June 16, 2018

THE MUMBLY CARTOON SHOW


THE MUMBLY CARTOON SHOW
(ABC, September 11-December 18, 1976)

Hanna-Barbera Productions




MAIN CAST:
Don Messick – Lt. Mumbly, Lt. Nuts and Bolts, various
John Stephenson – Chief Shnooker, various


            He was an unassuming detective in a frumpy trench coat and a shoddy little car that seemed almost unable to find the loose change in your couch, let alone solve a crime. And yet, somehow, he always got his man.

Mumbly in his jalopy.


            If those of you old enough to know thought that was describing Columbo, a series starring Peter Falk as the title character, you’d be half right. In 1976, Hanna-Barbera took inspiration from the mystery series to create a “new” character: Mumbly (Don Messick). Why “new”? Because Mumbly was a redressing of the previously-existing character, Muttley (also Messick). Hanna-Barbera wanted to use him again, but because he and his owner, Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell), were co-owned by Heatter-Quigley Productions in a deal for an intended game show, Hanna-Barbera wasn’t free to use them as regularly as their other characters. So, they changed Muttley’s fur, gave him a coat and a car that lost pieces as it drove, and Mumbly was born.

Mumbly and Shnooker enjoying some downtime.

            The Mumbly Cartoon Show debuted on ABC on September 11, 1976 as part of the package show Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show alongside reruns of The New Tom & Jerry Show and The Grape Ape Show, and then the reduced Tom & Jerry/Mumbly Show after Grape Ape was broken off into its own show. The series followed Mumbly as he was tasked by his boss, Chief Shnooker (John Stephenson), with solving impossible crimes—often at the threat of losing his job—that Shnooker was either too frightened or couldn’t be bothered to do. Of course, Shnooker didn’t hesitate when it came to taking the credit for closing the case. One of the running gags featured a criminal who could run off absolutely anywhere in the world only to find Mumbly already there and waiting to arrest them. The series was written by Bill Ackerman, Larz Bourne, Tom Dagenais, Alan Dinehart, Don Jurwich, Joel Kane, Dick Kinney, Frank Ridgeway, with music by Hoyt Curtin.

Mumbly getting the drop on a giant lumberjack.

            Mumbly only ran for a single season, continuing on in reruns through the early part of 1977. While it aired primarily on Saturday morning, “The Fatbeard the Pirate Fracas” aired as part of ABC’s Thanksgiving Funshine Festival on Thanksgiving Day. Hanna-Barbera decided to recycle Mumbly further by including him as one of the villains, the Really Rottens, in Laff-A-Lympics; teamed-up with The Dread Baron (Stephenson) who was a pastiche for Dastardly. Following the end of that series, Mumbly disappeared into relative obscurity; only appearing again as part of a clip segment in ABC’s 1983 Saturday Morning Preview Special



EPISODE GUIDE:
“Fleetfeet Versus Flat Foot” (9/11/76) – A speedy thief tips Shnooker off to his intended theft.

“The Great Hot Car Heist” (9/18/76) – Mumbly is assigned to retrieve a new top-secret police vehicle that ends up being stolen.

“The Magical Madcap Caper” (9/25/76) – Mumly and Shnooker guard the valuables in a mansion where a suspicious magician is performing.

“The Big Breakout Bust” (10/2/76) – Mumbly is ordered to retrieve an escaped prisoner in 24 hours or lose his job.

“The Return of Bing Bong” (10/9/76) – Mumbly is tasked with ending the rampage of an 80-foot gorilla in the city.

“The Super-Dooper Super Cop” (10/16/76) – Mumbly is forced to compete for his job against a robot detective while also capturing a slippery cat burglar.

“The Big Ox Bust” (10/23/76) – Mumbly and Shnooker take a trip to Canada just as a giant lumberjack is terrorizing the forest.

“The Great Graffiti Gambit” (10/30/76) – Mumbly is put on the trail of a graffiti artist who has defaced half the city.

“Taking Stock” (11/6/76) – A prize-winning bull is taken, setting Mumbly on the trail of The Lonesome Rustler.

“The Littermugg” (11/13/76) – Shnooker’s TV interview is interrupted by a sudden deluge of litter, courtesy of The Littermugg.

“The Perils of the Purple Baron” (11/20/76) – The Purple Baron freezes everyone in the city in order to rob them, except Mumbly remains unaffected and is hot on his case.

“The Fatbeard the Pirate Fracas” (11/25/76) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Big Snow Foot Snow Job” (11/27/76) – Shnooker’s ski vacation is spoiled by the sudden appearance of a creature scaring everyone away from the lodge.

“Sherlock’s Badder Brudder” (12/4/76) – Two criminals have it out for Mumbly and Shnooker and try everything to get rid of Mumbly.

“The UFO’s a No-No” (12/11/76) – Aliens arrive to invade Earth, and Shnooker tasks Mumbly with giving them a parking ticket and collecting the fine.

“Hyde and Seek” (12/18/76) – Mumbly investigates a disturbance at Dr. Seek’s lab where he discovers Dr. Seek’s new soda formula turns him into the insidious Mr. Hyde.

June 09, 2018

INCH HIGH, PRIVATE EYE


INCH HIGH, PRIVATE EYE

(NBC, September 8-December 1, 1973)

Hanna-Barbera Productions



MAIN CAST:
Lennie Weinrib – Inch High
Kathy Gori – Lori
Bob Luttrel – Gator
John Stephenson – Mr. Finkerton
Jean Vander Pyl – Mrs. Finkerton
Don Messick - Braveheart


Inch High using Braveheart's eye as a mirror.

            Inch High, Private Eye was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon inspired by Get Smart. The series centered around the diminutive titular character (Lennie Weinrib, doing a combined impersonation of Jack Benny and Don Adams) who was a bumbling detective for the Finkerton Detective Agency (a play on the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, now known simply as Pinkerton). Inch wasn’t always a man of his stature, as a scientific formula gave him the height he deemed a boon for his work (makes you wonder how his parents came up with his name). He was often tasked with foiling the complicated schemes of various thieves who wanted to steal rare items. However, many of these crimes happened under his nose, painting him as either incompetent or as the thief himself.

Lori, Gator and Braveheart in the Hushmobile.


Inch’s bosses, Mr. and Mrs. Finkerton (John Stephenson and Jean Vander Pyl, respectively), didn’t particularly care for the diminutive gumshoe and took every opportunity to threaten his job; either outright firing him or replacing him with a mechanical flea. Aiding Inch in his duties was his niece, Lori (sometimes spelled “Laurie”, voiced by Kathy Gori), her muscle-bound hayseed boyfriend, Gator (Bob Luttrel), and the ironically-named St. Bernard, Braveheart. Inch communicated with his friends through a special make-up compact Lori carried.

Inch High model sheet.

Inch High debuted on NBC on September 8, 1973. The series was written by Fred S. Fox, David P. Harmon, Seaman Jacobs, William Raynor, Gene Thompson and Myles Wilder, and featured music by Hoyt Curtin. One of Hanna-Barbera’s less-remarkable or memorable efforts, it only ran a single season of 13 episodes and only made a comic appearance in Gold Key’s Hanna-Barbera Fun-In #14, later reprinted in the United Kingdom as Inch High, Private Eye & Pixie & Dixie Annual by Brown Watson. Inch High was also featured on a lunch box by Thermos, sharing the honor with Goober and the Ghost Chasers.



The series did make a return to television in syndicated rerun programming such as USA Cartoon Express, the Mysteries, Inc. block on Cartoon Network, and on Boomerang. On Cartoon Network, Inch was featured in a commercial that had him teaming-up with Batman…with disastrous results. He also appeared on an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law in a height discrimination case, voiced by Maurice LaMarche. In 2012, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection



EPISODE GUIDE:
“Diamonds are a Crook’s Best Friend” (9/8/73) – Inch High is called in to investigate a shadowy figure after Mrs. Gotrocks’ diamonds.

“You Oughta Be in Pictures” (9/15/73) – Chasing a diamond thief lands Inch High trapped inside a book.

“The Smugglers” (9/22/73) – Investigating a smuggling operation leads Inch to recover an empty crate and be forced out on vacation.

“Counterfeit Story” (9/29/73) – Inch investigates the replacement of money in banks with counterfeit cash.

“The Mummy’s Curse” (10/6/73) – Inch heads to Egypt to investigate a mummy causing chaos.

“The Doll Maker” (10/13/73) – A dollmaker plans to use an army of dolls to steal all the fur coats in town.

“Music Maestro” (10/20/73) – Inch notices a pattern between a rash of thefts and where a particular symphony plays.

“Dude City” (10/27/73) – Inch trades his old friends for new ones at a dude ranch, until he learns his new friends are actually crooks.

“High Fashion” (11/3/73) – A fashion designer plans to kidnap his competition.

“The Cat Burglars” (11/10/73) – An art thief uses a special rubber formula to commit impossible thefts.

“The World’s Greatest Animals” (11/17/73) – A crooked ringmaster has his men steal animals for his circus.

“Super Flea” (11/24/73) – A new mechanical super flea detective threatens to replace Inch, but Inch has to find it after it ends up stolen.

“The Return of Spumoni” (12/1/73) – The dollmaker returns for revenge on Inch and plans to steal a statue he’s guarding.

May 30, 2018

THE VOICES OF THE X-MEN

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of X-Men: The Animated Series, as well as the 55th anniversary of the X-Men, we present this infographic highlighting every actor to take on the Saturday morning versions of Marvel's Merry Mutants.


May 26, 2018

MARVEL VS. DC: ROUND 4

ANNOYING SIDEKICKS

Not satisfied with merely presenting the source material on screen, studios tended to create sidekicks to accompany our heroes in order to add comedy and relatability for young viewers. Unfortunately, they usually ended up being unnecessarily annoying. 

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN


VS.

FANTASTIC FOUR (1978)




GETTING YOUNGER

TV networks are always looking to appeal to a younger crowd. To do that, they believe the characters on their shows NEED to be younger; and superheroes are no exception.

X-MEN: EVOLUTION

VS.

THE BATMAN




FANTASTIC FOUR (1978)


FANTASTIC FOUR (1978)
(NBC, September 9-December 16, 1978)

DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Marvel Comics Animation




MAIN CAST:
Mike RoadMr. Fantastic/Reed Richards
Ginny TylerInvisible Girl/Susan Richards
Ted CassidyThe Thing/Benjamin J. Grimm, Mole Man
Dick Tufeld - Narrator


For the history of the Fantastic Four, check out the post here.

            The second Fantastic Four cartoon was probably the most hated. The reason being? One word: H.E.R.B.I.E.

The Fantastic Four, featuring H.E.R.B.I.E.


Before Marvel became an entertainment powerhouse at the box-office, they were constantly struggling to bring their characters out of the comics and onto the screen. They often had to rely on other studios, and thus made deals licensing out their characters for production. In 1977, Universal Studios optioned an assortment of characters for various live-action productions. Most famously in that deal was the Hulk for The Incredible Hulk. However, Universal only optioned the Human Torch and not the rest of his team.

H.E.R.B.I.E. helping work the Fantasticar.

When NBC’s Fred Silverman wanted to commission a new Fantastic Four series, Universal would not allow the use of the Torch (ironically, NBC would come to share owners with Universal decades later). A popular myth that had spread over the years was he was left out in fear kids would try to emulate him and set himself on fire. In the comics up to this point, the Inhumans Crystal and Medusa and hero for hire Luke Cage served as alternate members of the team, as others would as well down the line. But, instead of using an established Marvel character, they decided to use an all-new one: H.E.R.B.I.E. (Frank Welker).

The strange Inhumans.

H.E.R.B.I.E., or Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-Type, Integrated Electronics, was a robot created by Mr. Fantastic (Mike Road) to aid in his experiments and their exploratory missions. Stan Lee pitched the idea of a cute robot sidekick to DePatie-Freleng (DFE), with artist Dave Cockrum commissioned to design it. However, Cockrum ended up disliking the character immensely and was replaced by Fantastic Four co-creator Jack Kirby.  Lee would also serve as a writer for the show, while Kirby provided storyboards.

The menace of Magneto!

Like the previous Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four series, it adapted some of its episode plots from actual comic stories; however heavily altered with the inclusion of H.E.R.B.I.E. For instance, “Medusa and the Inhumans” adapted the first encounter of the Inhumans and the Fantastic Four from Fantastic Four #45 (1965), however they were led by Medusa and had typical villain plans for world conquest. Medusa later returned as a member of the Frightful Four in the same-titled episode, however as a willing member and not under the influence of amnesia as in Fantastic Four #36 (1965). “Calamity on Campus” was based on Fantastic Four #35 (1966) but relocated the story’s setting to St. Louis and omitted the alchemist villain Diablo. Along with the standard Fantastic Four foes, like Dr. Doom (John Stephenson), the android Dragon Man, the subterranean Mole Man (Ted Cassidy) and the shape-changing alien Impossible Man (Welker), there were also appearances by some original characters and even the X-Men’s Magneto (although, he wasn’t called a mutant during his appearance and was depicted as a typical crook, voiced by Stephenson).

Ad for the series.

Fantastic Four, also known as The New Fantastic Four, debuted on NBC on September 9, 1978. Along with Lee, the series was written by Roy Thomas, Bob Johnson, Christy Marx and Bob Stitzel. In an unusual move, the episode would begin immediately after the intro with narration by Dick Tufeld, and then cut to the title card shortly after; typically, the title card would be shown immediately after the intro or superimposed over the start of the episode. The series’ theme was composed by Dean Elliott and Eric Rogers, with the remainder of the music done by Elliott.

H.E.R.B.I.E.'s comics debut.

            At 13 episodes, this is the shortest Fantastic Four cartoon to date. It was quickly cancelled, hurting an already-struggling DFE. They quickly pitched a new series to make use of the license, but instead Silverman ended up acquiring the rights to the Thing (Cassidy) to be used in The Thing by Hanna-Barbera, while DFE moved on to another Marvel hero: Spider-Woman. H.E.R.B.I.E., while not a popular character, soon found his way into the comics in Fantastic Four #209 (1979) by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne. Mr. Fantastic was inspired to build H.E.R.B.I.E. after the character was included in an in-universe television show as a replacement for the Torch, who was unavailable to give permission to use his likeness. H.E.R.B.I.E. has since appeared in a variety of comics, programs and movies.

One of the VHS release covers.

            Milton Bradley made a board game inspired by the show, which had players rescuing H.E.R.B.I.E. from Dr. Doom. Prism Entertainment Corp. released six episodes to VHS as part of their Marvel Comics Video Library across several volumes. A two-video set featuring “Meet Doctor Doom” and “The Olympics of Space” was also released. Morningstar Entertainment transferred several of the videos in the series to DVD for release in Canada, which included ‘Meet Doctor Doom” and “The Impossible Man”. The complete series was released to DVD in the United Kingdom in 2010 by Clear Vision Ltd.



EPISODE GUIDE:
“A Monster Among Us” (9/9/78) – The Fantastic Four take on an alien monster that crash-landed on Earth.

“The Menace of Magneto” (9/16/78) – Magneto wins leadership of the team from Mr. Fantastic and turns them into criminals.

“The Phantom of Film City” (9/23/78) – The Fantastic Four’s movie is plagued by Skrulls.

“Medusa and the Inhumans” (9/30/78) – The Fantastic Four investigate reports of strange beings in the Alps and end up prisoners of the Inhumans.

“The Diamond of Doom” (10/7/78) – The sinister Queen Sebel enlists the Fantastic Four’s aid in retrieving the Great White Stone stolen from her.

“The Mole Man” (10/14/78) – The Fantastic Four have to stop Mole Man’s theft of power plants around the world.

“The Olympics of Space” (10/21/78) – Thing is abducted by warring aliens and made to compete in their contests.

“The Fantastic Four Meet Doctor Doom” (10/28/78) – Doctor Doom forces the Fantastic Four to go back in time to steal the treasure of Blackbeard.

“The Frightful Four” (11/4/78) – Wizard creates his own team, the Frightful Four, to combat the Fantastic Four.

“Calamity on the Campus” (11/11/78) – Gregson Gilbert’s robotic Dragon Man ends up stolen by his assistant for his own sinister purposes.

“The Impossible Man” (11/18/78) – A shapeshifting alien comes to Earth and inadvertently befriends a criminal who makes use of his abilities.

“The Final Victory of Doctor Doom” (11/25/78) – Doctor Doom blackmails the United States into turning the country over to him.

“Blastaar, the Living Bomb Burst” (12/2/78) – The discovery of the Negative Zone leads to Mr. Fantastic accidentally unleashing Blastaar on the planet.

THE BATMAN

THE BATMAN
(WB/CW, September 11, 2004-March 8, 2008)

Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment




MAIN CAST:
Rino RomanoBatman/Bruce Wayne
Steve HarrisDetective Ethan Bennett/Clayface (season 1, recurring after)
Edward James Olmos (1 episode) & Jesse CortiChief Angel Rojas (season 1-2)
Danielle JudovitsBatgirl/Barbara Gordon (season 3-5)
Mitch PileggiCommissioner James Gordon (season 3-5, recurring previously)
Evan SabaraRobin/Dick Grayson (season 4-5)

For the history of Batman, check out the post here.


            With the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) having migrated to Cartoon Network, The WB Network needed a new show to help turn around its sinking ratings. It was decided to go back to the beginning with a new Batman series, but since Batman (Kevin Conroy) was starring in Justice League it would be a new take on Batman.

THE Batman.

            Called simply The Batman, the series focused on a much younger Bruce Wayne (Rino Romano), who was only into his third year as Batman. His existence was largely an urban myth when the series began, until he gradually worked his way into the spotlight as Gotham City’s defender. While his Batsuit resembled a modified version of the original one seen in Batman: The Animated Series (with shorter ears to make him resemble a boxer, and talons on his gloves), the show had no connection to the previous one or the DCAU. The series was largely inspired by Batman comics from the Golden Age, although it did take elements from the various incarnations over the years; particularly the 1960s live-action Batman series as evidenced by the shape of the bat-symbol and the casting of Adam West as Mayor Marion Grange (changed from a woman in the comics).

GCPD's finest: Ethan Bennett, Angel Rojas and Ellen Yin.

            Batman went up against two types of antagonists. The first were the GCPD, headed by Chief Angel Rojas (Edward James Olmos for one episode, Jesse Corti for the remainder). Rojas viewed Batman as dangerous as any criminal and assigned two officers to bring him down: Detective Ethan Bennett (whose appearance was based on his actor Steve Harris) and his partner, Metropolis-transplant Detective Ellen Yin (Ming-Na Wen). Bennett largely regarded Batman as necessary to preserve the peace in Gotham, while Yin took some time to come around to the idea.

Riddler, Bane, Poison Ivy, a Riddleman, Black Mask, Man-Bat, Mr. Freeze, Temblor, Spellbinder, Firefly, Ragdoll, Killer Croc, Joker, Harley Quinn, a henchman, Penguin, the Kabuki Twins and Cluemaster.

            The other type was the standard assortment of villains. Character designer Jeff Matsuda took a great many liberties with the appearance of the classic villains, and many of their stories were heavily revamped for the series. Of the ones featured in the previous Batman series was mobster Rupert Thorne (Victor Brandt), depicted as younger and sporting 1970s-style clothing; Joker (Kevin Michael Richardson), who was more physical and almost ape-like, sporting dreadlocks and a straightjacket with bare feet initially before adopting something closer to his traditional purple suit; Penguin (Tom Kenny), depicted as more athletic and capable fighter (inspired by heavyset characters in martial arts movies), and often accompanied by his silent bodyguards, the Kabuki Twins; Catwoman (Gina Gershon), given a more exaggerated version of the costume appearing at the comics at that time; Mr. Freeze (Clancy Brown), reimagined as a diamond thief who got trapped in a cryonic freezer that gave him a freezing touch; Firefly (Jason Marsden), a professional arsonist who transforms into the unrelated villain Phosphorus after overexposure to the isotope; Ventriloquist and Scarface (Dan Castellaneta), with the murderous puppet redesigned with an outfit reminiscent of Al Pacino in Scarface; Man-Bat (Peter MacNicol), who developed his formula because of an obsession to want to be like Batman; Bane (Joaquim de Almeida, Ron Perlman & Brown), a South American mercenary whose usage of Venom for extra strength not only increased his muscle mass, but also turned his skin red; Riddler (Robert Englund), a disgraced inventor who turned to crime, adopting an almost goth-like visage; Killer Croc (Perlman), given a Cajun accent, he was designed to look like a humanoid crocodile in a vest; Spellbinder (Michael Massee), a mystic who achieved the power of the “third eye” allowing him to create illusions and hypnotize; Hugo Strange (Frank Gorshin until his death, then Richard Green), the head of Arkham Asylum who was more interested in learning how the criminal mind worked than curing them; Poison Ivy (Piera Coppola), a teenaged eco-rights activist who ended up exposed to a powerful plant growth compound, giving her powers; Maxie Zeus (Phil LaMarr), an eccentric billionaire obsessed with Greek mythology who sought revenge against Gotham after losing the mayoral election in a specialized suit of armor; Tony Zucco (Mark Hamill), upgraded from a thug to a Mafia don and former circus performer that accidentally killed his own father; Killer Moth (Bennett), Penguin’s gofer that ended up transformed into a moth creature; Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), a disgraced television psychologist whom the Joker takes a liking to; the Wrath (Christopher Gorham) and Scorn (Daryl Sabara), an anti-Batman and Robin who wanted to make sure hard-working criminals could stay free; and the Terrible Trio (David Faustino, Grey DeLisle and Googy Gress), university students who get ahold of Langstrom’s formula and become aspects of their namesakes. Because Christopher Nolan had begun development what would become his Dark Knight Trilogy, the characters of Scarecrow, Two-Face and Ra’s al Ghul were prohibited for use on the series (Bane escaped this restriction since his film was not yet in consideration). Joker was only allowed due to his strong connection to the franchise.

Cluemaster, the biggest thing on TV.

            Newly adapted for animation was Cluemaster (Glenn Shadix, Kath Soucie as a kid), changed from a failed gameshow host to an overweight former contestant on a child’s gameshow who believed he was cheated out of a victory; the triple-jointed Ragdoll (Bennett), who could bend himself to fit into impossible spaces; Gearhead (Will Friedle), a crook who could hijack any vehicle via cybernetic implants in his arms; and Black Mask (James Remar), the ruthless head of a criminal organization whose face was always covered by (what else?) a black skull-like mask. Back Mask to make an appearance on the revival series of the previous show but was never worked into a story.

The Toymaker.

            Villains created for the show included Toymaker (Patton Oswalt), the former CEO of a toy manufacturer whose dangerous toys led Bruce Wayne to campaign for their closure; Prank (Michael Reisz), a university student who became the Joker’s sidekick; Temblor (Jim Cummings), a mercenary that used shockwave-generating gauntlets; D.A.V.E. (Digitally Advanced Villain Emulator, voiced by Bennett), an AI created by Hugo Strange whose storage of a combination of insane intellects led him to believe he was a human trapped in a machine (based on H.A.R.D.A.C. from the previous series); Rumor (Perlman), a former bodyguard who decided to kill all of Gotham’s criminals after he failed to protect his client from the Joker; and Everywhere Man (Brandon Routh), a wealthy scientist that accidentally created an evil duplicate of himself.

I'm melting! Meeeeeelting! Bennett becomes Clayface.

            Straddling the line between new and classic villain was their interpretation of Clayface. Initially, Clayface was Bennett after he had been captured and tortured by the Joker, and exposure to the fumes from Joker’s “putty” gave him the ability to reshape himself; similar to the Silver Age Matt Hagen version. As Clayface, he did take the form of the powerful zombie Solomon Grundy (Kevin Grevioux) for the episode “Grundy’s Night”. He was eventually cured in order to make room for the Basil Karlo version (Wallace Langham & Lex Lang). Karlo was still a poorly-reviewed actor, but this time he stole a formula from Waynetech that was designed to cure Bennett in order to give himself the right look to get the work he wanted. After Bennett’s change, Yin’s new partner became Cash Tankinson (Patrick Warburton).



            The Batman debuted as part of Kids’ WB on September 11, 2004, running for five seasons and a made-for-TV film through the network’s change to The CW. The series was developed by Michael Goguen and Duane Capizzi and was produced by Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami, Linda M. Steiner, Goguen and Matsuda. For the first two seasons, the show opened with a moody theme composed by U2’s The Edge. For the remainder of the show, the theme was switched to a lighter, ‘60’s-inspired theme by Andy Sturmer. Thomas Chase Jones served as the series’ main composer. Writers for the series included Capizzi, Burnett Steven Melching, Adam Beechen, Thomas Pugsley, Greg Klein, Greg Weisman, Christopher Yost, J.D. Murray, Robert Goodman, Joseph Kuhr, Michael Jelenic, Alexx Van Dyne, David Slack, Paul Giacoppo, Stan Berkowitz, Paul Dini, Douglas Petrie, Jane Espenson, Steve Cuden, Brian Swenlin, and Len Uhley.



            During the third season, a direct-to-TV film was shown on Cartoon Network called The Batman vs. Dracula. Written by Capizzi, the film involved Batman going up against the real Dracula (Peter Stormare) after he’s accidentally resurrected by Joker and Penguin as they escaped Arkham. While it may seem an odd pairing, Batman has gone up against several vampires—including Dracula—in comics, both in canon (such as Detective Comics #455, 1976) and in alternate tales (Batman & Dracula: Red Rain). The film also introduced The Batman’s version of reporter Vicki Vale (Tara Strong).



            The series departed from the established mythos further by introducing Batgirl (Danielle Judovits) before Robin (Evan Sabara). Robin was unavailable until the fourth season due to his being used on Teen Titans, so a younger Batgirl was brought in the third season along with her father, Commissioner James Gordon (Mitch Pileggi), who became a series regular after two previous appearances. Batman, however, was reluctant to take her on and resisted formally making her a sidekick until Robin’s debut. The younger heroes developed a sibling-like rivalry between them. Robin’s origin remained mostly unchanged, with former Joker Mark Hamill voicing Tony Zucco, the man who killed his parents during a trapeze act at the circus, and former Batman Kevin Conroy voicing his father. Batgirl’s costume utilized the original 1960s coloring scheme but looked like a long dress. Robin’s design remained relatively close to his Titans appearance, however with the colors of his “R” symbol reversed like in The New Adventures of Batman. Season four would end up being Matsuda’s last, but before he left, he redesigned Batman to be more angular; increasing his resemblance to the previous show’s incarnation.



            The fifth and final season of the show shifted focus away from Batgirl and onto Batman and Robin; relegating both her and Commissioner Gordon to cameos with the explanation that Batgirl now attended and was busy with college. They spent the season teaming up with various members of the Justice League, including Superman (George Newbern, reprising his role from Justice League), Martian Manhunter (Dorian Harewood), Green Arrow (Chris Hardwick), Flash (Charlie Schlatter, reprising his role from Superman: The Animated Series), Green Lantern (Dermot Mulroney), and Hawkman (Robert Patrick). With them came their villains: Lex Luthor (Brown, reprising his role from Superman), Mercy Graves (Gwendoline Yeo), Metallo (Green), Count Vertigo (Greg Ellis), Toyman (Green), the Shadow Thief (Diedrich Bader); Sinestro (Miguel Ferrer), and Mirror Master (John Larroquette). The final episode was a 40-minute movie featuring all the heroes joining forces to fend off an invasion of Earth. Dana Delany also reprised her role of Lois Lane, while Jack DeSena took on the role of Jimmy Olsen. Other characters, like Wonder Woman, were planned but never appeared.



            Despite the show’s long run, it never quite caught on with diehard fans and was criticized with being designed just to sell toys. The toyetic nature of the series was evident in how many of the variants in the action figure line by Mattel appeared on the show, and how some of the figures could interact with the Batwave; the computer system Batman used to detect criminal activity and control a lot of his gear. The show did manage to win its fair share of awards and nominations. It was nominated for three Annie Awards between 2005 and 2006, though it didn’t win any of them. It was nominated for 12 Daytime Emmy Awards, of which it won 6. It was also nominated for three Golden Reel Awards, winning one in 2008.

The Batman Strikes! #1.

            DC Comics published a comic based on the show under its Johnny DC young-readers imprint, which primarily published comics based on cartoons from Kids’ WB and Cartoon Network. The Batman Strikes! ran for 50 issues between 2004 and 2008. It introduced characters not seen on the show—such as Perry White, Bruno Manheim, Cat Grant and Etrigan—as well as expanded on the ones that had been. Three collected editions were released; the first two in 2005, with the third delayed until 2007, collecting the first 18 issues (excluding #15). A fourth was planned but never published. The first issue was reprinted in 2004 as a Burger King giveaway and in 2005 for Free Comic Book Day. In 2006, Post released a limited-edition chocolate and marshmallow cereal to promote the show.

The Batman complete series on DVD.

Warner Home Video released the complete series across five volumes between 2007 and 2008. Two editions of the film were released: one in 2005 with collectible figurines, and a standard edition in 2007. The Batman would make a brief return to television in Darwyn Cooke’s Batman Beyond Short in 2014 for Batman’s 75th Anniversary celebration.



EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“The Bat in the Belfry” (9/11/04) – Detectives Ethan Bennett and Ellen Yin are tasked with capturing the Batman, who is on the trail of the Joker after he freed inmates from Arkham.

“Call of the Cobblepot” (9/18/04) – A series of thefts involving birds leads the Batman to the Penguin, who takes Alfred as a hostage to avoid capture.

“Traction” (9/25/04) – Three mob bosses hire Bane to deal with the Batman, leaving him critically injured after their confrontation and Bane free to terrorize the city.

“The Man Who Would Be Bat” (10/2/04) – Kirk Langstrom claims to be working on a cure for the deaf, but secretly works on a project to make himself a true Batman.

“The Big Chill” (10/30/04) – Batman realizes a cold-seeking jewel thief named Mr. Freeze is a crook he chased into a cryogenic chamber some time ago.

“The Cat and the Bat” (11/6/04) – Catwoman gets the upper hand on Batman when she steals his utility belt to use a batarang for a theft.

“The Big Heat” (11/13/04) – Batman discovers a connection between his competition for the children’s hospital and Firefly’s rash of break-ins at various tech firms.

“Q&A” (11/20/04) – Cluemaster abducts two people who once humiliated him on a quiz show in order to enact his revenge.

“The Big Dummy” (11/27/04) – Scarface and the Ventriloquist plot to rob the gold reserves from Gotham Bank while Alfred uses online dating to find a girl for Bruce.

“Topsy Turvy” (2/5/05) – After Joke escapes Arkham Asylum, he goes after all the people who locked him away.

“Bird of Prey” (2/12/05) – Unable to get revenge on Batman, Penguin decides to rob Bruce Wayne and takes Alfred hostage in the process.

“The Rubberface of Comedy (Part 1)” (4/30/05) – Joker returns with a putty that can morph anything into a springing substance and captures Ethan.

“The Clayface of Tragedy (Part 2)” (5/7/05) – Joker’s putty turns Ethan into Clayface bringing Yin and Batman together to try and stop him from going after Rojas.

Season 2:
“The Cat, the Bat and the Very Ugly” (5/14/05) – Penguin and Catwoman join forces for a robbery, but a double-cross forces Catwoman to work with Batman to stop Penguin.

“Riddled” (5/21/05) – Riddler terrorizes the city by combining his puzzles with bombs in various locations around the city.

“Fire & Ice” (5/28/05) – Firefly and Mr. Freeze join forces to steal all the parts Freeze needs to permanently freeze the city.

“The Laughing Bat” (6/4/05) – Joker decides to become Batman and injects the real one with a Joker Venom to make him his arch-rival.

“Swamped” (6/11/05) – Killer Croc steals what he needs to flood the city’s lower districts in order to have free reign to plunder them.

“Pets” (6/18/05) – Penguin steals a device in order to control a rare bird but ends up attracting Man-Bat instead.

“Meltdown” (6/25/05) – Clayface’s probation is put in jeopardy when the urge to get revenge on the Joker becomes irresistible.

“JTV” (7/9/05) – Joker launches a pirate TV channel and takes the Mayor and Yin’s new partner hostage, but it’s all part of a much larger plan.

“Ragdolls to Riches” (7/16/05) – Ragdoll moves in on Gotham City, stealing Catwoman’s targets before her and giving Batman a new headache to face.

“The Butler Did It” (8/20/05) – Spellbinder hypnotizes the wealthy’s butlers into stealing for him, but plans to use their masters for a much larger score.

“Grundy’s Night” (8/27/05) – Solomon Grundy is resurrected on Halloween and goes after the descendants of the city’s founders.

“Strange Minds” (9/4/05) – Batman enters Joker’s mind in order to learn the whereabouts of the kidnapped Yin.

“Night and the City” (9/10/05) – Joker, Penguin and Riddler decide to compete in capturing Batman while Yin’s support of him is discovered by Rojas.

Season 3:
“Batgirl Begins, Part One” (9/17/05) – Barbara Gordon and Pamela Isley become endangered when Temblor seeks payment for attacks against polluting companies organized by Pamela.

“Batgirl Begins, Part Two” (9/24/05) – Pamela is mutated into Poison Ivy and forces Barbara to become Batgirl when she captures Batman and Commissioner Gordon.

“A Dark Knight to Remember” (10/1/05) – Bruce loses his memory, and when Batgirl tries to stop Penguin’s crime spree herself she ends up captured.

“A Fistful of Felt” (10/8/05) – Hugo Strange separates Scarface from Ventriloquist allowing him to be freed from Arkham in service of Strange’s larger plans for him.

“RPM” (11/5/05) – Gearhead steals the prize for a charity race and destroys the Batmobile, inspiring Batman to build a better one to take the villain down.

“Brawn” (11/12/05) – Joker steals Bane’s Venom and uses it to become a major threat.

“The Laughing Cats” (11/19/05) – Batman, Batgirl and Catwoman investigate the theft of a rare leopard only to be lured into a death maze by Joker.

“Fleurs du Mal” (11/26/05) – With the passing and enforcement of bizarre new laws causes Batman and Batgirl to investigate, they learn Poison Ivy replaced city officials with plant clones.

“Cash for Toys” (2/4/06) – A disgruntled toymaker decides to get revenge on Bruce Wayne with his dangerous toys, leading to Detective Cash being assigned as his bodyguard.

“Thunder” (2/18/06) – On the verge of losing the mayoral race, Maximillian Zeus decides to take over the city by force.

“The Apprentice” (2/11/06) – After Batman takes on Batgirl as his sidekick, Joker decides to get one of his own and turns Barbara’s classmate into Prank.

“The Icy Depths” (5/6/06) – Alfred’s old friend visits and invites him on a treasure hunt, unaware that Penguin and Mr. Freeze are after the same treasure.

“Gotham’s Ultimate Criminal Mastermind” (5/13/06) – Strange programs an AI called DAVE with the minds of Gotham’s greatest criminals and lets it free to commit crimes.

Season 4:
“A Matter of Family” (9/23/06) – Bruce adopts an orphaned Dick Grayson and brings his family’s killer to justice.

“Team Penguin” (9/30/06) – Penguin forms a team of villains to take Batman down while Batman reveals his identity to Batgirl and they learn how to work together with Robin.

“Clayfaces” (10/7/06) – Ethan tries to prove himself to Batman by foiling Joker’s plans, but washed-up actor Basil Karlo steals some of Joker’s putty and becomes the new Clayface.

“The Everywhere Man” (11/4/06) – When the replicating Everywhere Man frames one of Bruce’s friends, Batman tries to prove his innocence.

“The Breakout” (11/11/06) – Black Mask is freed from prison and captures Batman, leaving Batgirl and Robin to thwart his plans alone.

“Strange New World” (11/18/06) – Batman and Robin have to save the city from Strange’s virus that turns them into zombies.

“Artifacts” (2/3/07) – A thousand years in the future, the citizenry of Gotham have to learn about Batman’s history in order to stop the new Mr. Freeze.

“Seconds” (2/10/07) – Batman and his partners go up against a foe that seems to know their every move.

“Riddler’s Revenge” (2/17/07) – When Riddler and Batman are sealed in a crate and sunken into the harbor, Riddler reveals his origin.

“Two of a Kind” (2/24/07) – Joker decides to make disgraced TV host Harleen Quinzell into his new partner.

“Rumors” (3/3/07) – Batman and Robin have to save the city’s villains from the mysterious Rumor before he executes them.

“The Joining, Part One” (4/28/07) – Bruce learns that Wayne Industries has been distributing alien technology around the world and an alien race is coming to conquer Earth.

“The Joining, Part Two” (5/5/07) – Batman and Martian Manhunter attempt to use Wayne Industries satellites to stop The Joining.

Season 5:
“The Batman/Superman Story, Part One” (9/22/07) – Lex Luthor opens up shop in Gotham and recruits its villains in his efforts to destroy Superman.

“The Batman/Superman Story, Part Two” (9/29/07) – Batman and Robin take on a Lex-controlled Superman while Lex plots to use robots to take over the world’s armies.

“Vertigo” (10/6/07) – Batman teams-up with Green Arrow to take down Count Vertigo.

“White Heat” (10/13/07) – Trying to upgrade himself leads Firefly to becoming the even more dangerous Phosphorus.

“A Mirror Darkly” (11/3/07) – Mirror Master plans to trap everyone in their own image, but Batman, Robin and Flash set out to stop him.

“Joker Express” (11/10/07) – Joker makes it so that the citizens of Gotham hysterically dump stolen loot into the river.

“Ring Toss” (12/8/07) – Green Lantern seeks Batman’s help to find Sinestro, but the encounter leaves Penguin with a power ring.

“The Metal Face of Comedy” (12/15/07) – Joker has a hacker put his mind into WayneTech nanobots that build him an improved body in his quest to destroy Batman.

“Attack of the Terrible Trio” (2/2/08) – A group of college misfits use Langstrom’s formula to turn themselves into animals to get revenge on those that have wronged them.

“The End of the Batman” (2/9/08) – Wrath and Scorn aid the villains of Gotham City.

“What Goes Up…” (2/16/08) – Black Mask hires the Shadow Thief to break him out of prison, leading to Batman teaming-up with Hawkman.

“Lost Heroes, Part One” (3/8/08) – Batman and Green Arrow investigate the disappearance of the rest of the Justice League.

“Lost Heroes, Part Two” (3/8/08) – The Joining plans a new attack on Earth while the Justice League fight robotic counterparts to get their powers back.


Movie:
“The Batman vs. Dracula” (10/18/05) – Batman has to deal with Joker and Penguin, as well as keep Dracula from turning the city into vampires.