News To Make You Feel Old: ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ Turns Twenty

09.07.12 5 years ago 22 Comments

Batman: The Animated Series debuted September 6th, 1992.

And, until Christopher Nolan came along, it was, and remains, probably one of the best adaptations of Batman in any medium.

This is the show that brought us Harley Quinn, turned Mr. Freeze from a rogues gallery also-ran mostly notable for being in the ’60s TV series into a major Batman villain, and was also one of the few TV shows to show characters using actual firearms instead of laser weapons.

And it was sheer continuity porn, as well. The episodes were largely based on Batman comics from the ’70s and the show was happy to dig out obscure characters like Clock King and turn them from jokes into serious characters.

What makes the show as an adult, though, are the clever artistic decisions that make the show just that much more vivid. The backgrounds were famously drawn on black paper with light colors; the voice cast recorded their parts together in one room, not separately, letting the actors put together a stronger performance.

What gets me the most, though, and still does, is the writing. It was, essentially, noir to its bones: A man loses his company because he takes a coffee break (“The Clock King”); A woman suffering from a disease can’t move on with her life and tries to go back to the way things were (“Baby-Doll”); A washed-up actor struggles to make ends meet trading on memories of a cheesy old TV show and winds up suspected of a series of bombings (“Beware the Gray Ghost”, featuring one of the few times Adam West has ever been asked to genuinely act instead of mug for the camera).

That was what made the show work so well. The villains were rarely pure evil. More often they were just people who made a mistake, or got screwed by somebody, and were too blinded by sadness or rage to see the dangers of their actions. The best bad guys think they’re doing the right thing, and that was the show’s guiding principle in many episodes.

Heavy stuff for a show aimed at kids, but it’s what makes the show a classic and still airing on cable. Now, if only we could get some new episodes…

Around The Web

The Fascinating Rise Of Third Man Records As The Most Influential Vinyl Label In America

03.21.17 4 days ago 2 Comments

A Little Booze And A Lot Of Big Ideas Are Keeping Movie Theaters Relevant

03.17.17 1 week ago 7 Comments

The Unheralded True Story Of The NBA’s First Black Player

03.14.17 2 weeks ago

How TV And Evolving Media Technology Changed The American Presidency

03.07.17 3 weeks ago 2 Comments

How The Spice Girls’ Legacy Of ‘Girl Power’ Paved The Way For Women To Dominate Pop

02.27.17 4 weeks ago 4 Comments

How Keeping Austin Weird Turned Into A Widespread Phenomenon

02.15.17 1 month ago 12 Comments

How Kevin Gates Went From Underground To Platinum In A Year And Changed The Game In The Process

02.02.17 2 months ago 6 Comments

Look For The Star: How Starter Jackets Became The Iconic Clothing Of The Early ’90s

01.31.17 2 months ago 10 Comments

‘Dream, Try, Do Good’: The Oral History Of ‘Boy Meets World’

01.31.17 2 months ago 6 Comments

How Frank Barsalona Created The Modern Rock Concert And Got Himself Into The Hall Of Fame

01.30.17 2 months ago

The Story Behind Gus Fring’s Stunningly Explosive Moment On ‘Breaking Bad’

and 01.30.17 2 months ago 5 Comments

How Toronto’s Boosie Fade Transformed From A Rap DJ Night Into A Digital Movement

01.12.17 2 months ago

Infiltrating The Bills Mafia To Find Out Why Fans Keep Supporting The NFL’s Most Hopeless Team

01.01.17 3 months ago 8 Comments

From Ray Charles To Jimi Hendrix: How Seattle Helped Create R&B And Rock And Roll

01.01.17 3 months ago 6 Comments

‘Stop Crying And Fight Your Father’: ‘Seinfeld’ Writers Tell How Festivus Came To Be

and 12.23.16 3 months ago 12 Comments

The Lasting Impact Of Adidas Tearaway Pants On Hip-Hop And A Hoops Generation

12.08.16 4 months ago 2 Comments

Understanding The History And The Motivations Behind The Standing Rock Protests

12.02.16 4 months ago 6 Comments

How Do We Combat The Intensifying War On Science?

and 11.30.16 4 months ago 30 Comments