FIRST REVIEW! The Greatest BATMAN ’66 Book of Them All

13 QUICK THOUGHTS on why Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series is a startling achievement in research and visual presentation.

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If you think you’ve seen or read or knew everything there was to know about the Batman ’66 television series, you’re wrong. Not until you’ve seen Bob Garcia and Joe Desris’ coffee-table book that’s due out 11/29 from Titan Books.

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This 256-page hardcover masterpiece is just about everything the Batfan could want — and nearly everything you’re hoping it is. There’s so much to it, in fact, that I’m breaking this review up into three segments: 13 QUICK THOUGHTS here, plus a follow-up with 13 of my favorite images from the book (which you can see by clicking here. Trust me. DO IT!). But that’s not all! Check out an EXCLUSIVE VIDEO REVIEW, here!

By the time you’ve checked out all three, I promise this volume will rocket to the top of your holiday list — assuming you can wait that long to get it.

OK, atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed… here are 13 QUICK THOUGHTS on Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series:

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1. The book is beautiful, from the removable utility-belt sash to the eye-popping production values. It’s bright and sizzling to the eye, partly because of the design, partly because it’s so colorful and partly because there are tons of images you’ve never seen before.

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2. I don’t think there’s anything that isn’t covered from the show itself. From major decisions like casting to just how they carved the walls of the Batcave, it’s all there.

Introduction by Adam West

Introduction by Adam West

3. Even obvious things you did know — like the Batclimb special effects — are illuminated by a series of rare (if ever seen) photographs. And that’s just one small example.

Jerry Lewis, sandwiched into the side of the building

Jerry Lewis, sandwiched into the side of the “building.”

4. Adam West was handsome.

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5. Burt Ward has always said that he was told not to act and to just be himself. That story is backed up here by pilot director Robert Butler.

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6. For the comic-book readers among us, we get further evidence of just which issues played a big part in the show’s creation.

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These covers are not in the book but these are the corresponding issues:

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The first Mr. Freeze episode was based on this story.

 

They were considering Clayface?

They were considering Clayface?

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The first Penguin episode was based on this story.

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Elements from this issue were used in the first episode.

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Hunh

7. If I have one tiny complaint is that the original Batcopter gets relatively short shrift compared to the other vehicles — especially considering it’s still in operation under the ownership of Eugene Nock. (Click here for more on that.) But that may be my personal bias.

8. On the other hand, we get the best pictures of the original Batgirl Cycle I’ve ever seen. This was the bike from the unaired network-presentation short film.

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9. Which brings this point to mind: Even if you’ve seen a lot of these images before, you’ve never seen them all together before. This book is the definitive record of the show. Prior books may have more minutiae, but no book comes close to this one as a record of the series. And yes, it has an episode guide, though it’s relatively brief, and a listing of every Robin “Holy —!” exclamation.

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10. Now the downside: There’s not much on the 1966 movie, other than a publicity still of the four villains, including Lee Meriwether’s Catwoman, a few miscellaneous pix, and images and info on the vehicles that debuted in the film. I’m guessing that’s a rights issue, since the movie isn’t covered by the licensing agreement from a few years ago. It certainly can’t be by design, because that wouldn’t make sense. So even with the avalanche of merchandise that’s come out over the last few years, there are still rights hiccups that complicate matters.

11. If anything else is missing, it’s that the book doesn’t really address Batmania’s merchandising bonanza, its impact on the comics themselves or the influence it had in pop culture, at least not visually. But that’s not necessarily essential when you consider the book really dedicates itself to the show and its actual production.

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I would have liked to see more images like this, conveying the show’s impact and appeal. But, hey, that’s quibbling.

12. Garcia and Desris not only know of what they write, but they get it. This isn’t a history book that’s written in a perfuctory style. There’s an excitement that permeates the entire project — even down to the chapter headings that rhyme a la the show’s two-part episodes.

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13. Titan Books was only whetting the appetite with Batman: Facts and Stats From the Classic TV Show (click here), which came out recently. That book, while a fun diversion, was for the casual fan (or the completist). This volume, on the other hand, is indispensible.

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Now, for The 13 GROOVIEST PIX From the Greatest Batman ’66 Book Ever, click here. Trust me, you want to. Because I’ve only scratched the surface here.

And for an EXCLUSIVE VIDEO REVIEW, click here.

Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series carries a list price of $50, but you know the drill: Shop around.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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