"Christmas With the Joker" is the thirty-eighth episode of Batman: The Animated Series, though the second to be produced. Joker escapes Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve and has a special Christmas planned for Batman and Robin. Kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson, and Harvey Bullock, he threatens to kill them at midnight. Of course, things are never easy with the Joker and he sets a few disasters in motion to keep Batman and Robin busy that Christmas night. It originally aired on November 13, 1992.
It's Christmas Eve and even the inmates of Arkham Asylum are celebrating. They sing "Jingle Bells" and set up decorations. The Joker is given the golden ornament to put on top of the Christmas Tree. However, as soon as he places it on top of the tree, a hidden rocket activates and Joker rides out to freedom.
Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, Robin tries to convince Batman to kick back and relax as there's no need for them to go out on Christmas. Batman believes otherwise since Joker has escaped. Robin makes a deal with him: if they go out on patrol and find no sign of the Joker, then they'll return home and watch It's a Wonderful Life. Batman agrees and the duo heads out.
All seems quiet in Gotham for a change and Robin is convinced they aren't needed. Batman is his usual self: seeing a man running after a rich woman and believing that she's going to be robbed, he heads out after them. However, the man calls to the woman and tells her that she dropped a package a couple of blocks back and returns it to her. Robin asks to go home and Batman silently swings off.
Now back at Wayne Manor, Dick and Bruce wait for dinner and turn on the TV. However, they discover that It's a Wonderful Life isn't on. Instead they find that Joker has hijacked the television waves and has a "Special" for Batman. Joker shows a tank with a giant Santa Claus on top crashing through the city. The show is announced to be "Christmas with the Joker". Batman and Robin instantly work to find the Joker's location by checking power surges and head out to find him.
Joker continues his show and shows everyone his stolen family, the Awful Lawful Family: Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson and Harvey Bullock. Joker tells Batman that he can have them if he can find them by midnight. If he fails, they will die. However, before Batman and Robin can reach him, Joker reveals "Laughy", his own Christmas Elf. Laughy and Joker explain that they will blow up a rail bridge just in time for the 11:30 train to arrive. Summer becomes agitated and explains that her mother is on that train.
Batman and Robin go to the train and while Batman goes after the engineer, Robin uncouples the passenger cars. The tasks are simple enough and they save the passengers. Afterwards, they pinpoint the source of Joker's signal: the observatory at Mount Gotham. However, when they reach it, they find that Joker simply left a transmitter there and replaced the observatory telescope with a cannon. Batman draws the fire of the cannon while Robin runs in to disable it. Unfortunately, the outer controls are ruined and the cannon starts firing erratically at parts of Gotham.
Inside, Robin finds that there are several Joker statues with guns for hands. These statues give Robin trouble but he's finally able to disable the cannon with an explosive. Unfortunately, they are no closer to finding Joker's hideout and saving the hostages. Joker of course, doesn't want to face Christmas without Batman and sends a broadcast of Summer opening a present: a Betty Blooper Doll. Batman realizes that the doll could only have come from the Laffco Toy Factory. The factory has been closed down for 14 years so it has to be Joker's hideout.
Batman and Robin make their way to the hideout and the Joker is more than ready. Joker plays the song, "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky and several giant toy nutcracker soldiers attack. In spite of their size, the soldiers are easy enough to defeat. Just then, the song switches to "the Russian Dance" and toy planes fly after the duo. Batman grabs up a baseball bat and smashes most of them while Robin catches the rest in an oil barrel. Just as the planes are finished off, machine gun toting snipers shoot at the duo. Batman races up towards a set of giant teddy bears and hides. The snipers are confused by his disappearance until they see his cape and start firing. Much to their surprise, they find that it was only a giant teddy bear they shot at. The bear falls over and pins them down.
With Joker's men and traps down, the duo sets out to find him but he reveals himself. His hostages are dangling over a vat of molten plastic and Joker threatens to drop them in if Batman doesn't come and get his Christmas present. Batman takes the present and opens it to discover a spring-loaded pie inside. Joker has a laugh and cuts the rope holding his hostages. Fortunately, Batman saves them and goes after Joker. Joker manages to evade him for a while but trips on a roller-skate and almost falls into the vat. Batman saves him and bids him a Merry Christmas. Joker simply says, "Bah humbug!"
Later, Bruce and Dick finish watching a recording of It's a Wonderful Life and Bruce has to admit that it "has its moments".
Meanwhile, Joker spends his Christmas alone in his cell, but seems to be in good spirits, singing and laughing to himself.
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: The Joker (VHS)
- Batman: The Legend Begins (VHS)
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: The Joker/Fire & Ice (DVD)
- Batman: The Legend Begins (DVD)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- DC Comics Super-Villains: The Joker's Last Laugh (DVD)
- Batman: The Killing Joke (Blu-ray only)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- This was the only episode directed by Kent Butterworth, as well as the only one written by Eddie Gorodetsky.
- When Batman and Robin drive away from the observatory, they pass by most scenery twice.
- When Joker's goons attack Batman and Robin, Batman calls them "snipers", when they're really just ordinary gunmen.
- After Robin uncouples the coaches from the locomotive, the coaches stop rather quickly. It would take quite a while for the coaches to make a complete stop given all the kinetic energy from the locomotive.
- When Robin rushes into the observatory, the eyes on his mask are blue.
- First episode (production wise) to feature Robin and the Joker.
- Oddly, Joker's last appearance in the DCAU (Justice League, "Wild Cards"), also featured a pirate television special, and in both episodes, Joker used the phrase "technical difficulties".
- The Joker performs the famous kid song "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells". The song was referenced in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Panic in the Sky," when Flash uses the opening lyrics to "explain" Batman's absence.
- The Giant Tin Soldier and Joker Statues are used in the Super Nintendo game The Adventures of Batman and Robin in the first stage "Amused to Death".
- The Christmas tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas can be seen in the background when Joker rides up on the sleigh.
- The man the Joker salutes after accepting a decoration from another inmate resembles Charles Manson.
- Gordon calls Joker "you diseased maniac!" similar to how Superman (Christopher Reeve) addresses Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) in Richard Donner's 1978 film.
- The episode makes references to the following:
- As he watches Batman evade the blasts from a cannon, Joker makes a reference to Hallmark's old slogan "When you care enough to send the very best." with "When you care enough to send the very blast.".
|Robert Costanzo||Detective Bullock|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Mark Hamill||The Joker|
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
Robin: Doesn't it warm your heart to see everyone in the spirit of Christmas? (Batman silently leaves) Oh, "Bah humbug" to you too!
Robin: He could give lessons to Scrooge.
Dick: You're gonna to love It's a Wonderful Life. It's a great movie.
Joker: Live from Gotham City, the show that nobody wants to see, but everyone will watch! Yes, it's Christmas with the Joker!
Summer Gleeson: My mother is on that train!
Giant Teddy Bear: (Pinning down goons) I love you very much.
Joker: Run, run as fast as you can, you'll not catch me, I'm the Jokerman.