Batman: The Animated Series (1992) – Nothing to Fear, Be a Clown, Appointment in Crime Alley

 

Time for more Bat-goodness with these three episodes that originally aired on 15, 16 & 17 of September, 1992.

First up is Nothing to Fear, which sees the Scarecrow (Henry Polic II) being introduced to the Batman’s (Kevin Conroy) rogues gallery. When Bats is exposed to the villain’s scare-gas, he begins to fear that he will bring shame to the Wayne family name, and not live up to the hopes and dreams of his dead parents, specifically those of his father, Thomas Wayne (Richard Moll) who voices his disappointment in Bruce.

Bats is shot by Scarecrow while the villain is trying to rob a bank, and is injected with the Scarecrow’s fear toxin, sending the episode spiraling into a psychological tale that gives insight into the character of Bruce Wayne.

It’s balanced with his hunt for the Scarecrow, who is also Dr. Jonathan Crane. Crane has a vendetta against the local university, and that may be the way Batman is able to hunt him down and stop him. If he can survive the encounters with his own fears.

When the Scarecrow crashes a museum benefit, he kidnaps Dr. Long (Kevin McCarthy), the man responsible for his dismissal, but Bats, still reeling from the attack of his own fears is in hot pursuit.

Will he be strong enough to not only confront the Scarecrow but his personal demons as well?

I love that the show, already, isn’t afraid to get dark, and explore the ideas it does.

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Be a Clown features more trouble from the Joker (Mark Hamill).

When Mayor Hill (Lloyd Bochner), who doesn’t have a high opinion of any of the costumes operating in Gotham, including Batman, makes a comment that the Joker doesn’t care for, he decides to take revenge, during Hill’s son, Jordan’s (Justin Shenkarow) birthday party. The bomb the Clown Prince has planted is taken care of by Bruce, but Jordan has run away and slipped inside the Joker’s van.

Jordan wants nothing more than to practice his magic, something his father sneers on and has organized his son’s party merely to facilitate photo opportunities for himself. Confrontations with his father leads him to take the Joker’s advice (who is posing as a party clown, named Jekko) to becoming a great magician, which is to run away.

With Jordan missing, Mayor Hill realizes how much he loves his son, and will do anything to find him. Meanwhile, the Joker is briefly tempted by the idea of Jordan becoming his protege.

But Bruce is able to piece together where the Joker’s hide out is hidden, and races to save the young boy, who may or may not want to be saved. In fact Batman is captured by the Joker, with Jordan’s help, though he begins to rethink everything once the attempts on Bats life starts.

Another solid story, and anytime the Joker shows up on the series, you know it’s going to be good.

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Appointment in Crime Alley is another dark tale. As always, on the anniversary of his parents’ murder, Bats begins in an intensive sweep of the site of their deaths, Crime Alley. Unfortunately, Daggett (Ed Asner) has plans to completely devastate it, so he can put up his own buildings.

But what will happen to the people who live there? What will happen to elderly Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Diana Muldaur), who helped console a young Bruce Wayne on that terrible night and still lives there?

Daggett is aided by Nitro (David L. Lander), who is planning to make it look like a gas leak that explodes, leveling the area, and allowing Daggett to get his eager hands on the property at a cheap price, without the city interfering, as despite the area’s current status, it is an historical landmark.

Daggett’s thugs are showing up, and trying to bully and scare everyone out of the area before it blows, but Batman stops them, and quickly learns what Daggett’s plans really are. Now the Dark Knight has to stop Daggett’s plan and save the neighborhood that took so much from him.

Nitro is aided by Crocker, which I only mention because he is voiced by Jeffrey Tambor!

Such a fantastic series, and cartoon or not, this is one of the best interpretations of the Batman characters ever!

Until next week, same Bat-channel, same Bat-time!

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