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When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sparky: Late for Valentines'
Mad Love

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Mad Love was a single-issue graphic novel written by Paul Dini, writer and director of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond, and Bruce Timm, executive producer on The New Batman/Superman Adventures and the co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series. It was set in the continuity of The Batman Animated Series. It won an Eisner Award for "Best Single Story" in 1994. It was later adapted (with minor alterations for pacing) as an animated episode of The New Batman Adventures.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The story revolves around the Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn. She was once psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel, but fell head over heels in love with the maniacal Joker after spending just 15 minutes inside Arkham Asylum. She develops an obsession with him, and turns to crime to win his love.

Quinn decides that the only way to make the Joker love her is to kill the Batman, which she attempts to do by feeding him to a school of pirahnas. She nearly succeeds — getting closer, in fact, than Joker ever did — but Batman distracts her by exposing the lies that her "puddin'" told her about his unhappy childhood, even laughing at her which creeped her out, and escapes. The Joker, meanwhile, goes into a jealous rage and nearly kills her, but Batman saves her and sends Joker plunging to his (apparent) death. Once again in Arkham, Quinn realizes that the Joker has merely been using her, and renounces him forever — until she receives a "get well" bouquet of flowers from him, and promptly falls in love again.


Batman: The Animated Series

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Genre Animated television series
Running time 22 Minutes
Starring Kevin Conroy
Loren Lester
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Clive Revill
Mark Hamill
Country of origin Flag of United States United States
Original channel FOX
Original run September 5, 1992September 16, 1995
No. of episodes 85 (List of episodes)
IMDb profile summary
Australia G
Canada G (formerly CTV on YTV)
Germany o.A.
Japan U
Philippines G
United States TV-Y7

Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated television series adaptation of the comic book series featuring the DC Comics superhero, Batman. It is widely regarded by fans as the most iconic modern representation of the Batman character and mythology, and also as the most faithful animated series based on a comic book. The dynamic visual style of the series is based on the artwork of producer Bruce Timm. Lacking an on-screen title in the opening credits, the show was originally known only as Batman (and would be referred to as such in episode recaps that summarised what had happened "previously on Batman..."), but was retroactively officially titled Batman: The Animated Series, as clarified by Warner Bros.

The original episodes, produced by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, were first aired from 1992 to 1995. The show was called simply Batman: The Animated Series in the first season, which aired on weekday afternoons, and then was renamed The Adventures of Batman and Robin when the show moved to weekends to emphasize the crime fighting partnership of the characters and also to allow younger audiences to become more familiar with Robin who was featured in the then soon to be released film Batman Forever.

It should be noted that the title The Adventures of Batman and Robin was originally used in the 1969-70 animated series, created by Filmation and aired on CBS.

After a successful 85 episode run on Fox, new animated Batman episodes were created for Kids' WB! & also went on to air on YTV. Titled The New Batman Adventures, it aired from 1997 to 1999 with 24 episodes produced. They were aired as part of The New Batman/Superman Adventures. Rumor has it that the show was called Batman: Gotham Knights, but there has been no real confirmation of it, and no opening credit title was produced with that name. Only early production art for new episodes have that title and the comic based on this version being called Batman: Gotham Adventures suggests it may be possible. Reruns of The New Batman Adventures, on Cartoon Network for example, were mixed with episodes of Batman: The Animated Series using the same intro sequence.

Some of the creators have gone on record saying that The New Batman Adventures is truly an extension of Batman: The Animated Series. The producers have repeatedly stated and confirmed that the show does take place in the same world, continuity, etc, just a few years down the line. However, The New Batman Adventures episodes have significant enough differences that many fans consider them separate shows. The character designs underwent significant changes, going even further down the stylized path of the original episodes. This was in part due to a lower budget for the series; the new character models would be easier to animate well on the lower budget. Also there were some voice actor changes. Batgirl became a more important character and was no longer voiced by Melissa Gilbert.


The original series was partially inspired by Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster Batman film, and initially took as its theme a variation of music written by Danny Elfman for the film. (Later episodes of the series used a new theme written in a similar style by Shirley Walker.) Another strong influence was the acclaimed Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios in the 1940s. The series premiered in 1992, a few months after the successful release of the second Batman movie, Batman Returns. The art style of the original animated series was also partially a reaction against the realism seen in cartoons like The Real Ghostbusters, the second series in some ways was a further extension of that rejection of realism.

Timm and Radomski designed the series by emulating the Tim Burton films' "otherworldy timelessness", incorporating "old-time" features such as black-and-white title cards, police blimps, and a "vintage" color scheme, partially inspired by the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons of the 1940s, as well as film noir. In their constant quest to make the show darker, the producers pushed the boundaries of action cartoons: it was the first such cartoon in years to depict firearms being fired, as well as Batman actually punching and kicking the bad guys; in addition, many of the series' backgrounds were painted on black paper. The distinctive visual combination of film noir imagery and Art Deco designs with a very dark color scheme was called "Dark Deco" by the producers. First-time producers Timm and Radomski reportedly encountered resistance from studio executives, but the success of Burton's first film allowed the embryonic series to survive long enough to produce a pilot episode, "On Leather Wings", which according to Timm "got a lot of people off our backs."

The series was the first of the modern "DC Animated Continuity/Universe" sometimes known as the "Diniverse" named after producer and writer Paul Dini (in some respects, an unfair label, as Dini is not the constant between all of the series of the DCAU; that role fell to Bruce Timm). It was entirely separate from the previous continuity of Warner Bros. DC Comics adaptation cartoons, namely The Superfriends.

The Emmy Award-winning series quickly received wide acclaim for its distinctive animation and mature writing, and it instantly became a hit. Fans of a wide age range praised the show's sophisticated, cinematic tone and psychological stories. Voice-actor Kevin Conroy, for example, used two distinct voices to portray Bruce Wayne and Batman, as Michael Keaton had done in the films. This series also featured a supporting cast that included major actors performing the voices of the various classic villains, most notably Mark Hamill, who defined a whole new career for himself in animation with his cheerfully deranged portrayal of the Joker. As in Burton's movie, Joker has the alias of mobster Jack Napier, which is not always true of the comics. The voice recording sessions were recorded with the actors together in a studio, like a radio play (in the majority of animated films, the principal voice actors record separately and never meet).

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Mr. Freeze, who was most famously redesigned for the series.

Key to the series' artistic success is that it managed to redefine classic characters, paying homage to their previous portrayals while giving them new dramatic force. Villains such as Two-Face (Al Pacino was offered the role but turned it down)and the Mad Hatter, as well as heroes like Robin (who does not appear in the Burton/Joel Schumacher series until Batman Forever and is here portrayed as a college-age student), are proof of this. Also, the series gave new life to nearly forgotten characters like the Clock King. The best example of dramatic change is Mr. Freeze; Batman: TAS turned him from a clichéd mad scientist with a gimmick for cold, to a tragic figure whose frigid exterior hides a doomed love and a cold vindictive fury. Part of the tragedy is mimicked later in the plot of the live movie Batman and Robin, although much of the drama was lost with the resurrection of the pun-quipping mad scientist image. The most famous of the series' innovations is the Joker's hapless assistant, Harley Quinn, who became so popular that DC later added her to the mainstream Batman comics.

This series became a cornerstone of the Warner Brothers' animation department, which became one of the top producers of television animation and sparked a large franchise of similar TV adaptations of DC Comics characters.


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The Gray Ghost from the episode of a similar name, "Beware the Gray Ghost". Adam West provided the voice for a washed-up superhero serial actor who finds himself needed once more.

New villains like Red Claw and the Sewer King were invented for the series, but to little acclaim. From the episode "Tyger, Tyger" another character named Tygrus is created, which story was probably inspired by the H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau and William Blake's Poem The Tyger. Far more successful was the introduction of Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick, and to a lesser extent, Officer/Detective Renee Montoya and the sociopathic vigilante Lock-Up, all of whom became characters in the comics. A new character called Baby Doll was also well received. In addition, Mr. Freeze was revised to emulate the series' tragic story. Clayface was reinvented, revised to be much more similar to the 1960s shape-changing version of the character. Poison Ivy's regular appearances on the show helped lead to more frequent appearances in the comics. In two episodes, Batman faces Kyodai Ken (whose name means "Giant Fist" in Japanese), a ninja whose abilities seem to match his own. In the climactic battles of two episodes with Ken, however, Batman's fighting skill is clearly superior. The Phantasm and general storyline for the movie Mask Of The Phantasm were modified from the Mike Barr-penned story "Batman: Year Two", which ran in Detective Comics #575-578 in the late 1980s; the villain in the comics was named The Reaper. Some characters like Count Vertigo and the Clock King were modified in costume and personality.

Batman's equipment featured in the series

Batman's tools such as the utility belt, grappling hook, and Batmobile were redesigned for the series; they have been previously redesigned numerous times over the course of Batman's comic book series as well as for various movie and TV incarnations of Batman. The grapple-launcher, notably, was introduced in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie, and became an important aspect of the animated character. The Batmobile and Batwing are similar to the ones used in the 1989 movie.


See: List of Batman: The Animated Series episodes

Certain episodes have become legendary in some fan circles. The most universally hailed episode is the Emmy-award winning "Heart of Ice", which is best-known for reinventing the character of Mr. Freeze, changing him from a comedic cold-themed villain to a serious, tragic character with a sympathetic backstory. "Robin's Reckoning" won an Emmy for Most Outstanding Half Hour or Less Program beating out cartoon powerhouse The Simpsons and is seen as one of the most mature and iconic Robin origin stories. Other episodes to achieve high recognition are "Joker's Favor", which marks the first appearance of fan favorite Harley Quinn; "Two-Face", for its dark, serious, and respectful reinvention of a character that had been somewhat regarded by producers as too gruesome for television; "Mad as a Hatter", in which The Mad Hatter is portrayed as a more human and emotionally fragile member of Batman's rogues gallery, instead of a gimmicked weirdo; " House and Garden", showing a sad human side to Poison Ivy; the two-parter, "Shadow of the Bat", which introduced Barbara Gordon as Batgirl; "Harley and Ivy", the debut of the fan-favorite duo; and "Beware the Gray Ghost", well known for its casting of Adam West as a has-been actor (this is noteworthy, as Adam West played Batman in the original 1960's live-action TV show), who became typecast as a superhero part he played in his youth. "Feat of Clay" establishes a break away from the common criminal version of Clayface, as seen in comics, to a more formidable foe with powers far outmatching the Batman's own strength. The fan favorite episodes "Almost Got 'Im" , "Perchance To Dream" and "POV" are also well known for their unique storytelling approach and plot twists at the end.

Lost episode

Sixteen minutes of animated segments in the video game The Adventures of Batman and Robin for the Sega CD are sometimes referred to as a "lost episode" of the series.[1] These segments are intended to be interspersed between gameplay elements of an early-1990s video game and as such, the sound, color and story are not of the same quality of the actual television program. Three similar cutscenes appear throughout the video games Batman Vengeance and Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu .

Theatrical and direct-to-video releases

The feature-length animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), based on the animated series, started production as a direct-to-video release, but was changed to be a theatrical release near the end of production. The film was well-received by fans of the series, but only generated mediocre box office revenue. Some attributed this to limited last-minute marketing, but the series later had good video sales (and later DVD sales) and eventually turned a profit. There was later a direct-to-video movie based on the series: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero which was completed in 1997 and released in 1998. This was followed by a second direct-to-video entry, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman in 2003. (Be warned not to confuse the mysterious Batwoman with Batgirl.) Movies based on related series include Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) based on Batman Beyond, and Mystery of the Batwoman (2003) based on The New Batman Adventures. A made-for-TV feature-length episode of the Batman/Superman series, "World's Finest", has been released on video as The Batman/Superman Movie. Collections of episodes from the series are also readily available on video. Recently, four volumes of four-disc DVD collections have been released in America and the UK, the latest collection contains the first series of The New Batman Adventures, and is available in America. The UK currently has the collection of the first and second series' of Batman: The Animated Series on DVD, which are exclusive to HMV.


Main cast

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman | Bruce Wayne
Loren Lester Robin | Richard 'Dick' Grayson
Clive Revill Alfred Pennyworth ("On Leather Wings, Christmas with the Joker," and "Nothing to Fear")
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Alfred Pennyworth
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Robert Costanzo Detective Harvey Bullock
Lloyd Bochner Mayor Hamilton Hill

[edit] Supporting cast

Recurring villains


Batman: The Animated Series premiered on the Fox Network and aired there for its first several seasons during weekday afternoons. In December, just three months after it's debut, Fox began airing episodes of the series on prime-time Sunday evenings, marking one of the few times a show created for Saturday Morning Television was scheduled for prime-time broadcast. However, the TV ratings were poor (the show aired opposite the perennial favorite 60 Minutes), and the series was removed in March 1993.

After the series produced its 65th episode (the minimum number necessary for a TV series to be successfully syndicated), the show's popularity encouraged Warner Bros. to produce further episodes, furthering the animated adventures of the Caped Crusader. The series reached 85 episodes before finishing its run of original episodes in 1995. Many of the creators went on to design and produce Superman: The Animated Series for Kids' WB before making an additional 24 episodes of Batman, better known as The New Batman Adventures, which aired alongside Superman in an hour-long Batman/Superman show in 1997 following the end of Fox Kids five year exclusive broadcast contract. The New Batman Adventures aired it's final episodes in 1999, but continued to air on the network into 2000.

In 1999, a new spin-off series, Batman Beyond, was released to further critical acclaim. Then in 2002, the Justice League animated series was released, building on the success of both the Batman and Superman animated series, and featured Batman as one of the founders of the League. In addition several direct-to-video features and video games reuniting Batman cast and crew members have been released, the most recent in 2003.

Also of note is the fact that several of the animators from Japanese animation studio Sunrise worked on the series - their work on Batman would become a great influence on one of their later series,Big O, and the Cowboy Bebop episode "Pierrot le Fou".

Home video release and DVDs

Throughout the 1990s, selected episodes were released for home video, titled The Adventures of Batman and Robin or Batman: The Animated Series. On July 6, 2004, Warner Brothers Home Video released Volume One of Batman: The Animated Series on DVD, consisting of 28 episodes on 4 discs. Volume Two was released on January 25, 2005. Volume Three, containing 29 episodes (incorrectly listed by packaging as 28) was released May 24, 2005 to complete the collection of the initial series. Volume Four (featuring The New Batman Adventures) was released on December 6th, 2005. They were released as "volumes" rather than "seasons" because the episodes were not aired in production order.

UK Region 2 versions of the Volumes 1 and 2 DVD sets were released on October 10th, 2005 (Volume 1) and August 21st, 2006 (Volume 2). These DVD volumes are exclusive to the retail chain HMV in the United Kingdom

Batman: The Animated Series in other media

The television series was accompanied by a tie-in comic book, The Batman Adventures, which followed the art style and continuity of the television series instead of other Batman comic books. The Batman Adventures, through several format changes to reflect the changing world of the series and its spin-offs, outlasted the series itself by nearly a decade, finally being cancelled in 2004 to make way for the tie-in comic of a new, unrelated Batman animated series, The Batman.

There was also a short-lived series of tie-in novels, adapted from episodes of the series by science fiction author Geary Gravel. To achieve novel-length, Gravel combined several related episodes into a single storyline in each novel. The novels included:

  • Shadows of the Past ("Appointment in Crime Alley", "Robin's Reckoning" two-parter)
  • Dual to the Death ("Two-Face" two-parter, "Shadow of the Bat" two-parter)
  • The Dragon and the Bat ("Night of the Ninja," "Day of the Samurai")
  • Mask of the Phantasm (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm movie)

Several videogames based on the animated continuity were released during the 16-bit game-machine era (roughly, that era spans from 1989-1996). Konami developed a game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), while SEGA released two versions of the game for the Genesis (North America Name)/MegaDrive (Europe, Asia Name) and Sega/Mega CD. The SNES and Genesis versions were side-scrolling action games, while Sega's CD version featured a 3-D driving adventure. All of the games had art true to the series, while Sega's versions featured art elements directly from the show's creators [2]. The CD version has over 20 minutes of original animated footage comparable to the most well crafted episodes, with the principle voice actors reprising their roles. The critical reception of these games were varied but above average. Batman Vengeance was released for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox in 2001, based on the Gotham Knights episodes and reuniting much of the cast.


This series had a profound influence on the superhero animated genre in that it set a higher standard of writing and animation quality. For example, the original television series adaptation of X-Men which premiered a few months after Batman featured animation that was typical of the artistic standards in superhero animated series. However, several years after Batman became a major television success, another series, X-Men: Evolution was produced, which emulated the Warner Brothers animated series's simplified graphics style (the series was also produced by Warner Brothers). In addition, the success of Batman encouraged The Walt Disney Company management to proceed with their own series, Gargoyles, which strove for the same sophistication as the competition and became a cult favorite in its own right.

Additionally, B:TAS was one of the first truly "serious" American on-going animated series in some time. Prior to that, most animated fare had been lighthearted and bright, even if it was action oriented. B:TAS brought a darkness and seriousness to animation that was almost unheard of at the time, and was more akin to an animated drama than a "cartoon", per se. The storylines dealt with more mature themes, there was no slapstick, although some episodes were touched with sophisticated humor, and the soundtrack itself was more akin to a film soundtrack (owing in part, no doubt, to the desire to make it have a similar feel to the Danny Elfman score of the two Burton films). The animation quality itself tended to be much smoother, with a higher framerate than the vast majority of animated series prior to its premiere.


See also

External links

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Maybe I'll blog something political later ... - Sparks

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