Batman: The Animated Series (1997/1998) – Double Talk, Joker’s Millions and Growing Pains


Turn on the Bat-Signal, there’s more trouble in Gotham this week!

With Double Talk, which aired 22 November, 1997, Arnold Wesker aka The Ventriloquist (George Dzunda) is deemed fit and healthy, he is released from Arkham, but his inner demon, voiced through his dummy, Scarface, may be trying to return!

Wayne Enterprises and a Wayne Halfway house, provide for Wesker when he’s released, and Batman (Kevin Conroy) checks in on him secretly, to make sure the reformed criminal is ok.

A couple of thugs try and get Arnold back in the scene, but Batman protects Wesker, but the exposure may have been to much, and he begins to hear Scarface’s voice again. But there may be more at work here, someone may be trying to drive Wesker to madness and bring back his altered personality.

There is a new voice behind Lucius Fox, Mel Winkler, and Billy Barty lends his voice to the show as well as Hips McManus. It seems McManus is one of the people, along with Scarface’s former thugs,  behind the plan to drive Wesker to insanity and return him to a life of crime.

Batgirl (Tara Strong) lends Batman a hand in the investigation, which leads them to a theft at Wayne Enterprises. Will Wesker, Batman and Batgirl survive this encounter with Scarface, and will Wesker ever be well again?


Joker’s Millions aired 21 February 1998, and sees the Joker (Mark Hamill) – still hate his redesign – return destitute. But when he somehow inherits a fortune from a gangster, but unfortunately for the Clown Prince of Crime, there’s a catch. The money makes him a target for the gangster’s men who feel they should have gotten it instead and the IRS want their share as well.

All of the big names are in this one, Harley (Arleen Sorkin), Penguin (Paul Williams), Nightwing (Loren Lester) and Poison Ivy (Diane Pershing), as the Joker plans to enjoy his windfall, including high-priced lawyers to clear his name of past crimes.

The episode is fun, allowing for Hamill’s Joker to be goofy, charming, and not quite homicidal, but close, and everything we’ve come to love about his interpretation of the character.

Barlowe (Allan Rich), the dead gangster, had a perfect plan, and it works amazingly well to put Joker in some real trouble.

Of course, Harley wants to break out of Arkham and join the Joker, especially when it seems he’s found himself a new Harley (Maggie Wheeler).

A delightful romp of a tale!


The last story for the week is Growing Pains, a Robin-centric tale that aired 28 February, 1998.

Robin (Matthew Valencia) tries to do the right thing, by helping a little lost girl, Annie (Francesca Marie Smith) elude a mysterious man who is following her. But not everything is as it seems when the Dynamic Duo learn that Matt Hagen aka Clayface (Ron Perlman) is involved, and possibly her father.

As the mystery deepens, Batman investigates, while Robin and Annie remain on the run from Clayface, and it’s apparent that Robin has a but of a crush on her, even as she begins to realize that Clayface may not be her father, but may only be a part of him.

By way of explanation we get a flashback of what has happened to Clayface since his last appearance in the series, and why Annie was created. It’s a nice revelation, and it plays out very nicely, leading to only one possible ending, and a bit of a heartache for the Boy Wonder.

That’s it for this week, more next Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!




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