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Rarely has a TV show so gripped the world as Batman did way back in 1966.
People still remember this incredibly campy show and watch it. The show was
based on a twenty-year-old comic strip names Batman. In fact the show was
credited for saving the dying Bat comic strip from extinction. However the
campy tone makes many of the Bat fans angry that this show supposedly set a
too campy tone for comic book today.
I think the show did have some bad points especially in the second season but this was still a great show. Adam West was a near perfect Batman, Burt Ward was hilarious as Robin. Neil Hamilton was an excellent Commissioner Gordon and Stafford Repp was excellent as Chief O'Hara. Also Alfred the Butler was played excellently by Alan Napier. Together they would fight the forces of evil in Gotham City with a series of excellent cops, honesty, a man in a six foot bat suit and a series of sound effects that would attack villains toward the end of a thirty minute cycle.
The show was campy but all comic books before Batman were. The show had some distinctly satirical overtones and why shouldn't it. A millionaire dresses up as a bat to fight crime? These days the millionaire is more likely to be committing the crime. The episodes at the beginning of the shows short run and the episodes at the end of the shows run were indeed the best and a few of them were some of the noted best episodes any any television show period.
At the beginning of 1966 everything turned Batman. The TV show dominated television, merchandising an advertisement for the show even made it to the Super Bowl! The show even was made into a theatrically released movie. The show lost almost all of it's edge when the second season came and the show went from being satirical and over the top to just too campy.
The villains were great as well. Top name celebrities lined up to star in this show. John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and other top named celebrities lined up to star in this show, many of them never got the chance. But some of these people were just great. Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Cesar Romero as the Joker and Burgess Meredith as the Penguin are now legendary. There were many others but those were arguably the four most well known.
Burgess Meredith was always my favorite. He was such a great actor in real life. Frank gorshin's excellent job as the Riddler brought the Riddler in the comic books from being a minor villain to one of the top villains. My favorite episode of the series were the ones where The Penguin ran for mayor. These were just so many great moments in that one, watching Allen Ludden comment on the fight between Batman and the Penguins goons were hilarious. My second favorite episodes were where the Joker went surfing and planned to win taking over the surfers. That was classic.
I found it interesting that in this show everyone was helpful, the only bad guys were the villains and everyone who was not a villain was misguided and the villains were really goofy instead of evil. Everyone was basically decent. People that lived during that time said it was like that even outside of television. I like the comic strips of Batman and the show because it is supposed to show everyone in a good light and show everyone's good side.
Many comic book people say this show is awful. This is the original Batman on television, and if there was not this there would be no movies there may not even be a series of comic books as this show regenerated interest in the comic strip even Bob Kane said so. All I can say is this is classic television. It is without a doubt hilarious and a great tribute to the series.
I watched this tv show as a child, and every Halloween from the age of 5
8, I wanted to dress in a costume just like Batman's. Of course, my
didn't have the resources to hire an entire corps of costumers and props
masters, so I had to make do with a jumpsuit from Sears that had the
symbol printed on it. Such is Life. Still, I always thought Batman was
best of the legion of super-heroes to come around (except for perhaps
Spiderman, whom I discovered later on).
Watching the tv show now as an adult, I realize just how campy and ridiculous it was, but where as a child I interpreted the action sequences as dynamic and exciting, now I see these same scenes as well-staged comedy, which is how the original producers intended it to be seen. Who can forget the big cartoon graphics such as "BAM!" and "POW!" and "Crrr-Rash!" which flashed up just before Batman slugged a villain or knocked over a prop? I beat up the sofa cushions with just as much enthusiasm. And don't even get me started on the car (Batmobile), the boat (Batboat), and helicopter (Batcopter) which I absolutely had to have in Corgi miniatures (still have mine in a box in the garage, along with James Bond's Aston Martin and the Monkeemobile). And all the kids knew the Batman song. NaNa NaNa NaNa NaNa Batman!
Looking back at it now, I see that even though Adam West and Burt Ward, two relative unknowns at the time, never really recovered from being typecast, just about all of the supporting actors were accomplished in either films, tv, or the stage, such as Cesar Romero and Victor Buono (check him out in "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane"), and they managed to continue their careers. A few, such as Eartha Kitt, used the "Batman" series as a springboard to other things (I saw Kitt's performance as the Wicked Witch in "Wizard of Oz" on stage and she was fantastic). But whatever their future careers became, they turned in quality performances on the show.
I always had a thing for both Cat Woman (all 3 of them) and Batgirl. The costume designers really knew how to show off a woman's curves in those tight-fitting catsuits with big metallic utility belts and high-heeled shoes, but I suppose that was the fashion back in the late-60's. They probably fit right in with the mini-dresses and go-go boots the other girls were wearing.
Your kids will love the show and will watch it again and again. You'll enjoy it the first two times you see it, but then it'll get stale and boring. But just remember, no matter how grim things get when the Riddler and Joker have Batman and the Boy Wonder hanging over a vat of acid or encased in a gas chamber, the Dynamic Duo always manage to pull out a can of Bat Rope Dissolver or Bat Gas Begone and show up to defeat the villains each week at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
To the Batcave!
From the moment that you hear "Na na na na na na na na na na na na na
na na na Batman!", you always know that you're in for something good.
This "Batman" was in a way more interesting than the later movies,
mainly because of the graphics that appear whenever someone gets hit.
Of course, the premise needs no explanation, but Batman (Adam West) and
Robin (Burt Ward) are truly a cross between old-style superheroes and
the 1960s. Like many other '60s TV shows (think "Bewitched",
"Gilligan's Island" and "I Dream of Jeannie"), "Batman" was as zany as
possible and a laugh riot every step of the way. And the villains? The
perfidious Penguin (Burgess Meredith), conniving Catwoman (Julie
Newmar, later Eartha Kitt), the jackknife Joker (Cesar Romero) and the
ruckus-causing Riddler (Frank Gorshin) are exactly what anyone could
ask for. And Vincent Price had a great line that one time when he
So, I will pose this final question: Can this really be happening? Is "Batman" still a great show? Will the villains continue to engage in their evil, egregious and extraneous acts? Will the Dynamic Duo clobber, confound and confuse the villains? Find out next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel!
What can I say about this series? It was crazy and ridiculous but it was all
If anybody's seen my review of the 1966 Batman movie then you'll pretty much know what my view is on this show. It was ridiculous but in a good way.
For starters, Robin couldn't possibly hope to fool anyone with that disguise? How about I put on a mask and go and visit my parents? Would a mask like Robin's fool anyone?
The thing I loved about this series was the cliffhanger episodes. Batman and Robin would be put in a seemingly inescapable trap and then in the next episode Batman would manage to reach into his utility belt and pull out a convenient device. In one episode Batman was about to be dropped in acid when he suddenly remembered that Alfred the Butler had acid proofed his costume. How funny is that?
The crazy thing was how Batman and Robin always had the right equipment. They had things such as Anti-Penguin Gas Pills and other crazy devices. I honestly wouldn't have thought there would be enough room in their belts for half their equipment.
The best thing about this show was the fights at the end. The bumbling villains would outnumber Batman and Robin who would then bash them into next week just before the police arrived.
This was a good show for it's first couple of seasons. The beautiful Yvonne Craig joined the third season as Batgirl and she was good. However the cliffhanger episodes were gradually phased out and each half hour episode had a beginning, middle and end.
This isn't the type of show to take seriously. It's great fun and anybody who watches it will laugh their socks off at times. If it shows up on your local TV channel then watch it!
Who could ever forget those immortal words such as "Pow" and "Wham" (..
whatever..) flashing up on the TV screen as Batman and Robin landed
into evil wrong-doers with clenched fists flying. Boy, those long black
evening gloves of the caped crusaders could REALLY pack a punch!
All of us who were hard core "Batniks" had boxes full of the mandatory merchandising goodies. There was the die-cast Batmobile and Bat Boat, the costume complete with 'útility belt' and I seem to recall a board game buzzing around at some point. No doubt, there was also a View-Master reel and probably a flicker ring as well. Ah, those were the days. If only we'd kept all of that stuff, be worth THOUSANDS on ebay!
It's a shame that kids haven't got anything like the old Batman nowadays. It was colorful, fun and highly imaginative.
Pure escapism and great memories.
Troy Whigham's first up review here really nails it! I'll just add a few of
my own observations.
Part of the show's brilliance was its (arguably intentional) ability to appeal to young and old. Plenty of action for the ankle-biters and black black humor for the thinking adult. So corny, it was brilliant and from a nostalgic viewpoint now, not so far behind Maxwell Smart. No one has delivered such throw-away deadpan lines as Adam West who turned "Batman" into an srt-form by the second series. Credit too must also go to Burt Ward whose acting career never recovered from his oneness with the Boy Wonder!
Outstanding supporting criminal nemesis' provided by the likes of Cesar Romero, Eartha Kitt, Victor Buono and of course Burgess Meredith as The Penguin and Frank Gorshin as Riddler!
Never to be seen again!
Adam West not only was Batman, in this series he was straight man. His
straight face was always what held thing together. No matter how
outlandish Robin or a super criminal was, West would always appear to
take things in stride & have a straight face when he would pull
something out of his utility belt to handle the problem. Burt Ward's
Robin was often reactive with many Holy Blanks!! & while he was mostly
a sidekick for Batman, sometimes when the Caped Crusdaer was tied up,
he & the faithful Alfred would manage things. To me the criminals were
most often the stars of this. Burgess Meredith made a great Penguin -
especially when he runs for mayor of Gotham City against Batman and
proclaims "I should have gotten into politics sooner because in
campaigns, all my dirty bird tricks are legal now!" Imagine that, &
this is before Nixon got caught.
Frank Gorshin's Riddler has never been equaled. Ceasar Romero's Joker was so good that Jack Nicholson had to take the character in new directions in the film to avoid direct comparison. The amazing thing about this series was the amount of great actors & actresses they got to play the criminals. It is a who's who of character actors from that era. Alan Ladd, Vincent Price, Otto Preminger, Art Carney, Roddy Mcdowell to name a few villains.
This was an ABC series which would have lasted longer, but CBS had such a power house line-up, this was lucky to make it 3 seasons. At least they were 3 great seasons & all in color. The cliff hangers & fights from these are now classic, & some of the plots were pretty corny, while others showed imagination. Overall, just think of Robin saying "Support your police!" & Batman responding "Well said, Robin." and you get an idea that while the series was corny, it at least had a moral compass always. Holy establishment, Batman!
This show is completely nuts! It is SO goofy, and I can realize that now that I'm older. I watched this from when I was 7-12, and always loved it. I still like to watch it whenever they air the re-runs, but now laugh AT it, not WITH it! I've heard of crime fighting, but this is ridiculous! STILL, I like to watch it because I'm a fan of Adam West and Burt "HOLY" Ward! I'd recommend it to all kids who like super-heros, but any body else had better prepare themselves for the "cheesiest" ride of their lives! "HOLY TELEVISION! IT'S ON EVERY DAY NOW!" So folks, tune in tomorrow (and every day): same bat time, same bat channel!
Looking back at this program from its completion through all of the
episodes, it's easy to characterize it as being a campy version of Bob
Kane's Dark Knight legend. But I'm not at all certain that it had to
In fact, in looking at the first two episodes, which featured Frank Gorshin as the first "Special Guest Villain," The Riddler, the program was quite hard-nosed, pretty straight and sinister (considering the costuming of the lead players), and actually somewhat poignant with the performance of Jill St. John. I would compare these first two episodes with any adventure series and say that they hold their own.
Of course, what happened was that with the wild Rogue's Gallery of villains, the over-the-top costuming, the dutch angle camera setups, with the straight-laced line reads of the two heroes, and the bugle like narration of "Desmond Doomsday" (the alias for Producer William Dozier) Batman was destined to be seen as nothing but pure camp. Not that that's bad, unless you feel this tarnished the legend of The Caped Crusader.
Meanwhile, the show became the hottest thing happening, nearly overnight. All sorts of acting greats wanted their chance to challenge the Dynamic Duo, and unlikely villains played by Liberace, Van Johnson, Art Carney and Zsa Zsa Gabor all appeared, in addition to the semi-regular performers, Caesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Julie Newmar and the aforementioned Gorshin. Those that couldn't be villains turned up in cameos, from Dick Clark to Sammy Davis Jr. to Santa Claus (as portrayed by old time actor Andy Divine) all had a moment of Batman and Robin's time. Though perhaps the most puzzling cameo was when Colonel Klink of "Hogan's Heroes" turned up at a Gotham City window. Not only was he from presumably 23 years in the past, he would have been a Nazi in an American city AND he was from a program on another network! If you know of an explanation for this, please pass it along.
The elements that made the show work were the Batmobile, a beautiful and evocative vehicle that transported the heroes from their secret location the 14 miles to Gotham City before the opening credits for that episode were finished. It's still one of the most instantly recognized automobiles, based on the 1955 Lincoln Futura and restyled by George Barris. Add in the gadgetry, Batman's utility belt, the bust of Shakespeare that held the switch that opened the bookcase... "To the batpoles!" and of course, the talents of the stars, Adam West, Burt Ward, Alan Napier, who was nothing short of brilliant as Alfred, Neil Hamilton and Stafford Repp as the commissioner and chief of police and later the charm of Yvonne Craig as the addition to create "The Terrific Trio."
But even as the formula was working, it was wearing out its welcome as it went, and by the time the show started their third season, the ratings were clearly slipping possibly due to the tone change making the episodes sillier rather than more adventuresome. Despite the addition of Batgirl, and a change in the format so that each episode was self contained, rather than having a two part cliffhanger, the magical run ended and ABC canceled it.
There was a rumor that NBC was interested in giving the program a fourth season, however 20th Century Fox, the production company for the series had already demolished the centerpiece of the program, the batcave set, and NBC was unwilling to spend the time and money to rebuild it.
Probably just as well, as Batman has since been through numerous incarnations to get back to the standard that Bob Kane originally had for him.
It comes on everyday at 4 AM on TV Land. But they cut out too much footage just to make time for commercials. It isn't as fun watching it with parts cut out as it would be to watch Batman in it's full entirety. So I ask all my fellow Bat-Fans, why don't we make a unanimous quest for all 120 episodes of Batman to be released on video?!!!
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