This week on Batman: The Animated Series, the caped crusader starts his iconic television show with a mystery~ oooooooo!!!

We start when a pair of Gotham police patrolmen riding in a police blimp see something strange in the sky. Well, the younger newbie cop sees something that resembles batwings and the veteran is all “It’s nothing. Forgettabou’it!” the thing, though is A GIANT FLYING BAT en route to Phoenix Pharmaceuticals. While at Phoenix, a security guard/aspiring radio personality practices his spiel with a voice recorder while making his rounds. Unfortunately, he encounters the Man-bat and is tossed from the building where he does not die because this is a children’s show, for Heaven’s sake. His tape recorder gets left behind in a beat of foreshadowing not missed by adult!me but would be by kid!me.

Cut to the mayor’s office where a Gotham detective, henceforth known as Lieutenant Detective until I pick up on his name, Lieutenant Detective wants a war on Batman which Commissioner Gordon does not approve of but the mayor does! So Lieutenant Detective has his war on Batman which is featured on the front page of the Gotham Times.

And guess who reads the Gotham Times? Bruce Wayne the Batman himself of course! In the Batcave, Batman tells Alfred about a string of robberies reported by pharmaceutical companies, the latest being from the previous night. Batman goes to investigate the robbery at Phoenix Pharma. He is seen by a couple of pharmacy techs who call in the Batman sighting. The the Gotham Police Department scrambles a squad together, Batman picks up two important clues: bat hairs and the tape recorder. He encounters the GPD on his way out.

Batman is cornered by the GPD in a room full of flammable barrels, but the GPD don’t know that when they throw in a tear gas grenade. Batman rescues a squad man from the inevitable explosion and runs away in the aftermath.

This is the first commercial break and holy cow there was a lot in that time!! What was it? Ten minutes? The pacing at this point is spot on, the transitions flowing nicely from one scene to another. I also realize the soundtrack is very orchestral. Is that a result of this being the first episode or a result of having Elfman composing the score? We’ll soon see.

Bruce meets with a team of bat scientists–an old scientist, a young lady scientist, and the husband scientists. Bruce reports a problem with bats in his chimneys and gives some of the hair to analyze and the voice tape, which caught the sound of the Manbat as he attacked the poor security guard/aspiring radio personality. The scientists are carefully perplexed but take the evidence anyway.

Except Batman has already started running an analysis of his own. A call from one of the scientists determines that what Bruce was told does not equal his own conclusions. Therefore, the bat scientists know what is behind the mysterious thefts! Onward Batman goes to the lab where he meets with the young male scientist who admits to stealing specific drugs so he can

TURN INTO MANBAT

I did not see that coming (read: I kind of saw that coming but sorta suspected the old scientist but whatever).

Manbat and Batman fight in the lab, destroying glass beakers and surprisingly not setting anything on fire with a bunsen burner, because all labs regardless of area of study comes with beakers, indeterminate liquids in said beakers, and a bunsen burner. Manbat has Batman pinned down and is about to strike a final blow when the lady scientist screams, startling her Husband-turned-Manbat. Manbat flees out the window but not before Batman can wrap a cable around his ankle and go with him.

While flying around, or should that be flailing around, the Gotham Police patrolmen from the beginning of the episode appear once again and see Batman air-wrestling with Manbat and call in the Batman sighting. The human bats take their fight to a construction zone. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Detective gets any at his helicopter pilot because he’s not allowed to take off without Commissioner Gordon. Gordon arrives, they take off, and the human bats duke it out in a partially constructed skyscraper.

Batman eventually uses his wit and resources to blind Manbat who runs into a billboard. Ouch. I tell you what, ouch. The Gotham Police have caught up with the human bats at this points, but it is too late. Batman takes the unconscious Manbat back to the Batcave. There, Bruce removes (somehow) the drugs from the Manbat, turning him back into a handsome young scientist. The episode ends with Batman returning him to his wife as if he were a lost puppy coming home.

This is a great opening episode for the series. Batman is not introduced until several minutes in when the action already started. And we follow Batman through until the culprit is caught and brought to justice, despite justice not being related to Gotham’s Justice System at this time. Furthermore, we also get Gotham Police’s supposed “war on Batman” because he is a vigilante, I suppose, and no one except Gordon seems to appreciate Batman’s efforts in fighting crime. He does leave the culprits behind for the police to handle, though. So maybe Gotham Police are just tired of cleaning up after Batman. Who knows. Lieutenant Detective might have ego issues.

Stay tuned for next week where the Joker is introduced for the first time!

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