Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From Primetime to Daytime: Batman (1966)

To think that it started as a mid-season replacement series in January, 1966, then became a pop culture phenomenon.

Indeed, Batman captured the public's attention when ABC introduced the series in the 2nd half of the 1965-6 season, and it became a to-do stop for a number of celebrities, whether it was to be a villain of the week, or just to stop by.

Oh, and here's the open everyone knows from seasons 1 & 2.

In season 3, with ratings slipping, ABC opted against a spin-off pilot and added Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) to the mix. Unfortunately, the series ended six months later.

Death was a rarity on this show, and the only known fatality came in the opening two-parter as Molly (Jill St. John) was killed off, leading Batman (Adam West, ex-The Detectives) to utter the famous line, "What a way to go-go.".

It is well known, of course, that in the course of the series' 26 month history, 3 actors played Mr. Freeze, including filmmaker Otto Preminger. Even the late Frank Gorshin, who won an Emmy as The Riddler, was subbed out for one storyline, with John Astin (ex-The Addams Family) filling in. When the feature film version of the series was shot during the season, Julie Newmar, at the time the definitive Catwoman, had a previous commitment, so former Miss America Lee Meriweather, later of Time Tunnel & Barnaby Jones, subbed. Broadway star Eartha Kitt took over in season 3, which might've given the producers of the 2004 "Catwoman" feature film an excuse to use another African-American, Halle Berry ("X-Men") in the title role.

Batman merits inclusion in our archives because after the series ended, some stations, including WRGB in Schenectady, aired the show on Saturdays after the network cartoons. WRGB aired the show 6 days a week at one point, before passing the show to another station in the market.

This weekend, Batman will be returning, as the series joins the Me-TV lineup (check local listings)

These days, Adam West is keeping busy voicing his animated likeness as the mayor of Quahog, home of Fox's Family Guy. Series creator Seth MacFarlane must be a fan......

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I still have a soft spot in my heart for this show!

I first watched it in syndication back in the 70s and I thought of it as a live action cartoon. It wasn't until I was older before I really understood the campiness the show was reveling in!

I know lots of Dark Knight fans think this show is an abomination but I definitely don't. Plenty of people look back fondly at this show and even to this day, it is referenced in other Batman incarnations.

I don't have access to ME-TV but the show also runs on the Hub channel nightly.

hobbyfan said...

That's the beauty of multiple cable channels sharing rights nowadays.

As you note, the series was referenced in later Bat-toons, most recently on Batman: Brave & The Bold. Adam West & Julie Newmar guest-starred on the show, oddly enough, as Thomas & Martha Wayne!