Follow TV Tropes


Recap / The Adventures of Batman & Robin E11 "Baby-Doll"

Go To

Driven insane by her inability to find a normal life thanks to her suffering from a rare genetic disease that leaves her permanently looking like a child, Mary "Baby-Doll" Dahl, a washed-up ex-child actor, starts kidnapping her former co-stars in an attempt to force them to start living out the show's life she lived as if it were real.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • A Birthday, Not a Break: A self-invoked example: Mary Dahl apparently plans to kill the entire cast in a Murder-Suicide on her birthday, recreating the Birthday Episode where her face got smashed into a cake.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Robin snickers on seeing the scene where Cousin Spunky smashes Baby Doll's face into her birthday cake. And then immediately pretends he didn't.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: It's hardly Mary Dahl's fault that she has such a bizarre and incurable medical condition that causes everyone reflexively not take her seriously as an adult. Batman also hugs her when she runs out of bullets and starts crying, because it sinks in that her dream to have her pretend family back was never going to happen.
  • Advertisement:
  • Art Shift: Sort of. At the time, Warner Bros was known for doing two kinds of cartoons: realistically-drawn superhero shows, and comedy shows like Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. Baby-Doll's design is deliberately like those of the latter kind of shows, which makes her reverting to her adult mannerisms more disturbing.
  • Attention Whore: Mary was infamous on the set of Love That Baby for being this. In fact, being upstaged by a Cousin Oliver caused her to quit the show, thus immediately cancelling it.
  • Badass Normal: Mariam. See the quotes under Nothing Personal, below.
  • Between My Legs: One shot has Robin between Mariam's legs, and later with Batman.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Everyone is saved, but Mary is captured and institutionalized, and still will never be taken seriously as an adult.
  • Broken Tears: Mary "Baby-Doll" Dahl at the end of the episode.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Baby-Doll knows that the world of her former sitcom isn't real, and her family isn't real. But that doesn't stop her from trying to "make-believe".
    Todd: You're not my daughter. And we're not a family! We're actors, remember? You cancelled our show because you whined you weren't getting enough attention!
    Baby Doll: But I knows now I made a boo-boo! (Starts to cry before sombering up and speaking more maturely) It was hard for me out there. I studied and trained and auditioned, but no one wanted me. (Plays an "Awww" on her tape recorder) Over the years, I remembered how happy I was with all of you around me and the folks at home watching me each week - me! (Reverts to childlike glee) Baby Doll!
  • Captain Ersatz: Baby-Doll's henchmen are similar to Gilligan and Skipper.
  • Cooldown Hug: Inverted; Baby-Doll runs into Batman's arms after she shoots the mirror image of herself.
  • Cousin Oliver: Parodied and referenced. "Little Cousin Spunky," the new child star added for the last season of Baby Doll's sitcom, was also designed to resemble Cousin Oliver. (They even had Robbie Rist in the episode, though he voiced another character.) Also subverted — Robin watches the entire series trying to find clues; Spunky turns out to be the only enjoyable thing in the show... well, the only thing Robin likes, mostly because Baby Doll was his favored victim.
  • Dark Action Girl: Mariam. She is able to contend with both Batman and Robin at once.
  • Determinator: Batman really takes a beating at Dahl's expense. She throws a smoke bomb from at him, has her henchwoman Miriam beat the crap out of him, shoots him with tennis balls, and finally pistol-whips him with a concealed gun. Yet he still tries to reason with her.
  • Distress Ball: Robin invokes it when disguised as Cousin Spunky. He's knocked out with gas, tied to a chair, has to toss away a stick of dynamite with his teeth, and gets cake smashed in his face. One wonders if Bruce raised his allowance.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Spunky unties himself from a chair, and removes his rubber mask. It's Robin! He and Batman managed to save the real Spunky and track down Baby-Doll.
  • Dramatic Spotlight: Invoked when Mary Dahl drops her child voice to finally explain why she's kidnapped her fellow actors. Miriam walks off stage and audibly flips switches to shine a spotlight on Mary for her monologue.
  • Dynamite Candle: Baby uses a dynamite candle in an attempt to kill Spunky (who's actually Robin in disguise). Spunky, tied up and failing to blow the fuse, leans over and uses his teeth to grab the dynamite and toss it safely away.
  • Former Child Star: Mary Dahl. And the problem is that she never grew. Literally. Spunky was also one, and it seems he has moved on to rock music.
  • Freudian Excuse: Besides the fact her body is incapable of maturing plus the fact she couldn't get anyone to take her seriously as an actress, Mary also had to deal with the fact she could only get cast as child characters well into her 20s. Chances are she grew to hate the show because it served as a continuous reminder no one was willing to take her seriously as an adult, and thus became a demanding primadonna.
  • Hall of Mirrors: The episode's climactic scene takes place in one.
  • I Am Not Spock: In-Universe, part of what drove Mary Dahl insane was that nobody would accept her as anything but Baby-Doll. Her still looking like a little girl had something to do with it. And she couldn't even return to the role when they cancelled the show and fired her for leaving in the first place.
  • Ignored Epiphany: One of Baby Doll's castmates remind her that it was her fault the show got cancelled, since she left due to her jealousy of the new character, "Cousin Spunky", whom she felt stole her spotlight (especially after he upstaged her on her birthday episode). She admits they're right, and talks about how hard it was to build her career since no one wanted to take her seriously. Then she goes into how being on the show was the only time she was happy, and if she can't go back on television, she can at least have her "family" back.
  • I Have No Son!: Justified in this case: "You're not my daughter! We're not a family! We are actors!" Said by the "dad" from the show.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Being Baby-Doll is where Mary felt she was truly loved.
  • Irony:
    • Mary's failed attempt as a serious actor was a production of Macbeth, a play rumored to be unlucky (or cursed).
    • Cousin Spunky's introduction was supposed to bolster failing ratings and keep the sitcom on the air. This led to the birthday episode, which Mary hated so much she quit—and without her, the show was immediately cancelled.
    • And the episode concludes with Batman, a man robbed of his childhood, comforting an actress who can't escape hers, metaphorically or physically. invoked
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Baby-Doll's former castmates point out that it was technically her fault that the show got cancelled in the first place. It was actually explained earlier in the episode by Summer Gleeson that due to Mary leaving the show, she put her costars out of a job since the TV executives were forced to cancel the show (although ratings were already sinking, which was why they introduced Spunky's character).
  • Just Following Orders: Spunky (actually Robin in disguise) protests to Baby-Doll that he was just following the script when smashing her into a cake on her Birthday Episode, a very justified case since no one was physically hurt. It doesn't help because as Mary puts it, "It was real to me!"
  • Kick Chick: Mariam's main attack is a flying kick.
  • Latex Perfection: Robin perfectly disguises himself as the actor who played Cousin Spunky, allowing Baby-Doll to kidnap him so Batman can track him to her hideout.
  • Magic Skirt: Mariam wears one. Averted with the title character, however.
  • Meaningful Echo: Baby's Catchphrase on the show (after causing some mayhem) was "I didn't mean to!" à la Bart Simpson's "I didn't do it." At the end, she's hugging Batman's leg and crying, saying simply, in her "adult" voice, "I didn't mean to..."
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Subverted. It's a stretched-out funhouse reflection, but Mary Dahl sees what she might have looked like if she'd properly matured. She starts crying when she remembers that she'll never get that reality, and ends up shooting it.
    Mary: That's me in there. The real me! There I am.
  • Mood Whiplash: It seems for the most part a wacky and silly episode with only occasional glimpses of a darker core... and then we get to the hall of mirrors.
  • Murder-Suicide: The fact that Mary doesn't even try to get away from the exploding birthday cake heavily implies she planned to kill herself along with her former co-stars.
  • My God, You Are Serious: "Mary Dahl? Is this a joke?!"
  • Narm: Robin in-universe views the Baby-Doll sitcom as this, and in a painful way. Similarly, Mary's portrayal of Lady Macbeth is amateurish in a more realistic way, rather than outright terrible.
  • Noodle Implements: In a clip from a fictional wacky 1950s sitcom, Baby-Doll had managed to cause a huge mess. Somehow, it involved the dog, a zebra, a giraffe and a pair of Scotsmen on roller skates.
  • Noodle Incident: Robin recalls an occasion when the Dynamic Duo were trapped in Poison Ivy's vines with really sharp thorns. It was still preferable to watching Baby-Doll's show.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Mary "Baby-Doll" Dahl is a very, In-Universe, heartbreaking example.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: If it means that people only see you as your alter ego, and you can't get a serious career in acting.
  • Nothing Personal: Robin compliments Mariam's moves while she's kicking his ass.
    Robin: Wow, lady, you're good.
    Mariam: [smiles] It's a living.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In a rare victory for Batman for preventing kidnappings, he and Robin managed to find the actor for Cousin Spunky, get him to safety, and have Robin impersonate him. All before Mary and Miriam enact their trap for the said actor.
  • Older Than She Looks:
    • Mary has an extremely rare form of dwarfism that stops her from physically aging, and in her case, she stopped growing any bigger (and looking any older) by the time she was five. By the events of this episode, Mary's at least thirty years old (according to Commissioner Gordon), and had done Love That Baby from the age of 10 to the age of 20.
    • Mary herself is a Deconstruction of how this trope would affect a real person. No-one took her acting career seriously and she developed a serious case of self-loathing over her complete inability to grow up.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: Miriam
  • Pet the Dog: Baby-Doll does consider Brian Daly, the actor who played her older brother, to be the nicest of the castmates she kidnaps (and he does seem to feel genuinely sorry for her, despite all the stuff she did).
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Batman is chasing Baby Doll through a funhouse, into the Hall of Mirrors. She's caught up short when one of the mirrors shows her as she would have been if she had not been born with her rare condition. Cue Villainous Breakdown during which she empties her gun into the mirror.
  • Relocating the Explosion: Baby-Doll looks set to commit Murder-Suicide using a Dynamite Candle in a birthday cake. Robin, in disguise as Spunky and bound to a chair, fails to blow out the fuse, so he grabs the stick of dynamite in his teeth and tosses it over his shoulder, far enough away for the explosion to merely rattle those around the table.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The hall of mirrors shootout is inspired by The Lady from Shanghai; such scenes like this always are.
    • According to this, the scene where Mary looks into a funhouse mirror which makes her look older mimics a scene in the Black Jack, where Pinoko does the same (seen here).
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The episode has a bright and happy TV sitcom theme playing at certain points. But then we learn that the star of the show has become a psychopath.
  • Suckiness Is Painful: The Dynamic Duo have to watch some of Baby-Doll's old episodes to get clues.
    Robin: Remember that time Poison Ivy nearly smothered us in those vines with the really sharp thorns?
    Batman: Yes.
    Robin: This is worse.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Batman empathizes with Baby-Doll and tries to talk her down. Then he hugs Baby-Doll after he takes her empty gun, and she runs into his arms.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: What Batman ends up doing with Baby-Doll, as he chases her through the Hall of Mirrors.
  • Tragic Villain: Mary Dahl. It's not her fault she has a rare genetic disorder that significantly stunts her growth, but it means no one takes her seriously, as an actor or even as a person. By the age of 30, it's driven her to madness.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After Tammy Vance is knocked out and taken by Baby-Doll she wakes up at the studio where they had filmed their television program, now wearing her old costume. It's implied Baby-Doll did this with all of her old co-stars.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mary again, after seeing a funhouse mirror showing her as she might be without her condition:
    Mary: [in an adult voice while looking at the mirror] Look! That's me in there. The real me! There I am. [her face drops as she glances at her own, child-like arm] But it's not really real, is it? Just made up and pretend like my family, and my life, and everything else. [turns to Batman, shaking, doll/gun pointed at him] Why couldn't you just let me make-believe?!
    [fires her gun at the various Batman reflections before rounding on the mirror showing her adult form, tears streaming down her cheeks... and unloads the last three rounds into it, shattering the reflection. Batman approaches and gently takes the doll/gun away from her, as she's still pulling the trigger on an empty chamber]
    [sobbing as she looks up at Batman before hugging his leg] I didn't... mean to...
  • Vocal Dissonance: Baby-Doll keeps switching between her natural adult voice and the child one she had for her old show. Needless to say, hearing the former come out of the mouth of someone who looks like a prepubescent girl is pretty jarring.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Robin taking off his "Spunky" mask.
    • Baby Doll seeing a reflection of herself (of what she might've looked like if not for her medical condition), which ultimately triggers her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Zigzagged. Neither Batman nor Robin land a blow on Mary, even though she is technically an adult, because she would be at a disadvantage, size-wise.
  • Worf Effect: Batman and Robin are both pretty easily thrown around by Baby Doll's henchmen. To say nothing of Mariam who's capable of taking on both of them at once.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Mary pulls off one in the Cold Open, where she fakes a crying episode and her "big brother" on the show notices and comforts her.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: