Picks and Pans Review: Batman: the Animated Series
Fox (Sat., Sept. 5, 10 A.M. ET)
The network gives its new weekday afternoon cartoon a splashy launch. In addition to this two-parter airing on consecutive Saturdays, there will also be a prime-time showing of another episode on Sunday night (Sept. 6, 7 P.M. ET).
It deserves the big splash. This is one of the more stylish cartoons I've seen. It's certainly the darkest, strikingly inked in crepuscular tones. Fighting crime in an intimidating cityscape, the Caped Crusader has a brooding, almost sinister quality to him.
Obviously the animators were influenced by Tim Burton's big-screen Batman. They even use similar theme music, written by Danny Elfman. The only weaknesses are the herky-jerky way the characters move and the rather schmo-like personality of Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego. Once he dons the cowl, though, everything's cool, and his Batmobile is TV's best muscle car since the Green Hornet's Black Beauty in the live-action '60s series. (That car, a customized 1966 Chrysler Imperial, was chaffeured, incidentally, by martial arts star Bruce Lee.)
Kevin Conroy provides the voice for Batman, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is his loyal manservant, Alfred. In this two-part debut, Batman tangles with Catwoman (Adrienne Barbeau). In coming weeks, villainous voices will be provided by Mark Hamill (the Joker), John Glover (the Riddler), Paul Williams (the Penguin), Treat Williams (Professor Milo) and Roddy McDowall (the Mad Hatter).
On Monday (Sept. 7), the cartoon settles into its usual Bat-time, at 4:30 P.M. ET.
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