Batman: TAS unproduced episodes

Revelator

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7/27: What a fantastic treasure trove! Thank you for for sharing this with the public!

* "Masks." This is Alan Burnett's outline for what became Mask of the Phantasm, and my already high respect for the man has further risen. Most of the finished movie and many of its best lines are already there in Burnett's outline, which didn't substantially change when fleshed out into a script, aside from a few minor deletions and several mentions of "Jack Napier." Though the script for Phantasm was a collaborative effort, it's an expansion of Burnett's clear and detailed vision, down to Bruce asking his parents to release him from his vow.

* "Mama Didn't Raise No Dummies." Considering that this document came from Martin Pasko's files, and that Pasko had a stack of rejected scripts from early in the show's gestation, before Alan Burnett became story editor, I assume this particular script was part of the early reject pile. Not a terrible script, but as an introduction to the Ventriloquist and Scarface it's definitely inferior to "Read My Lips" (whose story was co-written by Burnett). The rejected script gives the Ventriloquist an okay origin story, but it's ultimately less interesting than the conflict between the Ventriloquist and Scarface at the heart of "Read My Lips." Additionally, the sports stadium climax of the rejected script would have been too reminiscent of that from "Fear of Victory." Had "Mama Didn't Raise No Dummies" been produced the result would have been regarded as a passable episode of BTAS, one without the deliciously twisted psychology and imagery that made "Read My Lips" such a terrific debut for the Ventriloquist and his dummy.

* "Never Say Uncle" (I'll add some spoiler tags). Had this been produced, it would have been another mediocre episode starring a certain villain notorious for appearing in lackluster episodes. A lot of it reads like a sitcom, complete with hamfisted slapstick courtesy of "Uncle Fred." The climax is weak, lacks action, and features a wholly unconvincing moral reformation. But we do learn that
Bruce's mother was herself an orphan
and the end features a sweet dialogue between Alfred and Bruce, along with the possibility that
Fred might really be Bruce's uncle after all.
I feel the basic ideas in this story could have made an interesting episode, but the script would have needed a lot of work.

* "The Golem." This follows "Mudslide" and concepts from it were recycled into "Growing Pains" (the female child character, Clayface reconstituting himself in an amnesiac state). There's also a conceptual similarity to "See No Evil" (a little girl has a monstrous friend) and the Reaves-scripted "Sideshow" (freakish villain acts a child's protector). The script is low on action and the biker gang villains are decidedly underwhelming, but Batman has a poignant final line and the script effectively updates and pays tribute to the Golem legend (the family is Jewish, as indicated by their surname). I think this would have been a good episode, but if it had been produced then we wouldn't have "Growing Pains." Tough call! Was "The Golem" rejected because the censors didn't want to see a pregnant woman or a child in danger? Did the producers decide that "Mudslide" didn't need a follow up?

* "Razing Hellbane." Randy Rogel adapted this story from a comic by Frank Robbins, who wrote Batman comics from 1968 to 1974 and was skilled at crafting mystery stories. The exact issue is Batman #236, "Wail of the Ghost Bride!" As Yojimbo notes, the story has a Gothic atmosphere and flirts with the idea of the supernatural, though the solution to the mystery is ultimately earthbound. "Razing Helbane" would have made a very fine episode but I can see why it was never produced. First and foremost, it would have been rejected by the censors, since it features a
murder and a corpse.
It also reads like the treatment for a mystery show for adults, rather than an action show for kids. That's fine with me but might not have been with Fox. A pity it was never produced though--I can see the storyboarders having a lot of fun with the ambiguously ghostly imagery.

7/30: Just a note: it looks like the second half of the script for "The One and Only Gun Story" is incomplete. It doesn't have an ending. Would it be possible to restore the missing pages, or is the source script itself incomplete?

Mod Note: Double Post Merged
 
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iammattie

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The second part of the Watchtower Database deep dive into unproduced episodes is up! I'm sure a decent chunk of these are already known about here, but I know for sure we dug up a decent handful of info on some episodes that I hadn't seen mentioned (Including a pretty thurough outline of what would have been the Nocturna episode!) check it out:

 

James Harvey

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Just a note: it looks like the second half of the script for "The One and Only Gun Story" is incomplete. It doesn't have an ending. Would it be possible to restore the missing pages, or is the source script itself incomplete?
It appears to be incomplete, but we're double-checking to see if there are any other pages or content we missed. Fingers crossed!
 

Yojimbo

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The second part of the Watchtower Database deep dive into unproduced episodes is up! I'm sure a decent chunk of these are already known about here, but I know for sure we dug up a decent handful of info on some episodes that I hadn't seen mentioned
The bit about Mitch Brian's Stonegate script I believe originates from the Show Bible, which James has up on World's Finest for download, there was a section towards the end of it with episode ideas. Some got used, some didn't, some a little bit. The Stonegate one I was talking about was:
Exhausting his final lead in a current case, Batman sneaks into Stonegate Prison in order to question a connected prisoner who refuses to talk. Once there, he realizes that a trap has been set by prison kingpin Mr. Big, who comfortably runs his criminal network from within his cell. As word spreads of the Batman’s presence, a riot ensues. Pursued by sworn enemies furious for revenge, Batman fights his way through the bowels of the prison, only to be captured and marched down Death Row and strapped into the electric chair. Luckily, the Riddler springs him at the last minute, not about to have the honor of besting Batman robbed from him by a bunch of low-life jailbirds.
I guess Mitch Brian did go far enough to make it into a script. There some others like Mad Hatter using baseball caps to carry out a crime spree with the Wonderland Gang, Two-Face kidnaps Batgirl and lures Batman and Robin into a showdown, a Clayface one where Bruce has no way to change into Batman, a battle against this villain called The Architect in his submarine base, a weird Killer Croc origin story, a Catwoman one where she went to an island to stop hunters from hunting big cats, a Riddler one where he hacked the hi-tech security system of a skyscraper and goads Batman into coming to get him, Scarecrow infects the water supply and creates a Batman hysteria in the whole city, Robin has 24 hours to find Poison Ivy and an antidote after Batman is poisoned by her, a battle against Mad Maestro in the Gotham Opera House after he vows revenge on a judging committee who rejected his composition, a pirate fashioned after Blackbeard, and 3 cops including Montoya who tell their Batman story at a coffe shop but realize it's all part of Batman's current case (seems this became POV).
 

DBTrilogy100

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I have always been a fan of behind the scenes information and such details about the DC Animated Universe is no exception to me. It is very fascinating hearing about these episodes that could have been and having the chance to even read scripts from some these episodes that could have been. Of course, there is a big difference between reading the spark notes, outlines and scripts compared to being able to see the presentation and execution in action but I still consider this behind the scenes information to be a real treat and am grateful to all involved in it being shared. It also makes me hopeful that discoveries like this will happen for the other shows within the DCAU but I suppose time will tell if that happens or not.
 

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[Cross-posted in the "Vintage Interviews with the Makers of the DCAU" thread.]

Gotham Nocturna: Too dark for the Dark Knight, she didn’t get to put the bite on an animated Batman
By Pat Jankiewicz (Comics Scene #46, September 1994)

Throughout Batman: The Animated Series, Gotham City’s pointy-eared protector has fought a wide variety of foes: mobsters, madmen, renegade robots, science-spawned mutants and monsters, even a werewolf or two. Still, there was one supernatural menace that Fox TV found too unsettling for the caped crusader.

At his Warner Bros. Animation office, Batman producer/director Bruce Timm discusses the Dark Knight’s close encounter with another creature of the night. “For the second season of Batman, we wanted to do a ‘vampire show.’ There was a character from the 80s named Nocturna, a female vampire. We really wanted to use her in the worst way and I came up with a really neat design for her,” Timm states.

“It was going to be a two-part episode involving a really sick love story. Nocturna falls in love with Batman and wants to vampirize him so that they can live together eternally as vampires. She puts the bite on him at the first episode’s end.

“Bruce Wayne wakes up the next morning, and says, ‘Oh boy, how did I ever get home?’ Alfred tells him, ‘I found you and dragged you home. Good thing you’re safe now.’ Bruce feels like he has a really bad hangover. Alfred pulls open the blinds and Bruce starts shrieking because his skin is on fire! He looks in the mirror and sees that he has vampire fangs.

“The second episode was going to focus on Batman trying to cure himself of the vampire taint. We were going to say he wasn’t a supernatural vampire but a biological vampire, with a chemical substance in his bloodstream. He’s in the Batcave frantically trying to cure himself and at the same time he’s looking at Alfred, thinking, ‘God, he looks really tasty.’

“He’s about to attack Alfred, when he realizes, ‘This is horrible, I’m not gonna have time to cure myself of being a vampire; I’ll have to destroy myself before I’m a danger to anybody!’ Alfred says, ‘Just calm down. You’re too distraught to cure yourself. I’ll go get Kirk Langstrom [the scientist who turns into Man-Bat]. He’s the best guy to help you. Just lie down and relax!’

“Bruce tries to relax, but he can’t control the bloodlust. Batman goes out to Gotham City looking for victims when he realizes at the last minute that he must cure himself. That was as far as we got, but we thought that would make a great two-parter.

“The Fox Network said, ‘Nope, can’t do it! First of all, you can’t do vampires. You can’t have anybody sucking anybody else’s blood. You also can’t have Batman as a vampire looking for victims, you can’t have biological vampires, because you can’t have a disease that’s transmitted through blood, it’s too much like AIDS,’ ” Timm recalls.

“We went back and forth with them on this. We really wanted to do it and they really didn’t want us to, so we didn’t, but it would have been fun.”

The comic-book storyline that inspired the episode (from Batman and Detective Comics) was even grimmer; Batman is infected with the vampire virus by Robin, who got it from a lady vampire he met at college. In the story, Batman saves Vicki Vale from a bloodthirsty Robin and narrowly avoids preying on Alfred. He loses control, goes into Gotham City looking for victims and actually kills and drains a burglar in a back alley. (“I sent you to jail once, Marley. Now I only hope I haven’t sent you to Hell.”) There’s a violent showdown with the vampires in a desecrated church before he finds a cure.

As for whether Batman would have taken a hammer and put his love at stake, Timm says, “I’m sure we would have played up all those traditional vampire clichés and put some kind of twist on them, but we never got past the development stage. I would have loved to have done it, but...”

Vampirism has always been somewhat taboo in television animation. Past incarnations, like the short-lived superhero monster/comedy shows Monster Squad and Drac Pack, simply ignored the main preoccupation of their vampire leads. Super Friends was able to circumvent the “no vampires” policy by doing an episode where Dracula turns Superman into a vampire by having him use ridiculous eye-beams instead of fangs.

Despite this setback, Batman has encountered several unusual monsters, including the reptile-man Killer Croc, the shape-shifting Clayface, the savage Man-Bat and a steroid-induced werewolf. “We get away with monsters easily,” Timm explains. “It surprises me, because I think some of our monsters are really scary.

“Monsters are great, because the network thinks of them as fantasy figures and not things that could exist in real life. The censors are concerned about drive-by shootings; things that a kid can actually get in trouble by repeating in real life. They’re actually more concerned about things like parents being divorced than monsters. They don’t want any mention of divorce; they don’t want kids to think about that. Monsters they don’t have a problem with, which is great, because I love monsters,” he says, gesturing towards the Aurora Universal Monster model kits that sit on his shelves.

“For the most part, the network doesn’t like zombies, or any living dead people—even though we have one in the second season, a 2,000-year-old zombie sorceress [voiced by Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols]. It’s pretty scary, but the network approved it.” (Reportedly, Fox kiboshed plans for another ectoplasmic enemy of Batman’s, the Gentleman Ghost.)

As for the Dark Knight’s other fearsome foes, Timm feels, “Somebody like Clayface isn’t really horrifying, he’s just gross. He looks like a big walking pile of turds,” Bruce Timm smiles. “Two-Face actually scared me, the first time he turned around and revealed himself. There’s something about him that gives you a weird chill. It’s pretty scary. Still,” the producer sighs, “Nocturna would have made a really interesting story.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: Nocturna, who was created by Doug Moench for Detective Comics #529, is not a vampire. She was a jewel thief whose skin was drained of all pigment by an accident that rendered her sensitive to light. The animated Nocturna was really based on Dala, a vampire who was the very first Batman villainess (back in Detective Comics #32). She was brought back by Gerry Conway during the 1980s for the story arc described in this article, where she briefly turned Batman and Robin into vampires (Detective Comics #517 and Batman #349-351). Bruce Timm and company therefore planned to use the character of Dala but give her the more evocative name of Nocturna.
 

grumix8

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they should of continue with the old series. it was better, someone should make those unproduced episodes you know independant artists.
 

b.t.

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The bit about Mitch Brian's Stonegate script I believe originates from the Show Bible......a Riddler one where he hacked the hi-tech security system of a skyscraper and goads Batman into coming to get him....
Boy, this thread takes me back! A lot of these scripts and outlines I don‘t even remember.

The DIE HARD-ish Riddler outline seemed a little too basic and straight-forward to me — too much action, not enough genuine story, zero character development, and the thought at the time was, “Why is this even a Riddler story? The villain could be ANYONE.” Was this one by Michael Reaves or Peter David? I remember that Dini reached out to both of them for stories in the very early days, when he was ”half in / half out” of BTAS, and both of them did turn in story outlines, but I don’t recall who did what. I seem to remember that David didn’t actually write his outline by himself, that he brought in another writer to work on it with him, but I could be totally mis-remembering that.

Interestingly enough, a similar “Batman runs a gauntlet inside a skyscraper” story was done by James Robinson and Tony Salmons in an issue of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT, right around the same time. And even though Tony was on staff as a storyboard artist in the beginning, I don’t think he had access to the aborted Riddler outline, so it‘s just a pure coincidence.

I seem to remember that Mitch’s Stonegate script had Scarface as the main baddie at one point. It was one of the stories we’d commissioned before we had a dedicated Story Editor on staff (meaning Yours Truly was the de facto Story Editor, in addition to all the other hats I was wearing at the time). This particular story wasn’t quite jelling and I think Mitch did at least one re-write of it once Sean Derek and Laren Bright came on board. The re-write didn’t seem to satisfy anyone so Sean and Laren took a pass over it themselves. Eric Radomski and I thought their re-write still didn’t work, and told them that we thought Mitch’s previous draft, though still far from ideal, was actually better. Our working relationship with Sean and Laren was already pretty strained at that point, due to various factors ( intense pressure from WBA and Fox to get some workable scripts in the pipeline, as well as just simple incompatibilty issues) but that might have been the actual breaking point.

Another story that I commissioned in the pre-Sean days was ”The City That Could Not Breathe” by an author named Will Murray. I’d known his work as a Pulp Historian and fiction writer for years, and I’d been particularly impressed by his ability to write incredibly authentic-sounding pastiches in other authors’ styles. His ghost-written Destroyer novels were pitch-perfect and the “Lester Dent” voice he used for his Doc Savage books was uncannily spot-on.

So I cold-called him, told him what we were up to — specifically that I wanted to inject as much classic Pulp Hero action and atmosphere into the series as possible — and mentioned that I’d like him to do a Batman story in the general style of Norvell Page’s Spider novels. He turned in his outline just as Sean and Laren came on board. I handed over to them all the stories and scripts that we currently had, all in various states of completion ... and I STUPIDLY didn’t follow up with Will. I thought his outline had loads of potential, and DID actually manage to evoke Page’s patented apocalyptic “Doomed City“ aesthetic (even without the usual ginormous body count common to the Spider books) — but with everything else I had going on at the time, his story fell through the cracks, and I regret it to this day. The only positive side-effect is that he was able to salvage his work by turning it into a pretty kick-ass short story and getting it published in THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BATMAN VOL. 3. So, if you can track down a copy of that book, you’ll get a very good idea of what his “BTAS LOST ADVENTURE” would have been like.

Remind me to tell y‘all about the very FIRST B:TAS story ever committed to paper sometime....
 

Yojimbo

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I seem to remember that Mitch’s Stonegate script had Scarface as the main baddie at one point. It was one of the stories we’d commissioned before we had a dedicated Story Editor on staff (meaning Yours Truly was the de facto Story Editor, in addition to all the other hats I was wearing at the time). This particular story wasn’t quite jelling and I think Mitch did at least one re-write of it once Sean Derek and Laren Bright came on board. The re-write didn’t seem to satisfy anyone so Sean and Laren took a pass over it themselves. Eric Radomski and I thought their re-write still didn’t work, and told them that we thought Mitch’s previous draft, though still far from ideal, was actually better. Our working relationship with Sean and Laren was already pretty strained at that point, due to various factors ( intense pressure from WBA and Fox to get some workable scripts in the pipeline, as well as just simple incompatibilty issues) but that might have been the actual breaking point.
Interesting, I was wondering if it was Scarface. From what I gathered, it was just some ventriloquist dummy named Mr. Big. Unless that was the name of a precursor to Scarface?

Just as a recap for everyone:
1. In the bible:
"Exhausting his final lead in a current case, Batman sneaks into Stonegate Prison in order to question a connected prisoner who refuses to talk. Once there, he realizes that a trap has been set by prison kingpin Mr. Big, who comfortably runs his criminal network from within his cell. As word spreads of the Batman's presence, a riot ensues. Pursued by sworn enemies furious for revenge, Batman fights his way through the bowels of the prison, only to be captured and marched down Death Row and strapped into the electric chair. Luckily, the Riddler springs him at the last minute, not about to have the honor of besting Batman robbed from him by a bunch of low-life jailbirds."

2. In 2015, on Batman Animated Podcast #13, 1:22:56-1:23:29, 1:23:31-1:23:42, Kevin Altieri said,
And I get to the climax where Batman is wrestling with the ventriloquist dummy and he's actually--it's in a prison and there's this ventriloquist dummy that attacks him when he actually has a wrestling match with it and at that point I went, "NO!" and I threw the thing--I picked it spontaneously up and threw it and it left the door in my office and the brads came undone and so it just flew like confetti.

Jean MacCurdy read the script and said, "Yeah, this is a problem." But she said you know, that's when they brought in Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel.

3. In 2017, on Batman Animated Podcast #64, 11:21-11:50, Mitch Brian said
It took place in the prison-Stonegate. And Batman kind of gets himself thrown into prison thinking he's gonna solve this case. Then what he doesn't realize is he's been sort of baited into a situation and everyone in prison wants to get him. And so it just becomes like this Batman is pinballed-bounced around from one villain after another as he's trying to make his way out of the prison.

Another story that I commissioned in the pre-Sean days was ”The City That Could Not Breathe” by an author named Will Murray. I’d known his work as a Pulp Historian and fiction writer for years, and I’d been particularly impressed by his ability to write incredibly authentic-sounding pastiches in other authors’ styles. His ghost-written Destroyer novels were pitch-perfect and the “Lester Dent” voice he used for his Doc Savage books was uncannily spot-on.

So I cold-called him, told him what we were up to — specifically that I wanted to inject as much classic Pulp Hero action and atmosphere into the series as possible — and mentioned that I’d like him to do a Batman story in the general style of Norvell Page’s Spider novels. He turned in his outline just as Sean and Laren came on board. I handed over to them all the stories and scripts that we currently had, all in various states of completion ... and I STUPIDLY didn’t follow up with Will. I thought his outline had loads of potential, and DID actually manage to evoke Page’s patented apocalyptic “Doomed City“ aesthetic (even without the usual ginormous body count common to the Spider books) — but with everything else I had going on at the time, his story fell through the cracks, and I regret it to this day. The only positive side-effect is that he was able to salvage his work by turning it into a pretty kick-ass short story and getting it published in THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BATMAN VOL. 3. So, if you can track down a copy of that book, you’ll get a very good idea of what his “BTAS LOST ADVENTURE” would have been like.

Remind me to tell y‘all about the very FIRST B:TAS story ever committed to paper sometime....
Neat! Thanks for that and can't wait for this first story!

EDIT: And if anyone's interested, I did finish a big expansion on my cutting room floor section of my site, including BTAS.
 
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