Sunday, March 31, 2013

The New Batman-Superman Adventures (1997-2000) Opening Theme (and the Myth of Danny Elfman)


Thanks to Christopher Fluhr for the upload.

By Nicholas Stix
Revised at 11:22 p.m., on April 1, 2013

I used to watch this series with my boy when he was just a toddler, with this opening. The dark Gotham City/Metropolis, the laughing, sadistic heavies, bass line, strings of despair, and heroic horns in the opening thrilled me so that I remember it better than the series itself.

The show was a combination of re-runs from two animated kids’ TV series: Superman (1996-2000) and The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999).

I recall enjoying the Superman episodes (can’t recall any Batman stories), though being puzzled that there were apparently no white people in Metropolis. All of the characters, even Lois Lane, were colored light brown.

I’d always heard that the composer was Shirley Walker. Now, some self-appointed “experts” claim it was Danny Elfman. Although I love Elfman’s work, there is no basis for this claim.

Walker and at least two other composers worked on The New Batman Adventures: Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion. According to IMDB, all three were nominated for Emmys for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 1999, each for a separate episode of the New Batman Adventures.

Unfortunately, although IMDB has a “complete cast and crew” link for this show, it is incomplete. However, it does clearly state that Shirley Walker composed the theme. And it does not cite Elfman at all. Granted, IMDB is far from perfect, but it is still much more reliable than The Pretend Encyclopedia, aka Wikipedia, which lists Elfman as one of the show’s composers, and which is doubtless the source for those “experts” citing him.

A check under Elfman’s name at IMDB shows that he composed the theme for an earlier cartoon series entitled simply Batman, which ran from 1992-1995.

Ah, but how do we know the opening theme to The New Batman-Superman Adventures wasn’t from the Superman half? Because the legendary Shirley Walker composed the themes for both shows! The only possible alternative is that IMDB completely blew it. More likely, the “experts” confused the earlier Batman series with the later one.

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