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
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
C) A man moving Butane
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!
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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.
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.
I had never considered Batman's Egghead to be a swipe, since he was nothing like the Marvel character, and -- as Luke says -- "egghead" was a fairly common term back then, at least in my neck of the woods. Besides, what are the odds that any of the show's writers even read comics back in 1966? They were considered kid stuff back then.
But you never know. Now I want to read all those books on the show for any hint of a swipe!