By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

 

“Atomic batteries to power … turbines to speed!”

So said Robin (Burt Ward) to Batman (Adam West) every time the Dynamic Duo launched the Batmobile from the Batcave to battle dastardly do-badders on the original Batman TV show. That camp classic, which gave us 120 episodes and one movie from 1966 to 1968, is beloved not only by the Baby Boomers who watched it originally on ABC, but also by later generations who watched it in syndication.

But where it’s never been available before is on DVD or Blu-ray, because the home video rights to the series have been tied up in legal limbo for almost 50 years. Until now, old chum! The complete “Batman” TV show will be available from Warner Home Entertainment on Nov. 12 in various formats, with a variety of bells and whistles, in prices ranging from $199.70 to $269.97.

But while we can all sing the theme song (the lyrics are pretty easy), how well do you really remember the original Batman TV show and movie? Test your Bat-knowledge with our BAT-QUIZ!

 

1. A standard joke on Batman was a celebrity poking his or her head out a window as Batman and Robin climbed up the wall on their Bat-rope. Who of the following was NOT featured in a “wall gag”?

A) Jerry Lewis

B) Edward G. Robinson

C) Don Ho

D) Frank Sinatra

Answer: D. Other wall-gag veterans included Dick Clark, Green Hornet and Kato (Van Williams and Bruce Lee), Sammy Davis Jr., Jose Jimenez (Bill Dana), Sam Stone of “Felony Squad” (Howard Duff), Col. Klink of “Hogan’s Heroes” (Werner Klemperer), Lurch of “The Munsters” (Ted Cassidy), Santa Claus (Andy Devine), Art Linkletter and Suzy Knickerbocker.

 

2. Who of the following did NOT play Catwoman?

A) Julie Newmar

B) Jill St. John

C) Eartha Kitt

D) Lee Meriwether

Answer: B. Meriwether was the Feline Felon in the movie, Newmar essayed the role for the first two seasons and Kitt wore the whiskers in season three while Newmar was filming “Mackenna’s Gold.” While never playing the Feline Fatale, St. John did appear in two episodes of “Batman” as The Riddler’s moll, Molly.

 

 3. Batman occasionally swiped villains from other DC Comics superheroes. Who among the following was NOT originally a Bat-foe?

A) Clock King (Walter Slezak)

B) The Puzzler (Maurice Evans)

C) The Archer (Art Carney)

D) All of the abov

Answer: D. Clock King was a Green Arrow enemy, while Puzzler and Archer were Superman villains. Some of these characters became Batman foes in the comics as a result of the TV show.

 

4. What character was literally brought back from the dead to appear on Batman?

A) Commissioner Gordon

B) Aunt Harriet

C) Alfred

D) Chief O’Hara

Answer: C. Julius Schwartz, editor of Batman and Detective at DC Comics at the time, had killed off Bruce Wayne’s butler in 1964 and added Aunt Harriet to the cast to address charges of homosexual overtones in Bat-comics. When the TV producers insisted that Alfred be part of the show, Schwartz and his writers dreamed up a way for Alfred to have survived his apparent demise.

 

5. Who of the following did NOT play Mr. Freeze?

A) George Sanders

B) Milton Berle

C) Otto Preminger

D) Eli Wallach

Answer: B. Berle played the villain Louie the Lilac. As for Mr. Freeze, the Frigid Fiend debuted in Batman comics in 1959 as “Mr. Zero,” but his name was subsequently changed to Mr. Freeze to be consistent with the show.

 

6. In the movie, Batman says “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb” on a pier, because everywhere he tries to throw it, lives would be put in danger. Which of the following was NOT in his way?

A) Lovers in a dinghy

B) Nuns

C) A man moving Butane

D) Ducks

Answer: A. Other impediments included the Salvation Army, a woman with a baby stroller and a crowd of pedestrians.

 

7. Batgirl first appeared:

A) In Detective Comics

B) On the TV show

C) In the “Batman” comic strip

D) In the Batman comic book

Answer: A. “The Million-Dollar Debut of Batgirl” appeared in Detective Comics #359 (cover dated January 1967), whereas the Dominoed Daredoll, played by Yvonne Craig, didn’t appear on TV until the third season premiere episode, “Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin” (September 1967). It’s a trick question, however, in that Batman producer William Dozier asked Schwartz to create a sexy heroine in the comics that he could use on the show to goose the ratings.

 

8. Which actor refused to shave his mustache for his role as a Bat-villain?

A) Burgess Meredith (Penguin)

B) Cliff Robertson (Shame)

C) Cesar Romero (Joker)

D) Frank Gorshin (Riddler)

Answer: C. Romero’s mustache, like the rest of his face, was covered in white pancake makeup.

 

9. Which one of the following villains came from the comics?

A) The Siren (Joan Collins)

B) Mad Hatter (David Wayne)

C) Egghead (Vincent Price)

D) King Tut (Victor Buono)

Answer: B. The Mad Hatter first appeared in Batman comics in 1948. All of the others were created for the show, as were Black Widow (Tallulah Bankhead); Bookworm (Roddy McDowall); Chandell (Liberace); Nora Clavicle (Barbara Rush); Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (Rudy Vallee); Freddy the Fence (Jacques Bergerac); Col. Gumm (Roger C. Carmel); Lola Lasagne (Ethel Merman); Louis the Lilac (Berle); Ma Parker (Shelley Winters); Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones); Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor); The Minstral (Van Johnson); Olga, Queen of the Cossacks (Anne Baxter); Sandman (Michael Rennie); Shame (Robertson); Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft (Ida Lupino); and Zelda the Great (Anne Baxter).

 

10. Which of the following is NOT a real book related to the Batman show?

A) From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond

B) Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights

C) Adam West Naked! TV’s Classic Batman Reveals All

D) Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays on Why the 1960s Batman TV Series Matters

Answer: C. Adam West Naked is a DVD, where the Batman star reveals behind-the-scenes info about the program. The other three are real books, with the first two written by Yvonne Craig and Burt Ward, respectively.

 

SCORE: 9-10 correct answers: Superhero; 6-8: Sidekick; 3-5: Villain; 1-2: Henchman. If you scored zero, come back and try again – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Reach Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), the Internet (comicsroundtable.com), Facebook (Captain Comics Round Table) or Twitter (@CaptainComics).

 

Burt Ward starred as Robin, and Adam West starred as Batman -- two of the first actors' names Captain Comics ever learned. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Green Hornet and Kato (Van Johnson and Bruce Lee, respectively) not only appeared in this "wall gag," but also appeared in two episodes of Batman in Batman/Green Hornet crossover. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Beautiful Yvonne Craig starred as the purple-and-yellow-clad Batgirl, and also as Commissioner Gordon's daughter Barbara, to add a little va-va-voom to third-season ratings. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Adam West's deadpan performance was the epitome of camp. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Victor Buono played the Egyptian-themed criminal King Tut. The camera was always tilted when it was filming criminals, to suggest that they were "crooked." Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Comedian Milton Berle played Louie the Lilac, a flower-themed crook. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

George Sanders was one of three men to play Mr. Freeze on the TV show. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment.

Batman was orginally planned as an hour-long show, but there was no room on the ABC schedule for one. The solution for the first two seasons was to break the show into two parts, one airing Tuesday and the second airing Thursday at "the same Bat-time, the same Bat-channel." The Tuesday episode usually employed a deathtrap as a cliffhanger. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

The “Batman: The Complete Television Series” Limited Box Set (SRP $269.97) is a numbered, packaged set with all 120 episodes re-mastered footage on Blu-ray. The package comes complete with an exclusive Hot Wheels replica Batmobile, 44 vintage replica trading cards, the Adam West Photobook with never-before seen images from Adam West’s private archives, an extensive episode guide and Ultraviolet Digital Copy of all 120 episodes. Also included iare more than three hours of extended content plus, for a limited time, a “Batman: The TV Stories” hardcover graphic novel. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Individual seasons of the series will be available. “Batman: The Complete First Season” DVD Set offers all 34 first-season episodes (5 DVDs, SRP $39.98). Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

 

The “Batman: The Complete Series” DVD Set includes 18 DVDs, an extensive episode guide and more than three hours of enhanced content (SRP $199.70). Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

 

Burgess Meredith (as The Penguin) was just one of the A-list actors who enjoyed a camp turn on Batman. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Walter Slezak played The Clock King, originally a Green Arrow villain. His moll was named Millie Second. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Vincent Price, no stranger to villain roles, played Egghead. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Naturally, Catwoman (Julie Newmar) used a mousetrap to capture Batman. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

Frank Gorshin played The Riddler with such manic intensity that many thought he should have been cast as The Joker. Copyright Warner Home Entertainment Inc.

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While they share the same names as two Golden Age Superman foes, the Puzzler was created to revamp a Riddler script that could not be done because Frank Gorshin was unavailable. The Archer was a spin on Robin Hood with Art Carney trying to sound British.

With all the fame and success of the show they never brought in other DC heroes?

Its popularity wore off fast. The first season only had half the episodes of a regular show (it was a mid-season replacement) and it was already flailing in the ratings a year and a half later, when the third season began. In fact, the third season it was cut back to just a half-hour a week, even with Batgirl. The show barely managed enough episodes to qualify for syndication.

That's one reason you didn't see many copycat shows. Batman wasn't successful enough long enough to inspire any. "Batmania" was, in fact, a short-lived fad.

I wouldn't call any comics-to-TV property a real success until Incredible Hulk.

I'd count Adventures of Superman as successful. It lasted six seasons.

William Dozier followed Batman up with The Green Hornet. He also tried to do Wonder Woman and Dick Tracy.(1) 1967 saw the debut of two live-action superhero comedy shows, Mr Terrific and Captain Nice. Commander Benson wrote about them here. I'm not familiar with The Champions, which appeared for one season beginning in 1968, but I think it could also be counted as a superhero show.

I might also mention the Tarzan live action series, which ran for two seasons starting in 1966. There were also plethora of comics-based superhero cartoons and superhero cartoons with original characters in the later 60s.

The next-best-known DC superheroes after Superman and Batman were possibly Superboy and Wonder Woman. An unused The Adventures of Superboy pilot had been made in 1961. Wonder Woman was the next DC character to get a live action series after Batman. I doubt the special effects of the day could have coped with the Flash or Green Lantern.

(1) I hadn't heard of Dozier's Dick Tracy pilot before writing this post. There's more information on it here.

I'd count Adventures of Superman a success, too. Sorry, I meant to say "I wouldn't call any comics-to-TV property after Batman a real success until Incredible Hulk." I was thinking specifically of Wonder Woman, which I don't consider terribly successful either creatively or commercially. I also meant to mention "live action" or "prime time" or something to discount cartoons.

I guess I should never have strayed from my main point, which is that people went Batman crazy when it debuted in Jan 66, but by summer of 67 it was in ratings trouble.

Cap, you and I both remembered the movie wrong because #6 above isn't right. There are two lovers in a dinghy. A friend called me on it and shared the clip (courtesy of YouTube). Sure enough. One of the places the Caped Crusader fails dispose of his kabooming cargo is a section of water containing a brace of boating besotteds.

 I also meant to mention "live action" or "prime time" or something to discount cartoons.

I was really answering Mark's post, about why it wasn't followed up. My point was in some ways it was. I can't think of another show that was just like it in tone, and it's interesting that aspect of the show wasn't copied. Perhaps it just couldn't be, without guest stars and costumed crooks. Get Smart, which started first (in 1965), was a bit similar, in that it was both exciting and a comedy; Lost in Space, which also started before it, got very campy in its later seasons.

There were really quite a lot of superhero cartoons in the 60s/70s, and live-action superhero shows (counting children's shows) in the 70s. The Six Million Dollar Man is notable because it was very successful, and not comics based. In recent times most successful superheroes in movies or on TV have been comics ones. But my recollection is Heroes was briefly very successful, and Buffy was arguably a superhero show, so perhaps there will be other hit original superhero shows in the future. Such as Duke Qi, Kung Fu Zombie Fighter.

I think following Batman with other superhero shows at the time was a problem. I don't know what the ratings for the Green Hornet were. I really liked the show but it wasn't from comics. To try to do a superhero show in the 1960s was pretty tough. Most superheroes needed special effects that just didn't exist then, and what did exist would have been too expensive for a TV budget. You also had the mindset in the TV industry that comics were worthless and had to be changed drastically for TV. A decade later the well-intentioned Spider-Man live-action TV show really suffered from bad special effects.

Well, that kinda makes sense. I vaguely remembered the two people in a dinghy, but when I watched a YouTube clip whie writing the column, they weren't there. So I figured I was just conflating from something else, and used it as a false response.

I guess the clip I saw was edited, or damaged or something.



Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) said:

Cap, you and I both remembered the movie wrong because #6 above isn't right. There are two lovers in a dinghy. A friend called me on it and shared the clip (courtesy of YouTube). Sure enough. One of the places the Caped Crusader fails dispose of his kabooming cargo is a section of water containing a brace of boating besotteds.

I thought I saw two people in a dinghy.

Stan Lee said the Spider-Man show was the worst said he ever did.

People that hate the show because it featured a campy Batman should remember that without it there'd be no Barbara Gordon and Alfred would be a trivia question.

I think you're probably correct. .The use of the name "Mr.Freeze" (a Blackhawk villain in DC comics)  in adapting the Mr.Zero story is probably also a coincidence. The Clock King may have been an amalgam of Batman's comic book  "clock" foes (at least,two) and the Green Arrow adversary (although the death trap in the giant hour glass seems to be adapted from the comic. It has also been suggested that Batman # 176 (an 80 page giant) was the source for not only "Mr. Freeze" and the first Joker story, but other miscellaneous ideas and themes used in the show. I'd like to add a couple suggestions . (It's possible I may have missed a prior discussion of these.) There are a few parallels between the Batman story "Challenge of the Catman" (Detective 311) and the first Catwoman story on TV. (1) The theft of a cat statue in a museum (done differently in each story). (2) Catman/Catwoman being chased by Batman and Robin in a cave and each falling to their deaths. (Catman drowning and Catwoman simply plunging in a bottomless pit.) (3) The line in both stories about a cat having nine lives. My other thought concerns  Egghead. Many of you know there IS such a villain in '60's comics. Not a Batman foe, but the antagonist of Ant-Man! Marvel Tales # 3 (which reprinted the first Egghead story) was published in April of 1966. Is it possible that the Batman writers saw this comic and appropriated the character? Ant-Man's Egghead has an egg-shaped cranium,is a genius, and (I think) wears a similar white suit.
Philip Portelli said:

While they share the same names as two Golden Age Superman foes, the Puzzler was created to revamp a Riddler script that could not be done because Frank Gorshin was unavailable. The Archer was a spin on Robin Hood with Art Carney trying to sound British.

Not a Batman foe, but the antagonist of Ant-Man! Marvel Tales # 3 (which reprinted the first Egghead story) was published in April of 1966. Is it possible that the Batman writers saw this comic and appropriated the character?

It's possible, but "egghead" used to be a slang term for an intellectual, and they might both have been developed from that. Marvel Egghead's coat is a scientist's lab coat; TV Egghead's costume mimics the colours of an egg. The slang use of the term might in turn derive from the stereotype of the bald professor.

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