Jessie Robertson picks his top five episodes from Batman: The Animated Series…
Batman: The Animated Series is everything to me. When people go back and cherish and revere that special thing from when they were a child, this is that thing for me. The stories, the look, the animation – this is and was Batman to me and always will be. I’ve been re-watching the whole series again from start to finish, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the series than to talk about some of the greatest episodes of the greatest half hour show to ever air, in my humble opinion.
Before I get to my list, I want to highlight certain episodes from each season that I particularly enjoy, because this show is just too amazing to boil down to five.
Feat of Clay Parts 1 & 2 gives us a Clayface that we’d never seen before and watching the tortured soul of this actor as he can’t control this hideous transformation is quite dramatic. Speaking of transformations, Two-Face Parts 1 & 2 are a deep dive into the fractured psyche of attorney Harvey Dent, who creates this angry, ruthless personality called “Big Bad Harv”. When he runs afoul of criminal kingpin Rupert Thorne, it all leads to a life altering experience. Joker’s Favor is a twisted tale of what happens when an ordinary every day schmoe owes the Joker something; it’s delightful fun twisted up into a frightening experience. I don’t want to leave out Appointment in Crime Alley, which is a morality tale of Batman trying to make a date to visit the site of his parents murder on it’s anniversary and getting kept away by various duties, as his old friend Leslie Thomkins uncovers a plot by a greedy magnate to destroy the neighborhood she’s lived in her whole life. There have been feature films with less plot than this episode.
Season 2 finally introduces my favorite Batman villain, Edward Nygma himself, The Riddler. And this episode has always been my sentimental favorite: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? It’s just a fun ride through Riddler’s devious maze based off his own video game and it’s instantly rewatchable. Day of the Samurai is a cool little martial arts tale of former school rivals Kyodai Ken and Bruce Wayne having their ultimate showdown – a battle around an active volcano. It doesn’t get much more cinematic than that. Heart of Steel Parts 1 & 2 was always a story I didn’t care for; killer robots replacing their real life counterparts, but it’s just so sci-fi and has Terminator vibes plus it showcases a young Barbara Gordon as the future hero she will become. We get the first Harley & Ivy team up, Zatanna, and more in this season, including the award winning Robin’s Reckoning and Riddler’s second episode, What is Reality?
The character of Barbara Gordon, to me, is just one of DC Comics’ richest characters so getting her two-part debut, Shadow of the Bat, in season 3 is pure joy. Her theme song runs through my head every time I think of Batgirl. The Demon’s Quest is an epic two-part saga featuring the Al Ghul clan and it’s one part worldwide adventure and one part doomsday plot. The interactions between Batman and Ubu are some of my favorite in the series. Read My Lips features the debut of one of Batman’s strangest Rogues, The Ventriloquist, and it’s a strong episode that makes you wonder are they two people? Harley’s Holiday is the breakout starring role that really does it for me and Harley; she just owns every second of that episode, penned by her creator, Paul Dini. How can you not love Baby-Doll? “I didn’t mean to!” It’s a freaky, bizarre, yet sad episode. And one of my odd outlying favorites, Sideshow, where Croc and Batman fall off a cliff from a moving train together and Croc finds friends in a former circus act’s retreat but when his criminal ways rear their ugly head, lucky for them Batman is still hot on his trail.
Season 4 (The New Batman Adventures)
It just doesn’t get any better than Roxy Rocket. In The Ultimate Thrill, we meet this woman who can only live by going to the edge, deaths’ door in a lot of cases, and that’s where she lives. She’s hilarious and darn sexy honestly for a kid’s cartoon with a lot of innuendo laden in. I have to say though, I never cared for TNBA animation style; it abandoned a lot of what I loved about the first run – the darkness. I hated most of the redesigns honestly. Off that soapbox, let’s look at Double Talk, a tale of lowly Arnold Wesker (The Ventriloquist) who’s trying to live a normal life but he sees and hears his boss Scarface everywhere. Love is a Croc sees the return of Baby-Doll and her team up with Killer Croc is both endearing and again, heartbreaking. Don’t forget Mad Love and Old Wounds, both shedding light on Joker and Harley’s beginnings as well as the split between Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne. Speaking of heart breaking, we must never overlook Over the Edge, one of the craziest episodes ever that knocks you on your ass as you see Gordon and the whole GCPD hunting Batman through the Batcave calling out his name Bruce Wayne and, I can’t spoil what else happens, you just need to watch it.
Continue on to the second page for the top five episodes overall…