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Perchance to Dream is an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It was written by the distinguished horror author Joe R. Lansdale and originally aired on October 19, 1992. In this episode, Bruce Wayne awakes one morning in a seemingly idyllic dream world in which his parents are still alive and he never became Batman. The title is taken from the famous soliloquy from William Shakespeare's famous play, Hamlet.
The episode begins with Batman pursuing a group of criminals into a warehouse. After overcoming several of them, he is blinded by a flash of light and a dark shape descends upon him, knocking him unconscious. He then awakens in bed as Bruce Wayne, with no memory of the outcome of the battle or how he came to be home.
It quickly becomes clear that something is very wrong: there is no Batcave beneath Wayne Manor, and Alfred Pennyworth professes to have no knowledge of Bruce's alter ego or of Robin. Furthermore, Bruce's parents are still alive and he is engaged to Selina Kyle. Though Bruce remembers his adventures as Batman, he can't find any evidence that they were anything more than a dream, and he soon begins to doubt his own sanity.
Bruce initially attempts to relax into his new life; at least on the surface, it appears to be everything he has ever wanted. He is disquieted by the discovery that Batman does still exist, however, and appears to be even more powerful and impressive than he ever was. Further evidence that something is very wrong comes when Bruce attempts to read first a newspaper and then a book from his personal library, discovering that the text is a garbled and unreadable mess.
Determined to discover an explanation for what is going on, Bruce purchases a torch and grappling hook. He is confronted by some police who attempt to take him into custody, citing his 'strange behavior', but Bruce flees them and escapes to Gotham Cemetery. Once there he climbs a bell tower and finds himself face to face with Batman in the middle of a raging storm. Bruce demands to know what is happening and states that he wants his old life back. The two struggle, and as they fight Bruce explains that he has realized that this is nothing more than a dream world; he is unable to read because reading is a function of the right hand side of the brain, and dreams are entirely left sided. Eventually Bruce is successful in unmasking the imposter Batman, who reveals himself as The Mad Hatter. After receiving confirmation from The Mad Hatter that his secret identity has not been compromised, as it is only a dream version of the villain that he is speaking to and the real one cannot see into the dream world, he leaps from the bell tower to his apparent death.
Batman then awakens in the warehouse from the beginning of the episode, with The Mad Hatter's dream machine still attached to his head. He escapes and overpowers the villain, demanding an explanation. The Hatter breaks down, saying that Batman has ruined his life (in the episode Mad as a Hatter) and that he would give him everything that he wanted, just to have him out of his life. Disgusted, Batman turns the Hatter over to the police and leaves, facing reality once again.
Perchance to Dream is a very highly regarded episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, often considers this his favorite episode of the series.
- Kevin Conroy as Batman / Bruce Wayne
- Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
- Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred Pennyworth
- Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman / Selina Kyle
- Brian Cummings as Reporter
- Roddy McDowall as The Mad Hatter / Jervis Tetch
- Diana Muldaur as Dr. Leslie
- Written by Laren Bright and Michael Reaves
- Teleplay by Joe R. Lansdale
- Directed by Boyd Kirkland
- Music by Shirley Walker
- Animation Services by Akom Production Co.
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