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Baby-Doll (episode)

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Batman: The Animated Series episode
Baby Doll-Title Card
"Baby-Doll"
Airdate: October 1, 1994
Production Number: 76
Airdate Order: 74
Animation Services by: Spectrum Animation Co.
Written by: Paul Dini
Directed by: Dan Riba
Episode images (9)
You may also be looking for the villainess Baby-Doll.

"Baby-Doll" is the fourth episode of the third season of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on October 1, 1994.

Plot

Brian Daly, one of the stars of the play "Death of a Salesman", exits a theater with two co-stars after a performance, only to hear a girl sobbing. Curious, Daly follows the sound and finds a blonde little girl leaning against the wall and crying. He kneels beside her and asks if she is lost. The girl, shielding her face with her hands, claims that her brother has left her by herself. Daly offers her a handkerchief. The girl takes it and thanks Daly, finally revealing her face. A shocked expression crosses his face, but before he can react, he is knocked out-cold by a silhouette from behind. The girl tip-toes around him, apologizing for "playing rough".

The next day, Batman and Robin are browsing through photos of missing actors from a 20-year-old sitcom "Love that Baby". Daly is the latest to disappear. The blond girl, it turns out, is Mary Louise Dahl, the show's child star "Baby-Doll". According to Batman, Dahl suffered from a severe systemic hypoplasia, a rare disease that prevented her body from ageing. Though now in her 30s or 40s she still has the body of a small child.

They are interrupted by a radio call from Detective Bullock, requesting immediate backup in stopping an attack at the same theatre where Brian Daly disappeared from. Batman and Robin arrive, but are unable to stop the attackers from kidnapping another ex-actor from the show, Tammy Vance who is also appearing in "Death of a Salesman". They try to give chase in the Batmobile but Baby throws herself in front of the car, forcing Batman to avoid her. The Batmobile crashes, and the attackers manage to escape.

Robin holds a crying Baby-Doll in his arms while the girl keeps asking for "her mommy". A red-haired woman emerges from the crowd and takes the girl into her arms, seemingly scolding her. Baby replies with her trademark line from the TV show, "I didn’t mean to", and Batman and Robin realize who she is. Baby-Doll throws a smoke (basketball) bomb and disappears in the smoke along with her "mommy".

With help from Summer Gleeson, Batman and Robin review the history of the show, including its end. In an attempt to boost falling ratings, the producers introduced a new character, "Cousin Spunky". Feeling that Spunky was stealing her spotlight, Dahl quit the show, forcing its cancellation, and attempted to launch a career as a serious actress. The attempt failed, since her condition made it impossible for people to take her seriously. She has not been heard from since, but the actor who played Spunky is the only one still at large, and Batman and Robin form a plan to trap Baby.

Spunky, now in his twenties, is playing guitar in his garage, when he is kidnapped by Dahl's thugs. He is taken to her hideout, which has been decorated into a mock-up of the show's set. As the actors protest – pointing out that, after all, it was her fault that the show was canceled – she angrily retorts that her life after the show was a failure, so she's "going back" to the way things were before.

She plans to re-enact a birthday party episode, only with dynamite planted in the cake. She also did not step away from the rigged cake, indicating that she intended to commit suicide with the cast. But at the last second, "Spunky" grabs the dynamite in his mouth and flings it away, saving the party and revealing himself to be Robin in disguise.

Enraged, Baby-Doll points her doll, Mr. Happy-Head (a disguised machine gun), at "Spunky", when Batman makes his entrance, disarming both Baby and her guards. But then Baby's "mommy" who is revealed to be Baby's right hand woman named Miriam attacks Batman and Robin with her impressive martial arts skills, giving Baby the chance to run away. The duo is quick to dispose of the woman and Batman continues to pursue Dahl while Robin frees the actors and guides them to safety.

The pursuit takes the pair into the "Funland" amusement park, where Dahl ends up in the Mirror House. As she lies in wait for Batman, Dahl sees herself in the various trick mirrors. One of them elongates her reflection so as to make her appear as she should really look as a grown woman – but this, she realizes, is just as much an illusion as the recreation she was trying to make. Breaking down, she begins shooting mirrors at random, aiming to shoot Batman, before finally turning to her real, adult self in a mirror, what she would have looked like had it not been for her condition. With tears streaming down her face, she shoots it and continues to pull the trigger even though she has exhausted all her ammunition. Batman appears and gently takes the doll from her unresisting hand. She cries as she clutches tightly at Batman's leg, and he places an understanding hand on her head at her words: "I didn't mean to."

Background information

Home video releases

Production notes

Production Inconcistencies

  • Hypoplasia is a real condition, though it usually affects only parts of the body, such as organs, which are underdeveloped in the mature adult.
  • The sign above the theater's entrance at the start of the episode clearly reads "Diath" of a Salesman, as opposed to "Death".
  • Another spelling error occurs later in the episode; the sign on the concession booth Batman was standing atop to draw the children away from Dahl reads "POPCONE" (instead of "POPCORN").
  • The trick mirror that shows Baby-Doll herself as an adult changes her hairdo as well as the details of her dress on top of morphing her proportions to an adult shape.

Trivia

  • Baby-Doll's character is partly based on a similar character in the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or the real ex-child actors such as Gary Coleman.
  • Baby-Doll is one of two original villains from the first run of the show who has not, to date, appeared in mainstream comics (the other villain not to have crossed over is Red Claw).
  • The backstory of Doll's sitcom—the introduction of a cute kid cousin, "Cousin Spunky" who stole the audience's attention and caused Doll to quit in protest—is a parody of the TV phenomenon known as the "Cousin Oliver Syndrome". There have been several instances where a television show with falling ratings has attempted to boost its popularity by introducing a new "cute kid" character to appeal to younger viewers. The term "Cousin Oliver Syndrome" takes its name from Oliver Tyler, a new character introduced in a later season of The Brady Bunch, after the original "children" had all reached teen age. Unlike Cousin Spunky, Cousin Oliver was not a success, and so the term has come to refer to all such failed attempts.
  • It is also worth noting that Cousin Oliver was played by Robbie Rist, who plays one of the kidnapped actors in this episode (though not Cousin Spunky).
  • Baby-Doll's henchmen bear a striking resemblance to Gilligan and the Skipper from Gilligan's Island, a sitcom which aired beside shows similar to the episode's own "Love that Baby".
  • Jason Marsden voices his first role in the DCAU; he would later go on to voice numerous roles on Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and Justice League.
  • Baby-Doll's failed attempt to launch a serious career was a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, a play rumored to be unlucky. In fact, it is common for superstitious actors and actresses to refer to it only as "The Scottish Play," as they are afraid to say its name out loud.

Cast

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman/Bruce Wayne
Loren Lester Robin/Dick Grayson
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Robert Costanzo Harvey Bullock
Mari Devon Summer Gleeson
Alison LaPlaca Baby-Doll/Mary Louise Dahl
June Winthrop (uncredited)
Jason Marsden Spunky Spencer
Robbie Rist Brian Daly
Judy Strangis Tammy Vance
Tasia Valenza Mariam
Alan Young Tod Baker

Quotes

(repeated line)
Baby Doll: I didn't mean to.


Batman: (stopping Baby-Doll) Hold it!
Baby-Doll: Naughty Mister Batmans! You play too rough.


Robin: (Watching Baby-Doll's "Love that Baby") Remember that time when Poison Ivy nearly smothered us in those vines? The ones with the really sharp thorns?
Batman: Yes.
Robin: This is worse.


(after Miriam easily takes Batman and Robin down)
Robin: Wow, lady... you're good.
Miriam: It's a living.


Baby-Doll: (Looking at her adult reflection) That's me in there. The real me. There I am. But it's not really real, is it? Just made-up and pretend, like my family and my life and everything else in it. Why couldn't you just let me make-believe?!


External links


Previously produced episode:
"Bane"
Episodes of
Batman: The Animated Series
Next produced episode:
"The Lion and the Unicorn"
Previously aired episode:
"Riddler's Reform"
Next aired episode:
"Time Out of Joint"

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