Holy Throwback Thursday: ABC’s ‘Batman’

The fourth season of FOX’s Gotham may be about Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)’s rise from a boy billionaire to “A Dark Knight”.  2018 may be about the 10-year anniversary of Christian Bale becoming the hero the good people of Gotham both need and deserve as The Dark Knight.  But back in the mid-late 1960s, Batman rose onto ABC as the Bright Knight thanks to Adam West, who died last year at the age of 88.

Premiering on January 12, 1966, Batman may or may not have been the greatest and/or luckiest swordsman like Guy Williams’ Zorro, but this Caped Crusader continued the good fight for justice for all in all of 120 episodes over the course of three seasons.  Like Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger, West’s Batman was a masked deputy for the Gotham City Police Department: enforcing law and order alongside Burt Ward’s Robin, the Boy Wonder.

The Lone Ranger had Silver; Zorro had Tornado; Batman had the Batmobile.  Like Van Williams’ Green Hornet and Bruce Lee’s Kato (and their rolling arsenal known as the Black Beauty), the name of Batman is known legendary among the list of ABC’s masked and heroic crime-fighters.

In its first two seasons, Batman aired twice a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, where Batman and Robin fought tirelessly against the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman, Shame (Cliff Robertson), the Mad Hatter, the Black Widow, and an endless rogue of outlandish super-villains that plagued the citizens of Gotham.

However, Batman took a “ZAP” in the ratings.

In its third and final season, the show was airing only on Thursdays.  Producers hoped to make a “POW” with viewers with the introduction of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl.  With her joining the battle, Batman & Robin went from the Dynamic Duo to the Terrific Trio against the likes of the Siren (Joan Collins), Louie the Lilac (Milton Berle), Nora Clavicle (Barbara Rush) and the Ladies’ Crime Club, and so on.  Season three brought Eartha Kitt dressed to kill: purring and succeeding Julie Newmar as Catwoman.  Nevertheless, Batman was “THWACK” by a villain that even the Caped Crusader couldn’t defeat: cancellation in the spring of 1968.

Still, ABC’s Batman maintains a devoted fan following thanks to reruns in syndication that includes being part of Heroes & Icons’ “Comic Book Heroes” block with back-to-back episodes every Saturday morning as well as part of Me-TV’s “Sci-Fi Saturday Night” block.  All three seasons are available on DVD.  Before his death, West, Ward, and Newmar reprise their roles of Batman, Robin, and Catwoman with the straight-to-DVD animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, and the sequel Batman vs. Two Face opposite William Shatner as Two-Face.

Adam West is Batman Forever: The Bright Knight


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