So as the Batworld knows from all over the Interwebs, Warner Brothers has announced the details of the BATMAN ’66 boxed set. I’m JUST NOW back from my Irish sojourn so I’ll riff on it soon. In the meantime, I give you the Official BATMAN’S HOT-LINE 13 Things I Love About Batman ’66!
This isn’t a list of favorite/best episodes, characters, gadgets, etc. It’s just a stream-of-consciousness musing about the greatest TV show ever:
Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under. This Season 3 episode has everything going for it. Joker wants to be the world’s best surfer so he can take over the world. Or something. Barbara Gordon in an awesome one-piece. Batman and Joker in their baggies — over their pants. Batman and Robin get turned into surfboards. Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara go undercover as aging surfer dudes. A never-to-be-heard-from-again surf pop group with green hair singing on the beach. Undine. The hot dog walkie-talkie.
Julie Newmar. I’ve praised Miss Julie Newmar many times over, but what’s one more time? Her ample sex appeal is taken for granted but it’s her comic timing that absolutely destroys. Every Catwoman since has tried to be Julie Newmar but she remains unmatched, the Queen of Gotham.
Mr. Freeze. George Sanders for his style. Otto Preminger for his look. Eli Wallach for his cheerful menace. Any one of them is still my favorite Mr. Freeze. I live in a 100-year-old house without central air. That means some rooms have window units. Others don’t. There isn’t a 95-degree summer day that goes by when I don’t think about that climate device that separates the warm red areas from the chilly blue ones. Genius!
The music. I’m not even referring to the epic opening credits. It’s the incidental Nelson Riddle music, from the Batusi theme to the villains’ themes to the seductive and mysterious sounds of Gotham City at night. The best? The death-trap music played when Catwoman has Robin dangling over a pit of hungry tigers (and re-used many times over).
Batgirl. Yvonne Craig almost single-handedly saved an otherwise mailing-it-in third season. In some episodes, the other cast members seem ready to hang up their capes but Batgirl’s pluck, sex appeal and delightful walk make every episode worth watching. And that secret room in her apartment, with its hideaway Batgirl Cycle berth and faux brick-wall exit!
The Penguin eavesdrops. In Fine Feathered Finks/The Penguin’s a Jinx, The Penguin listens in on Batman and Robin via remote radio. He thinks they’ll unwittingly plot his next crime for him. They do — but then realize it won’t work. Burgess Meredith gives this understated yet hilarious “Oh, well” shrug that makes you realize that while the show’s a trifle, the actors are pros.
King Tut. Hated him when I was a kid. LOVE him now. By the ancient pharoahs, Victor Buono cracks me up. He’s the best of the TV-original villains.
The Purr-fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time. The series’ high-water mark. This episode has everything. Action, drama, humor, heapings of sexual tension, a fantastic death-trap, cat-and-bat game sequence. The pointed walls closing in. The suction tube that pulls Robin out. “The lady or the tiger … ” The introductory museum robbery. The scene at night in the Egyptian exhibit. The climactic chase through the cave. Catwoman’s shriek as she falls to her “death,” Batman and Robin’s mournful look over the bottomless pit. I had the View-Master set and I watched it over and over and over and over again. Best episode.
My favorite death traps aside from those I’ve already mentioned: The Joker’s pop-art, bladed mobile sculpture. The meteor that will drop on the Dynamic Duo in the Joker-Penguin team-up three-parter. Clock King’s giant hourglass — which makes sense when you realize that Bill Finger had a hand in the episode and he loved gigantic props. Bruce Wayne in a net, about to be roasted alive. The slot-machine electric chairs. Freezy frosties. The gigantic coffee pot. I better stop or I’ll be up all night listing these.
Susie, the crooked head cheerleader. From The Joker Goes to School, etc. There have been sexier molls. There have been more clever nicknames. But Donna Loren — who’s mighty cute, mind you — absolutely blows the rest away. She’s incredibly funny and steals every scene she’s in. Burt Ward also gets to bring big funny when he pretends to be Dick Grayson: Juvenile Delinquent. Kip King is also great. Oh, and one full quart of imported Mexican perfume. Or Canadian, if you prefer.
David Wayne. He apparently hated to be known for the role but his Mad Hatter is the absolute best in any Bat-medium. The way he overenunciates “Byatmyan!” alone is enough to crack me up. Plus: Awesome fight scene atop the water tower — one of the show’s very best.
Two great fight scenes. One is obvious: The battle royale atop the sub in the movie. But one that just came to me is the underwater fight scene in the John Astin Riddler episode. You really do forget they’re just moving in slow motion, plus Bloop!
The Batshield. I wanted one of those in the worst way. What a fantastic invention. And tip of the cowl to Figures Toy Company for bringing us the 8-inch-scale version later this year.
There. Thirteen. Because that’s what we do here. Lists in increments of 13. But I could have added the pink cowl, the boxing fight, the Joker’s utility belt, Eartha Kitt, False-Face, Anne Baxter, William Dozier’s unctuous voice-overs. Wait, I didn’t even do all the sound effects!
C’mon, November! Be here already! We’ll be waiting for you on our very own Bat-time and our very own Bat-channel!