In this newest wave of DC Comics Classic Collection DVDs, we take a trip back in time to the 60s and 70s with The New Adventures of Superman and The New Adventures of Batman. Both volumes arrive on two discs and are packed to the brim with episodes, with a featurette on both covering the specific decade the cartoons were created in and what was going on with the comic adaptations at that time.
In The New Adventures of Batman we get a much lighter portrayal of Batman, akin to the Adam West series. This is not just due to the fact that Adam West and Burt Ward voice the Dynamic Duo in this Filmation classic cartoon, but also due to the writing which makes no attempt to wow the audience with dramatic stories. The inclusion of such characters as Bat-Mite and zany renditions of The Joker and Penguin only drive this point further home, but like the Adam West series, the show maintains a level of entertainment for the audience, one similar, if not the same, as the Superfriends show.
This sixteen episode collection encompasses the entire series and is spread across two discs (one of which is a flipper). There are some real enjoyable episodes in here, what with the large cast of heroes (Batman, Robin and Batgirl all get screen time) with an even larger roster of villains to back them up. While it cannot be denied that the episodes aren’t silly and goofy, the voice performance and even some of the animation is commendable, but this series, along with The New Adventures of Superman won’t win any awards for outstanding programming.
In the end, those who will enjoy this series are those who grew up with it and those who eagerly await future releases of Superfriends; it’s quality animation to some, but for those, like me, who grew up with a different era of Batman in animation, it’s hard to swallow this release. I enjoy the Adam West TV series, which I am eagerly waiting on a DVD release for, but I could never really get into pre-80s animation. The The New Adventures of Superman series was entertaining to me on a different level, while The New Adventures of Batman gets slightly irksome after a short while. Recommended if you enjoy other Filmation outings, otherwise Rent this one.
The single-tray digi-pak cases first debuted by Batman Beyond’s first season returns for both of the The New Adventures of Superman and The New Adventures of Batman volumes. The packaging Is colorful and matches the show, although the interior art is a bit odd (Batman is almost entirely obscured by the two discs—reversing the image would’ve given him more of a spotlight, although the text for the disc contents would then obscure him. Either way, it’s a neat two-panel spread with the discs removed or the menu art reflects the packaging.
There is only disc art on the first disc, as the second is a flipper. While I don’t mind the release of flippers, putting one in a dual layer tray seems kind of risky—if disc one pops out during shipping, there’s potential for scratching on the second disc. Mine arrived without a scratch, but it’s still rather risky. And for those wondering, yes the discs absolutely did need a flipper—both disc one and side A of disc two is filled to the brim with data and the featurette and trailers on side B would have had no room to reside in the set.
The video and audio for this set is remarkable. Video is clean and clear and looks light-years better than the The New Adventures of Superman set, obviously due to its age. No interlacing, ghosting or aliasing is present on the video transfer—it truly is a beautiful sight to see. The audio is largely the same with a Dolby Mono track, which remains strong and clear throughout the set.
With the featurette, “The Dark Knight Revisited”, we hear from Paul Levitz, Paul Dini, Mark Hamill and Lou Scheimer (of Filmation), Denny O’Neil and a few others on the state of the Bat in the 70s. The majority of this featurette focuses on the comic book of the time (which was nothing like the animated series) and we’re only given a small glimpse into the show itself, although with sixteen episodes and nothing else to say other than it was rather hokey, I guess there isn’t much ground to cover. Still, the featurette remains a treat and is worth watching should you buy or rent this release.
Overall this set, with over six hours of content, is a mixed bag. I found myself enjoying some of the episodes, while rolling my eyes at the others. I’m simply not the right audience for the release and those that know what they’re getting into will know what is on the set. As with the series, the DVD set comes with the same guide: Recommended if you enjoy other Filmation outings, otherwise Rent this one.
The New Batman Adventures arrives on DVD on June 26th.