As might be expected, the eponymous hero fights crime in Gotham City, assisted by Robin and Batgirl, encountering the classic rogues gallery (including The Joker, the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Catwoman) as well as some original villains. Complicating matters is The Scrappy and The Millstone, Bat-Mite (voiced by none other than Filmation producer Lou Scheimer), a well-meaning imp from another dimension called Ergo, who considers himself Batman's biggest fan. As a result, he wears a variant of Batman's costume and attempts to help him, only to often create more problems. Missing is Alfred, the faithful butler of Batman's alter-ego Bruce Wayne.
The series' inspiration is clearly the campy 1966-68 live-action series; Moral Guardians prevented the appearance of any significant fisticuffs, though, and Bat-Mite will probably make you want to strangle something note . In the plus column, the rotoscoping-based animation is a bit more fluid than direct competitor Super Friends (if clearly and often recycled), the presence of Adam West and Burt Ward adds an air of cool to the proceedings, and the music's groovy. It's also notable for being the first animated appearance of Clayface.
The bottom line is that it's a minor but fun little series, and a stepping-stone to what would come.
This series provides examples of:
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has a different opening and ending.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The Riddler appears in the opening sequence (strangely wearing a red suit), but never in the show proper. Ironically, he would be one of the only 2 Bat-villains to appear as a member of the Legion of Doom in Hanna-Barbera's Challenge of the Superfriends.
- Brainwashed: Happens to Batman and Robin twice (and another time, they were just pretending to be).
- Broken Aesop: Bat-Mite attempts to invoke this in "Reading, Writing and Wrongdoing": The episode's moral lesson is that you can't get something for nothing; Bat-Mite then complains that the Dynamic Duo get his services free of charge all the time. However, Batman and Robin defy the brokenness by saying "We pay dearly" for Bat-Mite's involvement.
- Canon Foreigner: Some villains (like Electro, Professor Bubbles, the Chameleon, Sweet Tooth, and Zarbor) were created just for the show.
- Character Development: Over the course of the series, Bat-Mite makes a visible transition from more trouble than he's worth to a mixed blessing, and finally a genuine asset (albeit still rather annoying) by the end.
- Easy Amnesia: After smacking his head trying to stop a runaway truck, Batman loses his memory; however, the trope is also inverted in that the Bat Computer quickly creates a "formula" which restores his memory in short order.
- "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Almost every episode.
- Glad I Thought of It: Mr. Freeze is prone to this.
- Great Gazoo: Bat-Mite.
- Harmless Freezing: When Batman and Robin get frozen by Mr. Freeze. For Robin, at least, they make a token nod to biology by carving a hole in the ice for him to breathe/talk through.
- An Ice Person: Mr. Freeze, of course.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: "Bite-Sized".
- Laughing Mad: The Joker punctuates every line with maniacal laughter. Likewise, the Penguin punctuates every line with a Burgess Meredith-esque quacking laugh.
- Lethal Chef: One recurring gag is Dick/Robin's lack of culinary prowess. He burns the popcorn and, while grilling, flips a hamburger into a nearby torchiere (although that last one was more Bat-Mite's fault). His "specialty", though, is peanut butter sardine soup; when he serves this up, even Bat-Mite decides it's time to go home.Batman: Believe me, anything that gets rid of Bat-Mite, I love! [Takes a bite, nearly gags]
- Lighter and Softer: As Batman in the comics was getting increasingly dark, this series reveled in the camp.
- Minimalist Cast: In terms of voice talent; only four such credits were shown: West, Ward, Melendy Britt, and Lennie Weinrib.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sweet Tooth sounds like Paul Lynde.
- Precocious Crush: Bat-Mite to Batgirl.
- Pun: Too many bad ones to list.
- Pungeon Master: Mr. Freeze uses tons of ice-themed puns... an inspiration for Joel Schumacher, perhaps?
- Reality Warper: Bat-Mite and Zarbor.
- Soft Glass: Somewhat averted, as Robin is sure to throw a metal trash-can lid through any window he attempts to get through.
- Stock Footage: A Filmation standard, taken to an extreme when Batman and Robin launch themselves from the Batmobile in order to spend a minute on Stock Footage before returning to the Batmobile.
- Sweet Tooth: One-shot villain Sweet Tooth, who liked sweets a lot. His villainous scheme involved a plan to turn Gotham's water supply into chocolate syrup.
- Theme Naming: Mr. Freeze's henchman is one Professor Frost.
- Unconventional Food Usage: In the episode "A Sweet Joke on Gotham City", Bat-Mite captures the villain "Sweet Tooth" in his candy-warehouse hideout... by tying him up with long strands of licorice.
- A Weighty Aesop: An early example occurs in "A Sweet Joke on Gotham", where Sweet Tooth's gang is comprised entirely of kids he's indoctrinated into eating nothing but candy every hour of the day. Predictably, they turn out to be rather useless when it comes to fighting three energetic crime-fighters with balanced diets, and their teeth are in terrible shape.