“Dark Deco” – A look at Batman The Animated Series

 

Hello there Batfans! Today inpopculturewetrust will be taking a look back at Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995).

This series premiered in September 1992, a few short months after Batman Returns. It was largely inspired by the two Tim Burton Batman films, Batman and Batman Returns even going so far as to use the Danny Elfman theme from those two movies and the film noir look of Burton’s Gotham. This series also shared DNA with the 1940’s Fleischer Superman theatrical cartoons especially in it’s art deco look.

Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski designed the series by closely emulating the Burton films’, incorporating period features such as black-and-white title cards, police blimps, a 1940s influenced film noir look and style. Eric Radomski came up with the simple yet effective concept that all backgrounds be painted by using light colors on black paper, instead of dark colors on white paper as is the industry standard. The distinctive visual combination of film noir imagery and Art Deco designs with a very dark color scheme was dubbed Dark Deco“.

On Leather Wings

Batman: The Animated Series credits logo.

Batman: The Animated Series credits logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Batman: The Animated Series (It was never refered as this onscreen, the opening sequence was merely a montage featuring Batman and Gotham city) premiered on September 5th 1992 with the episode On Leather Wings featuring a little known Batman villain Man-Bat. The series debuted to critical acclaim and in this first episode you can see why. Full of mystery and played out almost exclusively at night, Batman battles his doppelgänger in front of the beautifully drawn Gotham city.

65 episodes were produced for season one, due to it being the minimum number of episodes necessary for a TV series to be successfully syndicated. Many of these episodes were instant classics much loved by fans and critics alike; Two-Face parts one and two, Heart of Ice and the Cat and the Claw parts one and two were fantastic pieces of animated storytelling giving the audience origins for Two-Face, Mr Freeze and Catwoman respectively. In the case of Harvey Two-Face Dent the character was actually introduced in the very first episode giving the audience weeks to get to know him before he became a member of Batman’s rogue gallery. Very sophisticated stuff for what was intended to be a children’s cartoon adventure series. The Joker and Harley QuinnEarly on in the shows run The Joker was introduced (in the episode Christmas with the Joker). The Joker was played by Mark Hamill (of Star Wars fame) and quickly became an integral part of the show, I personally think that The Joker was used far too often however fans of the show loved the manic portrayal which channelled all those that came before him (a blending of the comic’s various versions, Ceaser Romero and Jack Nicholson).The producers were not just content to use the comic book characters. They also came up with their own, most notably a love interest and sidekick for the Joker named Harley Quinn. Harley was extremely popular with fans, so much so that soon after her debut episode aired she was written into the official comic book continuity and has appeared in many different versions of Batman since including the Birds of Prey tv Series and Batman Live.This first season received critical acclaim for its distinctive animation and mature writing. Fans of a wide age range praised the show’s sophisticated, cinematic tone and psychological stories. 

A picture of Harley Quinn from The New Batman ...

Season Two The Adventures of Batman and Robin

Because of the success the show was enjoying, while the 65 episodes of the first season were still airing, the Fox Network executives ordered a second season of 20 more episodes. The second season featured Robin more prominently and was titled The Adventures of Batman & Robin.

This season was simply not quite as good as the first, a more cartoonish vibe can be felt, the maturity of the writing gave way to one liners and simplistic storylines and the animation felt rushed.

In total, Batman: The Animated Series reached 85 episodes before finishing its original run of episodes on September 15th 1995 with the episode The Lion and the Unicorn.

I can definitely recommend Batman: The Animated Series. Those first 65 episodes redefined what we expected from television animation and inspired a new lease of life in the comic books and on film.

Until next time batfans.

Belive the Hype

Steve

(left to right) Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, the Pe...

 

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