By Lauren Amaro
It’s that time of year again, folks. The holiday season has once again claimed almost complete control of the TV stations, and every channel is flooded with holiday specials. Some people dread this season and actively avoid turning on the TV, and yet there are others who wholeheartedly embrace this time of the year and indulge in some of the most spectacular TV marathoning I’ve ever seen. If you fall into that second category, chances are you already have a list of holiday specials you’re raring to go through. But regardless of which category you fall into, everyone should dedicate some time this winter break to sit down and watch Batman: The Animated Series’ holiday special, “Christmas with the Joker” — and let me tell you why.
First of all, Batman: The Animated Series is quite possibly the greatest and most faithful portrayal of Batman to ever grace our TV screens. It manages to combine the fun, campy humor that enthralled audiences of the sixties, with Batman’s crime noir origins. This combination results in a show full of melodrama and some of the most amazingly awful puns, most of which are courtesy of the original Boy Wonder himself, Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Robin). Many people see Robin as a nuisance, but in Batman: The Animated Series (and especially in “Christmas with the Joker”) Robin is portrayed as he was intended to be: as a humanizing force for Batman. Robin is the character who reminds both the audience and Batman that he is more than “vengeance” or “the night” — he’s also Bruce Wayne. This humanizing element is something that this series does so well, and something that the current iterations of Batman are lacking with their blind pursuit of justice and excessive angst.
Secondly, I doubt that anyone, no matter what their age, could sit through this episode and not find something to laugh at. “Christmas with the Joker” is a wild roller coaster ride of action from start to finish, interspersed with goofy contraptions and even crazier schemes. The episode begins with the Joker escaping from jail via a Christmas tree rocket ship, all whilst singing a rousing rendition of ” Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg”, so you know whatever follows is bound to be good (and with Mark Hamill — the actor famous for his role as Luke Skywalker — voicing a spectacular, even iconic, Joker, it’s also a great Christmas special for Star Wars fans anticipating the new sequel). The rest of the Christmas special certainly doesn’t disappoint as the Joker goes on to kidnap Jim Gordon and friends, hijack the TV station signal to broadcast his own holiday special, and lead Batman and Robin on a wild goose chase around Gotham.
All in all, for as over-saturated as the media is with superheroes, “Christmas with the Joker” is still something worth seeking out for more reasons than one. Not only is it an enjoyable holiday special that doesn’t hammer the viewer over the head with the “true meaning” of Christmas, but it reminds us of why we love Batman so much in the first place. Yes, he’s grumpy and dramatic, but he’s hardly two-dimensional. Batman: The Animated Series’ holiday special shows Batman’s depth more than recent iterations have dared, highlighting the care and humor behind the cape and cowl. Perhaps the best argument for why you should go watch “Christmas with the Joker” is because it allows Batman to be funny without detracting from the drama of it all. Because anyone who decides that dressing up as a bat to fight crime is a good idea has got to be a little crazy, and if you’re going to be crazy, you might as well have fun with it, right?