About time, Warner Bros! First 5 episodes of a great series
Scott Andrews | Hillsboro, OR USA | 01/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's about time that Warner Brothers finally responded to the years of demand by the fans to release the amazing "Batman: The Animated Series" on DVD. What we've finally gotten is a mixed bag, however. I'm happy to see this first disc of episodes in chronological order (rather than the ridiculous themed releases like what we got on VHS), and hopefully Warner will continue to release the entire series in order and complete; but more episodes on the disc would have been nice! What we get here on this release called "Batman: The Legend Begins" is the first five episodes of the animated series -- based on production order, not airdate order -- (1) "On Leather Wings", (2) "Christmas with the Joker", (3) "Nothing to Fear", (4) "The Last Laugh", and (5) "Pretty Poison". Respectively, these episodes are the spectacular pilot with Man-Bat, a lighthearted Joker story, a pretty good Scarecrow story, another (slightly better) Joker story and the origin story of Poison Ivy. A pretty good introduction to the series, but the best was yet to come! As far as extras go, there isn't much. An introduction by Bruce Timm, a few webgames and CD-ROM links, and a brief documentary. (Where are the commentaries, pre-production drawings, artwork slideshows, and extended documentaries?) ... ... Now, if you've never seen the series you are in for a treat! "Batman: The Animated Series" premiered on television way back on Sep. 5th, 1992 with the episode "The Cat & The Claw, part 1" (not included on this first disc), about three months after the live-action "Batman Returns" had come out. The animated series (unlike the mediocre movies) met with almost universal acclaim. Boistered by fabulous writing from the likes of Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Michael Reaves and many others, as well as solid voice talent like Mark Hamill (wonderful as the Joker) and Kevin Conroy (this guy IS Batman), the series also intoduced such wonderful characters as Harley Quinn and improved versions of nearly ever Batman rogues gallery villian. In my humble opinion, the animated series is the definitive Batman, better than any of the comic books or movies... absolutely nailing the characterizations of Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, as well as his relationships with police commissioner Gordon, Robin/Dick Grayson and best of all Alfred. The series transcends its origins as a "kids cartoon" to being one of the greatest and most adult animated series ever produced. (In a recent poll, it ended second only to "The Simpsons" as the greatest cartoon series ever.) ... At a rate of only five episodes per disc, it will take twenty-two discs to release the entire series of 109 episodes, and that doesn't even count the 50+ episodes of "Batman Beyond" or the 54 episodes of the "Superman" animated series; these series have not yet been announced, but we can only hope... right, Warner Bros?"
Gotham's winged avenger flies high...
Danny | South Philly | 05/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You've GOT to love Warner Bros. for doing this. Releasing not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE different animated Batman DVDs all at the same time. "Return of the Joker" is intense, "Sub-Zero" is heart-wrenching, "the Batman Superman Movie" is interesting and "Justice League" is fun, but this would be my desert island DVD. It includes the first five episodes of the modern legend "Batman - the Animated Series."Episodes include "On Leather Wings," the first Batman episode, in which a mysterious man-bat terrorizes Gotham City and Batman is blamed for the heinous crimes. Not bad for a pilot episode. "Christmas With the Joker" is a fun episode. It's nothing really deep, but it introduced the series to Batman's most notorious adversary, the Joker. Here, he holds three (important) people hostage and wants Batman to show up by midnight so the Joker can give him a Christmas present (???). The gift turns out to be a hilarious joke, and it shows just how nutso the Joker really is. Next up is "Nothing to Fear," which is my favorite episode on this DVD. Here, Batman faces the Scarecrow, who injects him with a sort of fear serum which will unearth Batman's deepest, darkest fears. Batman is afraid his parents are turning over in their graves, since people have claimed that Bruce Wayne has put a damper on his namesake. Our hero starts to believe it himself, until he finally realizes how proud his parents would be if they saw how much he puts on the line to help the stranger citizens of Gotham City. It ends with a kickass battle on a blimp. The fourth episode is called "the Last Laugh," which brings the Joker back again to wreak havoc on Gotham City. Here, he infests Gotham with his goofy gas on April Fool's Day, which temporarily turns people insane, causing them to uncontrollably laugh hysterically. And, as always, it's up to Batman to save the day. A great episode, though, like the previous Joker outing, not very deep. The final episode is "Pretty Poison," which introduces Poison Ivy to the series. District Attorney Harvey Dent (who would later become Two-Face in my favorite episode) is infected with a rare poison, and Batman has to find a cure before it's too late. He suspects Pamela Isley, Dent's love interest, to be responsible. As per usual, the dark night detective's hunch is right. A very good episode.Unlike "the Simpsons," which took a season or two to get just right, the creators of this show nailed it right on the head from the get-go. Some things are different from later episodes, such as Alfred's voice and the Joker's laugh, but the atmosphere is still there, and the writing remained top-notch until the series' final episode. This is quality programming, and they should have kept going with it. Instead, they opted for different animation and more light-hearted action with "the Batman/Superman Adventures." A good show in it's own right, of course, but the original animated series is the cream of the crop.I almost drooled when I read Warner Bros. would begin releasing this series on DVD, and this particular disc isn't a bad way to start. However, I'm sure I could have held out longer if Warner decided to go with a boxed set edition of EVERY SEASON on DVD instead of this. Still, it's good to own five classic episodes of B-TAS and reminisce on the time when I would come home from school, watch the show, and re-enact what I just saw with my Batman action figures. "I am vengance. I am the night. I am BATMAN!"Very cool stuff."
5 stars for the show, not the DVD.
Raj | USA | 06/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Batman - The Animated Series is one of the best animation shows that aired during the 90s. This DVD provides the first 5 episodes of the First Season. I have listed my reviews for the episodes separately, followed by my review of the DVD.
Review of the Episodes:
1. On Leather Wings: A winged bat-like creature is spotted flying above Gotham, stealing chemicals from various pharmaceuticals (recently from Phoenix Pharmaceuticals, where it also injured a night watchman). The Police suspect that it is Batman. To clear his name, Batman goes to the scene of the crime and finds a tape along with a strand of the creature's hair. Having his suspicions, he goes to Dr. March and Dr. Langstrom to ask their opinion on the evidence. However, since the Doctors give him a faulty explanation, Batman is convinced that one of them is the cause for the crimes. Can Batman find out who Man-Bat is and get him in time?
A good start to the series, we get to see how Batman clears his name by going after the Man-Bat. (4/5).
2. Christmas with the Joker - The Joker has escaped from Gotham Asylum during Christmas time. Meanwhile, Dick convinces Bruce to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" to let Bruce get into the holiday spirit. However, the Joker makes all the channels broadcast to his show called "Christmas with the Joker", where he intends to share his Christmas `joy' with the citizens of Gotham. It is up to Batman and Robin to save the people of Gotham while Joker holds Commissioner Gordon, Detective Bullock, and reporter Summer Gleeson hostage.
This is a little different, but still a good episode where we get to see Batman and Robin in action. The highlights of this show are the scenes where Batman and Robin save the people on the train and when they go to the Laffco Toy Factory to defeat Joker. (4/5).
3. Nothing to Fear - A new villain called the `Scarecrow' is stealing and vandalizing the University. However, the Scarecrow's intention of robbing the University is not for the money, but for revenge (especially on Dr. Long, the head of the University). It is up to Batman to catch the crook, but will he be able to succeed, knowing that the Scarecrow is making Batman live his darkest fears?
This was another great episode where we get to see Batman confront his darkest fears while trying to catch the Scarecrow, who is putting fear on the citizens of Gotham. (5/5).
4. The Last Laugh - It's April Fools Day and the Joker is back to spread havoc on Gotham. He spreads a laughing gas through the city, and people who inhale it start laughing until they become insane. Once again, Batman has to stop the Joker, but as usual the Joker has new tricks up his sleeve.
I loved this episode because it was purely action-based, and kept me at the edge of my seat throughout. The scenes where Batman is trapped underwater, or where he is trying to defeat "Captain Clown" is terrific! (5/5).
5. Pretty Poison - An area of exotic wildflowers is being removed to build the Gotham Penitentiary. There is a woman who is against the destruction of these flowers, and wants to make sure that Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent pay for their crime, as it was them who initiated the project.
The first episode with Poison Ivy in it, this was a good episode, but was a little slow and predictable. It was nevertheless fun to watch Batman fight a female villain for a change. (3.5/5).
Review of the DVD:
Since the official Season Boxed Sets of "Batman - The Animated Series" is now available, it is rather pointless to buy this DVD when you can buy the complete sets with more extras included in them. However, it you are a fan of the show, you can still purchase this DVD, as it contains wonderful episodes containing The Joker, Poison Ivy, and The Scarecrow, to add to your collection. Otherwise, it is better to buy all the 3 Volumes of Batman which contain all the episodes of the entire series, instead of this."
The DEFINITIVE Batman
Hazen B Markoe | St. Paul, MN United States | 05/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's no doubt about it. This animated series, which was made after the success of the Tim Burton BATMAN films, is regarded by many as the definititive version of the Dark Knight. This DVD contains the first 5 episodes which were produced. Included are 2 episodes featuring Batman's archfoe, the Joker, as well as adventures which introduce the monsterous Man-Bat, the sinister Scarecrow, and the deadly Poison Ivy. Unlike the live-action movies, this series is intelligently plotted and brimming with character depth and motivation. Also, the wonderful music and dark art-deco design (a cross between the 30's and Gothic styles)provides wonderful richness to the whole thing. The voice acting throughout the series is especially top-notch. Kevin Conroy is perfect as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Mark Hamill, who replaced Tim Curry, shines as the insane Joker. While the DVD is somewhat skimpy on the extras, this is still a series that respects its audience....both young and old alike. Highly recommended for Bat-fans and fans of animation in general."
The saturday morning cartoon of dreams!
Hazen B Markoe | 12/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I started watching this on saturday mornings ages ago and i loved it, when i heard that it was coming to dvd i was exstatic! I quickly went out and bought it and boy i wasn't dissapointed. the acting was fantastic, kevin conroy being better than val kilmer, michael keaton and george clooney at being batman and mark hamill suitably maniacal as the joker and the artwork is gorgeous! Only 2 bad things about the DVD, 1)The amount of episodes, i need much more than 5! 2)The amount of extras, the introduction by Bruce Timm is insightful, but the how to draw batman is just lame! we may as well just copy the front cover. Overall this DVD is worth every penny and it's not just for kids, unless your parents are villians!"