Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Best of Batman

I imagine people are already getting in line for the opening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, the new Batman movie that opens July 12th. As a way to climb on that batwagon and plug my book -- THE ME GENERATION... BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60s) I thought I would include the passage
about "our" Batman and feature some examples. The Kindle version is available now as is the paperback. There are no ads on this blog you'll notice. The way you can support this site is to buy my book. Hey, you'll get a lot more enjoyment out of it than a PBS tote bag. Here's where you go for the Kindle. And this link'll get you the paperback.   Thanks so much!

...January 12, 1966

That’s the night Batman premiered.

It instantly became my new favorite show. Me and everyone else under 20. “Camp” and “kitsch” were the zeitgeist of the day and the Caped Crusader was its superhero. Fight scenes were punctuated with on-screen comic book words POW! BAM! ZONK! The Caped Crusader was played by an actor who had the agility of a hunchback. But Adam West’s goofy sincerity struck just the right chord and this tongue-in-cheek comedy was an instant smash (Sorry. I meant SMASH!).

You look back at those old Batman episodes and think, “What schlock!” And in fairness, by season two we thought that too. By the time Otto Preminger played a villain, we had moved on.

19 comments:

HourOfLead said...

Loved the original Batman show as a kid. Today, I can watch it for two minutes. What disturbs me is knowing Burt Ward went on to an illustrious porn career. No issue with porn, but combining Robin and chicka-bow-wow isn't exactly peanut butter and jelly.

Becca said...

My dad was 19 when Batman premiered and loved it, too. My brother and I watched it when we were little, but I outgrew it way before he did. Still, when he saw it again in his late teens, he was mortified.

I'm pretty sure the thing about Burt Ward doing porn is an urban legend. Unlike Lisa "Wednesday Addams" Loring (well...she was *married* for awhile to a porn star).

Mike Schryver said...

I'm also pretty sure Burt Ward didn't do porn, although he's pretty explicit in his tell-all book from a few years ago.

"combining Robin and chicka-bow-wow isn't exactly peanut butter and jelly"

Speak for yourself.

RCP said...

Highly doubtful Burt Ward did porn. Once in a while I'll come across an episode of Batman and still find it very funny - especially with villains like King Tut (Victor Buono) Egghead (Vincent Price), and The Joker (Caeser Romero) - it had to have been a hoot writing for this show.

Paul Duca said...

Me TV has been showing BATMAN on Saturday nights, but for the summer they are doing a "checkerboard" during the 8-10 PM (Eastern) weeknight block--and it will be paired with GET SMART on "Camp Classics" Thursday.

Brian Fies said...

The great thing about the Batman program is that, as a 7 year old, I took it absolutely straight, deadly seriously. I really worried whether Batman and Robin could possibly escape from beneath the giant magnifying glass. I didn't figure out it was a comedy until I was 12 or 13, when I loved it again for all new reasons.

gottacook said...

I still have a promotional photo "autographed" by Adam West and Burt Ward from when I saw the Batman theatrical movie in 1966, around my 10th birthday. The show had become so popular so quickly that the movie was thrown together after only half a season on the air, featuring the usual actors playing the Joker, Riddler, and Penguin plus Lee Meriwether as Catwoman. Even with the Internet it's hard to imagine such a thing occurring today.

As for the series, I watched fairly regularly but slacked off at the start of the last season (1967-68) despite the addition of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, because they dropped the two-night-per-week format with the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode. (Star Trek fans remember her, or at least I do, as the green girl in the insane asylum, the consort of the late great Steve Ihnat, in the third-season episode "Whom Gods Destroy.")

Kirk said...

My experience is similar to Brian Fies. Took Batman seriously as a kid, then, when I was a little older, liked it all over again when I realized the whole thing was a put-on. I believe all the scenes in that video is from the theatrical movie based on the TV show.

One of the funniest bits I ever saw on the TV show was when Robin asks Batman what they're going to do next. Batman replies in French, which Robin then translates to English (something like, "we're going to Catwoman's hideout".) A moment later, the Boy Wonder smiles and says "Usin' the old' French on me, eh, Batman? To which Batman, serious as ever, reples, "It's good to be proficient in at least one foreign language, Rpbin"

DJ said...

Oh, that wasn't even the best use of French on Batman. That would be the episode where the great Eartha Kitt, playing Catwoman, translated a French pirate's treasure hunt clues. Her many years of performing and living as the toast of Paris had a nice payoff there.

Cap'n Bob said...

Holy ravioli! I watched as a teen but, as with so many others, grew bored with it after the camp aspects got old.

tb said...

I'm still a fan. The reason that clip is all from the movie is because that's all that's 'officially' available, the series itself is still not available on DVD. Must be some tangled legal reasons. (The other night Robin says "Her legs remind me of Catwoman" to which Batman says "You're growing up old chum")haha

Joey H said...

I like the fact that showrunner William Dozier was also the announcer for the show, punctuating the cliffhanger for the episodes.

Mike McCann said...

>>
...January 12, 1966
That’s the night Batman premiered.
It instantly became my new favorite show.
>>

WAIT A MINUTE! What about SHINDIG? Did you not, even for a moment, harbor some anger at ABC for taking off our great rock and roll showcase? Patty Duke -- that got tired. Ozzie and Harriet -- ditto.
But SHINDIG went away just before a whole bunch of interesting bands came into prominence.

Sorry for the dissenting vote ;)

mystupidchildhood said...

In 1966, my 4th grade class still had show-and-tell, but our teacher, old Mrs. Regling, threatened to end our social time if we continued to talk about Batman. Thursday's show-and-tells were the most heated since we were in between the two-day broadcast. Our theories of how the Caped Crusaders might escape quickly turned into shouting matches. I was sent to the principal's office twice that year for insubordination. (I didn't even know what that meant at the time.) All I really knew was that I had to tune in that night at the..."Same bat time, same bat channel."
Na na na na na na NA NA NA NA NA NA na na na na na na... Batman!

jbryant said...

All the kids in my neighborhood wanted to play Batman. Since I was a bit older, I got to be Batman, my brother was Robin, one of my sisters was Batgirl. Since no one wanted to be a villain, we had to create new Bat-characters: Batboy, Bat-cousin, etc. Of course, we all had towels safety-pinned around our necks for capes.

Edward Copeland said...

I'm a bit younger than you, but I still love Batman. One of my biggest thrills as a kid was meeting Adam West after a dinner theater performance and getting his autograph (I also insisted on performing Van Johnson's song as The Minstrel). It only gets funnier as you grow up and catch all the innuendo. I think it's the 2nd funniest show in the history of TV, behind the 1960s version of Dragnet.

John said...

Anonymous tb said...

I'm still a fan. The reason that clip is all from the movie is because that's all that's 'officially' available, the series itself is still not available on DVD. Must be some tangled legal reasons.

6/16/2012 12:35 PM


Yep. Fox owns the TV series. Warner Bros. owns the characters from their purchase of DC Comics 40 years ago. Getting them together is about as easy as getting Rupert Murdoch to emcee a Ted Turner testimonial dinner (or vice-versa).

"Batman" really was the first TV series to make deliberate use of the idea that color TV was now the default standard. ABC wouldn't go full color until the fall, but this was the first series that (like the NBC peacock) demanded that it be seen in the full color spectrum, even if those color combos existed nowhere in the real world (as for the stories, Batman mirrored the old Superman TV series in becoming more and more kid friendly/juvenile as the shows went on -- they killed Jill St. John in the pilot, but by the end of Year 2 it was clear no one ever was going to be seriously hurt by the time the show was over. Audiences burned out on the novelty of the series pretty quickly due to the lack of an depth).

Lou H. said...

Was Batman the only US series to be written with the assumption that there's a 1-day intermission between episodes? Aside from miniseries or the multi-part crossovers that began on show A and finished on show B later in the week.

DwWashburn said...

I met Mr. West at the 2005 Comic Con. I had his autobiography that I asked him to sign, then I produced a picture of him with the Three Stooges in "The Outlaws is Coming". Even though the line was long, he stopped and talked about the Stooges for several minutes (actually more than he did in his book). I guess he was happy that someone asked him about something other than the Caped Crusader.