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“I Am The Night” — The Very Best Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series

Last week I wrote about the terrific new soundtrack collection of music from the early episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.  That got me reminiscing about that amazing cartoon series, and so of course I busted out my DVDs to enjoy a few episodes.

Several few years back, I was rather shocked to discover that one of my good friends who dug comics had never gotten into Batman: TAS.  So I put together a collection for her of several of my favorite episodes — everything I could squeeze onto one VHS tape.  A few days ago I happened to stumble across the list of the episodes I’d selected (yes, I save everything), and I thought I’d share it with you all.  

So what follows are some of the best half-hours of animated television you’re ever going to find, and also among the most perfect non-comic book depictions of Batman.  If you’ve got these episodes on DVD or on tape, then dust ’em off and give ’em a watching!  If you don’t, then go out and find a friend who does!!  

 

1.  The Demon’s Quest , Parts I & II — Batman traces a criminal conspiracy across the globe, in an effort to locate a kidnapped Robin.  Liam Neeson was fine in Batman Begins, but if you want to see the REAL Ra’s Al Ghul, check out this version, voiced by the incomparable David Warner (Time Bandits, Star Trek VI).

2.  I Am The Night — A depressed and disillusioned Batman goes into an emotional tailspin when Commissioner Gordon is shot during a botched stake-out.  

3.  It’s Never Too Late — There are no supervillains to be found in this episode — it’s just a small, personal story about an aging mobster’s fall from grace.  This is why this series is awesome.  

4.  Robin’s Reckoning, Parts I & II — Perhaps the series’ finest hour.  Batman and Robin’s relationship is strained to the breaking point when the man responsible for the murder of Robin’s parents returns to Gotham City.

5.  Legends of the Dark Knight — This episode pays homage to some of the most iconic comic book depictions of Batman over the years, from Dick Sprang’s Batman of the ’50s to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns from the ’80s.  

6.  Mad Love — A disturbing examination of the twisted relationship between the Joker and his “hench-wench,” Harley Quinn.  Plus, Harley asks the Joker the question that comic fans have been wondering about for over 50 years.

7.  You Scratch My Back — I really enjoyed how, over the life of the series, we saw a noticeable passage of time.  This episode from late in the series’ run is a great example of that.  Nightwing (Dick Grayson, who began the series as Robin but eventually became a superhero on his own) returns to Gotham and clashes with Batman and his new crime-fighting team: Batgirl and the new Robin, Tim Drake.

8.  Knight Time — With Batman missing, Superman must fill in for him in order to prevent chaos in Gotham City.  A fun crossover between Warner’s animated Batman and Superman shows.  Watching Robin coach Supes on how to be more like Batman (“hit him!”) is a riot.

9.  Over The Edge — The show’s version of the last Batman story.  This has got to be the grimmest, most bad-ass cartoon ever aired on American TV.  I will say no more.  If you are a fan of Batman, this is a must-see.

 

There are, of course, so many more great episodes, but those are my favorites.  Did I miss one that you love?  Drop me a line to let me know!  In the mean-time, I think I’m gonna go re-watch a few more of these great episodes myself right now…

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