Last week I mentioned that I would be taking on Batman: The Animated Series for reviewing purposes and here is the first blog to do. On average, I'm going to try and tackle the majority of the 85 episodes (if not all of them) over the summer with each blog taking on between four to six episodes (two parters counted as one review) and hopefully a new blog once a week too. So let's get started, shall we ...
Episodes 1 & 2: The Cat And The Claw
These reviews will be in order of transmission rather than production or the way they're slotted on the DVD. This opening two parter certainly didn't feel like an opening story with Batman (Kevin Conroy) already being an established force in Gotham but it was however an opening story for Catwoman (Adrienne Barbeau), who along with being a cat burglar was also something of an animal rights activist, which was a vital component of this story. With Catwoman not being quite the antagonist, it fell to European gangster Red Claw (Kate Mulgrew) to provide the villainy of the episode, including a scene where she gave the Dark Knight a lesson in gender politics. As an opening story, it's an utterly enjoyable piece from start to finish with some nice action scenes, flirtations between the Bat and the Cat, a great female antagonist and a wonderfully bittersweet last scene. 8/10
Episode 3: On Leather Wings
Originally the first episode to be made, this one was noteworthy for the introduction of Dr Kirk Langstrom and his more sinister/tragic alter ego, ManBat (Marc Singer) and it's a pretty solid story. The transformation from Kirk to ManBat was a great feat for the series and while I certainly enjoyed the scenes between ManBat and Batman, I do feel that we could've had a little more of them. Thankfully the character would be revisited later on in the series but for an opening story, it was a nice way of tackling one of the more ambiguous members of the Rogues Gallery. 7/10
Episode 4: Heart Of Ice
August would usually be the time for some continued hot weather but thanks to a certain arrival in Gotham, the city has been experiencing more colder conditions than usual. Mr Freeze (Michael Ansara), like ManBat is another one of those Rogue Gallery types who cannot be written off as a straight up villain. He's a sympathetic, tragic figure, turned into the cold hearted creature he's become due to a calculating boss's lack of sympathy and the ailing condition of his own wife Nora as well. I liked that this episode showed a rounded side to a wonderful character and that while Batman might have stopped Freeze from getting revenge on Ferris Boyle, the Caped Crusader also made sure that Boyle paid for his crimes as well. A truly stunning character piece. 9/10
Episodes 5 & 6: Feat Of Clay
I have to admit that despite the abilities that Clayface possessed, he wasn't initially one of my favourites from the Rogues Gallery but I had actually forgotten how enjoyable his opening story was with hot tempered actor, Matt Hagen (Ron Perlman) becoming a victim of his own obsession to stay young when Daggatt (a recurring menace throughout the series) and his goons caused his transformation into Clayface. This two parter was something to behold with Hagen embracing his new role and trying his damndest to enact revenge on the people that destroyed his life while coming up with the best death scene as well. It's one of those stories that genuinely surprised me with how enjoyable it turned out to be. 8/10
Next blog will tackle It's Never Too Late, Joker's Favour, Pretty Poison and Nothing To Fear.