BTAS RETROSPECTIVE: "Joker's Favor" Author: Rick Shew (Follow @SHEWRICK)
Date: June 10, 2017
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Production Order: 22
Airdate Order: 7
Original Airdates: September 11, 1992
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Boyd Kirkland
Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Alfred
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
John Costanzo as Det. Bullock
Mark Hamill as The Joker
Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn
Ed Begley, Jr. as Charlie Collins
In honor of the 25th anniversary of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, BOF has been revisiting each episode with retrospectives of each in airdate order. Jett assigned me “Joker’s Favor,” so here goes…
This episode revolves around Mark Hamill’s diabolical Joker, essentially running a man (Charlie Collins voiced by the amazing, Ed Begley, Jr.) off the road for having a slight road rage episode, stealing his ID and telling him he will kill his family if he does not make good on a favor. The favor, of course, had not yet been established.
There is a moment in this scene when The Joker leaves Charlie in the woods after making his threat and Charlie falls to his knees and shakes profusely like a man with a gun to his head. It is a very powerful moment and frankly hard to watch -- particularly for network animation in the early 90’s.
This is why BTAS worked so well – it was grounded in true reality, real emotions and unquestionable human behavior.
Another chilling aspect is how the episode jumps ahead two years and Charlie is now living in another city and has legally changed his name. And yet, The Joker still finds him and holds him to his promise which is now revealed: Help The Joker, or his son and wife will be murdered.
The episode also features Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn, Robert Hastings as Commissioner Gordon and of course, the consummate badass, Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
But most notable for me is that it was written by Paul Dini – a man who wrote multiple episodes of HE-MAN in the early 80’s. Which was yours truly very first love of animation outside of BUGS BUNNY.
“Joker’s Favor” is basically a perfect animated episode for The Batman and his #1 nemesis. - Rick Shew