September 5 marks the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest shows ever – Batman: The Animated Series. BTAS introduced a generation to the world of the Dark Knight. The series marked the beginning of “The Timmverse.” To celebrate this historic occassion, the DKN staff will review our favorite episodes.
“The Cat and the Claw,” Parts 1 & 2
Directors: Kevin Altieri (Part 1) and Dick Sebast (Part 2)
Writers: Sean Catherine Derek, Laren Bright, Jules Dennis and Richard Mueller
Actors: Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Adrienne Barbeau (Catwoman/Selina Kyle), Bob Hastings (Commissioner Gordon), Kate Mulgrew (Red Claw)
The year is 1992. Tim Burton gave us a sequel to his 1989 film Batman with Batman Returns. The latter opened up more of the universe Burton created, but it wasn’t enough. FOX capitalized on the films to boost attention of a new animated series based on the Dark Knight.
Batman: The Animated Series brought a serious tone not seen before in animation. BTAS even premiered in primetime. And even though the episodes were 15 and 16 in the production schedule, “The Cat and the Claw,” Parts 1 and 2 were the first episodes to be shown on FOX, featuring Catwoman. This may have been because Batman Returns also featured the Feline Fatale.
This Catwoman Is No Pushover
While BTAS was influenced by Burton’s films, they were only partly. When we are introduced to this world’s Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle they are on equal footing. Selina Kyle isn’t a mousy secretary, but a businesswoman in her own right with an assistant. In her Catwoman persona, she goes toe-to-toe with Batman…well, almost.
We quickly learn in this universe that women generally throw themselves at Bruce Wayne, but not Selina Kyle. Despite that she is a thief, she has altruistic motives – a common trait with several criminals in Batman’s Rogues Gallery. When she meets Bruce Wayne for the first time (when both are without masks and costumes), Selina informs him that she has no romantic interest in him. She does confide in her assistant Maven, in a later scene, that she is more interested in Batman.
These episodes do an awesome job of reintroducing us to the Dark Knight’s world. It has the right blend of action and adult elements that don’t talk to the viewer – something that is missing in today’s animated shows. I remember going to college when the show first aired. Several of my friends would meet in the TV room of our dorm to watch BTAS. Some of us even scheduled our classes around the series, myself included.
Noticable standouts in this episode are Kevin Conroy’s iconic introduction as Batman; Adrienne Barbeau (Maude, Swamp Thing) providing a seductive, yet authorative redition of Catwoman; and Kate Mulgrew (Ryan’s Hope, Star Trek: Voyager) taping into her inner Eartha Kitt as Red Claw. Conroy has been THE Batman of choice for several series, video games and animated movies since donning the proverbial cowl and cape in 1992. In these first episodes, you can tell he is still finding the right gear, but he still gives a fine performance. Andrea Romano is to be commended for her voice directing on these inaugural episodes, but that goes without saying.
“The Cat and the Claw” in my opinion, is the perfect choice to attract new fans to this series. And this is coming from someone who has been hooked ever since.