The Joker escapes from Arkham and snags three hostages to spend Christmas Eve with him–all while broadcasting on his “show,” Christmas with the Joker. Batman and Robin, who never get a night off, have to find the Joker’s hideout before the stroke of midnight!
The second BTAS episode, “Christmas With The Joker” was obviously released out of order–Robin makes an appearance far before his official two-part episode introduction– but as we’re in the midst of the holiday season, I just couldn’t resist.
This is the Joker’s first appearance in the series, and Matt Hamill’s first voice performance in the role; it doesn’t take long to realize why he is so adored by Batman fans (and not just because said fans are also Star Wars geeks). Hamill’s performance is nothing short of phenomenal; he conveys within the Joker’s voice all of the disturbing, hilarious and ominous tones that make the Joker who he is. His laugh is priceless. And, as the review from World’s Finest mentions, this episode wonderfully captures Joker’s insanity, from attempted murder to conversing with hand puppets.
And after the disappointing non-villain in the first episode (the Man-Bat), we are introduced to the greatest, most terrifying Batman villain, and perhaps the only one whom Batman truly feels threatened by. This opening scene (see the video above) is easily one of my all-time favorite scenes of the entire show…it is just too funny. As threatening as the Joker is you still can’t take him completely seriously. And the manner in which he relates his evil deeds–the amusing broadcast show–will become a signature move of his throughout the series.
Even so, we know that this isn’t all fun and games with Batman’s stoicism, and the ‘real’ threat of the hostages. But still, everything works perfectly in this episode: the mystery, action, and of course big explosions!
Speaking of which, I love how this episode sets the stage for Robin and Batman’s relationship. While Robin (Dick Grayson) is surely the apprentice, Batman still treats him with a great deal more respect and equality than other shows give him credit for. And throughout their banter we get the much-needed dry humor that will become a staple in the show: in one of my favorite lines, Bruce has never seen It’s A Wonderful Life because he “could never get past the title.”
Of course, the only person missing from this episode is our dear Harley Quinn, but alas, she is at this point in the series only a gleam in Bruce and Paul’s eyes. Thankfully we’ll be seeing her sooner rather than later.
All in all, ‘Christmas with the Joker’ is so much more than your usual filler holiday special. It’s easily one of BTAS’ best episodes, a must-watch for any Batman fan.