I finished volume one, which contained the first 28 episodes, a lot quicker than I expected. It's a show so good that you can keep watching and watching. My first sitting encompassed the first 10 episodes and a commentary. Overall, excellent television with only a few clunkers in the bunch.The storytelling is cinematic and adult and thoroughly entertaing.
"On Leather Wings" was a good opener as it really established everything you need to know about the character. All of the other DCAU shows begin with "Origin Stories", but B:TAS just jumps right in with the action. C'mon, he's Batman. Does he really need an introduction?
"Christmas With The Joker" First appearances of Joker and Robin. This one might have come off a little silly if it weren't for Mark Hamill's brilliant performance of the Joker. I loved the punch-line with the pie in the face. Again no introduction is needed for the Joker as we first encounter him well into his battles with Batman. It made me wonder how far into his crimefighting career Batman was at this point. Obviously long enough for people to know who he was, for him to establish a relationship with Gordon and for him to establish rivalries with the Joker and the Penguin. But we get introduction eps for the rest of the Rogues Gallery, which at first made me thing the show took place early in his career. At least two years, per "The Jokers Favor", but obviously longer when you take his history with Dick Grayson into account.
"Nothing to Fear" The introduction to the Scarecrow had some powerful stuff, but will always be remembered by me as the ep with Kevin Conroy's delivery of the line, "I am vengence, I am the night, I am Batman!"
"The Last Laugh"-- Another great performance from Hamill. I think I would have been happy if every episode were Conroy's Batman vs Hamill's Joker. I liked Bruce's "April Fools" joke on Alfred at the end.
"Pretty Poison"-- The introduction of Poison Ivy. Noteworthy to for for its establishing the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. I liked that they had the foresight to include Dent as a charcter before his eventually fall. I know that Dent appeared briefly in "On Leather Wings", but here he is given a bigger spotlight.
"The Underdwellers"-- Meh. First cluncker on the bunch. They can't all be winners.
"P.O.V"-- I liked this episode. Bullock, Montoya and a rookie all giving their own version of a botched stakeout involving Batman. Thefirst time that you really see how cool Montoya is.
"Forgotten"-- Bruce Wayne with amnesia, kidnapped and working at a forced labor mining camp. Alfred coming to the rescue, and his exchanges with the bat-plane, made this episode.
"Be A Clown"-- An OK episode made great by Mark Hamill.
"Two-Face" parts 1 & 2-- The payoff to the early inclusion of Harvey Dent. I have to admit that I nevr really cared for the changes in the origin (And I suppose acid in the face might have been a bit much for the network censers), I did really enjoy these episodes. But seriously Harvey, two fiancees in six episodes? The guy got around.
"It's Never Too Late"-- A nice tale of two rival ganglords, and how one of them seeks redemption. Not all of the good Batman stories need bizarre super-villains.
"I've got Batman in my Basement"-- The first appearance of the Penguin is a bit of a "meh" episode. Treid to be light-hearted and came out bland.
"Heart of Ice"-- This is a favorite. The first appearance of Victor Frieze, and the performance from Michael Ansara, were first rate. A very convincing and touching take on what was previously a bit of a one-note villain with a gimmick.
"The Cat and the Claw" 1 &2-- The first appearance of Catwaoman/Selina Kyle was purfect (sorry). The story was everything it needed to be and the electricity and sexual tension between the characters was evident in the actors portrayals.
"See No Evil"-- Wow. I actually had to consult wiki to remeber anything about this episode. I guess we'll classify this as a "clunker".
"Beware The Gray Ghost"-- A classic despite it's plot-holes. Adam West's portrayal of Simon Trent was sincere and convincing and it was just plain cool cool to hear West and Conroy in a scene together.
"Prophecy of Doom"-- Gullible rich people falliing for an obvious scan and throwing millions of dollars at it. Sounds like Scientology. Clunker.
"Feat of Clay" 1 & 2-- Clunkers. It felt like they had too much story for one episode, but not enough for two. Ironically, these were the first two episodes of the series that I ever saw. I remember not thinking much of the show at first as a result. My opinion did quickly change.
"The Jokers Favor"-- The first appearance of Harley Quinn and a personal favorite of mine. I totally dug the idea that the Joker would make poor, unfortunate Charlie Collins into his "hobby". It just seemed like the kind of twisted thing the Joker would do.
"Vendetta"-- An OK episode focusing on Harvey Bullock. Bullock may be an ass, but for the most part, he's a good cop protecting the city just like Batman.
"Fear of Victory"-- The return of the Scarecrow AND Robin. Another OK episode. Overall, hardly Robin's finest moment.
"The Clock King"-- A lame, one-note villain with an unconvincing, and slightly silly, gimmick. I can't really call this one a clunker because of some sequences that I really liked, but not really a great one either.
"Appointment in Crime Alley"-- Excellent. First time that Bruce's origins are really addressed and I always liked the character of Leslie Thompkins. Diana Muldaur was a perfect casting choice.
"Mad As A Hatter"-- This one could have been silly, but works in 50s Dick Sprang era kind of way.
"Dreams in Darkness"-- What? Three Scarecrow episode before a second turn from Penguin, Two-Face, of Catwoman (granted the latter two were introduced in two-parters)? A nd didnt we just have this scene...
Batman "Where's Scarecrow?"
Guard: "In his cell"
Batman: "Check again"
Guard: "If you say so-- Wha----? He's Gone!"
... just four episodes ago in "Fear of Victory"?
Anyway, rewatching Batman: The Animated Series
has been too much fun, but I'm going to take a short break... To start on the first few disks of Superman: The Animated Series
Will post thoughts on that later.