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Releases - DVD - Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 4

Packaging


Menus



Release Information:
Format: DVD
Announce Date: 8/24/05
Street Date: 12/6/05
Closed Captioning: Yes
MSRP: $44.98
Subformat: Multi Disc
Media Quantity: 4
Run Time: 521
Episodes:
Disc 1 - Holiday Knights; Sins of the Father; Cold Comfort; Double Talk; You Scratch My Back; Never Fear
Disc 2 - Joker's Millions; Growing Pains; Love Is a Croc; Torch Song; The Ultimate Thrill; Over the Edge
Disc 3 - Mean Seasons; Critters; Cult of the Cat; Animal Act; Old Wounds; The Demon Within
Disc 4 - Legends of the Dark Knight; Girls' Nite Out; Mad Love; Chemistry; Beware the Creeper; Judgment Day
Aspect Ratio(s):
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33 Standard [4:3 Transfer]

Audio
English: Stereo 2S
Francais: Stereo 2S

Edition Details:
• Encoding: Region 1
• Animated, Color


Special Features
• Audio Commentary: Commentary on "Over the Edge", "Critters" and "Legends of the Dark Knight" by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, James Tucker, Dan Riba and Moderator Jason Hillhouse
• Featurette: Arkham's Finest: Inside Batman's Rogue Gallery

Official Synopsis: In the hit show that continues the Batman storyline from the Emmy-winning Batman: The Animated Series, two years have passed and Batman still protects the streets of Gotham City from the demented criminals that inhabit its dark alleys. But irreconcilable differences with Dick Grayson lead to the collapse of the Batman/Robin crimefighting duo and to the birth of Gotham's new hero Nightwing. Batgirl fights at Batman's side, and a new Robin takes flight after Batman's chance encounter with young Tim Drake. In these 24 thrilling episodes, the Gotham Knights face their worst enemies - Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze and many more - in a comprehensive 4-disc set that completes the Batman animated saga!

Review
Batman returns with the final four-disc set of his animated adventures. In this fourth volume, the show gets a new look which is simultaneously loved and hated by fans of the animated Batman. For me, this was the series I grew up with (along with Batman Beyond), so finally owning these episodes on DVD is nothing short of a childhood dream come true (my VHS tape of every The New Batman Adventures was erased).

When Kids WB! ordered a new batch of episodes, the creative team took the opportunity to update the look of the show and make it easier on the animators. Timm and Co. redesigned the characters, making them much more streamlined. With fewer animation errors resulting from these cleaner designs, the show gave us perhaps one of the best looks at the Batman team.

In addition to a new look, we got new characters. Batgirl became a permanent member, Dick Grayson became Nightwing and Tim Drake became the new Robin. With these new characters came some of my favorite animated Batman tales in “Growing Pains,” “Over the Edge,” and “Old Wounds.” Plenty more tales litter this new boxed set, along with new and old villains and classic stories featuring everyone’s favorite comic book hero.

In this set, we get twenty-four episodes, comprising the complete The New Batman Adventures collection. Spread out on four discs and presented in a standard 4:3 transfer, these episodes have never looked better. This set has its fair share of aliasing and interlacing issues, but most cartoons do. Oddly enough, the episode “Growing Pains” was clean as a whistle—some aliasing but not a single interlaced frame; a phenomenon on this set, but a welcome one.

Compression is a bit more noticeable than it was on BTAS, due to the clarity of the cels. The fact the episodes even look good on Progressive scan enabled TV really says something—these are by far the cleanest transfers I’ve ever seen a Batman cartoon come with. Here’s hoping the upcoming Batman Beyond set shares this quality.

Audio is standard Dolby 2.0 and is nothing that’ll blow your mind, though the New Batman / Superman Adventures theme is definitely great to hear with the stereo pumped up. Standard audio for a show of standard times, you aren’t going to get a whole lot here that will impress. While we’re on the topic of audio, let’s move onto the special features and the main attraction of this set: the audio commentaries.

Of the three commentaries, on three different discs, we get to listen to "Over the Edge first. This is standard DCAU-commentary fair, with the usual anecdotes along the way. The highlight is the beginning of the show, where they talk about the idea, initial impressions of the story (Murakami thought it was stupid upon first hearing it) and wind around down to Barbara smashing against the hood of the police car and how it was much more shocking to see than their original version (similar to the Grayson’s trapeze fall in “Robin’s Reckoning, Part 1”). The revamp of Bane is also addressed here and makes for an overall good commentary, though it probably doesn’t have any replay value for the casual fan.

Next is the surprising commentary on “Critters.” I’m sure everyone did a double take when the extras were first announced and “Critters” was in the list of commentaries, but rest assured: it’s one of the most entertaining commentaries on this or any other BTAS volumes. They go through it mocking themselves along the way and it’s great fun to listen to, especially when they start lamenting over not including Farmer Brown in the Cadmus round table. Ah what could’ve been!

The final commentary is for “Legends of the Dark Knight,” which along with “Over the Edge,” is the most popular episode of the revamped series. With tales of what Finger and Miller thought of their animated adaptations, it’s an interesting commentary but dies off down towards the end of the episode (similar how the episode does as well).

Now that my commentary on the commentaries is over, let’s move onto the one of the only other special features: the Villains featurettes. With an introduction and individual bios for Clayface, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Two-Face and Ventriloquist & Scarface, the features go into each of characters motivations and even cover the villains redesigns (something Scarecrow’s feature greatly focuses on). These are all worth watching and clock in at a little over twenty minutes when combined. I just wish there was a “play all” option for these (should be noted I didn’t even know individual features existed until forum member TBalena pointed it out!).

Other special features are the The New Batman / Superman Adventures intro, something I also didn’t see at first. By going into the “Play All” option, we’re given the choice of either the BTAS or TNB/SA intros. Not only is it great to hear (as I said before) this theme again, but seeing the intro was great as well. My enjoyment of this set went up ten fold when I found out the intro was included; my only regret is there aren’t any TNB/SA end credits. As far as I know, we don’t know what music ran over the credits as Kids WB! always aired promos over them. But I digress—at least we were able to get the intro again!

Since I can’t go a DVD review without complaining about the lack of chapter stops, I guess I’ll—wait a minute! There are chapter stops! A recent change inside WHV has started all of their TV DVD sets coming out with chapter stops and they’re placed at perfect spots in all episodes (Intro, two commercial breaks and credits). Kudos to WHV for adding these to the set; as nice as that BTAS intro is I don’t really want to watch it with every episode.

Disc art is standard fare, with each of our four heroes covering a disc. It fits the style of the last releases and the same goes for the box packaging and slip case. Menus are very nice; we are introduced to them with a Batcave intro and then are treated with rotating characters on the main menu selection. Plenty of nice character art is peppered throughout the menus, (no horrible looking Harley Quinn’s [See: Batman: The Animated Series Volume 3] here!) though the use of TAOBAR theme and credits is questionable. Surely with the TNB/SA intro on the DVD, they could’ve used that music instead. In the end though, the packaging, disc art and menus are all presented well and very much feel like something you’d get from an animated Batman DVD.

Included in this release, as with Volume 3, is a free collectible lithograph cel from Clampett Studios; the litho is bordered in blue with a shot of Batman in what appears to be Metropolis (Gotham doesn’t have buildings like that…none I know of anyway). Still, it’s a very nice surprise and bonus in this set.

Overall, this is a set that I don’t know if I could be more pleased with. Upon the first look and seeing few special features, once I found out there was more than I was seeing I became a lot more satisfied with this release. I really wish a few other episodes got commentary (notably “Old Wounds” and perhaps “Mad Love), but that’s what I hope for every release. In the end, I’m happy with what I got.

If you want to see TNBA in DVD clarity with few imperfections, then get yourself a present this holiday season and throw this in your cart the next time you order from Amazon. Hell, order a few for friends and family as well.

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