Batman: The Animated Series is widely regarded as one of the greatest animated shows ever, if not shows full stop, and is generally perceived as the pinnacle of animated superhero shows. As such, when Justice League Unlimited was winding to a close, and The Batman was starting, you can't help but wonder what their mentality was. How could they possibly follow more than a decade of the most high-quality, intelligent, adult-oriented (but with minimal adult content) animation?
The Batman is mostly a work of guts, and for that it is admirable. It took guts to even conceive this show, it took guts to have different voices (for this season at least), it took guts to start from scratch. And most of all, it took guts to do such an extensive redesign of mostly everything that Batman - either in comics or on the screen - is about.
This show takes a lot of chances. Characters are totally redesigned. Sometimes it's brilliant - Bane's size and skin colour changes when he hits his venom, Cluemaster as a bloated lunatic stuck in the past, Scarface's giant puppet - and some of them are truly radical; the two-part Clayface story that ends this season is the first pinnacle of the show, and shows the maturity it displays over ensuing seasons.
Some of these redesigns are less successful - the new Joker is, unfortunately, pretty bad. His ape-like mannerisms are weak, and the guy voicing him - a respected voice actor in his own right - unfortunately sounds like he's doing a bad impression of Mark Hamill.
Also, as can so often happen with the first seasons of shows, in spite of some quality voice acting (Batman is played by them man who played Rico in the much-mourned CGI series Starship Troopers: Chronicles, John DiMaggio and Tom Kenney make appearances), the season does, until the end, end up being somewhat of a 'villain of the week' show.
All in all, while not nearly at the level of Batman: TAS (after all, what COULD be?) The Batman showed promise from season one onwards and only got better from here. A show to look out for.