This is the first week that the DC Animated Club is celebrating Robin’s 80th birthday. I will attempt to take a deep dive into the history of animated Robin up to the Animated Series. Please be kind as this is a little more muddled than the history of Barbara Gordon and Batgirl due to being a richer history.
In 1966 ABC was riding the Batmania wave but by 1968 that wave had crashed and ABC canceled the show. Batfans didn’t need to wait long to see their favorite heroes on TV. In 1966 CBS debuted The New Adventures of Superman and The Adventures of Superboy. The following year, CBS created an hour block of superhero cartoon called The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. When ABC canceled Batman in 1968 CBS jumped on the rights to Batman and The Batman/Superman Hour was born, pushing Aquaman out of the picture. Batman’s segment/show was called The Adventures of Batman. Casey Kasem, the radio DJ, was the voice of Robin/Dick Grayson. This show only lasted 17 episodes and was off the air by January 1969.
In 1969 Batman and Robin debuted on Sesame Street in educational shorts until Filmation lost the rights in 1971.
The first appearance of Batman and Robin for Hanna-Barbera was in 1972 and were in the 2 part episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies titled The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair and The Caped Crusader Caper. Casey Kasem once again returned to the role of Robin as well as doing the voice of Shaggy.
It is interesting to note that Robin doesn’t change his look in the Filmation to Hanna-Barbera move.
In the fall of 1972 Super Friends debuted. Once again, Casey Kasem was the voice of Robin. I remember seeing the 80s version of this cartoon as a kid and this was honestly my introduction to superheroes outside of the action figures I had. Robin’s mask was a little different than the previous times he has appeared in a cartoon.
Over the next decade or so, Super Friends was on the air with different names like Challenge of the Super Friends and The World’s Greatest Super Friends. Casey Kasem would remain the voice of Robin/Dick Grayson for every Super Friends series.
In 1977 Filmation was able to make another Batman cartoon series, The New Adventures of Batman. To make this cartoon a different than the Casey Kasem voiced Robin shows at Hanna-Barbera this show found Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin returning to their Batman roles. Robin’s costume did not change too much from the Hanna-Barbera version seen on Super Friends.
It should be noted after the last incarnation of Super Friends went off the air in 1985 we would not see Robin again until Batman: The Animated Series. Which leads us into the episodes curated by @Reaganfan78. The first episode on the list was Fear Of Victory. This episode debuted on September 29, 1992. This is the debut of Robin in Batman: TAS. Robin is voiced by Loren Lester, only the third person to voice Robin in a cartoon! This was a weird way to introduce Robin in the animated series. Instead of explaining who he was, Robin was just thrown into the story as if he has always been there. Robin’s costume had drastic changes compared to the Filmation and Hanna-Barbera renditions. The updated look was inspired by Tim Drake’s Robin costume in the comic books.
I have included a photo of Tim Drake’s Robin for reference.
Fear of Victory was a fun Scarecrow story but it is rather silly. His big plot was to rig sporting events that he was betting on. Now that I think about it a little more this is an average episode if it wasn’t for the first appearance of Robin. I also like the way how Batman wouldn’t let Robin go after Tony Zucco. The reasoning was solid and at the end of the episode it shows how much Bruce cares about Dick.
The next episodes were Robin’s Reckoning 1 and 2. These episodes included the origin story of Dick Grayson and how he came to be Robin. I really cannot say a bad thing about this story. The way how they weaved an origin story with current events brought a lot more meaning to Robin and Dick than just having an episode explaining the origin. It should be noted this won an Emmy. The episodes debuted on February 7 and 14, 1993 in the prime time airing and May 17 and 18, 1993 in the weekday afternoon time slot.
Baby-Doll debuted on October 1, 1994. This does feature Robin as a fan of an old sitcom. As the story unfolds you find out that Baby-Doll who had a catchphrase, never ages. This episode felt more like a standard cartoon and was kind of a let down after Robin’s Reckoning.
The last episode to watch for DC Animated Club is Make 'Em Laugh. This episode debuted on November 5, 1994. This is not a bad Joker story as it gives a little background for him. It should also be noted that it features the Condiment King! Robin is regulated to sidekick status in this episode as he has to fight the henchman while Batman chases Joker.
The ranges on these episodes range from average to GREAT. I could definitely think of many worse ways to spend my time. I will be back once I read the comics.