Batman 1966

Posted: November 10, 2014 in Television
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ok. I have alluded to, compared with and contrasted against this so many times by now, let me tell you about it.

First off, if you’ve never watched the show because you were too young, or missed the countless re-airings and repeats since then, at least watch the 1966 Batman movie this show is based on. If you never watched it because you thought it was too campy and had cheap special effects, all I can say is, think about it in a satirical sense. It’s not trying to be dark, or gritty. In fact, I’m positive the death of Bruce’s parents only gets mentioned in one of early episodes off-handed, then never again. And I don’t ever recall anything happening to the Grayson’s. The show is a light-hearted affair, nothing wrong with that.

It was produced in a time when the Comics Code Authority was in place. Think of the CCA much like how the MPAA regulates film, except with comics for a long time there was no system of ratings, just a pass or fail. With strict guidelines. Such as good guys were good guys, villains were bad and you couldn’t establish reasons why the bad guys were against the law. Authority figures like the police and military were always on the right side of the law. No matter what. The Code threw away a lot of potentially interesting conflicts in stories. Even having giant monsters from outer space smash a police squad car was forbidden, because the inanimate vehicle was seen as a point of authority and the big alien could be interpreted as disrespecting it.

That explains a whole lot. Why is Batman walking around in broad daylight having a surfing contest with The Joker. Because the hero could not be seen to be anything less than being the most upstanding citizen setting an example for the youths, and only creeps and thugs stalk around in the dark. Why could we never see any major villain’s motivations? Because you might be able to relate to their strife and agree with what they’re doing. Which then would lead down to a path of going against authority, putting bad ideas into children’s heads. I’m sure these are the reasons why Robin was treated to be younger than college going age, even though in the run of the show it was brought up countless times he was going to a University. Catwoman was allowed to skirt some lines when she was flirting with Batman, but Batman never chose to do anything outside of the law in the end.

All that aside, the show itself is a weird television program. Early on the show relied on The Riddler and Penguin an awful lot, but staples of Batman’s army of villains made appearances, the aforementioned Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and Joker being chief among them. It was almost like they were on rotation. Oh sure, there were others, King Tut, Egghead, and The Cavalier were some of the off beat creeps thrown in to mix things up, and then rarely seen from again. But if you took a list of all the episodes and threw a dart into it, Burgess Meredith would have a high chance of appearing in the episode.

Episodes of the first two seasons were broken up into two parts, leaving a cliffhanger at the end of the first part. They usually involved the Dynamic Duo in a peril, like being on the business end of a giant mouse trap, or some such other crazy situation, one time Robin got eaten by a giant clam. All of them dangerous situations, some of them hilariously dangerous. All of them solved within five minutes of the second part.

With the release of the entire series on Blu-Ray tomorrow, you should think about taking a look. Maybe not a hundred and seventy-five dollar look, but look into maybe the 1966 movie is streaming on one of the services you subscribe to? Start there, that’s only a ninety minute commitment on something you already have. Just don’t watch it and think you’re getting a dark tale from Gotham. Have some fun with Batman for once.

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