An Ode to “Batman ’66″

The release earlier this year of ABC’s Batman TV show on DVD and the Batman ’66 comics based on the iconic show have spark a revival in Batmania.

I recently rewatched the show’s first two seasons (I’m not a fan of season three because Batgirl does nothing except show up to throw a kick or two, and losing the cliffhangers ruined the show). Here are my observations.

Law enforcement: A college communications professor told me that Batman portrayed the police as clowns. During the peace and civil rights protests of the 1960s, the cops beat, gassed and hosed down unarmed citizens. The police enforced segregation laws and threw blacks into jail for, well, being black. No wonder law enforcement was viewed with suspicion and contempt.

Batman played out this anti-fuzz attitude with a police force so incompetent it couldn’t arrest a jaywalker. Chief O’Hara did nothing except wait for the batphone to ring. Several times Commissioner Gordon asks O’Hara if he felt capable of stopping the latest crime wave. O’Hara hangs his head in shame and shakes his head. The police only show up at the end of each episode to arrest the crooks after they have been subdued by the dynamic duo.

The villains: If the police are dopes, the arch criminals are little more than pranksters. They only steal; they don’t kill, rape, maim or commit arson. A few kidnappings occur, although the victims are never physically harmed and a few are not even tied up during their captivity.

The crooks only take from banks and jewelry stores, which are insured, or from the wealthy who can afford to lose a million or two. Sometimes the baddies will spray dye on citizens but otherwise they cause no serious danger.

Why do Gordon and O’Hara panic when these overgrown bullies show up? Why can’t the police pull out their guns and order the crooks to surrender?

The villains are stupid in that they always leave blatant clues signaling their next move. If they were more secretive, they would never be caught. But given the brightly colored, outlandish outfits the crooks wear, obviously they want attention.

If Gotham City suffers so much crime, why do people choose to live there?

Whey is the batcave so well guarded yet stately Wayne manor directly above is a crime trap? Criminals constantly walk the grounds, enter through unlocked doors, and steal from hidden safes that they know about. Can’t millionaire Bruce Wayne afford an alarm system and security guards?

If stately Wayne manor is so huge, why do the occupants use the same room all the time (besides the fact that building more sets costs the studio money)? And why don’t we ever see the people eating in a dining room? Or using a kitchen, bedroom or bathroom?

How was the batcave built without anyone knowing about it? Did Bruce Wayne blindfold the builders and drive them to the construction site? How did he purchase and install a nuclear reactor without government regulators finding out?

How does Dick Grayson find the time to be an honor student, serve on school council, and still fight crime? Do the criminals only strike after school hours (in only one episode do we see Dick in school)? When he and Batman are caught in a death trap, how does he manage to escape in time to go to class the next day?

Why is concealing Batman’s identity so important? If people knew he was Bruce Wayne, so what? It would avoid the silliness and charades when Batman and Bruce Wayne are expected to show up together.

Why hasn’t Batman been arrested for child endangerment? What loving, responsible parent/guardian would allow a child to be beaten, tied up and harassed by criminals every week? Is Dick’s young, developing brain traumatized from this exposure to wickedness?

Why hasn’t anyone figured out their identities, especially since Batman and Robin make no attempt to disguise their voices?

I had the privilege of meeting Burt Ward a few years ago at a promotional event. In real life he talks the same he did as Robin, with that same “Golly gee whiz!” enthusiasm. Holy typecasting!

What are you thoughts on the “Batman” show?





An Ode to “Batman ’66″ — 2 Comments

  1. As a young boy growing up in the sixties, I loved the Batman show and couldn’t wait for it to come on. I thought it was pure genius to have it on on two consecutive nights (Tuesday and Wednesday I think) and to end the Tuesday night show on a cliffhanger. I just recently watched a documentary on Fred Gwynne and it was mentioned that Batman airing opposite The Munsters led to its cancellation.

  2. I didn’t know Dick was a student! I’m assuming a college student. Of course, people did look more mature back them. :)

    Thanks for the fun post and the reminder of simple, goofy shows I used to love.