As cartoon series season openers go, this one was pretty nicely done. The animation was great, the plot was well-written, and there was some nice character development on the part of the three leads (Batman, Barbara, and the Commish). They took a very clever two-part episode idea- show a cliffhanger where we're not clear what is going on, then flashback to show what is going on, then end the first part with another cliffhanger, then in the second part develop things further and resolve both cliffhangers- and did a nice job with it. My applause.
On the characters- Batgirl is a nice addition to the show's cast. The witty banter between Batman and his various allies has always been my second favorite part of the Batman mystique (my first is the many Bat-gadgets). Bringing another ally onto the show to further interact with Batman is surely a good thing. And once again this show has taken a well-established character of the Batman saga and redefined that character in a positive way. I already like the show's Clayface and Catwoman better than the original versions, its Riddler and Penguin have also been great (though not as good as Burgess Meredith or Jim Carrey, these characters have at least shown me why Penguin and Riddler are good Bat-villains)- and the show's Batgirl is great too. A well-developed (for only two episodes) character, a source of much comedy, and a good role model for young women. I especially liked the way Batman came to see himself in her and how he immediately figured out who she was. A detective he is indeed (which reminds me- this show needs Ras! :). I only hope that Batman's relationship with his newest ally doesn't come to eclipse his relationships with his other allies. Detective Yin was a good addition to the cast, the first Gotham police officer I've really liked other than Gordon (IMO Bullock and Montoya were always very stereotypical and little more than that). She just has this certain vibe about her that would charm a gargoyle (:), and Gordon can't always be the cop Batman talks with. Plus they can't just throw away all the great moments Yin and Bruce Wayne have had this season (Fire and Ice, Night and the City). That would be a mistake.
Speaking of great moments, this show had quite a few of them. Since I can't post quotes till I'm Level 2 I will mention them herein:
Barbara : "Hello, Commissioner. This is the Batman. Care to go bowling?"
Alfred: A Bat...girl, sir? Perhaps I should have the Batcave equipped with a doggie door in case a Bat-Hound decides to join the team!
Gordon: Batgirl, I'm in your debt.
Batgirl: It's Batwo...Forget it. Batgirl it is. Uh, thank you, uh, citizen. Just doing my job.
Gordon: Another red. What are the odds?
Batman: Not every child gets to rescue their parent.
Great lines, all of these. I hope more are ahead. I can hardly wait to see how Batgirl interacts with the more established villains of the show- like Catwoman and Riddler. Those two have had the best moments of interplay so far with our hero (Ragdolls to Riches, Riddled, Night and the City) and their reactions to his new sidekick will doubtless be interesting. (Riddler- "There is now another riddle in the hearts and minds of Gotham City- who is Batgirl?)
My only complaints about this season-opener are the somewhat abrupt ending of the second part, and the fact that Poison Ivy was a bit over the top. Should her power really have developed that quickly? It was almost too much for Batman to handle, even with new gadgets and Batgirl's help. I think they may have given the audience a very heavy impact on their suspension of disbelief. The script did make up for this a bit, though- I got the idea that a lot of Ivy's power was unconscious, instinctual- like nature itself. It seemed she was just reacting to whatever situation she was in and trying to win however she could- and the powers that popped out both surprised and gladdened her. Yes, it was sudden and over-the-top, but Ivy soon got used to it and developed it well. The writers of shows like Teen Titans and X-Men Evolution could take lessons from how well this process was written here. I shudder to consider the kind of threat Ivy will be to Gotham City once she further learns just how to control her powers and use them wisely. It was also a good thing the writers gave her an in-depth relationship with Barbara on par with Bruce's relationships with Ethan/Clayface and Catwoman/Selina. That's more than any Batman writer I've seen has ever done for Ivy- and very welcome. She's hardly the show's most original antagonist (that award has to go to Chief Rojas, who was very well-written and showed what was probably the most likely response a police chief would give to someone like Batman in the real world- ), but in this two-parter Ivy was very good. A welcome addition to the ranks of Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and the rest. Let's hope the other incoming new villains measure up.
All in all, this episode was one of my favorites thus far. I hope the third season continues in this vein.