It's always great when I revisit my favorite animated shows as a kid, and find out they're just as good as I remember them--sometimes even better! Unfortunately many times that isn't the case. Thankfully Batman: The Animated Series is in the former group. I grew up watching this show after school, and even years later I find the stories very compelling, and extremely well written. Just check out the intro:
The poses and silouettes are amazing in this intro. I love when Batman jumps and flips over the "bad guy"! It's so dynamic and moody! The art direction is something that the show was known for, and the phrase "Dark Deco" was used to describe it. I love how the Gotham Police ride around in blimps--I mean really, is that the best mode of transportation for police? But it fits completely in the world they created, and makes it unique.
The tone of the series is so incredibly dark, with some very dramatic scenes that usually aren't played in kids entertainment, even today. While the episodes need to move fast for the half hour length, it doesn't talk down to kids, or explain everything through cliche dialogue. I don't understand the perceived need to dumb down stories for kids to "understand", and while I can understand Batman on a different level now, I would say I understood it when I was a kid too. Kids understand much more than we give them credit for, and just because they usually aren't burdened with the cynicism that adult life can bring, doesn't mean they don't understand certain truths of the world.
If you want to hear some behind the scenes comments on Batman The Animated Series, there's a good commentary on YouTube. Here's Part 1: