For our last group of installments of this article series we will be looking at the suggested episode ideas from the show bible. Some of them were made into episodes, some may or may not have inspired them, and some were probably left behind. Thus is the nature of such things when your showrunner isn’t coming up with all of the ideas and making writers use them, ala the new Doctor Who.
How many I do per article will be based on how many words in the article. When I start hitting the thousand mark or question how balanced the divide will be I’ll stop until the next installment. Have to give my Patreon sponsor his money’s worth and you some decent reading. 22 potential episodes were suggested in the bible, but which ones were actually made and what changes were made to them?
- A birthday party for the mayor’s child turns into a nightmare when the Joker, disguised as a performing clown, kidnaps the birthday boy. When a ransom note appears, Batman is lured to an abandoned carnival where the Joker has arranged a gauntlet of traps to welcome the Dark Knight’s rescue plan.
This was actually the episode “Be A Clown“, taken up by Ted Pedersen & Steve Hayes. Instead of kidnapping Jordan (the mayor’s son) however, the boy snuck into “Jekko”‘s car, hoping to learn to be a magician like he was and not knowing about the attempt to blow everything up with a birthday candle. Earlier in the bible you may recall during Mayor Hill’s profile it mentioned this story, but there is no chiding of Batman at the end, because he never saw him. According to the DCAU Wiki, Timm came up with this story after he “had the image in his mind of Batman trying to save a child, but the child’s too scared because of Batman’s intimidating look. This would later be revisited in the Batman Beyond episode “Unmasked“. It was actually a good story about Mayor Hill learning to treat his son better than his political aspirations, in this case inviting none of Jordan’s friends, just the Mayor’s own political friends, who may or may not have kids.
2. Exhausting his final lead in a current case, Batman sneaks into Stonegate Prison in order to question a connected prisoner who refuses to talk. Once there, he realizes that a trap has been set by prison kingpin Mr. Big, who comfortably runs his criminal network from within his cell. As word spreads of the Batman’s presence, a riot ensues. Pursued by sworn enemies furious for revenge, Batman fights his way through the bowels of the prison, only to be captured and marched down Death Row and strapped into the electric chair. Luckily, the Riddler springs him at the last minute, not about to have the honor of besting Batman robbed from him by a bunch of low-life jailbirds.
I can’t think of an episode with enough of this premise to call it. It sounds like a pretty good episode but instead of the Riddler I would have rather seen another person Batman locked up who learned the error of his ways and saw helping Batman as payback for his new perspective on life. It might have made for a better ending, but again it’s not one I recognize.
3. When innocent tourists are murdered by a huge human-like “Bat”, renegade Detective Bullock declares open season on the Batman, not realizing that the murderer is in fact “the Man-Bat”– a product of a misguided scientist’s self-inflicted genetic experiments. The Man-Bat flies into a chemical-stealing rampage, hoping to create a serum that will transform him completely into a new species of Bat. Meanwhile, the Batman uses the trail of thefts to deduce the plan and develops his own anti-serum. Then he sets in motion a plan to lure the Man-Bat to a showdown in the skies above Gotham City.
Mitch Bryan ran with this one, dropping the murder angle for “On Leather Wings” and adding Langstrom’s wife and father-in-law, both of whom will play a big part in other Man-Bat episodes. It was one of the first aired stories and the first one actually produced.
4. The demented mind of a meet Ventriloquist snaps and his machine-gun-toting puppet, Scarface, takes over, obsessed with seizing control of Gotham’s gambling industry. His crime spree begins with a racetrack heist in order to ruin the opposition, but Bruce Wayne is there watching his racehorse and catches a glimpse of the thieves. Batman arrives and thwarts the robbery, eventually tracing the mad Ventriloquist to an offshore gambling barge which as become a trap to be sprung on the Batman.
This episode was also never made, but the Ventriloquist and Scarface would pop up to cause trouble in Gotham City.
5. Batman is shocked to see criminal mastermind Ra’s al Ghul calmly walk into the Batcave. When Ghul reveals that he has kidnapped Robin, the forces Batman to assist in the theft of a jeweled statue of Kali. As Ghul’s band of thugee assassins begin a crime wave, the Dark Knight must outwit Ghul and rescue Robin. But Ghul’s beautiful daughter Talia has other plans for the Batman…
I don’t know what a “thugee” is, but as other typos popped up I’m going with that theory. Talia was introduced in “Off Balance“, which, much like seeing Harvey Dent in action for episodes prior to his becoming Two-Face, was a good idea. If you didn’t know the comics you would have no idea that Talia would lead to someone like Ra’s Al Ghul. “The Demon’s Quest” is a bit more involved than the above story, and had Ghul faking Talia’s kidnapping as well, sending Batman, Ra’s, and Ubu on a quest around the world to test Batman as the Demon’s Head’s potential successor. The two-part story was also written by Dennis O’Neil and Len Wein, who worked on the Batman comics for a long time and were responsible for the transition to the less campy (but not as broody and violent) changes to the Batman comics of the bronze age, where I first read a Batman comic. Wein also wrote “Off Balance”, which was based on O’Neil’s introduction of Talia.
6. D.A. Harvey Dent’s meticulously planned stake-out goes awry when Batman chases a henchman into its midst. When acid meant for the Batman is hurled into Dent’s face, half of his face is destroyed and his overworked mind snaps. Escaping from the hospital, Two Face is born, and with a flip of the coin launches into a crazed crime spree hoping to lure Batman to his death.
Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel didn’t go this route with the two-part episode “Two-Face“. It’s the result of an accident during an explosion of a chemical vat. The aforementioned stake-out actually went as planned, until the early stages of “Big Bad Harv” making his way out, leading to Two Face’s persona. Also they threw in a fiance for Harvey, which considering how soon this was after he was dating Pamela Isley (who was secretly trying to kill him) that seems rather odd.
And here’s where we’ll stop for this installment. We’ll pick up at concept #7 next week.
[…] things about reading through the Batman: The Animated Series story bible was seeing a list of potential story ideas for writers to work with and how many of them actually made it to the show. […]