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TV Review: Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1 Episode 5: Pretty Poison

By: Adam Basciano

Batman TAS Rooftop opening

“When Harvey Dent is poisoned with derivative from an extinct flower, Batman must hunt down the assailant who has the antidote, the villainous plant fanatic Poison Ivy.”

Along with Catwoman, Poison Ivy is one of the all time sexiest vixens in comic book history. As far as the DVD set, Poison Ivy gets the spotlight first. This is a flat out origin episode for the character as well. We get to see her motivation right from the start via flashback. Five years prior, Harvey Dent had championed and broken ground on the site for the Gotham Penitentiary. We see Pamela Isley digging one of the rare flowers from the site before the others get bulldozed. Five years later, she vowed revenge, and goes about it, by dating Harvey Dent, and using a Poisonous extract from the plant she saved as a lipstick, and essentially tries to kiss him to death. I think Poison Ivy’s actions are villainous, but at her heart, she’s a lover of plants, and an activist. Her desire to protect and preserve plant life is pure, and not villainous. I like my villains with that kind of ambiguity. In one episode, the show brilliantly highlights the friendship between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. I love the scene where Harvey and Pamela were having dinner, and Harvey was taking up Bruce to Ivy. He mentions that Bruce often works late, hangs around with “interesting people”, and they never keep secrets from one another. This dialogue was intercut with visuals of Batman chasing and taking down criminals. The dichotomy between the dialogue and imagery presented offered up a hilarious scene. It was great to see Alfred actively contributing to Batman’s efforts, instead of just being the butler. It was Alfred who discovers Pamela Isley’s identity and that she’s a botanist, learns that she teaches at the university, and is able to help Batman pinpoint her location. During the final fight, it was interesting to see Batman test Ivy’s resolve by threatening to destroy the plant if she doesn’t turn over the antidote to cure Harvey Dent. She does, and even though she is placed in the penitentiary, Batman allows her to keep the plant. Batman may be dark, stern. and violent, but shows compassion and hopes for redemption of villains like Poison Ivy, who live in a morally grey world.

Harvey & Ivy

This episode, the animation and voice acting worked together absolutely beautifully. I thought Poison Ivy had a very Jessica Rabbit look to her. She oozed sexiness. I don’t know what actress Diane Pershing looks like, but her voice definitely matches Poison Ivy’s sexy look. I definitely had a Seinfeld moment. Remember when they were all getting turned on by the voice on the tape, which turned out to be Elaine? Yeah, that was me. Richard Moll has a great voice for Harvey Dent. It is very deep and matter of fact. It works as the voice of the district attorney, but will serve him well when he becomes the tortured villain Two- Face. The scene of Batman hanging on to the back of a helicopter as it flies through the city with criminals on board looked superb, and made for a great action sequence.

I loved this episode because it paved its own way, and stood on its own two feet as a Batman story, without feeling the need to make nods to any previous Batman adaptations. As a Poison Ivy origin story, it’s the best I’ve ever seen. It balances the plant activist and sexy super-villain aspects of the character evenly. Even though I thought Uma Thurman gave the only good performance in that piece of shit “Batman & Robin”, the animated series presents the definitive version of Poison Ivy for me.



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