The Matt Signal: BTAS Season 2 Findings

With the original run of the series now over, let’s take a look at some more DATA, shall we?

Site Banner

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!

Follow The Matt Signal on Twitter!

Top 10 Cards

I shifted some of the previous 10 around. Sue me.

The strongest new entries are definitely ‘Babydoll’, ‘Riddler’s Reform’, ‘Harley’s Holiday’, ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’, ‘Batgirl Returns’ and ‘Deep Freeze.’ ‘House and Garden’ had potential, but the choice of typeface ruins it. ‘Harlequinade’ is a pretty famous image, but I don’t think it’s a top contender.

Season 2 also delivered some of the very worst ones including ‘Avatar’, ‘Catwalk’, ‘Bane’, ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ and ‘Second Chance’. I don’t know if the declining quality was a mark that they were out of ideas and were glad to not do them anymore or if it was simply a deliberate attempt to reduce time and effort.

Best Directors

Top Row: Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, Dan Riba, Bottom Row: Boyd Kirkland, Kevin Altieri, Dick Sebast

As I said before, I’ve been tracking who directed each episode and calculating an average score for them based on those rankings. Again, more goes into a ranking than direction, so it’s pure dumb fun with numbers (the best kind of fun IMO).

Nobody new directed an episode in the second season, and previous stalwarts Dick Sebast and Frank Paur worked on 0 and 2 episodes respectively. The other two regulars, Kevin Altieri (22) and Boyd Kirkland (21) lowered their averages, while Dan Riba apparently gained a great deal of trust between seasons, more than doubling his episode count and leaping up to the number 3 spot.

Show creators Bruce Timm (5) and Eric Radomski (4) only contributed one more episode each… but secure the top two spots thanks to Mask of the Phantasm also being included after the season one rankings.

  1. Bruce Timm (5) (Previous: 1)
  2. Eric Radomski (4) (Previous: 4)
  3. Dan Riba (10) (Previous: 7)
  4. Boyd Kirkland (21) (Previous: 2)
  5. Kevin Altieri (22) (Previous 3)
  6. Dick Sebast (9) (Previous: 5)
  7. Frank Paur (16) (Previous 6)
  8. Kent Butterworth (1) (Previous 8)

Best Writers

Top Row: Paul Dini, Dennis O’Flaherty, Marv Wolfman, Bottom Row: Gerry Conway, Michael Reaves, Randy Rogel

We only got 6 newbies, raising the total to 46 writers to have worked on the show, but the end result will likely please fans of Paul Dini, as he climbed from third to first.

To put Dini’s dominance into context, he wrote 8 of the top 10 episodes, massively increasing his credits by writing over half of season two. Nobody else approaches his 24 scripts.

Michael Reaves, Brynne Chandler, Randy Rogel and Alan Burnett round out the list of regularly recurring scribes, with most of the rest having 4 or fewer episodes to their name. Burnett’s increased involvement is likely due to how much time he had been spending on Mask of the Phantasm before.

Our top ten:

  1. Paul Dini (24)
  2. Dennis O’Flaherty (1)
  3. Marv Wolfman (2)
  4. Gerry Conway (2)
  5. Michael Reaves (15)
  6. Randy Rogel (9)
  7. Brynne Chandler (7)
  8. Garin Wolf (2)
  9. Alan Burnett (7)
  10. Dennis O’Neil (2)

The bottom of the pile remains mostly unchanged as the writing pool tightened up, and most of the worst episodes are from season one. Of the semi-regulars, Richard Meueller, Jules Dennis, Sean Catherine Derek, the Reeves-Stevens’ and Steve Perry fare the worst.

Best Performances

These are purely gut feelings as I don’t keep a running tally or ranking. The top performers remain the same, but with Alison LaPlaca replacing Henry Polic II for her stellar work as Babydoll.

  1. Kevin Conroy (Batman)
  2. Mark Hamill (Joker)
  3. Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn)
  4. Diane Pershing (Poison Ivy)
  5. Alison LaPlaca (Baby-Doll)
  6. George Dzundza (Ventriloquist)
  7. Roddy McDowell (Mad Hatter)
  8. Richard Moll (Two-Face)
  9. Robert Costanzo (Harvey Bullock)
  10. Melissa Gilbert (Batgirl)

Rankings

All told the final rankings are about what I expected. I’m lower on things like ‘Christmas with the Joker’ and ‘Demon’s Quest’ than the average person, but feel pretty good about my top 20.

Season 2 got 4 episodes into the top 10 (plus Mask of the Phantasm, of course), versus 3 in the bottom 10. The overall quality level was higher, with most of the season placing in the top half and not all that many clunkers.

Last time around I identified the four types of episode: Villain Spotlights, Villain Ensembles, Batman Spotlights and Supporting Character Spotlights.

The most common type remains the Villain Spotlight, with 13 of Season 2’s episodes focusing on a member of the Rogues Gallery, raising the total to 56 of 85. That makes total sense, given you’ve had time to reflect on what did and didn’t work in the first season, and they very much gave the people more of what they wanted. Half of the Top 10 is now comprised of this type, which feels about right.

The proportional split of the other types remained consistent, with both Villain Ensembles and Supporting Spotlights increasing to 11.

Interestingly, of the new entries only Mask of the Phantasm put the spotlight on Batman himself (though it obviously also has a strong villain presence). But given the network mandate that Robin appear more frequently in the second season, any tale that focused entirely on the title character was likely nixed to ensure Dick was inserted (lolol).

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

Villain Watch

The Joker remains exactly where everyone expected him to be, laughing his way to the top of the pile. He got a lot less play in season 2, with new villains like Bane, Baby Doll and Lock-Up making impactful debuts and Harley Quinn getting a greater spotlight, storming her way all the way up to second place.

Several of the heavy hitters got one last strong showing like Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face and The Riddler, who finally got an episode worthy of their take on him. Likewise Catwoman got moved back to her natural place as more villain than hero to her great benefit.

Ra’s al Ghul continued to fall from grace, while Scarecrow was reduced to cameos after multiple (weak) spotlight episodes in the first season. Some of that may have been realising they didn’t do a great job with him, but more likely it was the lack of availability from his voice actor.

Perhaps most notable was the first and only appearance of the truly atrocious Terrible Trio, who were so bad that even the production staff have disowned them.

  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. Lock-Up
  18. Lloyd Ventrix
  19. Killer Croc
  20. Rupert Thorne
  21. Count Vertigo
  22. Clock King
  23. Nivens
  24. Roland Daggett (and Germs & Bell!)
  25. Josiah Wormwood
  26. Scarecrow
  27. Talia al Ghul
  28. Sid the Squid
  29. Queen Thoth Khepera
  30. Maxie Zeus
  31. Jimmy ‘Jazzman’ Peake
  32. Tony Zucco
  33. Man-Bat
  34. Hugo Strange
  35. Red Claw
  36. Arnold Stromwell
  37. Mad Bomber
  38. Tygrus
  39. Rhino, Mugsy and Ratso
  40. Kyodai Ken
  41. Condiment King/Pack Rat/Mighty Mom
  42. Grant Walker
  43. Gil Mason
  44. Nostromos (and Lucas!)
  45. Cameron Kaiser
  46. Dr. Dorian (and Garth)
  47. Mad Dog
  48. Ubu
  49. Professor Milo
  50. Romulus
  51. Arkady Duvall
  52. Sewer King
  53. Boss Biggis
  54. Montague Kane
  55. 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.

My other recap column, Marvel Mondays, just finished coverage of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. To fill the time before Loki begins, I’ll be going back to WandaVision, with two episodes per week. Injustice corrected!

Published by

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s