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Batman: The Animated Series set new standards in animation, and certainly was by far the best superhero 'cartoon' there had ever been (as nostalgic as I am for Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends). Not only were the scripts and art design of amazingly high standard, they managed to get ridiculous levels of talent to do voice work on the show, and even the musical score is of a high standard. What perhaps amazes me the most is how the makers of the show managed to keep the magic that makes Batman such a great character, and yet strip most of the violence out to make it suitable viewing for younger children. No camp needed here!
The show was so influential that DC Comics published a Batman book in the style of the show, and even brought characters from the show into the comics (such as Harley Quinn). Make no mistake, this is as much a series for adults as for kids, yet neither will feel it is for anyone but them. Kevin Conroy voices the perfect Batman, and showrunners Paul Dini and Bruce Timm deserve all the plaudits that came their way. The show also benefits by having actual comic book writers write some of the shows which, considering how close comic books and animation is, should be a no-brainer all the time.
This collection, Batman :The Animated Series Volume 2, collects together 28 episodes from 1993, across 4 discs, with a few extras thrown in. All the old favorites can be found here, the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, as well as the first appearances (in this show) of the Riddler, Ra's Al Ghul and Talia. There is some great stuff in here.
Eternal Youth (a fun Poison Ivy story)
Perchance To Dream (The Mad Hatter on form)
The Cape And Cowl Conspiracy (Batman and death traps, oh yes!)
Robin's Reckoning Part One (the hunt for the killer of Robins parents)
Robin's Reckoning Part Two (Robin faces his toughest test)
The Laughing Fish (The Joker's back in quite a dark episode, voiced by Mark Hamill)
Night Of The Ninja (someone from Bruce's past returns..)
BONUS FEATURE: 'Robin Rising' - A look at Robin's 'reimagining' for the show
COMMENTARY: "Robin's Reckoning" by Bruce Timm (Producer) and Eric Radomski (Producer)
A good disc of episodes, my favorite here is probably the 2-part Robin story, executed so well.
Cat Scratch Fever (Guess who, Catwoman's back)
The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne (Dr Hugo Strange appears, familiar to Arkham City fans)
Heart Of Steel Part One (you always need a 'bad robot' story)
Heart Of Steel Part Two
If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? (debut of The Riddler, voiced by John Glover)
Joker's Wild (for once, The Joker is the victim, Mark Hammill voices again)
Tyger, Tyger (more Catwoman!)
BONUS FEATURE: 'Gotham's Guardians' - a look at Batman's fine supporting cast
COMMENTARY: "Heart of Steel" by Bruce Timm (Producer), Eric Radomski (Producer), Kevin Altieri (Director)
Another solid disc, my favorite was the first appearance of Riddler tale, fun stuff!
Moon Of The Wolf (a lightweight werewolf tale)
Day Of The Samurai (Batman in Japan. Ninjas!)
Terror In The Sky (Man-Bat)
Almost Got 'im (Joker, Penguin, Two-Face.Poison Ivy, Killer Croc all here in a great episode)
Birds Of A Feather (the Penguin)
What Is Reality? (The Riddler is back)
I Am The Night (Commissioner Gordon dies...nearly)
BONUS FEATURES: 'Voices Of The Knight' - A look at the fine voice actors who make the show.
COMMENTARY: "Almost Got 'im" by Bruce Timm (Producer), Eric Radomski (Producer), and Paul Dini (Producer)
Two particularly excellent episodes here, the fun 'Almost Got Im' where the villains sit and trade tales of how they just narrowly missed beating Batman, and the really mature and emotional 'I Am The Night' in which Bruce Wayne nearly retires after Jim Gordon nearly dies. Fine stuff.
Off Balance (First appearance of Ra's Al Ghul, voiced by David Warner)
The Man Who Killed Batman (cameos by villains aplenty)
Paging The Crime Doctor
Zatanna (The JLA member guest stars)
The Mechanic (The Penguin's back)
Harley & Ivy (Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team up, look out Batman and Joker!)
COMMENTARY: "Harley and Ivy" by Bruce Timm (Producer), Eric Radomski (Producer), and Boyd Kirkland (Producer)
My favourite on here is 'The Man who killed Batman' when the villains of Gotham mistakenly believe a small time hood has killed Batman, and go after him! very funny episode.
This is a fine collection, and costing around the £10 mark right now is an absolute steal. 28 epsiodes, plus a generous heap of extras should be enough for anyone. You don't need to have seen Volume 1 to enjoy these mostly self contained episodes, but I would recommend as it is equally as good a collection.
I love it when things are just done right.