My Batman the Animated Series reviews continue with episodes 76-80! My reviews will use an A(Great), B(Good), C(Ok), and D(Bad) rating system as well as my thoughts on the episode.
76. Baby Doll: Former sitcom star with a rare aging disorder, Baby Doll, kidnaps her old television family to recreate her old life and “celebrate” her birthday with explosive candles to exact her revenge on the “Cousin Spunky” that upstaged her on her special day. Batman and Robin uncover her plans and are able to stop her from harming anyone. Batman chases Baby Doll down to an amusement park where after coming face to face with what she has become in the hall of mirrors, Baby Doll breaks down and apologizes. This is a bizarre episode. The concept of Baby Doll is all very odd, but kind of humorous. A child-like villain is actually kind of interesting and it was well executed here. Although Baby Doll is kind of annoying when she’s “baby talking,” the moments when she gets serious are a nice contrast. The episode is pretty slow and there’s no real mystery since we know who’s behind everything from the beginning. The best parts of the episode are: Robin, who adds to the story and is pretty funny, the fight scene in the studio where the henchwoman says “It’s a living,” and the amusement park scene. This episode was a bit of a dud for me until they got to the amusement park. The hall of mirrors scene was really good and psychological, and I actually got really sad when Baby Doll was looking at the woman she is on the inside and when she breaks down and says “I didn’t mean to…” which melted my heart a little bit. I did also like the “Animaniacs” vibe I was getting from the episode, which was nostalgic. I also remember Baby Doll creeped me out as a kid. Overall, a pretty strange addition to the Batman mythos that actually turns out to be pretty psychological but is mostly kind of a flat episode. Rating: C
77. The Lion and the Unicorn: Alfred is urgently called to London by an old agency friend and tumbles right into the trap set for him by the Red Claw! Batman and Robin quickly travel to London to save their friend and help stop the Red Claw’s terrorist plot. The episode was pretty good, we get to learn more about Alfred’s past as a government agent! Alfred is an incredibly underrated character who doesn’t get much time in the spotlight so it was great getting to know him better. The episode had a cool James Bond tone to it which really worked for the story. I think Red Claw worked much better as a villain here than she did in the Catwoman episode. Her role as a terrorist made more sense and she wasn’t stealing anyone’s spot light. The story was rather straight forward, but it had enough of a mystery to make it interesting. The animation was pretty good, it’s gotten pretty consistent episode to episode. I think Robin worked really well in this episode, since we learned about Alfred’s past alongside him (although you’d think he would’ve learned this in the however many years he lived with Bruce and Alfred. Just Sayin). I don’t have any particular complaints about the episode, but it just felt a little “Meh” since it seemed kind of devoid of the heart and mythology the other episodes utilize. When the show was re-titled “The Adventures of Batman and Robin” you can definitely tell the difference in how watered down it’s gotten to appeal to a younger audience. That’s probably why I remember these later episodes from when I was young. Overall, the episode was cool in it’s investigation of Alfred’s past and the James Bond elements they included, but it wasn’t the most exciting episode. Rating: C+
78. Showdown: Ra’s al Ghul slips through the fingers of the Dynamic Duo and leaves them a recording that recounts a tale that takes us back to the wild west! We follow the story of bounty hunter, Jonah Hex hunting for Arkady Duvall and stumbles upon a younger Ra’s al Ghul’s plan to be declared Master of America by use of a destructive flying machine with advanced weaponry. Jonah Hex stops their plan and captures Duvall. Back in the present, Batman and Robin confront Ra’s and learn Duvall is his son, and Ra’s had only been trying to reunite his family. A very irregular episode of Batman (since it has almost nothing to do with Batman himself), this tale of Jonah Hex and Ra’s al Ghul is definitely a winner! The story of Hex and the Phoenix flying machine was great itself, but the way they wove it into the Batmythos with the Ra’s al Ghul connection was genius. The dialogue was great and the characters were fun even if we only meet them briefly. I’ve never read any Jonah Hex, but I enjoyed his surprise guest appearance! Ra’s really comes across as very noble and regal, exactly what his character should be. The elements of his other offspring is a fascinating concept, one I know they’ve touched on in the comics and is definitely open to so many future story ideas. It’s got me very interested in Ra’s al Ghul’s history. The animation was great! I thought it was all very well done which made the episode all the better. There is really nothing to complain about in this episode unless you’re really stuck on seeing all Batman all the time. Overall, while it’s not really about Batman at all, we get a great story about the history of Ra’s al Ghul and a fun guest appearance of Jonah Hex! Rating: A-
79. Riddler’s Reform: The Riddler has been released and has begun creating toys, gaining fame and claiming to have reformed. But Batman doesn’t buy it, obsessing over everything the Riddler says looking for Riddles and clues. Eventually the Riddler decides that he won’t be able to stay reformed, and that Batman will be the only one to catch him, so he decides Batman must die and tries to kill him in a final trap. Batman escapes and gets a confession out of the Riddler. Somehow in the last time I went through this series I must’ve missed this episode, cause I don’t remember it at all, which is actually a good thing since it gives me fresh eyes and I didn’t know what to expect. Anyway, we finally get the great Riddler episode we deserve! The riddles are complex and challenging without being silly and over the top. We see great characterization with Batman and the Riddler, who are just so obsessive and it’s fascinating! Robin was great in this episode, he had funny lines and was great to have as a sideline character watching Bruce go a little crazy over the Riddler. Except for when he got crushed by the bookcase, I hate it when they have Robin slow Batman down. I loved the story, they’ve done a few “bad guy goes good, but Batman doesn’t buy it” stories, but this one is so well done you can forgive the trope. The Riddler proves to be the insane egomaniac he’s supposed to be. He’s obsessed with his riddles, and thinks he’s so above everyone else and that only Batman is his equal, the gloating scene in the mirror just adds a nice layer of character. Glover also does a really great job with his voice! The animation was pretty good but not as good as it was in Showdown. The scene where the bomb is about to go off is pretty intense, I really didn’t know how he was going to save himself. The safe thing was clever, but a little far fetched. I’d also like to note just how thick with mythology and continuity this episode is. Though the series is great episode to episode, as a whole it’s quite the anthology! We have Robin referencing when “What is Reality” with the Riddler’s last scheme, we have Summer Gleason on the news and if you listen carefully she mentions DA Van Dorn, and then we’ve got the Commissioner and the Penguin’s on the news. Overall, a great episode with mystery and action and finally does the Riddler justice! Rating: A
80. Second Chance: Harvey Dent is kidnapped right before he’s about to undergo a reconstructive surgery to potentially free him of the Two-Face persona. Batman and Robin individually investigate Rupert Thorne and the Penguin to find Harvey but neither of them are behind it. Batman realizes the kidnapper must be Two-Face, angry that Dent was trying to get rid of him. Using a trick coin to throw Harvey’s psyche off, Batman and Robin are able to take down Two-Face and his thugs and Bruce promises never to give up on his friend. A great return to Two-Face! Two-Face has always been one of my favorites, so I’m glad we got to see more of him before the show ended. I’m also happy to see the show really shine again, since it hit a bit of a rough patch for a little bit when it transitioned into the “Adventures of Batman and Robin.” The episode is great and complex, giving us a lot of story in a short amount of time. The entire mystery keeps us guessing and the conclusion is poetic in it’s execution. I liked the allusions to the Dark Knight Returns, with Two-Face’s surgery and his other side taking over. Using the Penguin and Thorne was a great way to use the mythos of the show and explore the relationships between the villains. I did also enjoy the fact that Penguin is in Blackgate and not Arkham, since he’s not “insane” and just a crook. The dynamic between Batman and Robin was really well done, and works as foreshadowing to Dick’s career as Nightwing, since Bruce is keeping Dick at arm’s length and treating him like a kid. But we do see Batman admit that he needs Robin and their father-son dynamic is very heart-warming. I was pleased with Robin’s portrayal since Dick gets to be witty and a bad ass. Even though we see some “Robin the Boy Captive” it’s only briefly and he’s able to save himself. It was pretty aweseom when he kicked the guys through the car and showed up to save Batman at the end. The animation was excellent as well. Overall, we get a psychological investigation into the two sides of Two-Face and a great who-dunnit mystery that keeps us guessing until the end. An extremely well done story! Rating: A