Now I am sure I have mentioned in the past that I think Batman is awesome, I have read a lot of Batman Comics, I have played a lot of Batman games (I am currently playing Batman Arkham Knight) One of the things I like the most about Batman is that the character works in a million different ways , for example I loved the old Adam West TV series for the campy wonderful show it was, but then I also loved the Tim Burton Movies staring Michael Keaton for how dark and comic book like they were. Now when I originally heard about Batman: The Animated Series I didn't expect it to be very dark at all it was for kids after all, how surprised I went on to be, the show did have the odd silly moment but it was surprisingly dark and adult at times and dealt with things I really didn't expect it to deal with. The thing is for me the best children's cartoons are the ones that don't treat children like children at all. I for a limited time worked in education and one of the things I was taught that has always stuck with me is that in order to achieve the best from children you need to challenge them, you need to show them dignity and respect and have faith in there ability to comprehend more than people typically give them credit for.
Batman the Animated Series works on multiple levels even if you watch it with very little understanding or attention then it still works as a simple tale of good against evil, one mans quest to make the world around him a safer place for the innocent. Yet pull out pretty much any single episode and there is something much deeper in it. In the episode Nothing To Fear for example the Scarcrow uses his fear toxin on people one of which is Batman, and what does Batman fear, he fears his own dead Father, he fears that he has let him down. This is clearly not the case as Batman has devoted his life to saving people and making the world a better place because of how his parents were murdered but this shows how sometimes our own worst fears are simply figments of our imagination dangerous ideas we have formed, ideas which are unhealthy and have the power to damage us. To me this episode clearly shows not only that sometimes we have to face our own fears but that we also quiet often make our own fears. Now you might say that oh big deal I have come up with this idea while in my 40's but no this is something I thought when I watched the show back when it was first shown in 1992 back when I was around 11, I might be better at articulating the idea now but everything needs to start somewhere. Not only would I argue that the way in which this show treated ideas made it ideal viewing for children back then I would argue that it makes it both just as accessible to children now and watchable for adults.
Here you have a show set in the Batman world which deals with all kinds of situations in an adult maner but also manages to squeeze in a remarkable amount of characters adding layers of depth to there characters which can be very surprising, as the show goes on you feel that you really get to know both the characters and the dynamics they share with each other. The show has some amazing animation but I think that even this is blown out of the water by the sound. The show not only has amazing music but it has some of the best voice acting ever. Kevin Conroy is a fantastic Batman, and of course just about everyone has heard stories about how great Mark Hamil is as the Joker and trust me all of them are true, he has the character absolutely nailed to perfection but it doesn't end with just these two, the show runners seemed to do a brilliant job of knowing just what kind of voice to get for each and every character. One of the things that really surprised me about the show was some of the vocal talent they managed to get, Dick Miller from Gremlins (and other classics) turns up in 2 episodes and David Warner gives an exceptional performance as Ra's al Ghul.
So am I going to suggest a jumping in point or an episode that you simply have to see? Well I would have to say just try and get a hold of the first season and work from there, yes there are a lot of episodes that stand very well on there own but the show also tries to build on itself and parts of it simply work a lot better if you have seen all of the subtle build up to a scene that has happened over the long haul.