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Author Topic: Batman: The Animated Series  (Read 16144 times)

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Offline Pak-Man

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2011, 09:17:35 AM »
It was the Joker's eyes that bugged me in the later seasons.



You give those eyes to talking puppies. Not crazed lunatics. :^)


Offline k1

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2011, 09:22:11 AM »
I've been meaning to rip the episodes from the Box Set so I can put them on my WDTV Live Hub.  I should do that at some point soon.


Offline RoninFox

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2011, 09:36:32 AM »
It was still one of my favorite shows after the change, just prefer the way it was before.  I kind of understand why they did the changes, they wanted to be able to present Batman and Superman in a block and even do a their "Worlds Finest" crossover movie/three parter episodes, and if they put Batman as designed next to Superman as designed it would have been grating to look at.  They needed a cohesive style.  Just a matter of personal taste.

At this point, talking about the show again, I'm tempted to steal anais's idea from her Star Trek thread and just watch the show from beginning to end, revisiting each episode and posting a review here.  True, she's watching shows for the first time, so it won't have the same kind of impact, but could still be fun.  I can keep it in this thread to keep the discussions going, and anyone else can join in with their own reviews.  Whats everyone else think?
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Offline daltysmilth

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2011, 09:48:18 AM »
I'd be up for it.  I have the first season on DVD, so I'd be able to keep up at least that far.
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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2011, 10:28:21 AM »
It was still one of my favorite shows after the change, just prefer the way it was before.  I kind of understand why they did the changes, they wanted to be able to present Batman and Superman in a block and even do a their "Worlds Finest" crossover movie/three parter episodes, and if they put Batman as designed next to Superman as designed it would have been grating to look at.  They needed a cohesive style.  Just a matter of personal taste.

At this point, talking about the show again, I'm tempted to steal anais's idea from her Star Trek thread and just watch the show from beginning to end, revisiting each episode and posting a review here.  True, she's watching shows for the first time, so it won't have the same kind of impact, but could still be fun.  I can keep it in this thread to keep the discussions going, and anyone else can join in with their own reviews.  Whats everyone else think?

I blieve there were also budget cuts so they needed to chenge the style to something that would take less time to animated.  I don't think the WB gave them as much money as Fox.


Offline RoninFox

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #35 on: August 19, 2011, 11:06:20 AM »
Episode 1:  On Leather Wings



You know what this show needs?  Marc Singer.

First a brief few words on the original opening, since we're starting out.  I love everything about the opening, the animation is gorgeous and a perfect representation of the best parts of the show in short form, and it really shows confidence that they aren't really opening credits.  There are no words in the opening other than signs on the blimps and some of the buildings, not even a title.  They trust the audience to see Batman standing on the building and know they're watching Batman.

Synopsis:  A robbery of a chemical factory leads to the injury of a guard at the hands of a "giant bat".  The police mobilize to take down Batman, while Batman himself starts to investigate, believing someone is setting him up.  While avoiding the police, Batman tracks down evidence of the culprit, tracking him to a lab at the Gotham Zoo and Dr. March (a man seemingly obsessed with bats), his daughter Francine, and Francine's husband Dr. Langstrom.  When going to confront March, Batman finds Dr. Langstrom who transforms in front of him to the ManBat.  After a long fight in the skies of Gotham, Batman subdues the ManBat and takes him back to the Batcave, extracting the chemicals from his body and delivering the human doctor back to Francine, claiming "it's over, for now."

As a kid I really was weirded out by this episode.  It featured a villain I had never seen before, and the whole Jekyl and Hyde-like monster story was the last thing I expected out of Batman.  Watching it now, I appreciate it a lot more.  I love the fact that, again, they trust the audience.  They didn't start their show with an origin story for Batman.  The first time Batman appears its in the Batcave in full costume.  The opening is gripping right away, showing the ManBat in fleeting glimpses and really showing off the style they'd created for Gotham.

Whenever I go back to watch this show I'm amazed at how dark it really is.  According to the commentary on this episode, they were warned they actually were approaching the legal limit for how dark a television show can be, something the producers didn't even know existed before then.  They also explained a lot of the dark backgrounds were made by painting on black paper, leaving the black a true black instead of layering dark colors on a white sheet.

Despite not being an origin story, it established a hell of a lot right away.  It introduced the character of Detective Bullock, and his drive to be the man who brings Batman to justice.  Through confrontation with Bullock, the episode established Commissioner Gordon as a strong character.  It even had a downright chilling bit of foreshadowing with Harvey Dent sitting to the side pre-transformation flipping his coin.

You can tell easily the animation was inspired heavily by the old Max Fleischer Superman cartoons in all the best ways.  The flying scenes with the ManBat, especially the opening shots and the climactic battle, as well as the glory reveal of the Batmobile on its way speeding toward Gotham in the distance are truly fantastic.

It's a little strange to hear Alfred in this episode, as it was before Efrem Zimbalist Jr. took over the role, and he was a lot more stern sounding and sarcastic.  Kevin Conroy's Bruce Wayne voice was a little unrefined as well, but from the start he was a spot on with the Batman voice.  

If there's one flaw I see in this episode, its a plothole left behind while leading the audience on a fakeout to the ManBat's identity.  When investigating the robbery scene Batman finds some unusual hairs and a tape recording the guard was making before being attacked, complete with the cries of the ManBat.  When he took these items to the Zoo under the guise of Bruce Wayne, he gave them to Dr. March hoping to find what creature they came from.  As soon as Dr. March is established, he seems the prime suspect.  He's immediately defensive when Bruce claims that he has a "bat problem".  March is shown as obsessive, Dr. Langstrom claiming he likes bats more than people.  Soon after, Dr March calls and reports that the hairs are common brown bat hairs, and the the sound on the tape is a combination of brown bats and starlings.  These were both proven to be lies.  That's what leads Batman to try and confront March, but in a twist, he finds Dr. Langstrom instead.  While Dr. March had ideas about bats being superior to humans, Langstrom claims that March is "just a theorist."  Langstrom was behind the transformation and the robberies the whole time.  There is never a good explanation then, as to why Dr. March would lie to Bruce Wayne about the source of the hairs or the sounds on the tape.

With that one quibble, this was an incredibly impressive pilot.  It still holds up, and it established a visual style worthy of living up to.

And for those counting, we're up to one Star Trek alum already, with Rene "Odo" Auberjonois playing Dr. March.  We also have, I believe, our only Beastmaster alum with Marc "Dar" Singer as Dr. Langstrom.

Edit:  Just found an interesting bit of trivia on tv.com about this episode I never would have caught.

Quote
Dr. March was named after Fredric March, the actor who portrayed Dr. Henry Jekyll in the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (on which this episode is loosely based).
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 06:22:51 AM by RoninFox »
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Offline daltysmilth

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2011, 12:19:55 PM »
One thing I have to say about this episode right off:  It is, in my mind, the best animation ever produced for American television.  You can talk all you want about Aeon Flux or Samurai Jack, or even Ren & Stimpy, but none of them hold a candle to the first few seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, and On Leather Wings especially.  The animation is feature film quality, and apart from being framed for a 4:3 screen, it has the scale of a feature film.  The aerial chase sequence between Batman and Man-Bat could stand up to the motorcycle chase from Akira, for instance.  (Which shouldn't be too surprising, as a lot of the animators from Akira would eventually work on Batman: TAS.) 

As far as the story, yeah there are a few plot holes.  I think we're meant to assume that Dr. March lied to Bruce Wayne because he was trying to protect Dr. Langstrom, but it's never directly stated. 

Looking at the casting for these shows now, I'm amazed at the caliber of actors they were able to get for some of the characters.  They could have easily gotten regular working stiff voice actors, but instead they cast the voices as though they were casting for a live action TV show. 

I like the fact that Kevin Conroy used two distinct voices for Bruce Wayne and Batman.  It makes sense that he'd want to disguise everything about himself, including his voice, when he puts on the costume.  (Notice I didn't say whether the batsuit or the three-piece suit is the costume.)

One thing I've wondered about this show, was Harvey Dent/Two-Face origninally supposed to be an african-american in this show?  His color is distinctly caucasian, and Richard Moll is white, but the way his features are drawn seems to look more african-american than caucasian.  And especially towards the beginning, the show was taking a lot of its cues from the Tim Burton movies, in which Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent.

Also, I can't say enough about the music.  Shirley Walker's scores are so evocative of the style Danny Elfman established in the first two movies, dark, gothic, filled with grandeur.  She and the other composers on the show even used Danny Elfman's Batman theme, not just for the opening and the end credits, but also in a few of the scores of the actual episodes, before switching over to exclusively using Shirley Walker's similar yet distinct Batman theme.  It's such good music, and yet it makes me sad to hear the music in the Nolan Batman movies.  If Hans Zimmer didn't want to use Danny Elfman's Batman theme, that's fine, but I think he could have at least used the same style of music as Elfman and Walker without it seeming out of place. 
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Offline sarcasm_made_Easy

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2011, 12:36:45 PM »
thats it im doing this too, amazon here i come.


Offline RoninFox

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #38 on: August 20, 2011, 06:36:07 AM »
One thing I have to say about this episode right off:  It is, in my mind, the best animation ever produced for American television.  You can talk all you want about Aeon Flux or Samurai Jack, or even Ren & Stimpy, but none of them hold a candle to the first few seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, and On Leather Wings especially.  The animation is feature film quality, and apart from being framed for a 4:3 screen, it has the scale of a feature film.  The aerial chase sequence between Batman and Man-Bat could stand up to the motorcycle chase from Akira, for instance.  (Which shouldn't be too surprising, as a lot of the animators from Akira would eventually work on Batman: TAS.) 
QFT.

As far as the story, yeah there are a few plot holes.  I think we're meant to assume that Dr. March lied to Bruce Wayne because he was trying to protect Dr. Langstrom, but it's never directly stated. 

I suppose it was simply a time issue.  One scene of Dr. March explaining would have saved this plothole, but the episode was already pretty tight.  Adding a scene would have lost us precious time setting the mood or cutting the aerial chase short, so I'd say we got the better trade with the episode as is.

One thing I've wondered about this show, was Harvey Dent/Two-Face origninally supposed to be an african-american in this show?  His color is distinctly caucasian, and Richard Moll is white, but the way his features are drawn seems to look more african-american than caucasian.  And especially towards the beginning, the show was taking a lot of its cues from the Tim Burton movies, in which Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent.

While the show did take a few things from Burton, like the Danny Elfman theme and the design of the Batmobile, I think it was clear from the start they weren't making anything in the same universe.  As far as I know, their Harvey Dent was always supposed to be Caucasian, as he was in the comics.  I can't remember the exact words, but I remember one of the episode commentaries saying that they fully acknowledge that without the success of the Burton films they would never have had the opportunity to make this series, but they always wanted to make their own show and not a spin-off.  That's actually one of the reasons they gave for starting with a pilot featuring ManBat.  He was a villain the audience wouldn't have any preconceived notions on, while if they started with a Joker episode the audience not used to their take on Batman yet would be asking, "Well, is he going to be more like Romero or Nicholson?"
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Offline RoninFox

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #39 on: August 20, 2011, 07:29:54 AM »
Episode 2:  Christmas with the Joker



Sure he's going to kill us, but at least there's no mention of Life Day.

Synopsis:  During a Christmas party at Arkham Asylum, The Joker escapes by way of a rocket disguised as a Christmas tree.  Even with the Joker on the loose, Batman and Robin find the city quiet while on patrol, and Robin convinces Batman to take the rest of the night off, relax, and watch It's a Wonderful Life.  Instead of the movie, they see the beginning of a pirate broadcast from the Joker, hosting his own wicked Christmas Special.  The Joker reveals he's taken three hostages, calling them his stolen family.  The family consists of Commissioner Gordon, Detective Bullock, and Summer Gleeson (A news reporter and anchor on Gotham tv).  Joker warns that Batman has until midnight to find where he's broadcasting from, or the hostages will all die, setting traps and giving clues to his location in turn.  The Dynamic Duo track Joker to the abandoned Laffco Toy Factory and fight their way though an onslaught of jury-rigged toys and henchmen.  Joker stands ready to confront Batman, holding a wrapped Christmas present and a pair of scissors, standing next to a large acid vat with the hostages dangling overhead suspended by a rope.  Batman is forced to go along and open the present or Joker threatens to cut the rope.  The present turns out to be a spring loaded cream pie, which Batman takes in the face without complaint.  Joker cuts the rope and Batman narrowly saves the hostages by catching them in midair while leaping over the vat.  Joker himself almost falls into the acid trying to escape as he trips on a roller skate left on a catwalk, Batman just barely catching him by the leg.  The episode ends with Bruce Wayne and Dick Greyson watching a tape of It's a Wonderful Life, and the Joker singing Christmas songs back in the asylum.

This...is nowhere near as good as episode one.  It's still fun to watch, but its kind of a glaring change of tone to go from On Leather Wings to this.  (Granted, this is not at all the order the shows were broadcast in.  According to the Batman Wiki I found this morning, this was the 38th episode aired).  Mark Hamil is funny right away as the Joker, but something seems missing in this episode.  He's evil, but not quite evil enough.  We're talking "Diet Coke of Evil" levels.  In trying to be funnier, it goes a little too far into wackiness.  Robin is largely a non-character in this episode, only being there to try and push Bruce to be more cheerful on the holidays and do a little of the less-exciting grunt work, like "you stay and take care of the hostages, I'll catch the Joker," kind of work. 

While On Leather Wings had a sense of psudo-realism, at least as much as can be expected of a story where a man turns into a half-bat creature that can fly, Christmas With the Joker is cartoony in a much more Looney Tunes style.  There's no way to take the Joker somehow constructing an escape rocket while in Arkham while disguising it as a Christmas tree seriously, but that wasn't the intention anyway.  The final chase had no tension at all, Batman didn't really do anything special to subdue the Joker, he just got lucky when Joker fell on a skate.  A lot of the climax defied physics, like Batman leaping high into the air, catching three people at once in mid flight (one of them an overweight detective), and landing in a perfect arc on the other side of the vat.  During the toy fight, Batman uses a baseball bat to destroy some attacking toy planes, leading to the Robin quip of "They don't call you BATman for nothing."  Yeah, that was pretty groan inducing. 

There are a few points where the animation shines through in interesting ways.  I loved watching Batman's shadow in this episode.  Several times, it didn't fall naturally, but instead twisted to resemble a bat in flight, even when he was just standing still.

The best part of this episode is the first obstacle Joker puts in the way of finding him on time.  He sends two henchmen to blow up a bridge, broadcasting it the whole time while talking to his own hand, which he has painted and dressed into a puppet.  Then he warns Batman that the 11:30 train is fast approaching, leading to a daring rescue.  Jumping from the Batmobile, Robin uncouples the passenger cars and hits the breaks while Batman climbs to the front to save the engineer and leap off just before the engine flies off the end of the tracks.

The second best part of the episode is actually hearing the Joker sing "Jingle Bells, Batman smells..." in the opening scene.

Final conclusion, it lacks the level of darkness I want from a Joker story, but still goofy fun.  Not an episode I'd likely seek out over any other, unless it was Christmas.
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anais.jude

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #40 on: August 20, 2011, 07:49:28 AM »
I was going to ask how you are are writing so much, but then I noticed there was a synopsis included.


But I would like to know how have the time to write so much! *pout*


Offline RoninFox

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #41 on: August 20, 2011, 07:54:25 AM »
I was going to ask how you are are writing so much, but then I noticed there was a synopsis included.


But I would like to know how have the time to write so much! *pout*

Part of it is insomnia.

The other part is the fact that rambling about Batman is practically my natural state of being.
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anais.jude

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #42 on: August 20, 2011, 07:56:41 AM »
I was going to ask how you are are writing so much, but then I noticed there was a synopsis included.


But I would like to know how have the time to write so much! *pout*

Part of it is insomnia.

The other part is the fact that rambling about Batman is practically my natural state of being.

Are you still not allowed overtime at work? Because I am sure another part is that I work at least 50 hours a week :( Hopefully I wil lhave wifi access to watchi netflix on my phone in Mexico. Because then I will have plenty of time! (I can't leave the hotel after 9)


Offline daltysmilth

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #43 on: August 20, 2011, 09:17:01 AM »
Yeah, X-Mas with the Joker is a definite change in tone from the first episode, but I always liked the animated series idea that the Joker isn't just a homicidal maniac, nor is he just a merry mischief maker, but something in between.  And I think the fact that he's willing to put a whole trainload of people in mortal danger just so he can shove a pie in Batman's face says a lot about his character.

Another note, Tim Curry was originally cast as the Joker in TAS, but after he'd recorded a couple of episodes, they decided to recast and of course ended up with the legendary Mark Hamill.  Not only did Hamill's Joker become one of the most iconic portrayals of the character, but it also led to Hamill having a second career as a voice-actor.  Still, I think it would be interesting to hear some of Tim Curry's recordings for the character.

Musical highlights:  there are a lot of great moments in the episode, like the already mentioned opening with Joker actually singing "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells..." and the cheesy music for Joker's Christmas Special, featuring syrupy renditions of traditional Christmas music and game-show-like arrangements of Shirley Walker's Joker theme.  (On the soundtrack from LaLaLand Records, one of the tracks from this episode is actually titled "More Game Show Music".)  But my favorite piece of music in the episode is during the fight scene in the toy factory, when it starts out with a traditional arrangement of "Dance Of The Sugarplum Fairy" from the Nutcracker, and then adds more brass as the action gets more intense.

And I don't understand why they put the episodes in the order they did on the animated sets.  I guess it's in production order rather than broadcast order?  I dunno.
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Offline Sideswipe

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Re: Batman: The Animated Series
« Reply #44 on: August 20, 2011, 09:23:13 AM »
I really can't imagine anyone else doing the Joker since Mark Hamil.  Did anyone see the Under the Red Hood movie?  Maybe it was just me, but it sounded to me like there were parts of John Dimaggio's perfromance that he was definitely channeling Hamil's Joker voice.

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