"Holiday Knights" is the premiere episode of The New Batman Adventures. Despite being originally aired in September, this episode contains three Christmas themed vignettes, all completely unrelated to one another. The first story stars Batman in pursuit of Gotham's dames, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn; the following tale is about Batgirl's confrontation with Clayface; finally we have the Clown Prince of Crime on the loose with Batman and Robin trying to stop him.
Harley Quinn bemoans her fate to her friend, Poison Ivy, as they stay holed up in a scuzzy hotel with nothing to celebrate the holidays. Harley is eager to get a Christmas tree, but Ivy refuses to support 'botanical genocide.' With a raised eyebrow of devious foreboding, Ivy assures her that she has a plan that will make it "the happiest holiday ever".
Later on, at the Vreeland estate, we catch up with Bruce having a pleasant conversation with fellow socialite Veronica about forthcoming vacation plans. Much to "Brucey's" chagrin, his quiet moment is interrupted by a gaggle of suitors all intent on snagging a moment with Gotham's most eligible bachelor under the mistletoe. Backing away in order to make an escape, he finds himself in the arms of a shadowy female figure who – seizing him by his necktie – plants a big one right on his kisser. Finding himself completely discombobulated as to what exactly just transpired, he makes his way outside with the intent to head home.
On his way to his car, however, he's intercepted by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and finds he cannot resist their every command no matter how hard he tries. While in the car, Harley kindly reveals exactly what happened: Poison Ivy used a special lipstick laced with a chemical in order to infect Bruce, via the aforementioned kiss. They also boldly pronounce that they intend to have a night on the town at Mr. Wayne's expense. The girls shop endlessly buying clothes and jewels, all the while Bruce begrudgingly (yet uncontrollably) puts it all on his credit cards. In spite of Harley's eagerness, Ivy still refuses to get a Christmas tree. Finally, Bruce begins building up a will as the chemical's potency begins to wane. Vocalizing his discontent, the girls decide it's time for another dose; backing away from Harley's approach, however, Bruce falls down a conveniently placed 'out of order' open elevator shaft. Believing the slip to be his last, Harley and Ivy leave Bruce for dead, yet as they turn their backs and walk away, a portentous hand reaches out of the abyss and grips the edge of the floor.
As the duo burn rubber away from Bergduff's Department Store, the silhouette of the Batman can be seen swooping after them. When Harley spots him through the back window, Ivy wastes no time in making an escape: she grabs the wheel of the car and ram raids the Wacko Toys shop. Probing through the pitch black with his flashlight, Batman soon needn't wonder where they've gone to as a huge toy soldier comes crashing down nearly upon him. Looking up, he can see them taunting him atop a citadel of toys. Not one to decline a challenge, Batman eagerly ascends the tower only to find a boxing glove by Poison Ivy and a wooden sledge hammer from Harley Quinn. Plummeting to the bottom, the girls cannot resist a gloat as they make – what they believe will be – their exit. But the quick minded Batman has other plans: he uses his grappling hook to snag the base of a massive Christmas tree, which he then yanks hard, causing it to topple over directly on the would-be escapees. Though Ivy is furious, Harley feels satisfied to finally have a tree.
In Mayfield's Department Store, Barbara is just purchasing a new tie for her father when all of a sudden an ear-piercing wail cuts through the air. The shop attendant comments on how they've been crying all day, at which point we see why: Harvey Bullock is playing Santa. With his partner, Montoya, he's on a stakeout to catch a mysterious 'invisible shoplifter.' Bullock does not enjoy playing Santa, but shows rare sensitivity when he unexpectedly meets a young girl whose father he put in prison. Though he can't bring her father home, he gives her some cash to soothe her Christmastime woes, encouraging her to buy a gift for her father - "as long as it ain't a hacksaw."
Barbara, walking through the store, happens to spot a child shoplifting, but when she tries to apprehend him, his clothes and hand seem to dissolve into nothing. Then, Montoya gets a call through her earpiece that detectives are in pursuit of four child bandits in the store. Just when the children seem to be trapped, they meld together into... Clayface. He begins tearing up the place and no one can stop him, that is, until Barbara gets changed into her Batgirl outfit and delivers a blow to the head the sends him crashing out the window and into the skating rink below. Montoya and Bullock arrive on the scene and with a little guidance from Batgirl, succeed in halting the giant shapeshifter by way of electrocution. Bullock is ready to close the case and celebrate, but Montoya reminds him they still need to recover the stolen goods - hidden in Clayface's clay body. Bullock starts rolling up his sleeves for the grim job ahead.
In Commissioner Gordon's office, Batman and Robin have just reviewed a taped broadcast by the Joker, who reveals some good news and bad news: the good news is that for the next year, he will not kill anyone; the bad news is that he intends to make up for the loss in activity that very night. Gordon tells Batman the only murder that day was a GothCorp scientist who specialized in sonics. This Dr. Erikson had been working on a sonic based weapon powerful enough to kill anyone in 'earshot'. Using some rudimentary deductive skills, Batman concludes that the New Year's Day countdown at Gotham Square is assuredly the place where the Joker will set off the bomb.
Indeed, the Joker is setting up, and Batman is close at hand, but – always with a trick up his sleeve – the Joker has prepared a mass of plastic joker masks in order to help him blend in with the crowd. Batman is not amused. Using his 'Batnoculars', he easily spies the real Joker (with a huge clown wearing ear muffs on either side of him) playing the piano on stage. So just before swooping in, he makes his presence known with a well-timed Batarang to the head, removing the Joker's ear muffs. Then, instead of going after the Joker directly, Batman and Robin take out the muscle on either side of him. This seemingly simple task, however, proves to be too much for the caped crusaders and they find themselves in the clutches of the Clown Prince of Crime.
As the bell is rising to ring in the New Year, the Joker is having himself one final gloat by standing next to Batman with a bottle of champagne. The ever-alert Dark Knight snatches the bottle and sprays it all over the controls, shorting the wires and eventually exploding the bell's pulley, resulting in a falling, massively heavy bell. As luck would have it, the giant object lands right on the Joker (who comically follows it up with a small "ouch").
A few hours after midnight, Gordon enters a small tavern and has a seat, while the barkeep ushers out the remnants of the punters. He speculates that "he" might not show after the hectic day "he's" had, but the Commissioner is sure he will not to break their tradition. Naturally, it's Batman who they're talking about, and sure enough he appears from the kitchen. He sits, and the two friends share coffee and drink a toast to surviving another year. As Gordon orders a cheese steak to go he finds Batman has slipped away like a shadow, paying the bill in the process. Gordon swears that one day he'll beat him to the check, then heads home with a swinging Bat close behind him.
- Clayface's return in this episode is not explained until the subsequent episode "Growing Pains", in which Batman and Robin express shock to see him alive and well after Batman watched him dissolve in the ocean at the end of Batman: The Animated Series episode "Mudslide". As Batgirl does not seem surprised to see him, it's possible that she is unaware of the events of that earlier episode, but more likely, this episode probably takes place after "Growing Pains".
- Years later, Batman used some video footage taken from the Joker's New Year celebration to try to resolve the mystery between the original Joker and the new Joker in the movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Four (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- This episode was adapted from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special, cover date January 1995. Notable differences include:
- The comic is still in the style of Batman: The Animated Series.
- The comic includes a story that was not adapted to the episode, "White Christmas", featuring Mr. Freeze and written by Glen Murakami. After the death of his wife, Freeze breaks out of Arkham. When Batman finally captures him at the cemetery, he tells him he only wanted to make a white Christmas, because she loved snow. According to Bruce Timm, he originally wanted to adapt this story for the episode, but was forced to drop the idea when he discovered that Nora Fries was revived at the end of the story of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, written by Boyd Kirkland and Randy Rogel; as it was required to have Nora dead in order to adapt the original issue. Furthermore, in Timm's opinion, Nora was already dead since the Batman: The Animated Series episodes "Heart of Ice" and "Deep Freeze".
- In the comic, there is a clear reference that Harley is Jewish.
- In the comic, the story featuring Batgirl and Clayface (entitled "Jolly Ol' St. Nicholas") precedes the story featuring Harley and Ivy ("The Harley and the Ivy").
- In the comic story "Jolly Ol' St. Nicholas", Barbara enters an empty dressing room to change into her Batgirl costume; in the episode, she ducks behind an abandoned counter. Interestingly, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's original script for the comic had Barbara changing her clothes in the middle of the panicking crowd, trusting that no one would notice her. The publisher firmly vetoed this idea as too indecent, so instead she used an empty dressing room. The animated version seems to represent a compromise, with Barbara changing between clothing aisles, still out in the open somewhat, but mostly obscured.
- The football game that Joker's message interrupts features a commentator naming one of the players as "Altieri", a reference to Kevin Altieri. In the comic, the player was called Starkings, after penciller Richard Starkings.
- The animated adaptation of the Joker story ("...What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?!") replaces three nameless goons with Mo, Lar and Cur.
- Robin was originally not part of the Joker story.
- As the pilot episode of a series associated with Kids' WB with less strict censors than FOX, "Holiday Knights" makes the first references to death and murder, while its predecessor, Batman: The Animated Series, was only allowed to imply it. Examples of such a change include, but are not limited to:
- The first television depiction of the Joker's laughing gas actually killing people instead of just making them laugh long enough as a mere distraction (barring Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which was a theatrical film).
- The Joker's plan to murder countless innocent Gothamites for amusement, whereas the previous series portrayed the Joker as more of a troublemaker than an outright murderer (although the episodes "Be A Clown" and "Harlequinade" depicted him attempting to kill Gothamites with bombs).
- Batman and Commissioner Gordon meeting every Christmas to share hot chocolate to celebrate "another year of survival", making The New Batman Adventures and all subsequent television shows of the DC Animated Universe much darker and more serious in comparison to Batman: The Animated Series.
- The sign at the tie stall at Mayfield's reads "Mayfieds"; the "l" is missing.
- Batgirl, Montoya and Bullock defeat Clayface by shorting a string of Christmas lights in the pond Clayface was standing in, thus electrocuting him. However, in "Feat of Clay" Batman discovers that electricity has no effect on Clayface, allowing Hagen to fake his death. A possible explanation is that the chemicals that revived Clayface after "Mudslide" (as later seen in "Growing Pains") also stripped him of this immunity as a weakness.
- During the fight with Mo, Lar and Cur, Robin's whole arm becomes red.
- While the girls are shopping, the music being played is based on "The Twelve Days of Christmas".
- The three late-night revelers singing "Auld Lang Syne" in the tavern are caricatures of Bruce Timm, Glen Murakami, and Shane Glines.
- The Joker's lines in the videotape message were re-animated and re-voiced for an appearance in Bruce's records in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
- The episode begins and ends in the same place, Joe's Tavern, which is opposite the Gotham Hotel where Harley and Ivy are staying.
- This marks the first appearance of Mo, Lar and Cur, though they lack their Stooge-like voices here.
- This also marks the last time in the DCAU—until the Justice League episode "Maid of Honor"—where Bruce Wayne speaks in a noticeably different tone than his alter-ego.
- Some of the women seen attempting the kiss Bruce under the mistletoe were previously seen in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, most notably "Ms. Bambi".
- The crack in the bell after it lands on Joker is likely a reference to the Liberty Bell.
- Tara Strong replaces Melissa Gilbert as the voice of Batgirl.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Tara Charendoff||Batgirl/Barbara Gordon|
|Mark Hamill||The Joker|
Mo, Lar and Cur (uncredited)
Carol singer (uncredited)
|Arleen Sorkin||Harley Quinn|
|Diane Pershing||Poison Ivy|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Marilu Henner||Veronica Vreeland|
|Robert Costanzo||Detective Bullock|
Carol singer (uncredited)
|Liane Schirmer||Detective Renee Montoya|
|Rachel Davey||Mary McSweeney|
|Tress MacNeille||Little Boy|
|Corey Burton||Uniformed Cop|
Sports commentator (uncredited)
Poison Ivy: I'll bet you've been a good little Batboy this year. Unfortunately, Harley and I are still on the naughty list.
Batgirl: Don't waste your ammo on him, shoot the Santa.
Joker: Hi-ho, couch potatoes. I'm interrupting the Toilet Bowl to bring you my very special New Year's resolution: ahem, starting tonight at midnight, I – your loving uncle Joker – do solemnly vow not to kill anyone for a whole year... which means I'm going to have to work extra fast to bump off a few more of you today. (Laughs madly)