1 9 9 2 – 1 9 9 5 (USA)
85 x 25 minute episodes
Batman: The Animated Series, darkly noir-ish and Art Deco-inspired, finally presented the television viewing public with arguably the definitive depiction of Gotham City’s legendary Dark Knight vigilante.
While the Tim Burton Batman movies influenced much of the show, an updated Batman animated series had been in development for almost a decade prior to the show’s debut.
Batman: The Animated Series originally premiered in September 1992 and for the following two years was a central staple of the Fox weekday afternoon line-up, including a four-month period when the series was also aired on Sunday nights.
The series featured an uncharacteristically moody Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) plus Robin (Loren Lester), Alfred the butler (Efrem Zimbalist Jr), Commissioner Gordon (Robert Hastings), and Gordon’s daughter, Barbara (Melissa Gilbert). New to this version were Detective Bullock (Robert Costanzo); Leslie Thompkins, Bruce Wayne’s love interest (Diana Muldaur); and TV reporter Summer Gleeson (Mari Devon).
All the traditional villains were back as well.
Tim Curry was initially cast as the voice of the Joker. After he recorded four episodes, his take on the role was deemed to be too scary, so the decision was made to recast and eventually, the role went to Mark Hamill.
The show won the coveted Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in September 1993, whilst in September 1994 it was relocated to Saturday mornings, where, at the behest of Fox network executives, the series underwent retooling to bring it in line with the Network’s wish for “Less introspection, more humour, more larger-than-life adventure and more Robin”.
To reflect this lighter tone, the show was renamed The Adventures of Batman and Robin, the title it retained when it was moved back to the Fox weekday line-up a year later, and where it was to remain until 1997 when it was once again moved, this time transferring to the WB network as part of The New Batman/Superman Adventures.
The show has the most spin-offs of any animated TV series ever, including Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993); Superman (1996); The New Batman Adventures (1997); Batman & Mr Freeze: SubZero (1998); Batman of the Future (1999); Static Shock (2000); Justice League (2001); The Zeta Project (2001); Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003); and The Justice League Unlimited (2004).
Efrem Zimbalist Jr
Commissioner James Gordon