Baby-Doll was first broadcasted on October 1, 1994 with a script by Paul Dini and directed by Dan Riba.
A washed-up actress named Mary Dahl has become bitter and insane after falling into obscurity and suffering from a disorder that prevents her body from growing to adulthood, thus biologically cursed with literal eternal youth. She kidnaps her TV family, who all led much happier lives and more successful careers than her, and holds them prisoner on the abandoned soundstage of her old show While Robin works fast to free the actors from Baby-Doll’s explosive death-trap, Batman pursues the tiny fiend through a deadly carnival funhouse.
This is without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking 22 minutes of children’s television you’re ever going to watch because of the subject matter and it’s just a hard slice of life when you see what this character has had to deal with the majority of her life.
Alison LaPlaca does a great job as the voice of Mary Dahl giving this excellent performance all around as she not only plays up that kid persona she did in her TV years but also has to play the adult that she actually is. There’s a great balance between the two different personas to the point where I couldn’t tell the difference between the two voices when I first watched it, I thought it was two different voice actors playing the role.
The voice actors who do the TV family are surprisingly packed with some notable names, Alan Young, the voice of Scrooge McDuck, plays the dad, Tod Baker, Jason Marsden, the voice of Max, plays the big brother, Robbie Rist, most notably known as Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch, plays the cute kid cousin, “Cousin Spunky”, who stole the audience’s attention and caused Doll to quit in the series.
I also liked the little touches they throw in here such as having Dahl’s two henchmen look like Gilligan and The Skipper with their clothes.
But the highlight of the episode is the background of Mary Dahl which leads to the chilling and powerful ending of the episode that still gets to me every time. You really never see a lot of shows do this kind of stuff anymore, check this out:
The thing that strikes me is that image of her just continuing to shoot the gun with this sad look on her face as Batman just take the gun from her, it’s such a powerful image that sums up the message behind the episode and the episode literally ends with her crying under Batman and going “I didn’t mean to”, her catchphrase from the series she was in. That ending really sets the tone of the episode very well and just shows that there’s not really a villain here, just a unfortunate circumstance.
Baby-Doll’s subject matter may be a little too hard to handle for some people but this is such a great episode, this is on the levels of Heart Of Ice and I Am The Night as one of the definitive episodes of not just the series but television overall.