Batman the Animated Series - Volume Three was interestingly enough my first initiation to the whole aura of The Dark Knight. I had heard about it and I have screened some of the Batman movies, but they didn’t have this particular incarnation of the Caped Crusader. I really love the maturity of this show. I think people tend to dismiss cartoons as merely being mind candy for kids. I think they look at comic books as nothing more then something to occupy the minds of wayward youths. Well, Batman the Animated Series - Volume Three does nothing but show how vastly wrong these assumptions are. I think if you really watch the episodes of this show, and I mean if someone who has no interest in animation or cartoons does this, they will be pleasantly surprised at what they ultimately find this material doing. There are deep layers of text and subtext and I think it’s great that the people who created this show took animation seriously. I also think that it bodes well against the idea that all people want is easy entertainment. On the surface this is what something like Batman the Animated Series - Volume Three appears to be doing. Yet, after watching a few episodes you realize there are very big ideas at work.
The way these shows are drawn, the plots, the characters that Batman must go up against are all representative of greater ideas. I am sure some may think if you try hard enough you can read a deep subtext into anything, but I think it is universally believed that the Dark Knight part of Batman’s history is teeming with social significance. Yet, there is still a great deal of action, suspense and impeccable timing. Batman the Animated Series - Volume Three is a must own for the fans and for people who like well done animation.
There are commentary tracks on 3 of the 29 episodes that make up this volume. They are for “Harlequinade”, “Read My Lips” and “House and Garden.” I am not saying that this is a prerequisite, but I think if you have a lot of interest in actually doing animation you will get a great deal out of these commentary tracks. As someone who is making their own animated movie (1985-1986) I just love hearing about the process. The people who created this show are working at such a higher level then I am, but at the same time the general structure in as far as getting the story down on paper and the emotions across on screen are all the same.
Gotham’s New Knight: Batgirl
This is a historical and present day look at the Batgirl character and how she figures into this show. Since I really have no frame of reference for the character (other than watching the episodes on these disks), it was interesting to sit back and find out how she came into being. We find out what the creators had in mind for her, why they wanted her to be more assertive then in other incarnations and generally why they felt that it was time to make her part of the team. I found this featurette to be both insightful and illuminating, especially for someone like myself who is still new to this whole animation thing.
Standard Version presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of it’s original television exhibition. There are three things that make this show really stand out. First is the sparseness of images. There aren’t a million things happening at once, the action is easy to follow and there really aren’t a ton of things happening in the background as the main characters are doing their thing in the foreground. I like this because it made the shows very easy to watch. Second is the overall dark look of the show. For a cartoon this must have really scared the network execs because kids shows don’t normally look like this. Yet, at the same time, this seems to only be a kids show in name only. The darkness adds a whole other psychological context to this show. Lastly, this show’s pacing is not like any other that you have seen. Usually, “cartoons” are filled with quick cuts, snappy dialogue and more happens in one minute then usually happens in one hour in a live action movie. The 29 episodes of Batman the Animated Series - Volume Three are deliberate but not boring. I am not sure how much I would like this in a live action film, but in animation everything looks amazingly evocative.
Dolby Digital. In stereo in English, Spanish and French. I had to turn up the volume a bit louder then usual for these disks, but once I got the sound levels set on my TV everything played fine. There is a decent amount of dialogue but I was surprisingly more taken with the visual look of this show. It’s strange because other then the dialogue and music, I didn’t notice a whole lot of sound FX used in this show. Sure, they are there to emphasize a certain point or scene, but I didn’t notice them like I thought I might. I am really surprised that this show ever got made. I say this because it is very arty. Sure there are the typical action conventions that we have come to expect from Batman, but things are just on a whole different level here. The fact that this show was a popular as it was, and resonated so strongly among the fans and casual observers, I think that really says something about the type of fare that people want to see.
A purple box with various pictures from the different episodes mixed with yellow colors, has Batman splashed across the front, sort of busting through it all. This initial image is very strong and I love all the pictures that were used for this box cover. The back features 4 pictures from the show (three of which contain Batman and Robin), a description of what the general themes of these episodes are, a special features listing and tech specs. Inside the cover the 4 disks fold out (each housed in their own plastic area) with different pictures from the show emblazoned all over the packaging. This box set looks top notch and should appeal to die hard fans as well as people like myself who aren’t as up on things as we probably should be.
I am very happy to add Batman the Animated Series - Volume Three to my DVD collection. It is a very solidly done piece of animation and as far Batman stuff goes, I think it is extremely intellectual. From the the packaging, to the episodes, to the supplemental materials, everything about this 4 disk set screams of tender loving care. I think this will be a great starting point for me to take my newfound interest in Batman, and explore some of the other incarnations of the real man in black. Clocking in at 609 minutes this box set will supply hours of enjoyment to all who purchase it.
Great job DC comics!!
Batman: The Animated Series was released .