Though there have been countless renditions of our personal favorite – Batman – nothing quite holds a light against the 1966 television show. From Adam West secrets to the awesome cameos you might’ve missed, read on to learn some fun behind-the-scenes facts and funny easter eggs about one of the original live-action superhero tales.
First in Originality
Batman and Robin, the dynamic duo of crime-fighting, are known for their over-the-top superhero antics. The 1960s TV series, with its campy humor and colorful cast of villains and femme fatales, feels like a live-action cartoon that was lifted straight out of a comic book onto the small screen.
It was a groundbreaking show for its time and became a pop culture sensation, alongside the likes of James Bond and the Beatles. With its playful tone and zany action, it's often compared to a clean version of "Austin Powers" that predates the iconic spy spoof by decades. For a while, nothing else captured the public's imagination quite like "Batmania."
Comic to Screen
The pop-art visuals and lampoon-style satire of Batman evolved from the campy elements of the 1960s Batman comic books. Interestingly enough, executive producer William Dozier had never touched a comic book until he took on the Batman series. After reading a dozen of them from various vintages, he couldn’t imagine how he could bring the story to television.
Batman and Robin were these two straight-laced crime fighters who work legitimately, hand-in-hand, with the police commissioner of Gotham City. Then came the epiphany. Dozier made the dynamic duo so square that it would be an amusing crime series parody for adults and a superhero program for kids.
The Batmobile is an instantly recognizable vehicle, with its jet-black paint, flared wings, and cockpit-style seats. It's fully armored and ready for action, just like its crime-fighting owners, Batman and Robin. Interestingly, the Batmobile was actually built on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, which was originally a concept car.
The iconic vehicle is kept in the Batcave, which is the secret underground lair of the dynamic duo. It's the perfect place to store such a powerful and important piece of equipment, as they use it to chase down villains and save the day. The Batmobile is a true symbol of Batman's dedication to fighting crime and protecting Gotham City.
Holy Dynamic Duo! Screening the Heroes
Adam West and Burt Ward were perfectly cast as millionaire Bruce Wayne and his trusty sidekick Dick Grayson. When duty calls, they transform into Batman and Robin, don their superhero suits, and zoom off in the Batmobile to fight crime and save Gotham City.
However, many fans may not realize that Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell were also considered for the roles of the dynamic duo. In the end, West and Ward won out, and their chemistry on screen was undeniable. Interestingly, Waggoner went on to star as a superhero in his own right, playing Steve Trevor on the hit show "Wonder Woman" alongside Lynda Carter.
The Bat Pilot Screening Flopped
The test screening of the pilot episode scored in the forties. That’s low, embarrassingly low. Adam West said it was “the worst score in the history of pilot testing” in his memoir "Back to the Batcave." But director Dozier was confident. He couldn’t imagine the clever, avant-garde series flopping once it hit television.
And that was the thing. The program was so new and so different, bringing comic books to live acting and featuring fight scenes with cartoon exclamations; people just were not used to it. It was a totally fresh concept. Dozier was right. Batman soared in the ratings on day one.
The Bat Movie
"Batman" the movie was released at the end of the first season of the iconic TV series, and featured the same beloved cast of characters. Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their roles as Batman and Robin, while Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and Frank Gorshin returned as their respective villains, Joker, Penguin, and Riddler.
However, the film also introduced a new face to the mix, with Lee Meriwether taking over the role of Catwoman from Julie Newmar. Meriwether brought her own unique charm and wit to the character, and quickly became a fan favorite. "Batman" the movie was a hit with audiences.
Holy Pay Discrepancy, Batman!
When Burt Ward auditioned for Robin, he was perfect. Dozier said that his genuine naivete was not something any other actor could emulate. When he delivered, “Holy bat trap, Batman!” it was real. Ward was young. At 19, it was his very first acting gig, and he had zero experience.
ABC sealed a deal with him for $350 a week. It seemed like a lot at the time, but they worked nonstop taping the first season. He was shocked when he found out how much Adam West was raking in. This is just one of the many in a long line of payment discrepancies throughout TV history.
Alfred the Butler
Alfred the Butler was introduced in the 1943 comic book series as Batman’s mentor. His character had been killed off right before Batman hit TV. Because of the television show's success, the comic book series brought Alfred back. Actor Jack Napier was so iconic in the role that Jack Nicholson’s Joker was named after him.
Ironically, Napier had never heard of Batman comic books. He didn’t want the role because a story about a bat-like man seemed ridiculous to him at the time. Next, his agent told him he would earn over $100,000. “So,” quoted Napier, “I was happy to say that I was Batman’s butler.”
Villains, Villains, and More Villains
The Joker is not the only vivacious villain in Gotham City. The fictional town is host to a veritable slew of dastardly, yet, honestly, very entertaining antagonists. With names like Riddler and Penguin, you know these characters are not your average bad guys if we're going to be completely honest.
In taping the show, cameramen employed the innovative use of skewed angles, held askance whenever a supervillain entered the scene. These crooked POVs were meant to symbolize the entrance of crooked criminals. People in the industry raved about the method. They were almost always used at crime scenes or to depict the secret lairs of criminals.
Among the many colorful villains in the "Batman" TV series, the Joker and Penguin stand out as two of the most charismatic and memorable. Both characters were featured heavily throughout the show's 120-episode run, with each headlining roughly 20 episodes. The Joker, played by Cesar Romero, quickly became a fan favorite.
While the Penguin, portrayed by Burgess Meredith, also left a lasting impression on audiences. Despite not achieving the same level of popularity as the Joker, Meredith's performance as the Penguin has continued to influence the character in every subsequent Batman production. Similarly, Romero's iconic portrayal of the Joker has set the standard for the character in all future adaptations.
The Joker’s Wild
Cesar Romero's portrayal of the Joker in the "Batman" TV series is one of the most iconic in television history. Romero's Joker is known for his cleverness and wit, and his happy-go-lucky attitude often makes viewers forget that he is Batman's archenemy.
The Joker is always shown with his bright red painted smile, having a wonderful time causing chaos and mayhem in Gotham City, until Batman comes to stop him. Interestingly, Hollywood legend Frank Sinatra was reportedly interested in playing the role of the Joker, but unfortunately, he was too late to audition for the part, as Romero had already been cast.
Little Miss Purr-fidy
One of Batman's most formidable foes is Catwoman, a professional cat burglar whose daring heists create chaos in Gotham. What many fans may not know is that the character was portrayed by three different actresses in the "Batman" TV series and movie.
Julie Newmar originated the role of Catwoman in the first season, Eartha Kitt took over for the final two seasons, and Lee Meriwether donned the feline costume for the 1966 "Batman" movie. Each actress brought her unique, sassy take to the character, adding to the complex and mysterious persona of Catwoman that has captivated audiences until this very day.
Eartha’s Amazing Catwoman
When Julie Newmar left the series to star in a movie, Eartha Kitt pounced on the opportunity to play the cat role, and she delivered one of the best Catwoman portrayals ever. She made history too. Kitt was the second black woman to appear on network television.
Great strides; however, it is a sign of the times that the love interest between Batman and Catwoman ended with the new actress. It was not okay to show interracial relationships on TV at the time. Despite this, Kitt paved the way for more African-American actresses to land superhero roles, such as Halle Berry.
Both Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy were considered to play Penguin. Obviously, Burgess Meredith filled the penguin suit perfectly, but the character could have been a lot different. Director Dozier hoped Spencer Tracey would take the role, but he basically told him only if hell freezes over. “I’ll do a Batman when it’s called ‘Death Comes to Batman.'”
Mickey Rooney was also offered the part and turned it down. We wonder if they felt the same after Batmania set in? Of course, other iconic actors have played the Penguin over the years. Danny DeVito donned the suit in 1992's "Batman Returns," and Colin Farrell most recently played the character in 2022's "The Batman."
Waddle, Waddle, Cackle, Cackle
While two big-name actors may have turned down the role of Penguin, Burgess Meredith's portrayal of the character in the "Batman" TV series helped elevate him to stardom. One of Penguin's most recognizable traits is his cackle-laugh, which he uses to taunt and mock his enemies.
Interestingly, this laugh was inspired by Meredith's former stogie habit, which caused a deep, scratchy laugh. However, due to health issues, Meredith had to quit smoking, and the cigarette holder he used in the show became a prop that added to the character's unique style. Nevertheless, he will always be remembered for making the Penguin character his own.
The Caped Crusader’s Bat Gadgets
One fan-favorite trope of the Batman series is the bat gadgets. Like high tech super spies, the Dynamic Duo had access to tools like a brainwave bat analyzer and bat shark repellent. The bat shark repellent came in handy in the first episode, making it one of the most memorable.
The duo escapes the jaws of a great white. There was a gadget for any situation. Ahead of its time was the sci-fi bat computer. Lining the walls of the Batcave, super-powered bat tech could sort through a massive database of dastardly villains in seconds. In many ways, Batman was to superheroes what James Bond was to secret service agents.
Dynamic Duo Costumes a Little Too Dynamic
From the perspective of the 21st century, this will be hard to believe. ABC altered Batman and Robin’s tight-fitting hero wear because some Americans were offended. Specifically by the Caped Crusaders’ crotch area. The biggest complaint came from the Catholic-sponsored League of Decency.
They were not at all comfortable with seeing an anatomical bulge. ABC did their best. Adam West stuffed a towel inside his suit. Recently, Burt Ward divulged to Page Six that the network had a doctor put him on medication that would shrink the offending organ. He quit taking them after a few days, concerned with fertility side effects.
The Line Starts Here
The troupe of Gotham villains was the envy of many a celebrity, but the show could accommodate only so many dastardly characters. In order to get some primetime bat time for big-name celebs who were waiting in line, writers came up with an awesome idea.
They would have one celeb in each episode peek their head out of a window of a skyscraper as Batman and Robin scale the building. Some serious names of the day made that cameo appearance, for example, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis, and Dick Clark. In all, there were 250 cameos throughout the show's run!
The Riddler, identified by a question mark, is less deadly than other villains, but his crimes are extra ostentatious. He is best known for tormenting Batman with many ambiguous clues. The flamboyant puzzler was played by Frank Gorshin in the live-action TV show for which he earned a best supporting actor Primetime Emmy nomination.
Scores of actors have played Riddler since. One of the most noteworthy performances came from Jim Carrey who played Edward Nygma in the '90s flick "Batman Forever." Paul Dano also played the Riddler in 2022's "The Batman." But it was Gorshin who set the pace for the zany-type villain with comic chops.
The Other Riddler
John Astin, who is perhaps best known for his role as Gomez in "The Addams Family," briefly stepped into the role of Riddler in the 1967 "Batman" series when Frank Gorshin's schedule prevented him from appearing. Despite only appearing in two episodes, Astin's portrayal of the character was memorable.
However, it is interesting to note that Gorshin was reportedly upset about the casting change. Aside from his acting career, Astin was previously married to Patty Duke, and their son Sean Astin has also become a well-known actor in his own right. John Astin's talent and brief stint as Riddler have earned him a place in "Batman" history.
Three actors portrayed the villainous Mr. Freeze during the reign of the Batman television series. Also known as Dr. Schimmel, Mr. Freeze possesses the dreaded freeze gun that can freeze anything in its path in seconds - a pretty daunting threat for the Caped Crusader. The character was portrayed by George Sanders in the first season.
But in the second season, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach, pictured here, played Mr. Freeze. Though the diabolic Mr. Freeze only appeared in six episodes of the 120-episode TV show, this character yet reigns. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed him in the universally panned film "Batman and Robin," directed by Joel Schumacher.
Believe it or not, by the third season of Batman, Batmania was starting to fade. There had also been the big-screen Batman, and, frankly, bat burnout was rearing its ugly head. When it first aired, there was not enough commercial space for the lineup of sponsors. The show made room by cutting back credits and bumping the commercials up to four instead of three.
But, lo and behold, by the third season, they were looking for ways to make Batman big again. The answer? Batgirl. Batgirl is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. The youthful caped crusader was played by actress Yvonne Craig. Showrunners hoped she’d boost the ratings and bring girls and women to the audience; alas, Batman was flat-out canceled by the following season.
Robin, also known as Dick Grayson, quickly became a fan favorite and even received his solo comic book in 1947. He was the first superhero to have a sidekick and served as a relatable character for younger readers. Robin's character evolved over the years, and he eventually outgrew his sidekick role to become his own standalone superhero, Nightwing.
However, his iconic catchphrase "Holy smoke!" has continued to be associated with the character and even inspired various parodies and references in pop culture. Robin's influence on the superhero genre and his lasting legacy are a testament to his enduring popularity in the world of comic books.
Adam West Turned Down 007
Adam West got the role of Batman largely because of a 1965 Nestle Quick TV commercial. He played a spy in the ad, and the persona was just what Dozier was looking for. Later, West was approached by Bond producers to play the iconic spy in "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" (1969), but he turned it down.
Maybe he was tired of playing a super-awesome hero. The reason he gave it up is that he thought Bond should have an English accent. Later, he regretted the decision as roles began drying up. We wonder what an American Bond exactly would have looked (or sounded) like.
Creating the secret crime-crunching lair took a lot of ingenuity and expense. At $800,000, it was one of the budget’s costliest items. The high-tech den is plastered with pricey equipment. Constructing the epic scene in which the Batmobile flies out of the cave in hot pursuit required some innovative photography and even some sleight-of-hand techniques.
The filming site at Branson Cavern in the Hollywood Hills was the widest cave they could find, but it wasn’t quite wide enough for the Batmobile. To create the illusion, the action scene was taped at very slow speeds and then sped up during playback.
Holy Product Placement!
Advertisers had to be creative to get their products bat time. Commissioner Gordon recommended Lava soap to Chief Miles O’Hara, and Alfred Pennyworth (Alan Napier) cites Fact toothpaste. Public service announcements (PSA) were not uncommon. In them, a character would break the fourth wall to endorse things like public safety and US savings bonds.
In one rather extraordinary PSA, Batgirl shows up to rescue Batman and Robin from a ticking time bomb. As the bomb ticks away, she asks for equal pay. “I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin.” Robin: “Holy discontent!” She goes on, “Same job same employer means equal pay for men and women. It’s no joke; it’s the federal equal pay law.” Robin: “Holy act of congress!”
A Very Important PSA
The 1966 Batman TV show, starring Adam West as the caped crusader and Burt Ward as Robin, was a sensation around the world. However, the show faced some criticism after some tragic incidents in the UK where children were injured while trying to imitate Batman's stunts.
In response to the controversy, West and Ward recorded a public service announcement (PSA) that aired before each episode in the UK. The PSA warned children not to attempt dangerous stunts and included Robin's interjection of "Holy broken bones!" as a reminder of the risks of trying to be a superhero in real life.
Batman: Take Two?
They say that all good things must come to an end and "Batman" was no different. ABC eventually canceled the Bat series in 1968. Hoping to sell products to another network, they held off on dismantling the set. Finally, giving up hope, they bulldozed it down. The $800,000 Batcave, gone.
Wouldn’t you know it? Not much longer after that untimely incident, NBC made an offer to take the show off ABC's hands. According to Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), two weeks after ABC bulldozed the Batcave, “NBC said; ‘Listen, we’d like to take a shot at Batman if you still have the sets.'” Holy twist of fate!
A Reunion Bat Movie 50 Years Later
It might sound impossible, but did you know that Adam West and Burt Ward have actually played Batman and Robin in recent times? The 2016 release of "Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders," a feature-length animated film, marked the return of the original Batman and Robin. Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reprised their respective roles as Batman, Robin, and Catwoman.
The sequel, "Batman vs. Two-Face," followed in 2017, with Lee Meriwether voicing Lucille Diamond. Interestingly, Meriwether played the role of Catwoman in the original 1966 Batman movie. These animated films brought the beloved characters and actors back to the screen, providing a nostalgic experience for fans of the classic series.
The Caped Crusader Will Return No More
Nearly all of the original cast have passed away, except for one. Burt Ward is the last surviving cast member of the original 1966 "Batman" television series, where he played Batman's trusty sidekick, Robin. He is currently living in Los Angeles with his wife, Tracy Posner.
Having outlived all of his co-stars, including Adam West, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 88 from complications of leukemia, Ward has bid farewell to them all. Despite his loss, Ward continues to hold dear the memories and experiences he shared with his fellow cast members and the many fans who continue to cherish the series to this day.
Batmania peaked and plummeted, and in 1968 ABC pulled the series from its time slot. All was not lost, however. In the fall of 1969, bat fans could still tune into the Dynamic Duo on syndication. Reruns aired well into the early 1970s. But then, Batman was nowhere to be found.
VCRs had not yet been invented, and no TV stations aired them. The 1966 series came back to life on TV in 1989, syndicated again, finally, to promote a new Batman movie. Michael Keaton’s Batman would both animate Batman nostalgia and inject some excitement back into the Caped Crusader.
Gorshin Gets Rid of Skin-Tight Riddler Costume
It's perfectly natural for actors to take issue with their costumes from time to time, and the same applied to Frank Gorshin. Just like Batman and Robin, DC Comics depicts Riddler in a tight-fitting leotard. But Gorshin was not having it. He complained about the tight-fitting look enough that ABC tailored him a trademark green question mark-covered suit.
His new costume came with a bowler hat. They didn’t want to lose him. Gorshin’s portrayal became so popular with audiences that the comic book series began increasing Riddler’s appearances. In editions prior to the late ‘60s, DC Comics’ Riddler had been a minor character.
Mr. Zero was the original name of the villain who later became Mr. Freeze in the Batman comic series. Before a failed experiment altered his physiology, Mr. Zero was a scientist who specialized in cryogenics. After the accident, Mr. Zero blamed Batman for his transformation and dedicated himself to seeking revenge against the Caped Crusader.
Although Batman was attempting to save Mr. Zero during the experiment, he ultimately failed, and Mr. Zero's hatred for Batman grew. Mr. Freeze's character is one of the most complex villains in the Batman universe, driven by his love for his wife and his desire to cure her illness, which he blames on Batman.
Gotham Looks a Lot Like. . .
There are plenty of similarities that one can draw between Batman's fictional world and the real world that we live in. After all, Gotham City does look a lot like New York City. But if you look closely at the Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City found in Batman’s Batcave, you will notice that Gotham bears a strong resemblance to St. Louis.
This is because the map of the Dynamic Duo’s city is a map of St. Louis flipped in reverse. Looking at it, you’ll see St. Louis clearly marked, as well as sites like Lafayette Park and Tower Grove Park; you just have to be dyslexic to read it.
Nothing is ever exactly what it seems on a movie set. These days, so many scenes are shot on green screen. But back in the day, the makers of the Batman show had to come up with other creative ways to bring their vision to life. When Batman pulls back the head of a Shakespeare bust, presses a button, and the bookshelves in his private study slide open, you know it is superhero time.
The opening reveals two poles, and with the exclamation, “To the Batpoles!” they slide down to the Batmobile. To shatter the illusion, what really happens when Bruce Wayne flips the switch is this: a light flicks backstage, and the set crew slide open the bookshelf doors.
He Did His Own Stunts
Believe it or not, but Burt Ward actually performed his own stunts. But this was only because he had to. Not only was Burt Ward paid just $350 per week, but the studio also forced him to do dangerous stunts rather than hire a stunt double.
When a stunt double got in the Batmobile as Batman, that’s when Ward felt expendable. Ward said that racing around with Batman in the Batmobile caused injuries like being flung from the vehicle and being pelted with shrapnel. He said he was also burned and ended up in the emergency room a few times.
‘Beware the Gray Ghost’
There is no denying that the episode about The Gray Ghost is a fan favorite, and West’s portrayal was a nod to his pre-Batman TV career. In the show, West voices Simon Trent, an actor who played the Gray Ghost on TV, and who helps Batman to solve a case by providing insights from his show.
The episode is notable for its use of nostalgia, and it was praised for its storytelling and the chemistry between West and Kevin Conroy, who voiced Batman. The episode also features a cameo by Bruce Timm, the show's co-creator, who voiced a fanboy named Sid.
The Batcave Soundstage
The Batcave may be famous in both film and TV, but its soundstage is also renowned for its rich history in the production of many other famous films. ABC Studios' soundstage, where the iconic Batcave was built, was also used for other legendary movies such as "King Kong" and "Gone With the Wind."
With such an illustrious history, it's no wonder that the soundstage is regarded as one of the most famous in the industry. The soundstage's legacy in Hollywood cinema makes it the perfect location for Batman's hideout, adding to the mystique and allure of the Caped Crusader's lair.
The Batman show’s influence was so great that even prominent political figures were rumored to be interested in appearing on the show. According to one Hollywood rumor, the producers of Batman hoped to get Robert F. Kennedy, who served as US Attorney General from 1961 to 1964, to play a character named Attorney General.
This would have been a subtle nod to Kennedy's past position, but it's unclear whether he was ever seriously considered for the role. Regardless, it is clear that the show had a massive impact on pop culture, inspiring even those in the highest echelons of power.
Nowadays, we expect crossovers between Marvel and DC. The very first crossover story featured Superman vs. Spiderman, published in 1970. Perhaps Dozier’s Batman pioneered the crossover concept when, in 1967, Bruce Lee from "The Green Hornet" showed up in Gotham City in a fight scene. It was pretty legendary stuff.
The scene where Robin fights Bruce Lee’s Kato, sidekick to the Green Hornet hero, shows off Lee’s karate moves. The face-off with Boy Wonder helped popularize martial arts on television and in movies. The short-lived "The Green Hornet" television series was directed by Dozier as well. But "Batman" was on another level.
‘It’s My Party’ Singer Crashes Catwoman’s Den
In addition to her appearance as Robin's love interest, singer Leslie Gore also had a chance to perform her song "California Nights" on Batman in 1967. This was despite Catwoman's disapproval. However, it is worth noting that Gore's uncle was a producer for the series, which may have helped her land the role.
Gore was best known for hits such as "It's My Party" and "You Don't Own Me." She was a rising star at the time and the appearance on Batman likely gave her career a boost. Despite the controversial circumstances of her appearance, Gore's performance remains a memorable moment in the show's history.
The Batman Theme Song
Music can make or break a TV show. So many people will remember a TV show or film based on how memorable the theme song is. The Batman opening credits sequence, composed by Neal Hefti, was an instant classic and an integral factor of the cultural phenomena of Batmania. It's tune is instantly recognizable, and for a good reason.
To give an idea of how hot this show actually was, the theme song, unoriginally titled “Batman Theme,” was the most covered song in the world in 1966. Not only that but also, every kid in the country would be running around singing, “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Batman!”
8 Bands Covered ‘Batman Theme’
The impact that the Batman theme song has had on pop culture is unquestionable, to say the very least. So much so that even musicians have covered it. In all, the opening song was recorded by eight bands. With tannins of secret spy movie riffs and horns blasting to cartoon bubbles of “Pow” and “Zonk,” this song is punctuated by just one word, “Batman!”
Nevertheless, it was recorded by significant acts like The Who and The Kinks, who included the jazzy, surf rock-inspired tune on their albums. David McCallum, Al Hirt, The Standells, The Ventures, and surf rock band Jan and Dean also covered it, to name a few more.
A Delayed Video Release
Batman went off the air in 1968. Forty-six years later, it finally came out on video. Can you imagine waiting 46 years to stream your favorite TV show? Well, Bat-fans had to wait. News of the video release surfaced at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con event.
With Bat merch circulating the convention, comic fans got a taste of Batmania. Finally, at long last, the Batman DVD was released in 2014. Ironically, the only reason a copy of the 120 episodes existed was Mark Hamill. Using his star power, he convinced FOX to videotape a box set for his personal library.
FOX and Warner Hold ‘Batman’ DVD Hostage in a Perfidious Standoff
Holy quagmire! It seems audiences were lucky Batman was even released. Here’s the problem. The 1966 TV show was trapped in a legal snare, a dastardly tug-of-war like no other. ABC owned the television rights, DC Comics owned the characters, FOX owned distribution rights, and Greenway Productions (William Dozier’s company) shared ownership with FOX. Later, Warner-owned DC.
This lead to a fight to the death between FOX and Warner over distribution rights. At one point in the standoff, a Warner Bros. exec said he would never allow FOX to release a Batman home video. His exact words? “Over my dead body.”
Batman’s Origin Story
The Bat story goes back to his childhood when young Bruce witnessed muggers murdering his parents. The boy vowed vengeance on all criminals forever. These early editions depict Batman as a ruthless vigilante, much darker than his ‘60s renditions. During that time, the TV show and the comics mirrored one another.
But back in 1939, in DC Comics #33, Batman was just revealing his mission: “Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible…a…a…A bat! It’s an omen! I shall become a bat!”
William Dozier Voiced the Narrator
William Dozier played a major role in creating and producing Batman, but what many people do not know is that he was also the narrator of the show. The role is uncredited, but the voice is unforgettable. “Tune in tomorrow: Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!”
Dozier stepped out of the box creating the show; he knew it was something special, something avant-garde, something original. One modification from the average sitcom is that it does not have a laugh track. Instead, like cartoons, it has music. At first, when it flopped during screening, he tried adding a laugh track but took it off.
Just Don’t Call It Campy
In general, the first word people use to describe the TV series is “campy.” And there are a few reasons why. The 1960s comic book Batman is also called campy. Yet when Adam West wrote his 1994 memoir "Back to the Batcave," he said he did not think the show should be called campy.
In his behind-the-scenes tell-all, he said the show is more like a farce or a lampoon. And it’s true; there is a bat cave full of lampoons! But since then, other renditions of Batman in TV and film have taken themselves much more seriously - most notably, Christopher Nolan's trilogy, which is a very dark version of the story.
A Batcave Full of Lampoons
With the extraordinary pop culture frenzy called Batmania, celebrities themselves were vying to get in on the action. The show had more cameos than episodes. But Batman commented on Hollywood and celebrity in its own way. It parodied old 1940s show cliffhangers with extra drama, finishing off with “Tune in tomorrow!”
Batman lampooned shows like "Gidget" and "Dragnet." Political satire is also injected into some episodes. For example, the UN Security Council is useless for defense but efficient for villains. As for the Navy, the Penguin easily secures a pre-atomic sub from the Navy commander. There are plenty of examples of this laden throughout the show.