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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: The Animated Series -- like all shows and movies centering on the Caped Crusader -- is dark and violent. Batman is a deeply conflicted hero who doesn't hesitate to use his fists to settle a disagreement (though he never kills his targets). Although the content is of high quality overall, the complicated messages and frequent fights mean this series isn't for the littlest viewers.
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What's the story?
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES follows the adventures of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman. This cartoon version, which originally ran from 1992-1995 (it still airs in syndication and is available on DVD), closely mirrors most other takes on the Dark Knight: Bruce comes from one of the most affluent and generous families in Gotham City. As a child, he witnessed his parents' murder -- an event that ultimately leads him to become Batman. As an adult, Bruce (voiced by Kevin Conroy) is left carrying the responsibility of the family mansion and the family business, Wayne Enterprises; but most of all, he's left carrying guilt, since he blames himself for his parents' deaths. With the help of servant-turned-father figure Alfred (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), Bruce creates Batman to get his revenge on all the criminals in Gotham. Later on, he's joined by sidekick Robin (Loren Lester).
Is it any good?
Overall, this complex, well-made series is further proof (if anyone still needs it) that animation isn't always automatically kid friendly. Batman: The Animated Series is a fairly violent cartoon. Guns, knives, and other weapons make frequent appearances, and all of the characters -- including Batman himself -- handle conflicts with their fists rather than their conversational skills. Also, some episodes focus heavily on Bruce's would-be playboy image, which includes some tame womanizing.
Most concerning, though -- at least for parents of young children -- is the show's overall grim quality: Bruce's melancholy and anger are the driving force behind the entire series, and some of the show's dark, intellectual plot twists could easily scare some younger kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
What are the responsibilities of being a hero? What is a hero? Is Batman a hero, a martyr, or both? Why is Batman so grim? Why does he feel responsible for the citizens of Gotham?
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