|“||Live, from Gotham City, the show that no one wants to see, but everyone will watch! Yes, it's Christmas With the Joker!||”|
— The Joker
"Christmas With the Joker" is the Christmas episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and the first Christmas television episode set in the DC Animated Universe. Originally broadcast on Fox Kids on November 13, 1992, it is the series' second episode in production order. It was also notably the only episode that was directed by Kent Butterworth, who quit to work for Universal Studios in the middle of production; Eric Radomski took up direction of the episode afterward, but was uncredited in the finished product.
It is Christmas Eve, and even the inmates of Arkham Asylum are celebrating, singing "Jingle Bells" and setting up decorations. The Joker is given the golden ornament to put on top of the Christmas Tree, singing a common parody of the song mocking Batman. 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 Batman: 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, but 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 (Robin) and Bruce (Batman) 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. He shows a tank with a giant Santa Claus on top crashing through the city as he announces his program - 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 (since he doesn't have one of his own), "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, or else they will die. However, before Batman and Robin can reach him, Joker reveals "Laughy", his own Christmas Elf (basically his hand with a face drawn on it and a puppet costume attached). "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 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, which 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 eventually trips on a roller-skate and almost falls into the vat. Batman saves him and bids him a Merry Christmas, to which Joker simply replies, "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, in a straitjacket, spends his Christmas alone in his cell, singing some verses of "Deck the Halls" as his insanity claims him.
- As this was the second episode of Batman: The Animated Series in production order, it is the first appearance of Robin and the Joker in the DC Animated Universe. As such, this episode also marked the first production in which the Joker was voiced by Mark Hamill, who would provide the character's voice in numerous productions over the next twenty years. It is worth nothing that the original voice producers for Batman: The Animated Series had wanted Tim Curry (who has voiced and played Ebenezer Scrooge at least once) as the voice of the Joker.
- The giant tin soldier and Joker statues are featured as enemies in the Super Nintendo game The Adventures of Batman and Robin, appearing in the game's 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 background music score for this episode was made available on the 2-disc album Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 1, released by La-La Land Records on December 16, 2008. It makes up tracks 29-36 on the first disc of the set.
"Christmas With the Joker" was made available on home video for the first time in 1995, when it was featured on the VHS tape The Adventures of Batman and Robin: The Joker, which also included the episode "The Laughing Fish". It was later featured as the second episode on the Batman: The Legend Begins VHS and DVD, which also included the episodes "On Leather Wings", "Nothing to Fear", "The Last Laugh", and "Pretty Poison". It was later included on the Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 1 DVD set in 2004, and again on the Batman - Super Villains: The Joker's Last Laugh 2-disc set, released on October 16, 2012.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman / Bruce Wayne|
|Robert Costanzo||Detective Bullock|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Clive Revill||Alfred Pennyworth|
|Mark Hamill||The Joker|
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
|Loren Lester||Dick Grayson / Robin|
- Batman Wiki: Christmas With the Joker
- DC Animated Universe Wiki: Christmas With the Joker
- DC Comics Database: Christmas with the Joker
- The episode's page on World's Finest Online
- "Christmas With the Joker" at TV.com
- "Christmas With the Joker" at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- "Christmas With the Joker" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Christmas With the Joker" recap at TV Tropes