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YMMV / Batman (1966)

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  • Audience-Coloring Adaptation:
    • The 60s TV interpretation of Batman still lingers on as some people's view of the character, despite crap tons of adaptations and major character changes since. This has continued to the extent that Warner Bros. Consumer Products has approached Adam West and 20th Century Fox (producers of the TV show) in 2012 about producing merchandise based on the TV shows (also, greeting cards from Hallmark tend to follow the Adam West design, which most closely resembled the traditional comic book design), and an animated revival was eventually made, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, with Adam West reprising the role. It should be noted that the TV series was a distillation of the very silliest of The Comics Code/Silver Age era Batman comics, roughly late '50s to mid '60s. In fact some say that the later (1970s-80s) portrayals of Batman were a backlash against the show. In Amazing Heroes #119 in 1987 (two years before the Michael Keaton film), Max Allan Collins had an interview where said the following about the show:
      “I’m afraid what I’m running smack up into is the old Batman TV show controversy: the old business about, Gee that was a TV show that made fun of Batman and made fun of comic books, so we have to show people that Batman and comic books are serious and they’re adult and accordingly all the fun goes out of it. There was a reason why that TV show was played for laughs and that is when you put actual human beings in those costumes and act out those stories, it looks stupid. They betray their juvenile roots. It can’t be done straight. I defy them to do the movie straight.”
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    • In some ways, Batman colored people's perceptions of the entire genre of Western superheroes. Until 2000 or so, when superhero movies started being huge, any outside journalism on the genre would invariably feature "Biff! Pow!" in the headline, as if Adam West was the last word on the subject.
    • Notably, The Dark Age of Comic Books may have revitalized interest in the show as a backlash against all the grimdarkness. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was something of a love letter to both the show and Silver Age DC comics, and even included episodes written by Paul Dini, who had done plenty of serious work for the comparatively serious Batman: The Animated Series. Also, DC Comics debuted Batman '66, which treats the TV show as an alternate universe, in 2013 to modest success and critical praise.
    • In an entirely positive example, thanks to Frank Gorshin's wonderful portrayal, the show almost single-handedly restored the Riddler in the public eye as one of Batman's chief archenemies alongside Joker and Penguin; prior to that, he was a minor villain that appeared in exactly three stories and had only just returned to the comics after an absence of 17 years, in a story that would inspire his inclusion. The smart suit, bowler hat and cane worn by Gorshin as a way to get out of the leotard has also become a staple of the character, to the point that it's hard to find a modern version wearing tights.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: As our heroes scale buildings with the Bat Ropes, they invariably get stopped by someone whose window they pass.
  • Broken Base: "Who played Catwoman best?" is a loaded question.
  • Cant Unhear It: The show provided the characters' voices for a whole generation of Batman fans. Despite the lighter tone, Adam West could sound just as cool and badass as later Batmen like Kevin Conroy, Christian Bale, etc.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • It's commonly claimed that the creation of the series was inspired by re-screenings of the Batman film serials of the 1940s. Truth is, the series was already in development at least three months before the serials were first re-screened.
    • No, Aunt Harriet was not a Canon Foreigner. She actually first appeared in the comics.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: When dealing with who is the most popular villain outside of the big four (Riddler, Penguin, Joker, and Catwoman), King Tut is considered one of the best answers. Between Victor Buono's passion and hamminess with the role, having some amazing lines, and his characterization and backstory as someone genuinely insane rather than a normal criminal mastermind like most other villains, Tut is an incredibly entertaining villain. Buono having loved his role helps, as he loved it to the point where Tut was the only villain outside of the big four to appear in all three seasons.
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  • Ethnic Scrappy: Chief Screaming Chicken, the embarrassingly stereotypical Native American from "An Egg Grows in Gotham"/"The Yegg Foes in Gotham".
  • Evil Is Sexy: All of the Catwomans (yes there were 3: Julie Newmar, Lee Merriweather, and Eartha Kitt).
  • Fair for Its Day: This article argues that given the Values Dissonance between the executives in charge in The '60s and now, the mere fact of a show about Super Heroes being greenlit in the '60s as an Affectionate Parody of the comics written in The Silver Age of Comic Books was a fair enough interpretation.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Detractors of the show will often call out how goofy and camp it is, as well as excessive characters and odd pop culture references. Thing is, the show always had those. Season one is generally considered to have done a better job of balancing that out with drama and serious moments.
  • Genius Bonus: The Dynamic Duo tends to tell their foes that they're being sent up the river. While this had been an established term for going to prison for nearly a century by 1966, it fits quite well here since this Gotham is New York City in all but name. The origin of the phrase? Going up the Hudson River from NYC to the maximum security Sing Sing prison.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Thanks to a writers' strike in the mid 80s forcing TV programmers to air seemingly endless reruns of the show, it became hugely popular in England. It's rumored that this boost in popularity helped convince Warner Bros. to green light the 1989 movie.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Joker's Last Laugh" involves the Joker giving his robots an "amber alert", decades before it gained infamy as the term for a kidnapped child. Some TV closed-captioning services merely spell it "alert" instead.
    • The episode "The Zodiac Crimes" aired 18 months before the Zodiac killer's spree began.
  • He Really Can Act: Adam West playing off of himself.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the episode The Penguin Sets A Trend, The Penguin's mob attacks an Army base, under the disguise of being a film crew. Among the bemused, and later ineffectual, officers is a major played by Bob Hastings. Really? Jim Gordon couldn't catch the Penguin when he was right under his nose?
    • Joker's shenanigans in "Pop Goes The Joker"/"Flop Goes The Joker" are not his last incursion into art.
      • In "Pop Goes The Joker", Alfred calls Aunt Harriet to give Bruce a message about a painting called The Man Who Laughs. Guess what painting another Joker absolutely loves?
    • In the first episode featuring him, the Joker had a blonde henchgirl. Does that sound familiar?
    • One episode had Robin at the mercy of African death bees after hitting a tripwire. Almost as if it were a deadly bee weapon. Bees. My god.
    • Another episode had Catwoman holding the voices of two British singers hostage for 8 million pounds. 50 years later, the two same singers would appear in the PBS pledge drive special The British Beat and showed a few clips from the episode during a pledge break to illustrate the need to support public television.
    • At the end of "Dizzoner the Penguin" Batman gets calls from both major parties asking him to run for President. He responded to the second call with "Don't you already have a candidate?". At the time the episode was first broadcast, incumbent President Johnson was expected to run for re-election; however, he withdrew from the 1968 race when it was clear that The Vietnam War had fatally damaged his political standing.
    • In "The Devil's Fingers," Commissioner Gordon's horror at the thought of having to solve a case without Batman's help was already funny on its own, but became absolutely hysterical when we got an entire TV series about Gordon fighting super villains in a world where Batman doesn't exist yet.
  • Ho Yay: Obvious. Three bachelors in one house, and two of them wear tights.
    • Also, in the pilot, the Riddler is really excited by seeing his assistant dress up as Robin and pose in a somewhat seductive fashion.
  • Memetic Mutation: The aforementioned catch phrases of Robin and the announcer. (Notably, these became memetic long before the invention of the Internet.)
    • "Ualuealuealeuale!", a musical meme combining a loop of Batman bobbing his head like a drunkard while performing the Batusi dance with the incomprehensible hook of the El Chombo single "Chacarron Macarron." The Batusi itself is also a meme.
    • "Good thinking, Batman!" remains a popular response in the UK when someone suggests a Zany Scheme.
    • Batlabels, a Twitter account that posts screencaps and Vines of the various descriptive labels on Batman's gadgets and other objects. Has lead to a minor meme regarding the name of Bruce Wayne's race horse, 'Waynebeau', from the episode Horse Of A Different Color.
  • Moral Event Horizon: While nowhere near as monstrous as many of his later incarnations, The Joker still gets his moment when he traps Batman and Robin in an industrial smokestack and turns it into a makeshift Gas Chamber — the darkest (and perhaps one of the best) of all the Death Traps the Dynamic Duo has ever faced. This being the Adam West Batman, though, this gets Played for Laughs to a degree, with the Dynamic Duo expecting water in the Joker's challenge to them and the Joker having to explain to Robin that the material was something you can drown inwho said anything about water, anyway?
    • There were also a few non-Joker examples. These include Olga, Queen of Cossacks plotting to have the kidnapped Commissioner Gordon dismembered and cooked in a Russian stew (which carries the Unfortuante Implication that the Cossack people are cannibals); and the Riddler doing two really horrible things in one episode arc: first, stealing charity money from starving children; and second, using that money to purchase a prototype antimatter converter that causes things to permanently disappear and threatening to use it on Gotham Police Headquarters (and when he hears that Commissioner Gordon and his bomb squad have refused to evacuate the building, he simply sneers that they're getting what's coming to them).
    • Probably the worst of the villains - and, ironically enough, the most human as well - was Nora Clavicle, who plotted to use wind-up toy mice to blow up all of Gotham City as part of an insurance scam. Yes, a city with more than half a million people, as mentioned in another episode. That number rivals any large nation's casualties in most wars.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: A famous and fully intentional example, kids who loved comic books would think Batman was the coolest thing ever, while adults and people who understood irony and the Stealth Parody tone would think it was hilarious. Its mastery of Camp is part of what makes it so beloved by people of all ages even today, and arguably has aged much better than most other shows of its time by being deliberately ridiculous, rather than unintentionally hilarious.
  • Narm Charm: It's absolutely intentional. Batman and Robin throw around anvils like there's no tomorrow in the narmiest way possible. They include Robin not being allowed to go into a bar because he is underage (even though he needs to go in there to catch a villain) and Batman being very adamant that someone who regularly pays their taxes can't possibly commit a crime.
    • "Na-na-na-na-Na-na-na-na-Na...Batmaaaaaan!"
    • Batgirl's theme song...isn't very good. But it's still unfortunately catchy.
    • Some of the villains' leitmotifs can qualify, for certain ears.
    • This gem from "Deep Freeze" note , delivered by a newscaster in a deadpan voice:
      Reports have come in of hysterical children everywhere, awakening and screaming "Mama, mama, mama, don't let the ice cover me, please!"
  • Older Than They Think: In a character example, many people assume that Aunt Harriet was an original creation solely for the TV series. The character actually did originate in the comics, appearing when Alfred had been been temporarily killed off a few years before the TV show started. She was written out shortly after Alfred was brought back, and wasn't seen in the comic continuity again until 2014, hence why people are more familiar with the TV version of the character now than the comic one.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Anyone could be False Face, or his assistant Blaze.
  • Periphery Demographic: What kid watching this show didn't want to be Batman when you grew up, taking this incarnation of the Caped Crusader absolutely seriously? But at the same time, adult viewers tuned in for the camp absurdity, the jokes that only work because Adam West plays them absolutely straight opposite well-known actors having the time of their lives playing the villains. Grant Morrison, in his autobiography-cum-superhero-analysis Supergods, says this was the greatest strength of the show, that it deftly split the difference in creating something the whole family could enjoy on different levels.
  • Popularity Polynomial: The popularity, or lack thereof, of the show among "serious" comics fans definitely waxes and wanes.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • At the very least, John Astin's version of the Riddler and Otto Preminger's version of Mr. Freeze are considered major step-downs from the Frank Gorshin and George Sanders original versions of those characters. While Astin gave the role his all and was entertaining in his own right (to be expected from the man who played Gomez Addams), fans overall felt he just didn't have the same wit Gorshin had. Preminger, meanwhile, turned Mr. Freeze from the Affably Evil Man of Wealth and Taste of previous episodes to a cackling weirdo who speaks in excruciating New-Age Retro Hippie slang. Combine that with reports of Otto Preminger's unpleasant behavior on set, and it's not hard to see why fans preferred George Sanders' Freeze.
    • Eartha Kitt's version of Catwoman is more divisive, with some considering her even better than Julie Newmar, but others finding her nowhere near as good (though nearly everyone seems to agree that if nothing else, Kitt did do a better job than Lee Meriweather in Batman: The Movie).
    • Similarly, Eli Wallach's version of Mr. Freeze is generally seen to be So Okay He's Average; not as good as Sanders, but still way better than Preminger. That's not to say that Wallach's Freeze didn't have his fans, though; in fact, that role earned Wallach more fan mail than any of his other roles at the time.
  • Retroactive Recognition: "A Piece of the Action"/"Batman's Satisfaction" provides the page image, given that it featured the then-relatively unknown Bruce Lee, who would, of course, become not just more famous but one of the most important figures of the 20th century. (Note that those episodes also had blink-and-you'll-miss-them roles for Alex "Moe Green" Rocco and character actor Seymour Cassel, who would get an Oscar nomination less than two years later for Faces.)
  • Rooting for the Empire: One of the things the series was best known for was the large variety of colorful villains. In fact, some of them won Emmys.
  • Seasonal Rot: This series' first season had fairly good balance of drama and farce, but the subsequent seasons lost it; Season 2 became primarily ridiculous, and Season 3 was both embarrassingly cheap and ridiculous.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Bruce Wayne has a conversation with Batman, a scene that was frequently shown by fans of the show as proof that Adam West could, in fact, act.
    • In terms of the Narm factor, the Batusi, particularly its first use in the pilot, though its return in "The Pharaoh's in A Rut" is also well-known.
    • "Surf's Up, Joker's Under!" is widely seen as the most ridiculously hilarious episode in the show. Batman and the Joker having a surfing duel with swim trunks over their normal outfits is the highlight, though the insanity of the episode is far deeper than that.
  • So Bad, It's Good: It was the intended effect though.
  • Special Effect Failure: Often, especially when Batman uses the grappling hook and climbs buildings with Robin. The climbing was filmed horizontally and it shows.
    • Chief O'Hara in a squad car getting crushed by a tank.
    • Mr. Freeze's special temperature areas don't look as impressive today as they did in the sixties.
    • False Face's masks look like cheap plastic, and their mouths cannot even move. If his masks looked like that in-universe, he would have been arrested in the first 15 minutes.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously:
    • Prior to realizing the campy and satirical nature of the series, Adam West prepared for the role very diligently. He familiarized himself with the comics and read The Scarlet Pimpernel to gain an understanding of what drove his character. When he tried on the costume for the first time, the mask was too small, but he decided to use the discomfort to inform the anger and grief he felt Batman should have.
    • A truly fascinating example; while other guest villains such as Art Carney and Milton Berle have been criticized for coming on just because the show was "hip" and giving rather uninspired, insufficiently tongue-in-cheek performances, Tallulah Bankhead — a lady who definitely knew the meaning of camp — went the opposite direction and played everything deadly straight as the Black Widow. As a result, she's the most genuinely threatening villain in show's history.
  • Values Dissonance
    • This article argues that playing a fully-costumed prime time superhero straight was ludicrous to the Greatest Generation-types in charge circa mid-60s, no-nonsense adults with both The Great Depression and World War II behind them. So the Affectionate Parody was the only way a show like Batman could be greenlit. Now with aging baby boomers and Generation Xers calling the shots, comic book adaptions are handled with unflinching respect.
    • The often sexist way Batman would talk to Batgirl in the 3rd season, often telling her they can handle the caper themselves (sometimes after she rescued them), not thanking her sometimes when she did save them and instead commenting she should have gotten there quicker and the times Batman would say "she'd best leave crime fighting to the men. This kind of activity is not meant for women." Plus the episode: "Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club." That episode would not fly today.
    • Native American characters are also given the customary amount of respect (i.e. none) the few times they show up (Egghead's debut ep is perhaps the most notorious - The Hub actually banned it in reruns). That said, Eartha Kitt's Catwoman - the only major nonwhite villain - got fairly respectful treatment.
    • A behind-the-scenes example. Adam West and Burt Ward had to take certain pills to make sure their costumes didn't end up too revealing, due to the standards of 60s programming rules. Or as Joan Collins puts it "you couldn't see the outline of a gentleman's...gentleman."
  • Vindicated by History: The release of the remastered DVD / BluRay set led to the show picking up a new generation of fans within the comics community and a newfound mainstream appreciation for how ahead of its time it was, as opposed to the embarrassment it became stigmatized as.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: The show was an (intentional) over-the-top satire of the comic book, but now people seem to think of the show as the 1960s serious representation of Batman.
  • What an Idiot!: In "Flop Goes The Joker," Bruce Wayne talking to Robin about not wanting Joker's mooks or Joker to put two and two together by seeing Wayne and Robin together too much... within earshot of two mooks who were pinned to the wall with knives! Louder, Wayne! The Joker might have been eavesdropping!


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