrestles a few alligators in this one, and that’s the only highlight or memorable moment. Premise on the other hand, it deals with some wackjob taking kids underground and essentially make them his servants. They go up to the streets of Gotham at night and rob its citizens, when one of them gets taken away by Batman, he brings him home to Alfred to care for the boy. Early on in the series, the show was still trying to get its feet wet. I just can’t take an episode seriously when the episodes villain was the Sewer King… Grade F
“You play chicken long enough, you fry” – Batman
100 – Critters. Season 4 , Episode 14. Director: Dan Riba, Story: Steve Gerber
So when a farmer goes crazy, I guess it’s up to Batman to stop him. Farmer Brown is his name, and after his failed attempt at creating bigger livestock, he becomes the laughing stock of Gotham, which leads to him losing all of his money. A year later, Gotham City is terrorized by giant animals and bugs. Farmer Brown plans to fire a rocket with all these “critters” into Gotham and watch it fall apart. All I can really do is shake my head at this episode, like this isn’t Batman, not at all. Just one of the many horrible episodes from season 4. Batman vs. a couple of hillbillies, come on Warner Bros. you can do better. Grade F
“That’s a lot of bull” – Tim Drake
99 – Mean Seasons: Season 4, Episode 13. Director: Hiroyuki Aoyama, Story: Rich Fogel
Honestly, it’s like they weren’t even trying for parts of season 4. Look out folks, Calender Girl is on the loose!! Some has been actress is kidnapping the people responsible for her apparent “botched” surgeries. Turning the dirty 30, once the brightest star of the film industry, now just a thing of the past. These botched surgeries aren’t true, she’s still the same beautiful woman she’s always been, but she cannot see that anymore. She just sees her flaws. Another painful episode to sit all the way through, because there’s just nothing exciting happening what’s so ever. Like one of her henchmen is a knock off Fabio, give me a break…. Grade F
“Beware the Ides of March!” – Calender Girl
98 -Cat Scratch Fever: Season 2. Episode 8. Director: Boyd Kirkland, Story: Sean Catharine Derek
Stray cats, this episode is about stray cats…. I might as well just end this review right now. Roland Dagget is planning on using the stray cats of Gotham and infecting them with a new viral plague. He will be the only person with the means to cure this new disease, for a quick and easy money grab. So When Isis goes missing (not that Isis, Catwoman’s cat) she investigates the matter and stumbles upon his scheme. When she becomes infected herself, it’s up to her beau Batman to save the day. Grade F
“Tonight on the news they called you a hero. You keep this up and they’ll start making Catwoman dolls” – Maven
97 – Beware The Creeper: Season 4, Episode 23. Director: Dan Riba, Story: Rich Fogel.
A knockoff Joker, in an episode with the Joker. News reporter Jack Ryder, falls into the same vat of chemicals that made the Joker who he is. But Jack was also covered in Joker’s laughing gas, makes for a weird combination. We get The Creeper out of it, all I can say is wow. Pretty much just a horny Joker, I’m not even kidding. They leave the episode open-ended and that’s the worst part, because as an audience we never get to see The Creeper again. So that makes it even worse, just another terrible villain season 4 managed to pump out. Grade D
“They call me, Yellow-Skinned Wacky Man!” – The Creeper
96 -Birds of A Feather. Season 2, Episode 19. Director: Frank Paur, Story: Chuck Menville
I feel like people might enjoy this episode much more than I do. Penguin gets out of the slammer and still thinks he’s high society. Until no one comes to pick him up or throw him an extravagant party for his return. Veronica Vreeland is also feeling the heat with her recent struggles to throw a great party. So she whips up the idea to invite the Peguin to her next bash. It works to perfection, actually too good, because the bird starts to fall for Ms. Vreeland. It’s not until he overhears her telling someone she’s just using him, that everything goes to complete crap. The Peguin is usually involved in great episodes, but this is by far the worst. Just rich snobs being rich snobs. Grade D+
“I guess what they say is true: society is to blame. High society” – The Penguin.
95 – Showdown. Season 3, Episode 22. Director: Kevin Altieri, Story: Kevin Altieri.
Again another episode that I think would be higher on other people’s lists. It involves Jonah Hex, and this episode just never clicked with me. I’ve never liked it, maybe it’s because I’m salty about this being the last episode we get to see Ra’s Al Ghul and he is completely WASTED! One of my favourite villains from the whole show, and this was his swan song, honestly it’s somewhat heart breaking when you think about it. He tells this story to Batman about Jonah Hex and how his son, who is part of the story as well is still alive today. He was also exposed to the Lazarus Pits and is very old. So when Batman finds him at a retirement home and they chase them to the nearby airport, Batman actually lets him walk free. Shows that deep down Batman actually has some feelings. Fun fact about his episode though, Robin straight up dick punches a guy, the one and only punch of its kind in the show! Grade D
“Come now detective, I still have a few good years left. We will cross swords another day” – Ra’s Al Ghul
94 – Love Is A Croc. Season 4, Episode 9. Director: Butch Lukic, Story: Steve Gerber.
Okay, quick rant before I breifly talk about this episode. How bad does Croc look in the new animation style? My god, it’s painful, he looks so bad and they even changed his voice and the new guy just sucks. He was so good in the first three seasons and they completely ruined him and made him be involved in this putrid episode. Baby Doll is back (yay – that’s sarcasm) she feels for Croc for being an outsider, as she’s always felt that way. So they team up and become a common law couple and live in the sewers and the whole thing is just a disaster and it turns out chicks dig guys who look like crocodiles, who knew. Just the weirdest pairing of two rogues from Batman’s famous gallery that I can remember and truthfully it just didn’t work out. Croc straight up beats Baby Doll also, which I found to be a little disturbing. Grade F
“Ordinarily, I don’t approve of spanking but in her case…” – Batgirl
93 – The Demon Within. Season 4, Episode 18. Director: Atsuko Tanaka, Story: Rusti Bjornhoel
Without question one of the weirdest most out of place episodes. When you compare it to all other episodes, it just feels so out of place, so far from the realm of what the original feel of the show was. Also they have the creepiest villain, Klarion the Witch Boy, who possesses Jason Blood’s alter ego Etrigan the Demon. I know that was a mouthful to take in. I don’t even know what I’m talking about when it comes to this episode. It’s weird and certainly not the BTAS I grew to love. Grade D
“Whoa! So all of this is what I think it is, right? Magic? Sorcery?” – Tim Drake.
92 – The Lion and The Unicorn. Season 3, Episode 21. Director: Boyd Kirkland, Story: Diane Duane
A call back to British spy films – this episode focuses on Alfred. When he gets a mysterious phone call from his “cousin” Alfred drops everything at Wayne Manor and heads across the pond to London. I really try to like this episode but I can never really get into it. The one thing, I do enjoy though, is how they dive into Alfred’s past. Even Dick doesn’t know about how much of a badass Alfred used to be back in the day working as a British government spy. His cousin, who turns out to be his old partner and Alfred have the secret launch codes for a nuclear mission silo. They showcase his skills throughout the episode, but it’s biggest downfall has to be having Red Claw. She’s a terrible villain and we never really get to understand why she’s a terrorist or why she does the things she does. Her voice is also incredibly annoying. Grade D-
“There’s only one London Master Bruce” – Alfred
91 – Moon of The Wolf. Season 2, Episode 15. Director: Dick Sebast, Story: Len Wein
So this episode is hilariously bad, but I don’t hate it as strongly now as the first few times I watched it. It kind of grows on you to be honest, but that doesn’t excuse it from being laughable. Batman is suppose to be the worlds greatest detective, yet he thinks this werewolf is just a mugger in a mask. I don’t like when the writing dumbs down our Batman and makes it appear that he’s not so smart. Anthony Romulus was a star athlete, but wanted to be the very best. So he’s offered a chance of a lifetime, to experiment with a new drug provided by Dr. Milo. Turns out that there’s some timber wolf estrogen in the steroids, so it ultimately turns him into this wolf man. Just a classic filler episode, with little to no story, and just making Batman seem weak and stupid at times. Bruce Tinm once said that it was a “Tuesday” episode. Whatever that means. Grade D
“Do me a favour, Shaggy!” – Batman
90 – Tyger, Tyger. Season 2, Episode 14. Director: Frank Paur, Story: Michael Reaves
I don’t know what the producers of this show were thinking when it comes to Catwomans story arc. She’s such an incredible character, yet she’s apart of some of the most bizarre and quite frankly some of the worst episodes. Like she gets turned into a cat this episode… that’s right. Dr. Dorian has other pet projects, a giant ape like man, and Tygrus. Another giant cat, Tygrus serves as another love interest for Selina Kyle in this episode, and it makes the whole thing even stranger. She has such a complex relationship with our hero, and that’s kind of explored, but she’s just always part of some half-assed story. We just never get that great Batman/Catwoman story, like again SHE GETS TURNED INTO AN ACTUAL CAT. Grade D+
“Tyger, Tyger, burning bright. In the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye. Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” – Batman
89 – Chemisty. Season 4, Episode 22. Director: Butch Lukic, Story: Stan Berkowitz
Another fine example of the writers making our Caped Crusader look kind of stupid. Bruce magically falls for a women and decides pretty easily that it’s time to hang up the cape and cowl for good. Really Batman? Just like that, regardless if she is the one, something seems off and Batman really doesn’t take notice, until it’s almost too late. Susan is her name, well that’s the name Poison Ivy gives her, see she’s one of her newest creations. Where she makes the perfect match for the wealthy of Gotham and poor Bruce can do nothing to stop the affection he has for dear old Susan. I just could never believe Bruce Wayne would fall that hard for someone, even if it’s out of his control somehow. He’s Batman, his mind control is like no other, and the fact that they just make him seem pretty weak and stupid in this episode bothers me a bit. Grade D +
“Everything’s changed for me in the past few weeks. The pain of my parents deaths…it’s still there, but it seems smaller” – Bruce Wayne
88 – The Cult of The Cat. Season 4, Episode 15. Director: Butch Lukic, Story: Stan Berkowitz
Another episode involving cats….I get it, she’s Catwoman and all but come on. Some original ideas would be nice. Here we find Selina stealing a rare cat statue from a cult, to only find out she has a lot in common with these people. Like a lot of episodes in the final season, we see Batman square off against larger than life animals, this time around it’s a saber-toothed cat. For this being the last time we ever get to see her in the animated series, it was just overall a lacklustre episode to say the least. In the end we realize that no matter how much Selina loves Batman, her true loves lies with her cats and well stolen jewellery. As we see her living in Paris, with those two things I just mentioned. Grade D+
“You can’t get rid of them. They are like old boyfriends. Or warts.” – Catwoman.
87 – Cold Comfort. Season 4, Episode 3. Director: Dan Riba, Story: Hilary J. Bader
Remember when Paul Dini came up with the idea that Mr. Freeze shouldn’t be a joke anymore. That they created one of the best Batman stories ever told with “Heart of Ice” which we will get too later. Mr. Freeze is one of the more sympathetic characters in the animated series, he’s lost all emotion, and you feel for the guy after he loses his wife to a rare disease (Well she’s frozen, but you knew that already!). That being said, this character probably gets the biggest change in the animation revamp and I HATE IT. He was literally perfect in the few episodes he appeared in with the old animation style, and now he just looks stupid. On top of that, he’s just a head, just a human head now, with a robot body, are you kidding me? They ruined his character completely, and the only saving grace is that they didn’t change his voice actor (Michael Ansara) who does such a terrific job at portraying this heart broken and completely loss man. This episode deals with Freeze being pissed off after his now cured wife has moved on with her life and she has remarried, so he’s going around Gotham destroying a bunch of things. Move on buddy and find another gal, I guess that’s hard to do though, when you are just a head I guess. He’s even got two stupid lady sidekicks and the whole thing makes me mad, so I’m going to stop writing now. Grade D
“You don’t have to do this. Wayne Enterprises helped save your wife’s life, and we can help you” – Bruce Wayne
86 -Animal Act. Season 4, Episode 16. Director: Curt Geda, Story: Hilary J. Bader
Man I don’t know who Mad Hatter pissed off, but wow, just wow. Mad Hatter is a terrific villain, and is feature in some of the best episodes this show has to offer. Why on Earth is this his last appearance? Why did they make him take control of circus animals as his final insane plot? So Robin’s old circus is back in town, and just like that, crazy robberies involving animals is going on in Gotham. This is straight up one of the more childish episodes we ever see. Not a single dark tone, or adult vibe to it, and that was the big concern for the revamp. I hate to throw people under the bus, but Hilary J. Bader is responsible for writing some of the worst and more immature episodes ever. For having Dick Grayson re-visit the place where he lost everything, you would think this episode would pack a little bit more of an emotional punch, No! Talk about a missed opportunity, and for a life long Batman fan, thats something us fans want to see. Grade D-
“You sure it’s locked this time? We’ve got enough yahoos running around this city without having to deal with Yogi and Boo-Boo too.” – Harvey Bullock
85 – Double Talk. Season 4, Episode 4. Director: Curt Geda, Story: Robert Goodman
The good old Ventriloquist, another great villain ruined by the revamp. Yes, he’s a little strange, but that’s the best part about him. I don’t mind that its a puppet, and to be honest it’s kind of scary that a man can get to be that insane. So Arnold Wesker is out of jail and got a sweet hook up by Bruce Wayne himself to start working at Wayne Enterprises. He’s “cured” of his aliment of being control by his other half Scarface. Well little does he know that’s not the case, and he plans a little robbery at his newly acquired workplace. Just not a great episode, they made Arnold look like a low budget grown up Charlie Brown. They even made Scarface look worse and he’s a puppet, just so not cool Warner Bros. animation. Grade D
“He’s not coming back! He’s gone!” – Arnold Wesker
84 – The Worry Men. Season 3, Episode 9. Director: Frank Paur, Story: Paul Dini
Veronica Vreeland, one of Gotham’s rich girls heads overseas for a vacation and comes back with some little dolls. These dolls are suppose to take away all of your worries. When she was in Central America, these dolls according to legend were put under your pillow at night, they would take away your worries for you. Little did she know, each doll had a tiny microchip placed inside by the Mad Hatter, and he was making the wealthy give him all of their money. Sneaky guy that Mad Hatter, I’ll give him props for the genius scheme, but the episode just kind of falls flat, and I want to like this episode every time I watch it, I just can’t AND I DON’T KNOW WHY!!!! Grade C-
“As the great Lewis Carrol himself once said, ‘One, two, one, two, through and through. And then the rope went snicker-snack. He left it dead and with its head, he went galloping back!” – Dr. Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter
83 – Baby Doll. Season 3, Episode 20. Director: Dan Riba, Story: Paul Dini
I need to say this first. I don’t hate this episode, any episode written by Paul Dini isn’t bad. I understand the meaning behind it and why some people think this episode is freaking genius and really good. I feel that way about it too. The emotional punch and baggage that come along with this episode is pretty haunting. It’s different and unique and I totally understand that part. For me, it always boils down to the fact, that I just can’t ever picture Batman running around Gotham chasing a little girl. Yes I know, she’s actually 30 and she’s born with a rare disease that makes her not age or grow. But there’s something about Batman, the freaking Dark Knight chasing this little girl and I just laugh, because that just doesn’t happen, or maybe that’s just me? Baby Doll a once bright star, had herself a hit TV show, until well someone stole the spotlight from her, and when that happened, Baby Doll got super upset. She tried other methods of acting, but nothing worked, so her career ended pretty quickly. 10 years later she’s out for revenge, and starts kidnapping all her ex cast-mates, and well essentially wants to kill them all. I’ll admit the last few minutes of this episode are spectacular but that can’t justify putting it higher on the list. Baby Doll just never clicked with me as a villain. Grade C+
“Remember that time when Poison Ivy nearly smothered us in those vines?” – Robin
Well there you have it, the first 20 episodes are in the books! That took a lot longer than I expected, so hopefully the next part will be ready in the next week! Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know how you feel about my rankings!