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Batman: The Animated Series- The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

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Batman: The Animated Series comes to Blu-ray. ‘Nuff said.

Ever since it’s debut in 1992, “Batman: The Animated Series” has continued to endure and for good reason. Not only is it one of the best animated series, but it’s also one of the best comic book TV series. Over the course of 109 episodes and 3 seasons, “Batman: The Animated Series” (along with the other seasons dubbed “The Adventures of Batman And Robin” and “The New Batman Adventures”), this Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski developed series reinvented the characters and even invented some new ones along the way including the now iconic Harley Quinn. More than that, however, this was a serious, ahead of its time, dark show that didn’t feel like your average animated series. It treated Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s source material with the utmost respect as Batman and his allies Batgirl, Robin, James Gordon and later Nightwing faced off against the rogue’s gallery of Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, the Riddler, and so on. Granted, there is some goofy humor here ala Robin beating criminals with fish and Joker making puppets, but it is a kid’s series after all.

The 2D animation work on display here was also tremendous. The stylistic, gothic design of Gotham and the colorful and perfectly crafted character designs are forever imprinted in my (and I’m sure many people’s) memory.

The cast here is also first rate (although that should go without saying). Kevin Conroy completely embodies Batman and gave charm and humanity to Bruce Wayne. To many he gives the best take on the character in TV and film and it’s hard to argue with that. Mark Hamill (who played The Joker) was equally masterful as he made the Clown Prince of Crime his own. Arleen Sorkin also deserves a special shout-out for pioneering the character of Harley Quinn. Again, many people see Harley at her best here and it’s hard to disagree.

In terms of the story content, there’s so much to absorb and take in here (especially for comic book fans). Season 1 is definitely the crown jewel here as the later episodes in season 3 aren’t as memorable (although they are certainly still worth diving into). Among my personal favorites of the series are “Heart of Ice” (the touching Mr. Freeze tale), the Two-Face 2 parter, and “Beware The Gray Ghost” which features Adam West in the titular role.

I couldn’t end this review without mentioning the music. This score is one for the ages. Batman has had so many great scores over the years and composer Shirley Walker cements her own exquisite version.

Note: This review is of the standard edition and not the deluxe limited edition version.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? This is the best the show has looked. The episodes look cleaned up and the colors look crisper. Bravo to everyone who made this set a reality.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? I was deeply impressed by this audio track which gives the action and Shirley Walker’s wonderful score so much more depth.

Extras:

* “Concepting Harley Quinn”- Paul Dini talks about creating the character of Harley Quinn.
* “The Heart of Batman”- A 3 part extra that contains a featurette on the show’s visual style, an art gallery (with a score playing over it), animation tidbits, a look at the voice cast and recordings and much more. These are easily the best extras on this set.
* Intros to the first 5 episodes by Bruce Timm.
* Commentary on “On Leather Wings” by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, “Heart of Ice” by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and Eric Radomski, “Robin’s Reckoning Part 1” by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, “Robin’s Reckoning Part 2” by Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, and Kevin Altieri, “Almost Got In” by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, “Harley and Ivy” by Timm, Dini, Radomski and Boyd Kirkland, “Read My Lips” by Timm, Radowski, Michael Reaves, and Shirley Walker, “Harleyquinade” by Timm, Radomski, Walker and Dini, “Over The Edge” by Timm, Dini, James Tucker, and Glen Murakami, “Critters” by Timm, Dini, Dan Riba, Murakami, and James Tucker. And “Legends of the Dark Knight” by Timm, Dini, Riba, Murakami, and Tucker. Expect behind-the-scenes tidbits about voice actors, creative choices, the animation, the dark style, and much more.
* “The Dark Knight’s First Night Pilot Promo: Hosted By Bruce Timm”- An archival extra with Timm talking about how “Batman: The Animated Series” came about and the original promo reel.
* “Tour of the Batcave”- A collection of show clips involving Batman, the utility belt, bat-vehicles and Alfred.
* “Batman: The Legacy Continues Retrospective”- An all-encompassing extra about various aspects of the show itself and its legacy.
* “Robin Rising: How The Boy Wonder’s Character Evolved”- A featurette on Robin and how the character changed over time.
* “Gotham’s Guardians: The Stalwart Supporting Characters”- A look at Batman’s allies in the series.
* “Voices of the Knight” is, of course, about the incredible voice talent behind the characters.
* “Gotham’s New Knight” is a Batgirl centric extra.
* A picture-in-picture video commentary on “House and Garden” by Bruce Timm, Boyd Kirkland and Paul Dini.
* “Arkham Asylum: Examine The Top-Secret Case Files Of The Dark Knight’s Many Foes”- A Rogue’s Gallery featurette.

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December 24, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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