Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Stephanie Zimbalist, Arleen Sorkin, Diane Pershing, Richard Moll, Roddy McDowall, George Dzunda, Aron Kincaid
Story by: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm Teleplay by: Paul Dini Directed by: Dan Riba
Janet Van Dorn - "I used to believe Batman was responsible for you people, but now I see nearly everyone here would have ended up exactly the same, Batman or not. Oh the gimmicks might be different but you'd all be out there in some form or another, bringing misery to Gotham. The truth is, you created him."
ONE OF THE...
....great aspects of comic-books is that almost any character that has appeared in the entire back history of that comic can be brought back to feature in a story just with the flick of a pen. With a live action television show or a film, that's not always the case, as actors may refuse to return or a scheduling conflict could cause them to have to decline the part. With a comic-book there are less restrictions and unless the character for some legal reason can't appear then they can easily be written and drawn into the story. For this reason comic-books have managed to create a long line of continuity over the years and for that fans love them. Plot points can be re-accessed at the drop of a hat and old characters can suddenly appear, making reference to stories that go back years...and years...and years. For cartoons, similar rules can apply and although they are still restricted by a voice-actors commitments, characters can be drawn onto the screen and given a non-speaking part without too many problems. Scenes that involve little dialogue can also be expanded without participation from the actors (as it's not them who appear on screen, but their animated counterparts) and it can lead to a great ensemble story the likes of which a live action show would struggle to produce.
So with an episode like Trial, writers Paul Dini and Bruce Timm were able to put to great use the diversity that their animated world could allow and they brought together some of Batman's greatest villains all in one story! So instead of just one bat-villain, the Dark Knight had to face the Joker, Harley, Ivy, Scarface/Ventriloquist, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Two-Face, the Riddler and the Mad Hatter. The excuse they gave for making use of all those villains was simple - Batman was on trial! He was charged with being the guiding force behind 'creating many of Gotham's deadliest criminals' and not only was that an interesting idea (and arguably probable), but it also proved to be an opportunity to show how the villains interacted with each other. Oh and if things for the Caped Crusader weren't bad enough he was also given Janet Van Dorn as his lawyer....and she hated him! Van Dorn believed that Batman was responsible for all the crazed criminals in Gotham and so Batman had a bumpy ride to escape the situation.
Dinis teleplay was packed with comical lines, especially from 'Judge' Joker who sat over the proceedings so no matter what the verdict, Batman was never going to get a fair trial and as Dini was such a self-confessed aficionado of the material he intersected snippets of previous continuity, whilst he developed an engaging scenario about Batman's ongoing war against crime. As it happened the jury made up of Ivy, Hatter, Croc, Riddler, Harley and Scarecrow eventually gave a verdict of not guilty, much to Van Dorn's astonishment, but Batman was sentenced to death anyway. By reversing the trial for Batman, Dini was able to give Van Dorn a different perspective on the Caped Crusader's life, whilst he made sure she didn't stray too far from her beliefs. So after escaping from Arkham Van Dorn said to Batman, "I see now that there's a need for the things you do, but I'm still going to work towards a city that doesn't need Batman." Batman's simple reply of "Me too", demonstrated that Batman believed Van Dorn was right, but he still had a job to do. Trial was a fantastic ensemble piece, it proved that Batman was a dedicated hero, but more importantly it gave the villains a chance to shine and proved that they were as equally important to Batman's long illustrious career as his cape and cowl.
COURT REPORT: *Out of the nine villains that appeared on screen, the Scarecrow and the Riddler were the only ones not to have a speaking part.
*As the witnesses answered Van Dorn's questions, references were made to past episodes "Mad As A Hatter" and "Pretty Poison" and at the time future episode "Mad Love".
*Stephanie Zimbalist who voiced Janet Van Dorn, was the daughter of Efrem Zimbalist Jnr, the voice behind Bruce Wayne's loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. Stephanie appeared alongside former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, in TV series 'Remington Steele' playing Laura Holt. Her father guest stared in a few episodes of the show as Daniel Chalmers.
*At one point the members of the jury shouted out what they believed should be dealt out as punishment to Batman. Killer Croc yelled, "Hit him with a rock", which was a reference to the episode "Almost Got 'Im".