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Batman: The Animated Series

Warner Bros. // Unrated // October 29, 2018
List Price: $112.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted December 31, 2018 | E-mail the Author



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Batman The Animated Series Blu-ray Review


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
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face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Batman:
The Animated Series
is one of the finest achievements in
animation history. The series helped to redefine the medium of
animated television series and shape the landscape of the art form
for years. It helped to define and change the way animated television
series were even thought of in the eyes of audiences and critics
alike. Warner Bros intended to make a fun series from the start. To
entertain the kids and make something memorable enough to sell
merchandise. What the network didn't expect to occur, no doubt, was
for something so iconic and legendary to be created. For Batman:
The Animated Series
to be a masterclass of animation.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Batman:
The Animated Series
is an essential animated program which is
compelling from beginning to end. Constantly gripping and emotionally
involving, it's a series that takes audiences on a compelling
journey. The series was heavily inspired by Tim Burton's Batman
feature film but it was also a series which had a distinctive voice
and style that was unlike any other previous incarnation of the
character on film. The series would delve into the character of Bruce
Wayne in a way that became gripping and enthralling on a weekly
basis.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">The
exploration of Batman's many arch-nemesis foes including The Joker
(voiced impeccably by Mark Hamill), Harley Quinn, Two-Face, The
Penguin, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and others
was regularly surprising and intriguing. For example, Mr. Freeze had
an expanded story-line in the iconic episode Heart of Ice.
The
episode delved further into the backstory of Mr. Freeze and truly
became a classic exploring the character in a way never before done
within the Batman universe.


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align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Two-Face:
Part 1 & Part 2
are also some of the most memorable
episodes.
The series delved into the psyche of Harvey Dent in a way that made
the story-line all the more engaging. While every episode manages to
play out like a mini-theatrical film, this two-part episode feels
just as richly layered as a feature length production. Robin's
Reckoning Part 1 & Part 2
are also exceptional at
weaving
Robin into the series. While many might prefer the standalone Batman
episodes, Robin was also a great side-kick who had a terrific
introduction on the show. Robin's story-line was equally compelling
and richly rewarding as the series ex


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">While
the later seasons of Batman: The Animated Series
weren't quite
up to par with season one (which is undoubtedly the best of the
entire run) the series managed to maintain a consistently high
quality from every aspect of the series production. The direction by
series showrunner Bruce Timm was consistently entertaining and
exhilarating. Paul Dini, series writer, had a good knack for telling
these stories and wrote some of the best episodes and always managed
to bring major contributions to the series storytelling development.
The music score by Shirley Walker was gigantic in scope and featured
iconic themes that were perfectly matched to the dark tones of the
storytelling.


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align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Though
the series was produced by Warner Bros with the intention of being
entertaining for children, the production team put an enormous amount
of effort into making the series something adult fans could
appreciate. The brooding noir animation, legendary character designs,
and detailed backdrops form a mesmerizing animated world which feels
unique, cohesive, and legendary. The series helped define Batman for
an entire generation of audiences. It inspired something in fans
which is rarely seen in film or television. Batman: The
Animated
Series
should be considered a textbook example of great
television (animated or otherwise). The rich storytelling and
artistry make it one of the best series ever made.


size="3">The Blu-ray:


size="3">Video:


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align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Batman:
The Animated Series
arrives on Blu-ray after years of
speculation
and anticipation from fans. This has long been heralded as one of the
greatest achievements in DC animation yet the series has never really
had a definitive presentation. Previous DVD releases had artifacts
and an enormous amount of dirt, debris, and dust on the film prints.
Warner Bros decided to put work into bringing Batman: The
Animated
Series
to Blu-ray with the best possible quality.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">First
things first: fans will consider this to be a noteworthy upgrade over
all previous home media releases. The series has never looked better
than it does here. This is a terrific upgrade with better colors and
significantly better compression. It's a noteworthy upgrade which
Batman fans won't be able to resist.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">The
release isn't perfect, though. It seems as though there was minimal
effort done to truly clean up these prints. Doing so would have
undoubtedly been enormously time consuming and expensive. It didn't
get a fully "A-Grade" restoration effort (which is what many fans
wanted from this project). I wish I could say they went the extra
mile on Batman: The Animated Series, a cornerstone
in
animation, but the release never reaches those heights.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">The
picture also has noticeable DNR (digital noise reduction) which
causes the image to sometimes look softer and less detailed than it
could have been ideally. This is of course to have grain look less
noticeable on the image but I would have preferred the studio to
leave this aspect alone. The result is some scenes have less detail
than the ideal but it's the process WB decided on for their
restoration.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Even
with some picture-quality drawbacks, it's hard to argue that this
isn't a big improvement over previous DVD releases. The series has
never looked better than it does here. For an animated series
produced over twenty years ago, it's astonishing to see it again with
this degree of quality. It certainly never looked so good when
watching it growing up. The clarity of the opening sequence with it's
iconic title music and logo will send shivers up the spines of Batman
fans everywhere.


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align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Please
Note:


style="font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">WB
did not send the full set for this title for review. The film discs,
as an example, were not included and cannot be commented on.


face="Times New Roman, serif">Audio:


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; widows: 2; text-decoration: none;"
align="left">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">The
audio fares even better than the picture-quality. This is arguably
the area where this release is improved upon the most. From the
moment I started to listen to the 2.0 stereo DTS-HD Master Audio, it
was apparent the audio restoration is a superb improvement over the
previous Dolby Digital tracks. The score composed by Shirley Walker
has never sounded better (and for some fans, myself included, her
scores helped make the show become a weekly cinematic experience).
Nothing disappointing in regards to the quality of the audio on this
release. For a classic animated series to sound terrific is a
surprising joy. Astonishing quality.




size="3">Extras: face="Times New Roman, serif">


size="3">The Deluxe
Collector's Edition includes 3 mini Funko figurines and comes in
collectible digibook style packaging. The Blu-ray release also
includes both of the following feature films:
face="Times New Roman, serif">Batman:
Mask of the Phantasm
face="Times New Roman, serif">
and
size="3">Batman
and Mr. Freeze: SubZero
face="Times New Roman, serif">.


size="3">First of all, the
bulk of the bonus features on this Blu-ray release are archival and
are carried over from previous DVD editions. The run-down is as
follows:


Season One:


On Leather Wings commentary by Bruce Timm
and Eric Radomski


The Dark Knight's First Knight Promo:
Hosted by Bruce
Timm


Batman: The Legacy Continues Retrospective


Heart of Ice commentary by Paul Dini,
Bruce Timm and Eric
Radomski


Tour of the Batcave


Robin's Reckoning Part One commentary by
Bruce Timm and
Eric Radomski


Heart of Steel Part Two commentary by
Bruce Timm, Eric
Radomski and Kevin Altieri


Robin Rising: How the Boy Wonder's
Character Evolved


Gotham's Guardians: The Stalwart
Supporting Characters


Almost Got ‘im commentary by Bruce Timm,
Eric Radomski
and Paul Dini


Voices of the Knight


Harley and Ivy commentary by Bruce Timm,
Paul Dini, Eric
Radomski and Boyd Kirkland


Read My Lips commentary by Bruce Timm,
Michael Reaves, Boyd
Kirkland and Shirley Walker


Gotham's New Knight


Season Two:


Harlequinaade commentary by Bruce Timm,
Paul Dini, Shirley
Walker and Eric Radomski


House and Garden video commentary by
Producer Bruce Timm,
Director Boyd Kirkland and Writer Paul Dini.


Season Three:


Over the Edge commentary by Bruce Timm,
Paul Dini, Glen
Murakami and James Tucker, Arkham Asylum: Examine
the
Top-Secret Case Files of the Dark Knight's Many Foes, Critters
commentary by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Dan Riba, Glen Murakami
and
James Tucker, Legends of the Dark Knight commentary
by Bruce
Timm, Paul Dini, Dan Riba, Glen Murakami and James Tucker.


This set does include a NEW bonus features
disc with some
interesting supplemental features:


The Heart of Batman (HD, 1 Hr. 38 min.) is
the biggest
addition to this release. It's an essential view for fans of the
series and includes interviews with so many key players in the
series: from director Bruce Timm to writer Paul Dini to voice
director Andrea Romano. The animators and key players behind the
series production (as well as voice actors like Kevin Conroy, who so
impeccably voiced Batman) all share their thoughts on the origins of
the animated incarnation. The documentary does extend somewhat beyond
merely exploring Batman: TAS and also delves into other early Amblin
produced animated series (with the group discussion also focusing
some on Animaniacs and Tiny Toons
Adventures
due to so
many central figures involvement in all three series). The key focus
is certainly Batman but this far ranging documentary is also a bit of
a throwback look at the early 90's animation-house at WB altogether.
You get to see early concept work of the series development and hear
stories about the casting of Conroy as Batman. Some details might not
be surprising to longtime Batman TAS fans and other details will feel
fresh and revealing about the series production history.


Concepting Harley Quinn (2 min.) is a short
featurette
about the origin of the Harley Quinn character as seen in Batman:
The Animated Series
and how her style and look was designed.


size="3">Final
Thoughts:


style="font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none;">
face="Times New Roman, serif"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">Batman:
The Animated Series
is one of the greatest achievements in
animated television history. Each and every episode always set a high
bar with film-like episodes that are reminiscent of mini-movies
within the Batman universe. With striking animation, noir-style
designs, superb voice-performances, excellent writing and direction,
Batman was never so good in film as on this series (until Christopher
Nolan arrived to help reinvent the wheel once more). There are few
animated series so impeccably made and that could equally appeal to
adults and children alike. It's a joy to revisit this series on
Blu-ray. Anyone who has ever considered themselves a fan of the
series owes it to themselves to check out the series newly remastered
edition.


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align="left">
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Highly
Recommended.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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