Batman: The Animated Series was a very popular American cartoon produced by Warner Brothers which originally aired from 1992 to 1995. It's dark atmosphere, adult themes and dramatic voice acting helped make the show groundbreaking; Another very important factor that gave the series it's edge was the stunning soundtrack composed by Shirley Walker (1945 - 2006).
Batman: The Animated Series was unlike anything children had ever been presented. Instead of the cartoony and comedic Batman that had been featured in every Dark Knight television adaptation up to that point (like the famous Adam West and Burt Ward live action TV show, and the Filmation toons), this series took place in a world far more similar to Tim Burton's re-imagining of the franchise.
Not only were some ideas from the Tim Burton films directly taken into the show (like the Penguin's plan to take over the Batmobile, and the Joker's origin), the theme music composed by Danny Elfman was also present in the opening animation and heavily influenced the rest of Shirley Walker's work on the series.
The show had a very intense and dark atmosphere, not only because of the art work by producer Bruce Timm, but many of the backgrounds were painted on black paper. This created a film noir like ambient which contrasted heavily with other children animation at the time which were far more colorful and bright.
The characters and their endeavors felt real, as they dealt with legitimate and adult issues like paranoia, death of loved ones, mental illness, politics, unemployment, emotional rejection and complex fears. The fantastic voice acting reflected this, with notable performances by Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Star Wars' Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill (The Joker).
Although there were other contributors to the music in Batman: The Animated Series, Shirley Walker is regarded as the main source of composition for the show. Walker's work featured complex orchestrations with rich melodies, and her musical creation was so perfect with themes so appropriate to each character that if we didn't know any better, we'd say the characters were created for the music, and not the other way around.
Two Face, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and many other characters were given the honor of exceptional musical themes. In this video, I explore the Joker's theme.
Shirley Walker died on November 30, 2006 at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, due to complications from a stroke that she had experienced two weeks before. She passed away only eight months after the death of her husband, Don. At the time of her death, Walker had scored more major-studio motion pictures than any other American woman. A memorial service was held at the Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage, and a plaque was placed in her honor. She is survived by her two sons, Colin Walker and Ian Walker.
In 1996, Shirley Walker won her first Daytime Emmy Award as music director for Batman: The Animated Series. She won another Daytime Emmy in music-composition for Batman Beyond in 2001.
Batman: The Animated series received 3 Emmy Awards.
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Don't forget to buy Christopher Nolan's Batman: Dark Knight on Blu-Ray and DVD!