- You may also be looking for the villainess Baby-Doll.
"Baby-Doll" is the fourth episode of the third season of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on October 1, 1994.
Brian Daly, one of the stars of the play "Death of a Salesman," exits a theater with two co-stars after a performance, only to hear a girl sobbing. Curious, Daly follows the sound and finds a little blonde girl leaning against the wall and crying. He kneels beside her and asks if she's lost. The girl, shielding her face with her hands, claims that her brother has left her by herself. Daly offers her a handkerchief. The girl takes it and thanks Daly, finally revealing her face. A shocked expression crosses his face, but before he can react, he's knocked out-cold by a silhouette from behind. The girl tip-toes around him, apologizing for "playing rough."
The next day, Batman and Robin are browsing through photos of missing actors from a 20-year-old sitcom called "Love that Baby," which Robin remembers from when he was a kid, but admits he never liked the show. Daly's the latest actor from the show to disappear. The blond girl, as it turns out, is Mary Louise Dahl, the show's titular "Baby-Doll." According to Batman, Dahl suffers from severe systemic hypoplasia, an extremely rare medical condition that prevented her body from physically aging (in her case, she stopped growing past the age of 5). Though she would be 30-years-old now, she still has the looks and body of a small child.
They are interrupted by a radio call from Detective Bullock, requesting immediate backup in stopping an attack at the same theatre where Brian Daly disappeared from. Batman and Robin arrive, but are unable to stop the attackers from kidnapping another old costar from the show: Tammy Vance, who's also appearing in "Death of a Salesman." They try to give chase in the Batmobile but Baby throws herself in front of the car, forcing Batman to avoid her. The Batmobile crashes, and the attackers manage to escape.
Robin holds a crying Baby-Doll in his arms while the girl keeps asking for "her mommy." A red-haired woman emerges from the crowd and takes the little girl into her arms and starts scolding her. Baby replies with her trademark line from the TV show, "I didn’t mean to," and Batman and Robin realize who she is. Baby-Doll throws a basketball-smoke bomb and disappears in the smoke along with her "mommy."
With help from Summer Gleeson, Batman and Robin review the history of the show including its end. During their watching of the episodes, Robin claims that the show is worse than what any supervillains have done to them. On a more serious note, Robin tells Batman that during the show's last season, ratings started to go down, and in an attempt to boost them, the show executives added a new character called "Cousin Spunky." Feeling that Spunky was stealing her spotlight, Dahl angrily quit the show, forcing it's cancellation and putting her costars out of a job, and attempted to launch a career as a serious actress. The attempt failed due to her performances receiving a "P.U." from the critics and she hasn't been heard from since. The actor who played Spunky is the only cast member who hasn't been kidnapped, and Batman and Robin form a plan to trap Baby-Doll and rescue her former costars.
Spunky, now in his twenties, is playing guitar in his garage, when he's kidnapped by Dahl and Miriam, under the ruse of a passing mother and baby, disturbed by the loud music. He is taken to her hideout, which has been decorated into a mock-up of the show's set. As the actors protest –- pointing out that it was technically Mary's fault the show got cancelled in the first place -– she angrily retorts that her life after the show was a failure, so she's "going back" to the way things were before.
She plans to re-enact a birthday party episode, only with dynamite planted in the cake. She also doesn't step away from the rigged cake, indicating that she intends to commit suicide and kill her former costars in the process. At the last second, "Spunky" grabs the dynamite in his mouth and flings it away, saving the others and revealing himself to be Robin in disguise.
Enraged, Baby-Doll points her doll, Mr. Happy-Head (a disguised machine gun), at "Spunky," when Batman makes his entrance, disarming both Baby and her guards. Batman and Robin explain that they managed to get the real Spunky to safety after explaining to him what was going on, and disguised Robin as him while also planting a tracking device on him so they could find where Dahl and the costars were hiding at. But then Baby's "mommy," who is revealed to be Baby's right hand woman named Mariam, attacks Batman and Robin with her impressive martial arts skills, giving Baby the chance to run away. The duo is quick to dispose of the woman and Batman continues to pursue Dahl while Robin frees the actors and guides them to safety.
The pursuit takes the pair into the Funland-amusement park, where Dahl ends up in the House of Mirrors. As she lies in wait for Batman, Dahl sees her reflection in the various trick mirrors. One of them elongates her reflection so as to make her appear as what she might have looked like as an adult if not for her medical condition. But this, she realizes in her true voice, is just as much of an illusion as the recreation she was trying to make. Breaking down, she begins shooting mirrors at random, aiming to shoot Batman, before finally turning to the reflection of her real adult self. With tears streaming down her face, she shoots it and continues to pull the trigger even after she's exhausted all of her ammunition. Batman appears and gently takes the doll from her unresisting hands. She cries as she clutches tightly at Batman's leg, and he places an understanding hand on her head at her words: "I didn't mean to."
Home video releases
- The carousel music at the carnival in this episode is the same music used in "Robin's Reckoning, Part II" and "World's Finest".
- Hypoplasia is a real condition, though it usually affects only parts of the body, such as organs, which are underdeveloped in the mature adult.
- The sign above the theater's entrance at the start of the episode clearly reads "Diath" of a Salesman, as opposed to "Death".
- Another spelling error occurs later in the episode; the sign on the concession booth Batman was standing atop to draw the children away from Dahl reads "POPCONE" (instead of "POPCORN").
- The trick mirror that shows Baby-Doll herself as an adult changes her hairdo as well as the details of her dress on top of morphing her proportions to an adult shape.
- Baby-Doll's character is partly based on a similar character in the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or real ex-child actors such as Gary Coleman.
- Baby-Doll is one of two original villains from the first run of the show who has not, to date, appeared in mainstream comics (the other villain not to have crossed over is Red Claw).
- The backstory of Doll's sitcom—the introduction of a cute kid cousin, "Cousin Spunky", who stole the audience's attention and caused Doll to quit in protest—is a parody of the TV phenomenon known as the "Cousin Oliver Syndrome". There have been several instances where a television show with falling ratings has attempted to boost its popularity by introducing a new "cute kid" character to appeal to younger viewers. The term "Cousin Oliver Syndrome" takes its name from Oliver Tyler, a new character introduced in a later season of The Brady Bunch, after the original "children" had all reached teen age. Unlike Cousin Spunky, Cousin Oliver was not a success, and so the term has come to refer to all such failed attempts.
- It is also worth noting that Cousin Oliver was played by Robbie Rist, who voices Brian Daly in this episode.
- Baby-Doll's henchmen bear a striking resemblance to Gilligan and the Skipper from Gilligan's Island, a sitcom which aired beside shows similar to the episode's own "Love that Baby."
- Jason Marsden voices his first role in the DCAU; he would later go on to voice numerous roles on Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and Justice League.
- Baby-Doll's failed attempt to launch a serious career was a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, a play rumored to be unlucky.
Baby Doll: I didn't mean to.
Robin: Wow, lady...you're good.
Baby-Doll: (looking at her adult reflection) That's me in there. The real me. There I am. But it's not really real, is it? Just made-up and pretend, like my family and my life and everything else in it. Why couldn't you just let me make-believe?!