The Matt Signal – Episode 81: Harley’s Holiday

Plot summary: A newly rehabilitated Harley Quinn panics after a misunderstanding with a security guard and accidentally kidnaps Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend.

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Each Saturday and Sunday Matt Waters recaps an episode of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, building an overall ranking along the way. Plus best performances, the ever-popular Villain Watch and more!

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Notes

Episode Title: ‘Harley’s Holiday’

Original Air Date: October 15th, 1994

Directed: Kevin Altieri (21)

Written: Paul Dini (21)

This marks Harley’s first appearance without Joker in the series.

Harley’s Arkham paperwork is stamped by K. Altieri, the director of the episode.

The fish truck ‘Foley’s’ is named for Kelly Ann Foley who appropriately enough worked in the sound department.

Recap

In Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn celebrates a clean bill of mental health, with Batman congratulating her with an exceptionally firm handshake (after dropping a rambling Scarecrow off.)

Determined to prove she’s sane, Harley returns to a civilian life, albeit one where she has her hyenas pull her around on roller-skates, terrifying pedestrians. Believing it’s due to her fashion choices, she heads for the nearest boutique.

Wouldn’t you know it, Bruce Wayne is being dressed by Veronica Vreeland in the same store. Harlz literally bumps into him and gets some serious déjà vu. Luckily she has a short attention span, and instead starts hitting on him, much to Ronnie’s displeasure.

Things take a turn after a legitimate misunderstanding leads to Harley setting off an alarm and getting into it with the security guard. Flipping out, she sprints to the changing rooms and emerges in her old costume and steals Bruce’s car… with Veronica Vreeland in the back seat!

One hilariously dangerous high-speed chase later, and Quinn goes to Boxy Bennett (from ‘Harlequinade’) for help getting out of town, talking (or rather kissing) her way around his grudge. To her credit, she objects when Bennett and his boys make sleazy plans for Veronica.

Batman & Robin arrive and give Bennett’s goons a beat-down, including Robin getting his Bruce Lee on with a pair of fish. In the chaos, Harley and Ronnie escape by car, with Bennett pursuing.

Veronica and Harley have a heart to heart, with Vreeland taking pity on the villain and offering to drop all charges. Unfortunately, her father, an army general, does NOT share her feelings, driving a freakin’ tank into Gotham!

We return to the wacky world of car chases, with Harley trying to evade the Batmobile, General Vreeland, Boxy Bennett AND Harvey Bullock, until an inevitable crash.

Harley hands Veronica off to Robin and then flees. The Boy Wonder helps Bullock arrest Bennett as the Vreelands reunite, leaving Batman to tail Harley, who complains about her Very Bad Day.

Bruce nearly murders her, but manages to catch her just before she becomes pavement pizza and then takes her back to Arkham, handing herthe dress she tried to buy earlier. She plants an enormous kiss on him as thanks, making Poison Ivy (and Robin) jealous.

Best Performance

As is normally the case when Arleen Sorkin gets more than three lines, she gives the best performance in the episode by far. Dini knows how to write for her voice, and boy does she hurl herself into the role each and every time out. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to sell Harley as misunderstood, more overly excitable and quick to anger than legitimately evil. She’s also just one hell of a showman, effortlessly delivering one-liners. This is a flawless performance on her part.

Kevin Conroy’s greatness can be taken for granted, but while he can’t match Sorkin’s one-woman-show, his empathetic work as both Bruce and Batman is touching.

Henry Polic II reminded us how fun he is in a brief cameo, while Dick Miller and Franklin Cover make fun appearances as Boxy Bennett and General Vreeland. Suzanne Stone is pretty awful as Dr. Leland.

Ranking

Despite how adamant Batman is that his foes can be rehabilitated, it’s actually pretty rare for that idea to be properly entertained. And it’s fitting that this would follow ‘Second Chance’, which ended in a pessimistic place, seeming like Harvey Dent will never be able to fully overcome Two-Face, while Harley’s story has a far more upbeat ending. Bruce sincerely believes she simply got in over her head, offers a gift, and empathises about One Bad Day.

Dini is also just generally great at writing entertaining episodes about Harley and her gal pals having some wacky fun, with the shopping fiasco and various car chases providing plenty of hijinks.

The tank was a little much though, and I’m not a huge fan of how close Batman came to murdering Harley.

  1. The Laughing Fish
  2. Mask of the Phantasm
  3. Almost Got ‘im
  4. Heart of Ice
  5. Harlequinade
  6. The Trial
  7. Riddler’s Reform
  8. Shadow of the Bat Part I
  9. I Am the Night
  10. Robin’s Reckoning Part I
  11. Baby-Doll
  12. The Man Who Killed Batman
  13. Perchance to Dream
  14. Two-Face Part I
  15. Bane
  16. A Bullet For Bullock
  17. Joker’s Favor
  18. Read My Lips
  19. Feat of Clay Part II
  20. Catwalk
  21. The Demon’s Quest Part II
  22. Harley and Ivy
  23. Robin’s Reckoning Part II
  24. House & Garden
  25. Beware the Gray Ghost
  26. Second Chance
  27. Mad as a Hatter
  28. Heart of Steel Part II
  29. Appointment In Crime Alley
  30. Two-Face Part II
  31. Pretty Poison
  32. Harley’s Holiday (NEW ENTRY)
  33. Shadow of the Bat Part II
  34. Feat of Clay Part I
  35. His Silicon Soul
  36. Off Balance
  37. Vendetta
  38. Birds of a Feather
  39. Heart of Steel Part I
  40. On Leather Wings
  41. See No Evil
  42. The Clock King
  43. It’s Never Too Late
  44. Joker’s Wild
  45. Eternal Youth
  46. The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
  47. The Cat and the Claw Part I
  48. Zatanna
  49. Day of the Samurai
  50. Avatar
  51. The Demon’s Quest Part I
  52. The Mechanic
  53. The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne
  54. Terror in the Sky
  55. P.O.V.
  56. Christmas with the Joker
  57. Fear of Victory
  58. Be a Clown
  59. The Worry Men
  60. What is Reality?
  61. Fire From Olympus
  62. Night of the Ninja
  63. Mudslide
  64. The Cat and the Claw Part II
  65. Nothing to Fear
  66. The Lion and the Unicorn
  67. Prophecy of Doom
  68. Tyger, Tyger
  69. Blind as a Bat
  70. If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?
  71. Dreams In Darkness
  72. The Last Laugh
  73. Cat Scratch Fever
  74. Moon of the Wolf
  75. Paging the Crime Doctor
  76. Time Out of Joint
  77. Sideshow
  78. The Under-Dwellers
  79. The Forgotten
  80. Showdown
  81. The Terrible Trio
  82. I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

Villain Watch

Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin) (eighth appearance)

I mean… see all of the above, quite frankly. Dini has taken a simplistic ‘Joker’s one-off Girlfriend’ character and transformed her into a three dimensional human being whose every decision makes sense, despite how unpredictable she seems on the surface. Batman bringing Scarecrow in at the start of the episode legitimately scares her, looming on the horizon as her inevitable future when she gets into an honest mix-up.

It’s also fun to see her improvise her way through life, taking Veronica hostage by accident, but then demonstrating her sense of morality by objecting to Boxy Bennett and his boys wanting to do… whatever it is they want to do to Ronnie.

I see no choice but to elevate Harley to second place, which I feel bad about given how long I spent putting off her beau, Poison Ivy’s own promotion. But… them’s the breaks!

  1. The Joker
  2. Harley Quinn
  3. Poison Ivy
  4. Mr. Freeze
  5. Two-Face
  6. The Ventriloquist
  7. Catwoman
  8. The Riddler
  9. The Phantasm
  10. Baby-Doll
  11. Bane
  12. Mad Hatter
  13. Penguin
  14. HARDAC (and Randa Duane)
  15. Clayface
  16. Ra’s al Ghul
  17. Lloyd Ventrix
  18. Killer Croc
  19. Rupert Thorne
  20. Count Vertigo
  21. Clock King
  22. Nivens
  23. Josiah Wormwood
  24. Scarecrow
  25. Roland Daggett (and Germs & Bell!)
  26. Talia al Ghul
  27. Sid the Squid
  28. Queen Thoth Khepera
  29. Maxie Zeus
  30. Jimmy ‘Jazzman’ Peake
  31. Tony Zucco
  32. Man-Bat
  33. Hugo Strange
  34. Red Claw
  35. Arnold Stromwell
  36. Mad Bomber
  37. Tygrus
  38. Rhino, Mugsy and Ratso
  39. Kyodai Ken
  40. Gil Mason
  41. Nostromos (and Lucas!)
  42. Cameron Kaiser
  43. Dr. Dorian (and Garth)
  44. Mad Dog
  45. Ubu
  46. Professor Milo
  47. Romulus
  48. Arkady Duvall
  49. Sewer King
  50. Boss Biggis
  51. Montague Kane
  52. The Terrible Trio

Plugs

Eager for more long-form coverage of Batman? Why not check out my podcast with Mike Thomas, The Tape Crusaders, which reviewed every Batman movie and delved a tiny bit into the animated series.

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Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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