So, you're planning to watch Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, and you're wondering how to begin. Sure, you could start at the very beginning and work your way through every episode one by one, but that's going to take some serious time. Maybe you just want to hop to some of the highlights. Or maybe you've been through the show more than a few times and just want to revisit some old favorites. Either way, you've come to the right place.
Make no mistake: every episode of The Animated Series is worth watching, and each one of them has its place in the rich history of the Caped Crusader. But because it sometimes it helps to narrow things down, we've compiled a select list of ten episodes for you to check out. Give 'em a look and let us know if they've made your own list of favorites!
A close look at one of Batman's strangest and most layered foes, "Double Talk" is the story of Arnold Wesker, a.k.a. The Ventriloquist; a man who may or may not be controlled by his old-school gangster ventriloquist dummy, Scarface. What makes Wesker -- and this episode -- so special, is how much he doesn't want to be Scarface's toy. He doesn't want to be a bad guy. But Gotham City has never been a place that cares much for what its citizens want. And Wesker, even after he's been "cured" of Scarface, is one of the more tragic characters to appear on the show.
For most people, the idea of eternal youth sounds like a blessing. It's something that should be fought for, prized, cherished. But for actress Mary Dahl, it's a curse. Born with a rare condition that prevents her body from aging, Mary spent her youth as a beloved child star who washed out of show business as her mind aged but her body did not. The pressures of fame mixed with her sudden failing career caused her to experience a psychotic breakdown, turning her into the titular character in "Baby-Doll". It's an episode that offers a terrifying look at what happens when a person is never allowed to grow up.
Any list of must-watch Batman episodes has got to show some love for Harley Quinn. After all, this is where the fan-favorite character got her start! "Harlequinade" isn't Harley's first appearance, but it is where we start to get a look at her backstory and her connection to the Joker, as well as her slightly twisted capacity for good. It's a definite must-watch for all Harley fans. Here, Harley actually comes to Batman and Robin's aid after the Joker steals an atomic bomb.
While The Animated Series is often remembered for how much work it did in developing Batman's rogues gallery, it also deserves some credit for bolstering the fine people of the GCPD. In "P.O.V.", for example, Gotham's police force take center stage. Officers Montoya, Bullock, and Wilkes are forced to give their own recounting of some Batman-related events that transpire one fateful night. Unsurprisingly, all three of them have very different takes on the Caped Crusader and what he's doing in their city.
An award-winning exploration of Batman and Robin's relationship, "Robin's Reckoning" is a two-part story that forces Dick Grayson to make some tough choices about his past, present, and future, under the watchful eye of the Dark Knight. Borrowing elements from Golden Age comics stories but giving them some contemporary flair, this is the episode to watch if you're someone who lives for Batman family drama.
The definitive Harley Quinn story, "Mad Love" (based on the comic of the same name by Harley's creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm) is an unflinching look at the Clown Princess of Crime's origin and a brutal examination of her relationship with Mr. J -- depicting her slide from Arkham Asylum psychologist to inmate. If you're looking for a quality shot of Harley, look no further. This one can't be missed.
Sins of the Father
While "Robin's Reckoning" looked at the history of Dick Grayson, "Sins of the Father" explores the origin of Batman's second Robin in the show's continuity -- Tim Drake. It draws from comics history while adding elements to Tim's story for an entirely new spin on the character, one both familiar and completely original. Tim would serve as Batman's sidekick on the show when his predecessor, Dick Grayson, graduated to Nightwing.
Almost Got 'Im
In the style of "P.O.V.", "Almost Got 'Im" (written by the ever-masterful Paul Dini) gives us the chance to hear another perspective on Batman's adventures -- this time, from his rogue's gallery. The Joker, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, The Penguin, and Two Face sit down to share their near-misses with the Dark Knight. What results is an exploration of Batman's history as well as his unique relationship with his costumed enemies. In a place like Gotham City, the truth is always relative.
Heart of Ice
Mr. Freeze is a character that's sometimes easy to take for granted. His name doesn't exactly leave his motivations or powers very ambiguous. But the Freeze that Batfans know and love today is the result of this Emmy Award-winning episode (from, you guessed it, writer Paul Dini). In "Heart of Ice", Freeze's backstory was completely overhauled from the one he received in his 1959 comics debut. A tragic love story fueled by his desperation to save his wife. "Heart of Ice" would inspire most every subsequent version of the character.
Harley and Ivy
Harley Quinn's origin and personality weren't the only things introduced in The Animated Series -- her relationship with Poison Ivy began in the episode "Harley and Ivy". The other dynamic duo of Gotham, the pair who would go on to become founding members of the Gotham City Sirens and the DC Comics Bombshells. But those groups would look decidedly different if not for the dream team's stint as the Queens of Crime here.
Do you agree with our choices? Did we forget to mention some of your favorites? Let us know!