Though it's all of the same writing/producing talent and virtually the same voice actors as the classic "Batman: The Animated Series," there's something about "Batman - Gotham Knights" that just doesn't click with me.
Maybe it's like Timm and Company's "Superman" in that, for all of its smoother animation, the plots are lacking. Like "Superman," action sequences have been beefed up and characterization has been tossed aside. Out of the run, I can think of only three episodes that match the caliber of "TAS." "Over the Edge," the nightmarish episode penned by Paul Dini; "Never Fear;" and "Legends of the Dark Knight." Other than those, we have weak Joker episodes, uninspired new villains (Calendar Girl, Roxie Rocket...even Firefly stinks.)
And the number of weak episodes in this series is too high compared to the good. "Beware the Creeper?" "Critters?" "Ultimate Thrill?"
This may be nitpicky, but as a Batman fan, I wasn't wild about the whole "Bat-family" being featured. It doesn't make a lot of sense that Batman surrounds himself with Robin, Batgirl, et al because Batman fundamentally is a loner. In "TAS," he was a lone wolf most of the time and the stories were better for it. In "Gotham Knights," if Batman gets into trouble, there's at least three other heroes who can swing in and save the day. It eliminates a lot of the tension when the solution to a problem is, "Oh! Robin/Batgirl/Nightwing shows up!"
Much of the complaints against this show stem from the character redesigns. Are they all that bad? Penguin and Scarecrow look much better than their "TAS" counterparts. Batman looks a little better (his "Justice League" design was much worse, in my opinion.) The biggest offenses are Joker and Commissioner Gordon, who now looks emaciated.
That could be because the animation itself is weaker..."TAS" had a timeless sort of quality to the show, like the Fleischer "Superman" cartoons of the 1940s. "Gotham Knights" looks like any cartoon show from the mid 1990s.
I'm not sure what the exact reason was for the decline in quality, but as such I've never been able to really embrace this series. I'll stick with my Volumes 1-3 DVDs of "Batman: The Animated Series" and chalk this one up to a good idea that needed some fixing before it got on the screen.