Arleen Sorkin, Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Bob Hastings
Story by: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm Written by: Paul Dini Directed by: Butch Lukic
THE JOKER IS...
...formulating a new plan to beat Batman, but is disheartened that all his schemes lack the proper panache. He picks up an old plan entitled, 'Death of 100 smiles', but on remembering it had a flaw, he tosses it aside. Harley interupts the Jokers thought process and when he throws her aside, she blames the Jokers foul mood on Batman. She starts to reminisce about working at Arkham Asylum as Dr Harleen Quinzel, and meeting the Joker for the first time. The Joker had shown an interest in her and offered to share with her his most private secrets. He told her about his relationship with his abusive father and soon she found that she had fallen in love with him. As an act of love she disguised herself by taking on the guise of Harley Quinn and broke the Joker out of prison. As she finishes her trip down memory lane she hits on the idea that if she can make the Jokers 'Death by 100 smiles' plan work, then she will win back his respect.
Before Batman The Animated Series hit TV sets in 1992, The Jokers right-hand woman, Harley Quinn, didnt exist in Batman lore. She, like a number of other things that have since been incorporated into the DC universe, was just an idea of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Appearing in the episode 'Jokers Favor' (1992) she became a foil for the madcap antics of the clown prince of crime and was soon a firm favourite. She appeared in numerous animated episodes, mostly with the Joker, and in the episode 'Harley and Ivy', teamed up with Poison Ivy after the joker kicked her out. In 1994, a graphic novel titled 'Mad Love' was released which told Harleys backstory and this turned into an episode of 'The New Batman Adventures' in 99.
What is important to note about this story is that its as much about Harley as it is about the Joker and demonstrates that they work best when bouncing off of each other. That is not to detract from Harley as a stand alone character, as she has certainly proved that she can carry stories on her own, but when teamed up with the Joker, these stories just sizzle.
The relationship that they share is tragic, with Harley often suffering at the hands of a very unpredictable Joker. Here she believes she is doing the best by her 'puddin', by capturing Batman, but instead she just angers him as she fails to understand why it has to be the Joker who gets the upperhand. She fails to understand that the Joker thrives on the attention he gets from fighting Batman and that nothing that she could do would cause him any lasting happiness.
Quinn cant admit that the Joker doesn't really love her, even though she must know it and he is continually feeding her a line. Any pleasure he does get from Harley is from keeping her hanging on all this time. Batman questions what line did the Joker hook her on, whether it was about the abusive father or the runaway mother, because he tells her,'he's got a million of them Harley'.
The episode is one of the darker chapters in the animated world, but it is also very funny. The conversation Joker has with Harley as she is explaining that she has Batman chained up is brilliant and Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin prove that these two are perfect for these roles. It also manages to turn sharply at any given moment, so that comedy quickly returns to tragedy, and this is never more evident than when the Joker pushes Harley out of a window after slapping her across the face. As he pushes her he says, 'you always take shots from folks who just don't get the joke.' As Harley lies on the ground below, blood trickles from her mouth and she tells herself that it is her fault because she just didnt get the joke.
By the episodes end, Harley is in bandages, recovering in Arkham, adamant that this obsession with her 'Mr J' is over. As she is saying it, after all the Joker has put her through it seems a valid statement, but it takes one small gesture from the Joker to change her mind and she is back to loving him the same as ever. For Harley this is a continual cycle with no clear end in sight, and it is the reason that she proves such an interesting Batman villain.
CLOWNING AROUND: *Harley appears in numerous episodes of BTAS/TNBA, but also appears in Static Shock, Superman TAS, Justice League, Batman Beyond ROTJ and the web based series 'Gotham Girls', which featured female characters from the Batman world. She has also appeared in a few console games that have spun-off from the shows.
*The episode 'Harley and Ivy'sees Harley team up with Poison Ivy for the first time and proves a brilliant pairing. They are teamed again in 'Holiday Knights' and 'Girls Nite Out' as well as in the comics based on the animated universe and the regular DC universe.
*In the hilarious 'Harleys Holiday', Harley attempts to go straight after being declared sane. This episode joins a number of BTAS eps in which the villains say they are trying to start their lives again; Two-Face in 'Second Chance', Ivy in 'House and Garden' and the Riddler in 'Riddlers Reform', but the difference this time is she is actually trying.
*The character has gone on to appear in other TV shows. In 'The Batman', she is re-teamed with the Joker, but this time she is a tv talkshow host prior to becomming Quinn. In the short-lived live action series 'Birds of Prey' she is the main villain, and Mark Hamill even has a brief role as the Joker, setting the scene for the shows premise.
*After the movie 'Batman & Robin' (1997) failed to live up to expectations, a proposed 5th film was cancelled called 'Batman Triumphant'. The film was rumoured to feature Harley Quinn as one of the villains, along with the Scarecrow and according to the Wikipedia, was scripted by Mark Protosevich. On the special features of the 'Batman & Robin' DVD, director Joel Schumacher admits that Warner Bros did want him to continue making the films and the plan was to film Batman Triumphant. He doesnt make any mention of Harley being in it, but does say that the Scarecrow was the villain.
*The animated movie 'Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker', explains that Harley eventually outlives the Joker within the DC Animated Universe.