Batman - The Animated Series - Tales of the Dark Knight

Director: Eric Radomski, Kent Butterworth
Edition Details:
Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only)
, PAL, Animated, Colour, Closed-captioned


Closer in spirit to the original comics than either the big screen live-action Batman Forever and the dreadful Batman & Robin, this 1992 (has it already been more than 10 years?) TV series proved to be unexpectedly good and led the way to some other similar spin-offs such as the 2001 Justice League TV series for instance.

With a simplistic yet hyper-stylized animation style reminiscent of a darker version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis mixed with the original 1940s comics and Frank Miller's definitive Dark Knight Returns, this animated series went some way towards dispelling memories of the campy 1960s Batman TV series. Add some great voice talent (Mark Hammill - Luke Skywalker! - as an excellent Joker) and a symphonic score that borrowed heavily from Danny Elfman's dark music for the two Tim Burton Batman movies ? and voila! You have one of the best animated TV shows in quite a while.

Unfortunately you wouldn't think it from the four episodes packaged here. I'm sure there are better episodes than these to lavish DVD attention onto, but instead we get:

A villain called the sewer king is "raising" kids
 . . . where else? . . . in the sewer. and forcing them to commit crimes for him. Too many kids in this episode to make it work.

Three gangsters escapes with cash after an overweight cop bungles a raid at an old warehouse - afterwards the three cops involved are questioned on what had happened. Probably the best episode in the bunch, which unfortunately isn't saying much . . .

A disguised Bruce Wayne goes undercover, is mugged and hit on the head, and wakes up in a desert with amnesia, and is forced to work in a mine.

The boy of Gotham city's mayor's runs away, and accidentally ends up being kidnapped by the Joker. Another episode with a kid that just doesn't work.

THE DISC: Luckily they have stopped distributed Warner Bros. DVDs in those dumb carton snapper boxes locally (in South Africa) ? as far as I can make out however they are still being sold that way in the States. These boxes wear and tear easily and just aren't as resilient as plain old-fashioned plastic jewel cases.

There are preciously few extras on this Region 2 disc ? a situation pretty much repeated on the Region 1 discs. Also, while the sound is decent, but the image colours look washed out and dull.

WORTH IT? Aimed at the kiddie market (why? adults dig this stuff too . . .), ironically this disc might not be suited for very young children. This was a dark series, and despite the onscreen presence of kids, you might end up having to explain concepts such as street children, child abuse and neglect, not to mention homelessness and poverty to inquisitive younger viewers . . .

RECOMMENDATION: Mediocre episodes, mediocre disc. Pick another disc in the series instead . . .



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