Mark Pellegrini, the guy who runs the TMNT Entity blog, wrote a comparison between the Batman cartoon immediately after the Dini/Timm Batman/Justice League animated cycle and its predecessor, arguing that objective overall superiority of the DC Animated Universe stuff aside and the 1990s series especially, The Batman and its five seasons got short shrift.
now that both the DCAU and The Batman are but memories distanced by years and a multitude of newer cartoons and straight-to-video animated films clogging our DVRs, I think it’d be a good idea to discard the bitterness of the Bat-Embargo and judge The Batman against its holy brethren of the 1990s, Batman: The Animated Series, a bit more objectively.
Okay, so even objectively, Batman: The Animated Series wipes the floor with The Batman; like Hell I’m here to argue that. Instead, I think the safer activity to pursue is determining what aspects of the Caped Crusader’s mythos The Batman actually succeeded over Batman: The Animated Series in adapting and improving upon.
It is disturbing how correct he is. There is much to rip on in the first season of The Batman, including but not limited to how many of the characters’ first appearances involve less profitable crime and more the destruction of the city as facet or totality of the evil act. There is also at least two episodes early on where Gotham City’s fate hinged on unlikely city planning. In the episode where Killer Croc intends to flood the city that fate literally hinged on a switch that would “flood” or “not flood” the city. The initial Mr Freeze episode was predicated on the entire metropolitan area having central heating and air systems.
There was also the far more naked use of concepts designed for toys, the Batwave coming to mind immediately.
The article does not mention any of that and it is absolutely correct to do so. The article exists to extoll virtues of the program, not pound endlessly on what was wrong, which we in the internet and on our couches have certainly done already, far too much yet completely fairly.
So the article touches upon what The Batman did correctly, especially where The New Batman Adventures failed in a comparative place.
That said, I like these paragraphs:
On one hand, it wants to be a gritty and intelligent look at the psychological aspects of Batman’s adventures with daring plots and grim consequences, but then it also wants to be a fun and lighter take on the character where he eats enchiladas, pilots a giant robot and has kung-fu battles with the Penguin. The Batman wanted to be both kinds of shows and while it did strike that necessary balance from time to time, mostly it was a whole lot of nonsense and Greg Weisman phoning it in while waiting for that Spectacular Spider-Man gig to come along.
Perhaps its greatest hurtle during its initial run, though, was just the fact that it was the successor to the DC Animated Universe and that meant it was going to have a lot of guys in their early twenties who were going to hate it simply for existing. The fact that it ran concurrently with the last season of Justice League Unlimited, resulting in the infamous “Bat-Embargo” surely didn’t help (the Bat-Embargo prevented Batman’s supporting characters and villains from appearing in JLU as The Batman had exclusivity rights to them).
In other words, The Batman performed certain bits better because The Animated Series failed.