POW!!! BAM!!! BIFF!!! SOCK!!! CRRRASH!!! THUD!!!
There has never been any shortage of superhero-based shows on television, but none are quite as fondly remembered as Batman, which debuted in 1965 on ABC. Endearingly campy, and filled to the brim with colorful characters, handy gadgets and impressive vehicles, Batman provided all the cliff-hanging adventure that any comic book fan could ever hope for.
Just like the DC Comics version, Batman was the alter-ego of millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West,) who shared his opulent mansion with the young Dick Grayson (Burt Ward,) an orphan who he had taken under his wing and served as his mentor. Their faithful butler, Alfred, was one of the only men who knew their secret identity and assisted in the hidden batcave when necessary. Whenever Police Commissioner Gordon and/or Police Chief O’Hara would alert the pair to trouble via the Batphone, the two would slide down the Batpole into their underground crime lab and venture out in one of the many vehicles, most commonly the Batmobile, which would emerge from the well-disguised Batcave, ready to fight whatever evildoers were wreaking havoc in Gotham City. Each episode was split into two parts, with the first always ending with the duo in some dire situation that seemed insurmountable. Of course, they always managed to find the right device on their belt to save themselves from peril and eventually fight the villains and their henchmen into submission.
The vast collection of villains consisted of some very well known Hollywood celebrities, including Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, Cesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Victor Buono as King Tut, Vincent Price as Egghead and a trio of ladies including Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether all taking turns as the Catwoman. Here they are in all their infamous glory…
Batman was enormously popular both in its original run, which lasted for 3 seasons and produced 120 episodes, and in syndication. It might have run longer because NBC was willing to pick up the series. Unfortunately, ABC had destroyed all of the sets after they cancelled the show and it was deemed far too costly to rebuild them.
The character of Batman would of course go on to star in numerous animated series over the years, as well as a string of popular films, all of which presented a more serious side to the beloved superhero. This series, on the other hand, was unique in its pop art look and its completely campy approach that was often ludicrous and yet always entertaining. Unfortunately, despite its enduring popularity, release of the series on DVD has been repeatedly hindered by legal challenges and today, the prospects remain grim. Fans remain forever hopeful though.
If you made Batman part of your regular viewing schedule as a kid, we’d love to hear your memories in our comments section. Who was your favorite villain? Which Catwoman did you prefer? All are fair game as we fondly reflect upon this unforgettable 60s series that won the hearts of many a kid. Meanwhile…
“Tune in tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-channel!”