Gotham is in trouble again as things get underway this week with the episode Harlequinade. With an original airdate of 23 May 1994, this episode closed out the second season and saw Batman (Kevin Conroy) enlisting the help of Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin).
Arranging to have her released from Arkham Asylum, the Dark Knight has Harley help him track down the Joker (Mark Hamill) who has stolen a nuclear weapon and threatens to use it.
Batman may have bitten off more than he can chew taking Harley along, and she tries his patience to the extreme, in a number of amusing sequences. They actually make for a fun pairing, and you know things have to be rough when Bats turns to a villain for help. But can she be trusted not to betray the Dynamic Duo? And can Joker be trusted not to betray her?
Harley has been a wonderful creation, and of course has gone on to a life all her own, becoming one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe. She even gets a swell musical number in the middle of the episode, which describes her character’s relationship with the Joker, and serves as a distraction for Batman and Robin (Loren Lester) to get the drop on the baddies.
Joining the cast this week is the iconic, Dick Miller, as the suave, pencil mustached mobster, Boxy Bennett, one of the leads our heroes follow to find and stop the Clown Prince of Crime.
It had to happen sooner or later. The Animated Series takes on one of the biggest physical threats to Batman by bringing Bane into the series. The season three opener aired 10 September, 1994 and sees Rupert Thorne (John Vernon) hiring the chemically enhanced assassin, voiced by Henry Silva to put Batman down once and for all.
The series, now officially referred to as The Adventures of Batman and Robin features an augmented version of Danny Elfman’s theme, but still retains the great look of the past two seasons, and starts the season off with a bang!
Bane wants to watch Batman in action before he moves against him, and tails the hero when he hunts down Killer Croc (Aron Kincaid), this gives Bane all he needs to know about dealing with the Bat.
Bane lets Batman know he’s around by putting down Croc before the Dark Knight can, and then trashes the Batmobile with his bare hands!!
Of course, the cartoon can’t follow the true result of the pair’s combat, though for a second it hints that it may. In the end, Batman, barely, stops Bane, and then confronts Thorne. Gotham, and its protectors are safe!
Second Chance aired 17 September, 1994, and sees the return of Harvey Dent aka Two-Face (Richard Moll). The former DA is about to undergo cosmetic surgery that will rid him of his disfigurement, and hopefully help him lose his villainous alter-ego.
But before that can happen, someone kidnaps him!
Happily, Batman and Robin were watching over the surgery and take off in pursuit to save Harvey, and hopefully free him of Two-Face once and for all.
I like that through it all, Bruce is haunted by the loss of his friend, and that drives him forward furiously in his search for the kidnappers. Is it Penguin (Paul Williams)? Is it Thorne, whom Robin runs afoul of, and ends up in trouble with (again)?
The true villain is revealed, and Batman may not be able to take him on all by himself.
This one is a solid story, and I couldn’t help but notice that there is something else at work in the episode, and I hope it continues, Robin is starting to chafe under Batman’s leadership, and wants to be his own person, to be recognized by Bruce as a man and a hero on his own, and not just some kid in a costume.