Batman (TV series)
|Created by||William Dozier|
by Bob Kane and
Bill Finger (uncredited)
|Developed by||Lorenzo Semple, Jr.|
|Narrated by||William Dozier|
"Batman Theme" by|
"Batman Theme" by|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||120 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||William Dozier|
|Running time||25 minutes|
20th Century Fox Television
Warner Bros. (home media)
|Original release||January 12, 1966 – March 14, 1968|
Batman is a 1960s American live action television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It stars Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin — two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City from a variety of villains and their henchmen. It is known for its camp style, upbeat theme music, and its intentionally humorous simplistic morality (aimed at its largely teenage audience), including championing the importance of using seat belts, doing homework, eating vegetables, and drinking milk (it was described by executive producer William Dozier as the only situation comedy on the air without a laughtrack). One hundred and twenty episodes aired on the ABC network for three seasons from January 12, 1966, to March 14, 1968, twice weekly for the first two and weekly for the third. In 2016, television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Batman as the 82nd greatest American television show of all time.
Ostensibly a crime series, the style of the show was in fact campy and tongue-in-cheek. It was a true situation comedy, in that situations were exaggerated and were generally played for laughs for all they were worth. This increased as the seasons wore on, with the addition of ever greater absurdity. The characters, however, always took the absurd situations extremely seriously - which just added to the comedy.
The series focused on the adventures of Batman and Robin. Although the lives of their alter-egos, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, were frequently shown, it was usually only briefly, in the context of their being called away on superhero business, or in circumstances where they needed to employ their secret identities to assist in their crime-fighting. The "Dynamic Duo" typically come to the aid of the Gotham City Police upon the latter being stumped by a supervillain. Throughout each episode, Batman and Robin have to follow a series of (wildly improbable) clues to discover the supervillain's plan, then figure out how to thwart that plan and capture the criminal.
For the first two seasons, during which the series originally aired twice a week, every story is a two-parter, except for two three-parters in the second season. The parts of each multi-part story had rhyming titles. For the third season, which originally aired once a week, a majority of the episodes were self-contained stories. The cliffhangers between multiple-parters typically consisted of the supervillain holding someone captive, usually the Dynamic Duo themselves, with the captives being imminently subject to some gruesome - if unlikely - death, which would inevitably be resolved early in the follow-up episode (the lone exception is King Tut's Coup/Batman's Waterloo, where Robin remains captive throughout almost all of part two).
Typical episode format and elements
Each story relies on using the same formula as every other, in part 1, so that the audience quickly come to expect a series of familiar set pieces: a phone call from the police asking for Batman's help, a dash to the Batcave, a race in the Batmobile to police headquarters, a conference in the Commissioner's office, investigating the scene of the crime, examining clues in the crime-lab at the Batcave, rushing to the villain's secret hideout, falling into the pre-arranged trap. By relying heavily on a formula, it becomes easy, within an individual episode, to spoof various elements of that formula.
Teaser and exposition
The typical story begins with a villain's caper (such as stealing a fabulous treasure, kidnapping a prominent person, or attempting to take over Gotham City). In his office, Commissioner Gordon, along with Chief O'Hara, learn of the crime and the culprit. Helpless to stop the villain, they contact Batman via the Batphone - a bright red telephone that provides a direct phone link to Batman (be it at Wayne Manor, the batcave or the batmobile). At "stately Wayne Manor", Alfred (Wayne's butler) answers the Batphone and informs Bruce Wayne of the call. Frequently, Wayne and his ward, Dick Grayson, are found talking with Dick's aunt, Harriet Cooper, who is unaware of Bruce and Dick's secret identities. Alfred discreetly interrupts and they excuse themselves to go to the Batphone in Wayne's study. Upon learning the details from Gordon which arch-criminal he will potentially face, Wayne turns a switch concealed within a bust of Shakespeare that stands on his desk to reveal two fireman's poles hidden behind a sliding bookcase. "To the Batpoles!" Wayne exclaims, and he and Grayson slide down the poles that lead to the Batcave.
The title sequence features animated versions of Batman and Robin, drawn in the then-current style of the comic books, running towards camera and then fighting an assortment of villains, including several "marquee" villains such as the Joker and the Penguin.
Similar in style and content to the 1940s serials, Batman and Robin would arrive at the bottom of the Batpoles in the Batcave in full costume (reference is made later in the series to some sort of costuming device that functions on the way down the poles). They then jump into the Batmobile. Robin checks the gauges and reports, "Atomic batteries to power...turbines to speed." Batman responds, "Roger, ready to move out." With that, after fastening their seat belts, the two would drive out of the cave at high speed. As the Batmobile approached the mouth of the cave (actually a tunnel entrance in Los Angeles's Bronson Canyon), a camouflaged door would swing open and a hinged barrier outside the Batcave would drop down to allow the car to exit onto the road. The Duo then drives to police headquarters to meet with Gordon and be briefed on the criminal they must thwart. Most of the footage following the opening title sequence from Batman and Robin sliding down the Batpoles through their arrival at police headquarters was reused in most episodes.
The initial discussion of the crime usually leads to Batman and Robin conducting their investigation alone, although the police are often used for assistance and to implement plans or traps that Batman devises to catch the villain. Typically Batman and Robin must use deduction from the clues left by the villain to determine elements such as the villain's identity, plan, target, and/or location. This usually results in a meeting with the villain, with the heroes engaging in a fistfight with the villain's henchmen, and the villain getting away, leaving a further series of unlikely clues for the Duo to investigate. Later, they would face the villain's henchmen again, and he or she would capture one or both of the heroes and place them in a deathtrap leading to a cliffhanger ending, which was usually resolved in the first few minutes of the next episode.
After the cliffhanger
The latter part(s) of multi-episode stories begins with a brief recap of the first part(s). After the opening credits and the theme music, the cliffhanger is resolved.
The same general plot pattern of investigation and confrontation repeats in the following episode(s) until the villain is defeated in a major brawl, mostly resulting in Batman resolving into tricking the villain by convincing them into believing he is following their plan, or the use of his utility belt and wits (with sometimes both scenarios being intertwined into one).
Other recurring elements
The series used a narrator (executive producer William Dozier, uncredited) who parodied both the breathless narration style of the 1940s serials and Walter Winchell's bombastic narration of The Untouchables. He would end many of the cliffhanger episodes by intoning, "Tune in tomorrow — same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!" In the episodes following cliffhangers, the recaps of the previous episode consisted of a series of short phrases from Dozier (rather than a lengthy explanation) accompanying short clips of the prior episode(s) without their original sound, and usually ending in a freeze-frame. In the third season, when single-episode stories were introduced, the narrator would end single-episodes by encouraging viewers to tune in the following week.
During the climactic fistfights in each episode, the punches and other impacts were punctuated by onomatopoeia superimposed in bright colours on the screen, as in comic-book fight scenes ("POW!", "BAM!", "ZONK!", etc.).
Despite the regular fighting on the show, Batman and Robin typically use non-lethal force; only three criminal characters die during the series: the Riddler's moll Molly (played by Jill St. John in the pilot episode), who accidentally falls into the Batcave's atomic reactor, and two out-of-town gunmen who shoot at Batman and Robin, but kill each other instead, toward the end of "Zelda The Great/A Death Worse Than Fate". In the film, six criminals die in total: Five henchmen are dehydrated by the Penguin in order to infiltrate the Batcave, but this plan fails when the henchmen unexpectedly disappear into antimatter once struck. A sixth henchman is presumably killed when he is caught in a trap meant for Batman and sprung onto an exploding octopus. Twice, the Catwoman (Julie Newmar) appears to fall to her death (into a bottomless pit and from a high building into a river), but since she returned in later episodes; as a "cat", she presumably has nine lives, thus has several more left. In "Instant Freeze", Mr. Freeze freezes a butler solid and knocks him over, and sound-effects suggest that he is shattered into pieces. A later reference suggests the butler survived. In "Green Ice", Mr. Freeze freezes a policeman solid; it is left unclear whether he survived. In "The Penguin's Nest", a policeman suffers an electric shock at the hands of the Penguin's accomplices, but he is presumed to survive, as he appears in some later episodes.
A catch-phrase popularized by the series was Robin's saying "Holy [subject], Batman!" whenever he encountered something startling. This phrase was parodied in the 1995 film Batman Forever.
In many episodes, Batman and Robin must get to a high point of a building or other structure. They do this via the Batrope which is thrown and anchored above the high point, and which Batman and Robin climb by walking up the side of the structure with the aid of the rope. The climbing sequences were filmed by rotating the camera 90 degrees and building a set for the "side" of the structure along the studio floor. The heroes' capes were pulled back (to replicate the pull of gravity) with invisible lines. In many episodes, celebrities made cameo appearances by popping their heads out of windows along these climbs to speak to the heroes.
In one episode, the Catwoman's hideout is a hair salon owned by a "Mr. Oceanbring." The real-life inspiration for the character, hair stylist (and future Manson family victim) Jay Sebring, appears uncredited during the fight scene and has a couple of spoken lines.
The villains commonly have henchmen whose names are somehow associated with the villain's identity; for example, Catwoman's henchmen have cat-related names. Characters commonly use alliterations. Examples include Batman referring to the Joker as a "hateful harlequin" and the Penguin calling Catwoman a "feline floozy".
Only two of the show's guest villains ever discovered Batman's true identity: Egghead by deductive reasoning, and King Tut on two occasions — the first time with a bug on the Batmobile and the second time by accidentally mining into the Batcave. Egghead was tricked into disbelieving his discovery, though, as was Tut in the episode when he bugged the Batmobile. In the episode when Tut tunneled into the Batcave, he was hit on the head by a rock, which made him forget his discovery and jarred him back into his identity as a mild-mannered professor of Egyptology at Yale University. While under the spell of the Siren (Joan Collins), Commissioner Gordon found the Batcave beneath Wayne Manor and deduced Batman's true identity, but Alfred gassed him to prevent his informing her, the memory of the discovery gone after leaving the Siren's spell.
The show's campiness was played up in elements, including the design of the villains, dialogue and in signs appearing on various props. Batman would frequently reveal one of his many crime-fighting gadgets, which were usually given a ridiculous-sounding name that somehow incorporated the word "bat" — often simply by adding the word "bat" to an otherwise normal descriptor, such as Shark Repellant Bat-Spray, Bat-Computer, Extra-Strong Bat-Knockout Gas, etc. Most of Batman's items in the Batcave, bat-vehicles and on the utility belt were given superfluous and simplistic block-letter labels, even though Batman, Robin and Alfred, the only people anticipated to use the equipment, clearly knew what all of it was.
- Adam West as Bruce Wayne / Batman: a millionaire whose parents were murdered by criminals, he now secretly uses his vast fortune to fight crime as Batman. Producer William Dozier cast Adam West in the role after seeing him perform as the James Bond-like spy Captain Q in a Nestlé Quik television ad. Lyle Waggoner had screen-tested for the role, though West ultimately won the role because, it was said, he was the only person who could deliver the lines with a straight face. West later voiced an animated version of the title character on The New Adventures of Batman and well as Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.
- Burt Ward as Dick Grayson / Robin: Batman's faithful partner and "boy wonder", noted for his recurring interjections in the form of "Holy ________, Batman!" (The series avoided referencing Robin's origins as Bruce Wayne's fellow "crime orphan", as whose legal guardian the courts appoint Bruce.) Ward voiced an animated version of this character on The New Adventures of Batman.
- Alan Napier as Alfred: Batman's loyal butler and Batgirl's discreet confidant.
- Neil Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon: The Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department and one of Batman's two major police contacts.
- Stafford Repp as Chief O'Hara: Gotham City's Chief of Police, and Batman's other major police contact. (The character was created by Semple for the series, as someone for Gordon to talk to, and later briefly added to the comics.)
- Madge Blake as Harriet Cooper: Dick Grayson's maternal aunt. (She first appeared in the comics, two years before the series premiered, to give Bruce and Dick a reason to be secretive about their dual identities).
- Yvonne Craig as Barbara Gordon / Batgirl: Commissioner Gordon's daughter and crime fighting partner for Batman and Robin for the third season. Occasionally this threesome was nicknamed the "Terrific Trio" (or the "Troublesome Trio" by Catwoman and the "Tiresome Trio" by Dr. Cassandra).
- William Dozier - executive producer, creator, and narrator (uncredited).
According to Adam West's memoir, Back to the Batcave, his first exposure to the series concept was through reading a sample script in which Batman enters a nightclub in his complete costume and requests a booth near the wall, as he "shouldn't wish to attract attention"; it was the scrupulously formal dialogue, and the way that Batman appeared to earnestly believe he could somehow avoid attracting attention while wearing a skintight blue-and-grey costume, that convinced West of the character's comic potential.
- Cesar Romero as the Joker
- Burgess Meredith as the Penguin
- The Riddler played by:
- The Catwoman played by:
- Victor Buono as Professor William McElroy / King Tut
- Mr. Freeze played by:
- David Wayne as Jervis Tetch / Mad Hatter
- Vincent Price as Egghead
- Carolyn Jones as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds
- Cliff Robertson as Shame
- Anne Baxter as Olga, Queen of the Cossacks
In the early 1960s, Ed Graham Productions optioned the television rights to the comic strip Batman and planned a straightforward juvenile adventure show, much like Adventures of Superman and The Lone Ranger, to air on CBS on Saturday mornings.
Former American football linebacker and actor Mike Henry was originally set to star as Batman in a more dramatic interpretation of the character. Henry reportedly posed for publicity photographs in costume, but he was not signed for the role. East coast ABC executive Yale Udoff, a Batman fan in his childhood, contacted ABC executives Harve Bennett and Edgar J. Scherick, who were already considering developing a television series based on a comic-strip action hero, to suggest a prime-time Batman series in the hip and fun style of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. When negotiations between CBS and Graham stalled, DC Comics quickly reobtained rights and made the deal with ABC, which farmed the rights out to 20th Century Fox to produce the series.
In turn, 20th Century Fox handed the project to William Dozier and his production company, Greenway Productions. ABC and Fox were expecting a hip and fun—yet still serious—adventure show. However, Dozier, who had never before read comic books, concluded, after reading several Batman comics for research, that the only way to make the show work was to do it as a pop-art campy comedy. Originally, espionage novelist Eric Ambler was to have scripted a TV movie that would launch the television series, but he dropped out after learning of Dozier's campy comedy approach. Eventually, two sets of screen tests were filmed, one with Adam West and Burt Ward and the other with Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell, with West and Ward winning the roles.
Lorenzo Semple, Jr. had signed on as head script writer. He wrote the pilot script, and generally wrote in a pop-art adventure style. Stanley Ralph Ross, Stanford Sherman, and Charles Hoffman were script writers who generally leaned more toward campy comedy, and in Ross's case, sometimes outright slapstick and satire. It was originally intended as a one-hour show, but ABC pushed up the premiere date from fall 1966 to January of that year, and with the network having only two early-evening half-hour time slots available, the show was split into two parts, to air twice a week in 30-minute installments with a cliffhanger connecting the two episodes, echoing the old movie serials.
The Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and the Mad Hatter, villains who originated in the comic books, all appeared in the series, the plots for which were deliberately villain-driven as well as action-heavy comedy. According to the producers, Frank Gorshin was selected to portray the Riddler due to the fact that he was a Batman fan since childhood. Catwoman was portrayed by three different actresses during the series run: by Julie Newmar in the first two seasons, by Lee Meriwether in the feature film based on the series, and by Eartha Kitt in the third and final season. The Joker's casting was also difficult, because Jose Ferrer and singer Frank Sinatra were the best options for the role; but the role was finally given to Cesar Romero.
Film version and season 2
A film based on the television show, Batman, was released in 1966. The film was originally intended to be produced before the series as a way to introduce the series to the public. However, the series' premiere was moved up and the film was forced to wait until the summer hiatus after the first season. The film was produced quickly to get into theatres prior to the start of season two of the television series.
The film did not initially perform well at the cinema. Originally, the movie had been conceived to help sell the television series abroad, but the success of the series in America was sufficient publicity. The film was shot after season one was filmed. The movie's budget allowed for producers to build the Batboat and Batcopter, which were used in the second and third seasons of the television show. Numerous films featuring Batman have since been produced, but with no relationship to the TV show.
Semple's participation in the series decreased in the second season. Adam West explained to Jeff Rovin in his autobiography, Back to the Batcave, that when beginning work on the second season following the completion of the feature film, Dozier, his immediate deputy Howie Horwitz, and the rest of the cast and crew rushed their preparation for the second season, failing to give themselves enough time to determine what they wanted to do with the series during that season.
By season three, ratings were falling and the future of the series seemed uncertain. To attract new viewers, Dozier opted to introduce a female character. He came up with the idea of using Batgirl, who in her civilian identity would be Commissioner Gordon's daughter, Barbara, and asked the editor of the Batman comics to further develop the character (who had made her debut in a 1966 issue of Detective Comics). To convince ABC executives to introduce Batgirl as a regular on the show, a promotional short featuring Yvonne Craig as Batgirl and Tim Herbert as Killer Moth was produced. The show was reduced to once a week, with mostly self-contained episodes, although the following week's villain would be introduced in a tag at the end of each episode, similar to a soap opera. Accordingly, the narrator's cliffhanger phrases were mostly eliminated, with most of the episodes ending with him saying something to encourage viewers to watch the next episode.
Aunt Harriet was reduced to just two cameo appearances during the third season, due to Madge Blake's poor health. Another cast change for the final season had Julie Newmar, who had been a popular recurring guest villain as the Catwoman for the first two seasons, being replaced by singer-actress Eartha Kitt for season three, as Newmar was working on the film Mackenna's Gold at that time, and was unable to appear. In America, Kitt's performance in the series marked the second mainstream television success of a black female, following Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura in Star Trek and continued breaking the racial boundaries of the time. Kitt's performance as Catwoman would also, later, inspire Halle Berry's portrayal of the character in the 2004 film Catwoman, in which Berry would mimic Kitt's famous purrs. Frank Gorshin, the original actor to play the Riddler, returned for a single appearance after a one-season hiatus, during which John Astin made one appearance in the role.
The nature of the scripts and acting started to enter into the realm of surrealism. For example, the set's backgrounds became mere two-dimensional cut-outs against a stark black stage. In addition, the third season was much more topical, with references to hippies, mods, and distinctive 1960s slang, which the previous two seasons had avoided.
Near the end of the third season, ratings had dropped significantly, and ABC cancelled the show. But NBC had agreed to take over the series and was ready to continue. Before that could happen, it was discovered that someone had destroyed the Batman sets which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and the deal with NBC was lost. Reruns of the series have been seen on a regular basis in the United States. They are currently shown on the classic TV network Me-TV on Saturday nights, as well as Saturday mornings on IFC.
Several cast members recorded music tied in to the series. Adam West released a single titled "Miranda", a country-tinged pop song that he actually performed in costume during live appearances in the 1960s. Frank Gorshin released a song titled "The Riddler", which was composed and arranged by Mel Tormé. Burgess Meredith recorded a spoken-word single called "The Escape" backed with "The Capture", which consisted of the Penguin narrating his recent crime spree to a jazz beat. Burt Ward recorded a song called "Boy Wonder, I Love You", written and arranged by Frank Zappa.
The show featured numerous adaptations of various Batman comics stories - particularly in its first season. These first-season episodes were adaptations:
- The episodes "Hi Diddle Riddle" and "Smack in the Middle" were adaptations of "Remarkable Ruse of the Riddler" from Batman #171 (May 1965), written by Gardner Fox; in it, the Riddler, jealous of the attention Batman is giving the Mole Hill Mob, arranges a trap so Batman will apprehend the gang and give the Riddler the Caped Crusader's undivided attention.
- The episodes "Fine Feathered Finks" and "The Penguin's a Jinx" are based on "Partners in Plunder!" from Batman #169 (February 1965), written by France Eddie Herron; the only difference is the Penguin steals the jeweled meteorite (which was mentioned in the comic), instead of kidnapping Dawn Robbins (who did not appear in the comic).
- Many events of the episodes "The Joker Is Wild" and "Batman Is Riled" are based on the silver age comic book story "Joker's Utility Belt" from Batman #73 (October 1952) by David Vern Reed.
- The episodes "Instant Freeze" and "Rats Like Cheese" were inspired by "The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero" from Batman #121 (February 1959) by Dave Wood and Sheldon Moldoff.
- The episodes "Zelda The Great" and "A Death Worse Than Fate" are based on "Batman's Inescapable Doom-Trap!" from Detective Comics #346 (December 1965) by John Broome. Although the evil character Eivol Ekdol appeared in the story, Zelda did not; instead, the magician was a man named Carnado.
- The episodes "The Thirteenth Hat" and "Batman Stands Pat" borrow several elements from several comic book stories such as "The Mad Hatter of Gotham City" by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, from Detective Comics #230 (April 1956), and "The New Crimes of the Mad Hatter" by Dave Wood and Sheldon Moldoff from Batman #161 (February 1964). Also the Mad Hatter's plan of impersonating the sculptor working on a Batman statue for the city (for which Batman himself is, of course, posing) in an attempt to steal Batman's cowl comes from the Batman #49 story "The Scoop of the Century!" (October 1948) by Bill Finger.
- The episodes "The Penguin Goes Straight" and "Not Yet, He Ain't" have a plot point of the Penguin framing Batman for a theft actually comes from Detective Comics #58 (December 1941) by Bill Finger, which is ironic as it was to be the issue in which the Penguin first appeared.
- The episodes "The Joker Trumps an Ace" and "Batman Sets the Pace" have several plot points similar to the comic story "A Hairpin, a Hoe, a Hacksaw, a Hole In the Ground!" by Bill Finger, from Batman #53 (June 1949).
- The episodes "Death in Slow Motion" and "The Riddler's False Notion" used a few elements from "The Joker's Comedy Capers" by Gardner Fox, from Detective #341 (July 1965), only replacing the main villain of the Joker with the Riddler.
Crossover with The Green Hornet TV series
The Green Hornet and Kato on Batman
Van Williams and Bruce Lee made a cameo appearance as the Green Hornet and Kato in "window cameos" while the Batman and Robin scaled a building. This was in part one of a two-part second-season episode of the Batman TV series, "The Spell of Tut", which aired on September 28, 1966.
Later that same season, the Green Hornet and Kato appeared in the two-part second-season episodes A Piece of the Action and Batman's Satisfaction, which aired on March 1–2, 1967. In these two episodes, the Green Hornet and Kato are in Gotham City to bust a counterfeit stamp ring run by Colonel Gumm (portrayed by Roger C. Carmel). The Batman's Satisfaction episode leads to a mixed fight, with both Batman & Robin and The Green Hornet & Kato fighting Colonel Gumm and his gang. Once Gumm's crew was defeated, Batman and Robin squared off against The Green Hornet and Kato, resulting in a stand-off that was interrupted by the police. In this episode, Batman, Robin and the police consider the Green Hornet and Kato to be criminals, although Batman and Robin were cordial to the duo in the earlier window appearance. There is also a mention of The Green Hornet TV series on the Batman TV series episode The Impractical Joker (episode 55, Part 1, aired November 16, 1966): while watching TV together, Alfred, Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne (who says, "It's time to watch The Green Hornet", and you hear the Hornet buzzing sound) are interrupted by the Joker; then, after the interruption, The Green Hornet TV series theme music is heard.
Batman and Robin on The Green Hornet
In the December 9, 1966 Green Hornet episode "The Secret Of The Sally Bell", the Batmobile can be seen revolving on its turntable floor in the batcave on a bad guy's TV set. In the February 3, 1967 Green Hornet episode "Ace in the Hole" (which aired between the September 1966 and March 1967 Batman appearances mentioned above), Batman and Robin can be seen climbing a building on a television set. There was one other Green Hornet & Kato appearance that was NOT on the Batman TV series nor on The Green Hornet TV series: a segment of the Milton Berle Show/The Hollywood Palace aired in the Fall of 1966 brought together The Green Hornet and Kato (Van Williams and Bruce Lee), and Batman (Adam West), in a comedy sketch with Milton Berle, in which Bruce Lee demonstrates his martial arts expertise. Burt Ward as "Robin" was not included in this appearance.
The live action television show was extraordinarily popular, called "the biggest TV phenomenon of the mid-1960s". At the height of its popularity, it was the only prime-time television show other than Peyton Place to be broadcast twice in one week as part of its regular schedule, airing at 7:30 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays. Episodes of the show were filmed as two-part cliffhangers, with each storyline beginning on Wednesday and ending on the Thursday episode. (In the second season, a pair of three-parters was also seen; at the very end of the Thursday night segment, a brief tag featuring the next week's villain would be shown, such as, "Next week: Batman jousts with The Joker again!" This started on the third week of the series' run and continued until the end of season two. The first episode of a storyline would typically end with Batman and Robin being in a deathtrap, while the narrator (Dozier) would tell viewers to watch the next night with the repeated phrase: "Tune in tomorrow—same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!" Even many years after the show ceased production, this catch-phrase still remains a long-running punchline in popular culture.
The "Captain Crocodile" episode of the TV series The Monkees featured a parody segment devoted to "Frogman" and "Reuben the Tadpole" (played, respectively, by Peter Tork and Davy Jones) combating the criminal forces of Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz.
Television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Batman as the 82nd greatest American television show of all time in their 2016 book titled TV (The Book), stating that "West's performance, the brilliance of which has required decades to be properly recognized, played as if series creator William Dozier and chief developer Lorenzo Semple, Jr., had taken the establishment's fantasy of itself and dolled it up in tights and a cape .... The anarchic gangs of supervillains and henchmen that kept trying to capture or destroy Gotham City stood in for the forces of chaos that kept threatening to engulf so-called civilized America throughout the sixties, only made colorfully grotesque and knowingly silly." In 1997, TV Guide ranked the episodes "The Purr-fect Crime" and "Better Luck Next Time" #86 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes. In 2009, "Better Luck Next Time" was ranked #72.
After the series run
Batman and Robin, along with other characters, started having animated television appearances on Filmation's series The Batman/Superman Hour six months after the live-action Batman series ended its production. Four years later, the Dynamic Duo appeared in two episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies which were "The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair" and "The Caped Crusader Caper".
- In 1974, Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig reunited as Robin and Batgirl for an 'Equal Pay' public service announcement. Dick Gautier played Batman because Adam West was, at the time, trying to distance himself from the role. It was narrated by William Dozier.
- In 1977, Adam West and Burt Ward returned as voice actors for the second Filmation-produced animated series, The New Adventures of Batman.
- In 1979, West, Ward, and Frank Gorshin reunited and reprised their respective roles on NBC for Hanna-Barbera's two Legends of the Superheroes television specials.
- In the 1980s, several cast members teamed up for a series of celebrity editions of Family Feud.
- In 1984 West would once again reprise his role as Batman in animated form when he succeeded Olan Soule in the final two seasons of Super Friends.
- In 2003, West and Ward reunited for a tongue-in-cheek television movie titled Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt which combined dramatized recreations of the filming of the original series (with younger actors standing in for the stars), with modern footage of West and Ward searching for a stolen Batmobile. The film included cameo appearances by Newmar, Gorshin, and Lee Meriwether, as well as Lyle Waggoner, who had been an early candidate for the role of Batman. Yvonne Craig did not appear in the movie — she reportedly disliked the script. The movie was released on DVD in May 2005.
The series' stars, Adam West and Burt Ward, were typecast for decades afterwards, with West especially finding himself unable to escape the reputation of a hammy, camp actor. However, years after the series' impact faded, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series paid tribute to West with an episode titled "Beware The Gray Ghost". In this episode, West himself provided the voice of an aging star of a superhero television series Bruce Wayne had watched as a child and from which he later found inspiration. This gave West new popularity with the next generation of fans. He also played Gotham City's Mayor Grange as a somewhat recurring role in The Batman. In addition, West played the voice of Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne's father in the episode "Chill of the Night" from the series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
References In Animation
The animated television series Batman: The Brave and the Bold is influenced by the 1960s television series. The opening credits feature Batman rope-climbing up a building, something that Adam West and Burt Ward often did in the show. Several villains from the 1960s show including King Tut, Egghead, Mad Hatter, Archer, Bookworm, False Face, Black Widow, Siren, Marsha Queen of Diamonds, Louie the Lilac, Ma Parker, and Shame make cameo appearances as prisoners at Iron Heights prison in the episode "Day of the Dark Knight!" They are all captured by Batman and Green Arrow during a mass escape attempt. The episode "Game Over for Owlman!" shows a room in the Batcave containing "souvenirs" of deathtraps that the Joker employed in the 1960s series, with accompanying flashbacks: the giant key from the "Human Key Duplicator" from "The Impractical Joker", the slot machine-controlled electric chair from "The Joker Goes to School", and the giant clam from "The Joker's Hard Times". The episode "The Color of Revenge!" begins with a flashback to the time of the 1960s television series, using attributes such as the red Batphone, the Shakespeare bust, the sliding bookcase, the Batpoles, Robin in his old television-series costume, and the shot of Batman and Robin fastening their seat belts in the Batmobile. Additionally, the Adam West Batman briefly appears in "Night of the Batmen!" as part of an army of Batmen gathered across the Multiverse.
The Young Justice episode "Schooled" briefly references the show, as well, by featuring a Shakespeare bust in Bruce's office at the Waynetech building in Metropolis. As a further homage to the series, Bruce is shown accessing an emergency Batsuit hidden in his desk by flipping a switch concealed within the bust.
A line spoken by Robin (Chris O'Donnell) in Batman Forever is a homage to the television Robin's catch-phrase exclamations that started "Holy" and sometimes ended "Batman!" - for instance "Holy bargain basements, Batman!" (from the television series' first season) and "Holy flypaper, Batman!" (from the television series' second season). During the movie, Robin says "Holy rusted metal, Batman!" after the duo climbs onto twisted metal girders beside some water. This catchphrase also appeared for a time in Batman comic books.
Birds of Prey
In the third episode of Birds of Prey "Prey for the Hunter", the famous William Shakespeare bust from the series has a cameo. However, instead of bending the neck back to expose the button, it is simply turned to the left, giving it the same function - exposing a hidden passageway.
Batman '66 comic
In 2013, DC began publication of Batman '66, a comic book series telling all-new stories set in the world of the 1966–68 TV series. Jeff Parker writes the series, which features cover art by Mike Allred and interior art by different artists each issue. In the course of this series, the Bookworm, the Minstrel, Sandman, Olga Queen of the Cossacks, Zelda The Great, Shame, and Marsha Queen of Diamonds all have their first appearance in Batman comics. Penguin, Joker, Riddler, Catwoman and Mr. Freeze also appear in the series. Issue #3 of Batman '66 introduced the Red Hood and Dr. Quinn into the series continuity. In issue #7, Batman used a new vehicle, the Bat-Jet, to follow False-Face to Mount Rushmore. The series was to have introduced Killer Croc into the continuity, as well as a new villainess named Cleopatra. In April 2014, the first five issues were compiled into the Batman '66 Vol. 1 trade paperback. Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman likewise worked on a Batman and Green Hornet crossover, titled Batman '66 meets The Green Hornet. The six-issue mini-series began publication in June 2014. Jeff Parker wrote a Batman and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. team-up titled Batman '66 meets The Man from U.N.C.L.E. released in 2016. Ian Edginton wrote a Batman team up with John Steed and Emma Peel of The Avengers titled Batman '66/Steed and Mrs. Peel. Batman will be teaming up with Wonder Woman in the crossover team up "Batman' 66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 writing by both Parker and Marc Andreyko. Whether Batman '66 is represented in one of the current New 52 DC Multiverse alternative Earths is uncertain. Thus far, this has not been the case, although several such alternative Earths inhabitants and representative metahumans remain undisclosed.
Bluewater Comics has released a series of comics that take their cue from the TV show. They are The Mis-Adventures of Adam West, The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar, and Burt Ward, Boy Wonder and are similar in tone to the TV series. The Mis-Adventures of Adam West had a four-issue miniseries, and a regular series that ran nine issues. The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar was a four-issue miniseries and Burt Ward, Boy Wonder was going to be a four-issue miniseries, but has not yet been published.
- In the Batman: Arkham Origins video game, exclusive DLC for the PlayStation 3 includes a Batman skin based on the Batman TV series.
- In Batman: Arkham Knight, the stone bust containing a hidden button used in the TV series as the secret entrance lever to the Batcave appears as one of the game's Easter eggs. The stone bust concealing a button can be seen and interacted with in the Clock Tower and Wayne Office areas of the game. The Batman skin is also featured as DLC in with the 1960s series Robin and Catwoman skins, as well as the Batmobile.
- In the fights, the final bullet times remplace the onomatopoeias.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
In Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, an extra level is based on the 1966 Batman TV series, along with characters including: 1966 Batman, 1966 Robin; 1966 Batgirl, 1966 Joker, 1966 Catwoman, 1966 Riddler, and 1966 Penguin. Also, Adam West is a playable character. The 1966 Batmobile is also included as a drivable vehicle. The end credits sequence remakes the Batclimb window cameos.
Adam West and Burt Ward lend their voices and likeness to the third DC Comics Special on Robot Chicken. In the plot, when Batman brings over a Superman from another dimension to make him jealous, Superman retaliates by bringing the Adam West Batman, who trumps the Robot Chicken Batman by addressing the glucose issue of muffins and dancing. He is later seen battling the Arkham versions of Batman's villains and is killed by Penguin's anthrax gas. Burt Ward kidnaps him as well as the Robot Chicken Robin and takes them to the Lazarus Pit, where he resurrects West's Batman and makes himself younger to relive the glory days. He only kidnapped Robot Chicken Robin so he could have his outfit.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
West and Ward announced at the Mad Monster Party that one or two Batman animated movies would be released in 2016 with the two doing voiced roles as their characters for the show's 50th anniversary along with Julie Newmar returning.
The trailer for Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders made its debut on August 17, 2016. The film will be released on Digital HD and Digital Media on October 11, 2016 and on DVD and Blu-ray November 1, 2016.
DVD, digital media and Blu-ray release
In January 2014, Conan O'Brien posted on his Twitter account, and Warner Bros. later confirmed, that Warner Bros. would release an official DVD and Blu-ray boxed set of the complete series sometime in 2014.
On April 10, 2014, the website tvshowsondvd.com quoted Burt Ward in saying that Warner Bros. would release the complete series on November 11, 2014, in time for the holiday season from 20th Century Fox Television, and that Adam West and he were doing special features for the release.
Prior to the announcement, multiple conflicting reports were given for the reason the series had not been released officially. These included:
- Negotiations between DC Comics (and parent company Warner Bros.), owners of the Batman character and 20th Century Fox, owners of the program itself.
- Greenway/ABC/Fox rights issues: The Batman series was conceived as an equal partnership between William Dozier's Greenway Productions and Fox in 1964, before Fox entered into a separate agreement with ABC to produce the series in 1965. With three companies involved almost from the outset, some speculation indicates 'these rights' are tangled even before the DC Comics character ownership rights are to be considered. Moreover:
- In 2006, Deborah Dozier Potter, "the successor-in-interest to Greenway Productions" sued Fox for allegedly withholding monies under the Fox/ABC agreement. Dozier Potter further claimed that this came to her attention when, in March 2005, "she considered releasing the series on DVD", implying that (from her perspective at least) Greenway/Dozier Potter has some say in the matter of potential DVD release of the series. The case was resolved/dismissed in November 2007. In February 2005, John Stacks had approached Deborah Dozier Potter to market the series on DVD. There were many offers and lots of interest in the release of the series, as can be read in Joel Eisner's The Official Batbook Revised Bat Edition 2008.
- Other complications/rights issues:
- Christopher D. Heer, writing at the "1966 Batman Message Board", clarified a quote by moderator Lee Kirkham, noting that there will likely be the need for complicated deals regarding cameos, since "...at least some of the cameos were done as uncredited, unpaid walk-ons – which means that Fox does NOT have home video clearances for them. Either those scenes would have to be cut or an agreement reached with the actors."
- Kirkham's initial quote also noted that, alongside music clearance issues, there could also be problems over some of the costumes, and the original Batmobile:
The series, under the Fox/ABC deal, is still in syndication, and regularly shown on a number of channels around the world, currently appearing in the United States on Me-TV and IFC as of July 4, 2014. Until 2014, only the 1966 feature film was available on DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for nonbroadcast viewing in North America. This affected the 2003 television movie reunion Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, also released to DVD, which was able to make use of footage only from the 1966 movie.
With Batman being unavailable for home-video release until 2014, an unusual situation occurred in which material that would be considered DVD featurettes was released separately. In 2004, Image Entertainment released Holy Batmania, a two-DVD set that included documentaries on the making of the series, as well as rare footage such as the original screen tests of the cast and Lyle Waggoner. In 2008, Adam West released a privately issued DVD with the tongue-in-cheek title Adam West Naked for which he recorded anecdotes regarding all 120 episodes of the series. In 2013 PBS aired an episode of Pioneers of Television called "Superheroes" that featured interviews with Adam West and Burt Ward, and talked about the 1960s TV series. It was released on DVD March 11, 2013.
Also in 2013, PBS produced and transmitted a documentary titled Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle. This documentary talked a little bit about the series and included an interview with Adam West.
On November 11, 2014, Warner Bros. released the full 120-episode Batman collection on Blu-ray and DVD with a variety of extras including a miniature Batmobile, a 32-page episode guide, and Adam West Scrapbook. A second box released on Warner Bros.' own batmanondvd website replaces the Batmobile and the trading cards with a script from the episode "The Joker is Wild" and a bonus box containing the movie and the "Adam West Naked" documentary. This series is also available at the iTunes Store.
Starting in 1966, an enormous amount of Batman merchandise was manufactured and marketed to cash-in on the TV show's vast popularity. This includes trading cards, bubblegum cards, scale model kits of the Batmobile and Batboat, coloring books, and board games. Items from this particular era have gained substantial collector appeal with their remarkable variety, scarcity, and style.
One of the most desired collectibles involves the episodes introducing Catwoman ("The Purr-fect Crime" / "Better Luck Next Time"), which were the subject of a View-Master reel & booklet set in 1966 (Sawyers Packet # B492). While the series was first-run on ABC, packet cover indicia reflected the "Bat Craze" cultural phenomenon by referring to the booklet as a Batbooklet, Dynamically illustrated. By the time the television series was cancelled in 1968 and GAF had taken over the View-Master product, Batbooklet was removed in favor of then-standard View-Master packaging for all future releases in the decades to follow, right up the period when the standard packet line was discontinued. The first season's superimposed fight onomatopoeias were not used for the View-Master's scenes of fights. Instead, black-lined "blast" balloons (transparent inside), and series-like onomatopoeias were illustrated and superimposed over fight images.
The popularity of the TV series has carried several decades after its debut; toy company Mattel has made the 1966 Batmobile in various scales for the Hot Wheels product line. The Batmobile with Batboat were also produced under the Matchbox and Corgi names in the UK, during this period.
Warner Bros. acquired merchandising rights to the series in 2012, and in 2013 Mattel released an action figure line based on the television series. To date only a single series of figures have been produced: Batman, the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman and exclusive to a boxset Robin. Two Batman variants were also produced a limited SDCC exclusive figure with an action feature that replicates the famous Batusi dance and a Surf's Up Batman figure complete with surfboard and trunks. Each figure has the likeness of their respective actor (with Catwoman resembling Newmar and the Riddler resembling Gorshin) and came packaged with a display base and collector card. A Batmobile was also sold to retail making this the first time the classic model has been produced for action figures in the 6-inch scale.
In 2013, Hong Kong–based entertainment collectible manufacturer Hot Toys produced 1⁄6 scale versions of West's Batman and Ward's Robin.
- Adam West, dictating Back to the Batcave to Jeff Rovin, admitted to having resented the development; in his words, "...We were now calculating and titillating. These kinds of things are always short-term solutions to problems...."
- From Lambert, David (December 5, 2005). "Batman – 1966 Batman Series Still Not Coming To DVD Yet". Archived from the original on April 16, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- Fox (which owns the footage) and DC Comics (owner of the characters, and sister company of Warner Bros.) are still deep in the process of sorting out the legalities and licensing situations for this release. Other license issues may be involved, as well, such as music.
- The relevant passage reads: "The lawsuit filed by Debra Dozier Potter was dismissed with prejudice on 11/26/07. Furthermore, a notice of unconditional settlement was filed by the Plaintff on 11/19/07. The case is DEBORAH DOZIER POTTER VS TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION Case No BC357067."
- ABC (January 12, 1966 – March 14, 1968)
International: UK broadcasting
- Channel 4 (1993–1996) Channel 4 started running the series in 1993 at the rate of one episode a week.
- ITV4 (2011–2014)
- The Family Channel/The Children's Channel/Trouble (1993–1998)
- Bravo (2001–2003)
- "Top 10 Comic to TV Adaptations". IGN. June 22, 2007. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
- "A History of Batman on TV". IGN. July 17, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
- Glen Weldon; Michael Kantor. Superheroes!:Capes cowls and the creation of comic book culture. pp. 162–163.
- Konow, David (20 February 2014). "A Tribute to the 1966 Batman TV Series". Tested. Whalerock Industries. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- Gabilliet, Jean-Paul (2010). Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books. Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen (translators). University Press of Mississippi. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-60473-267-2.
- Cassell, Dewey (February 2010). "Growing Up Gordon: The Early Years of Batgirl". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (38): 65–70.
- "Batgirl and the Batman Phenomenon". June 11, 2003. Retrieved March 24, 2007.
- Batman TV show turns 50 - The Nation
- WOIO schedule - Titan TV.com
- Eisner, Joel The Official Batman Batbook Contemporary Books, Inc. 1986 ISBN 0-8092-5035-7 p.70
- Eisner pp. 114-115
- "Science Fiction". Pioneers of Television. Season 2. January 18, 2011. PBS.
- "The Monkees parody Television (in 1967)". YouTube.
- Sepinwall, Alan; Seitz, Matt Zoller (6 September 2016). TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1455588190.
- "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997.
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- "Holy hot wheels! TV's original Batmobile to be sold a big Arizona car auction". Washington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- "Batmobile Sold: Original Batman Car Auctioned". Sky News. January 20, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
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- "DC Comics To Publish A Batman JEFF PARKER Writes BATMAN 1966, Digital-First Comic". Newsarama.com.
- Batman '66 2013
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- "Batman '66 Meets Steed And Mrs Peel In New Crossover". Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel: Ian Edginton and Matthew Dow Smith Unite Two TV Icons". Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Steinberg, Brian (October 7, 2016). "Wonder Woman From 1970s to Meet 1960s Batman in DC Cross-Over Project". Variety.
- The Multiversity Guidebook: January 2015
- Lussier, Germain (March 30, 2015). "Animated Batman 1966 Movie Coming in 2016". /Film.
- Greenfield, Dan (April 1, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: JULIE NEWMAR Will Be In BATMAN 66 Animated Movie, As of March 2016, no new updates". 13th Dimemsion.
- The Cast of Batman '66 Returns for a New Animated Movie
- Slead, Evan (August 17, 2016). "Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar return for animated Batman movie". Entertainment Weekly.
- Seifert, Mark (October 6, 2016). "BATMANNNN! William Shatner Will Play Two-Face In Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Sequel". Bleeding Cool.
- Lambert, David (January 15, 2014). "Batman - POW! BAM! SOCKO! Team Coco Has the 'West' Word We've All Waited For!". TV Shows on DVD. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
- Lacey, Gord (August 19, 2006). "Batman DVD news: New Lawsuit – Will We Ever See Batman on DVD?". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
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- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. October 7, 2007. Archived from the original on November 21, 2007. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
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- "Holy Smokes 'Batman,' The '60s Series Is Out On DVD". November 17, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Batman (TV series).|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Batman (TV series)|
- The 1966 Batman Message Board -- the longest standing '66 TV fan community on the web, run by Scott Sebring, Ben Bentley and Lee Kirkham
- Batman at the Internet Movie Database
- Batman at TV.com
- Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Bat-Mania - Batman Television Tribute Website
- Batman 66 Fan Page
- Batman-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television
- To the Batpoles! -- a blog about the 1960s Batman TV series