Wednesday, December 06, 2006



When Batman: the Animated Series hit the airwaves in 1992 it was an instant success. The dark and moody interpretation of the Dark Knight was welcomed by fans young and old. The first episode, On Leather Wings was very serious and was given a 'feature film' treatment in terms of storytelling, camera angles and voice actors.

But the second episode produced, Christmas With the Joker is almost a 180 degree turn in the wrong direction! I cannot express how much I despise this episode. It is the weakest of the series and a low blow after a fantastic pilot episode. The animation is awful, characters (Joker especially) were of model, the lipsync is way off and the story tries to cram way too much into 22 minutes.

I knew this one was bad news as soon as the episode started with the Joker singing 'Jingle Bells, Batman Smells' while blasting through the roof of Arkham Asylum on a rocket powered Christmas tree.

This is the first introduction to the Joker and in particular Mark Hamill as the voice of the Clown Prince of Crime. But while the Joker is an evil sadist bent on ruining Batman's life, this Joker is a funfilled jokester who just loves a good, deadly prank. While the pilot episode brought realism to the screen, this one brought absurdity.


In 1997 the series was given a total make over and dubbed The New Batman Adventures. The characters were given a more modern and stylized look and the adventures became a bit more kid friendly with the introduction of Tim Drake as Robin and Batgirl as a regular cast member. The series launched with this Christmas special.

Everything that was wrong about Christmas With the Joker was corrected with this episode. The animation is way smoother and the new look compliments the characters a great deal.

The story of Holiday Knights is also a better one and is written by Paul Dini (Lost). It is three mini-stories of events that happen during the two weeks before New Year's Day. First, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy hypnotize Bruce Wayne and go on a wild shopping spree; then on Christmas Eve, Clayface is caught shoplifting by Renee Montoya, Harvey Bullock and Batgirl; and finally, on New Year's Eve, the Joker has a plan to blow up Gotham City when the clock strikes midnight!

It is charming and fun and fits in with the rest of the series, unlike that other piece of garbage I mentioned before.

If you want to check it out for your self Christmas With the Joker is available in Batman: the Animated Series, Volume One and Holiday Knights is available in Batman: the Animated Series, Volume Four


Anonymous said...

Holiday Knights rocks! One of the best Christmas themed animations (aside from the futurama x-mas tales)

brainwerk said...

Great stuff!

toast said...

I agree chip chief, Holiday Knights is one of the best. I have the Futurama episodes on my list in a few weeks.