So, owing to a battle with insomnia and weird, disturbing COVID dreams, I’ve been spending a lot the late hours cleaning up my hard drive — going through old writings, web sites, half-written apps, etc. — and picking out some of the “not completely unredeemable” stuff to revisit during the extra free time that not sleeping is giving me. Here’s a little gem from June of 2010 that I thought still held up okay. Okay, well it made me chuckle a few times reading it again anyway.
Honestly, I’m not sure how this one slipped under my radar … or the DC/Warner Brothers legal department’s for that matter … but I saw yesterday where a much-lauded independent film company has committed utter blasphemy with not 1, not 2, but apparently, 30 unsanctioned episodes continuing the 1966 Adam West Batman TV series — thus destroying my childhood far worse than “George Lucas’ Special Greedo Shoots First Editions” ever could. Now, thus far, I’ve only been able to find what is presumably the final installment … unimaginatively entitled “Batman 30.”
So, if anybody knows where I can find “Batman I” through “Batman XXIX,” — you know, just for the sake of completeness — I’d be much obliged and will gladly offer up pristine copies of my bootleg boxed set of the complete Blake’s 7 series in exchange. I mean, sheesh, when I bought my “unofficial” DVD set of the 1966 Batman series at Inconjunction a few years back, I was assured that it was complete. Now I find this out there?! Pfft! That’s the last time I trust the hucksters, I assure you.
So, is it any good? Well, obviously, I’m no film critic, but I’m a rabid comic book geek, and the one thing we can do is pick stuff apart and bash genre adaptations relentlessly believing that we alone have the supreme grasp of the source material and are thus the only frustrated armchair scriptwriters capable of doing it justice. Therefore, by way of review, let me just say that I found the acting and dialogue to be “sub-par” at best. Well, maybe that’s not fair, I’m obviously comparing Dick DeBona’s performance to the definitive Joey de Leon version, but heck, even George Clooney runs circles around this guy when it comes to making a convincing Batman, and he didn’t even bother to disguise his voice. I will give the producers credit for set design and costumes, though — owed mostly to the fact that they apparently hired some of the original backstage personnel from Greenway Productions / Fox Television to re-create their brilliant work from 45 years ago.
As for the storyline, well, this also isn’t exactly O’Neil and Adams now, is it? Heck, it’s not even up to standards of the ’77 Filmation series — though like the ’77 version, I wouldn’t show this one to children either. What’s worse, I can’t figure out where this fits into DCU canon. Obviously, they’re using the stylized versions of the Silver Age costumes in keeping with the TV series …
… so we’ll assume it’s Earth 1/Pre-Crisis based on that. Fine, but I still have a few problems with that. For one, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl as originally portrayed in Detective Comics #359 is, quite clearly, a redhead. While the actress they’ve got playing her in this version (Lexi Belle — if that is truly her real name) is clearly a blonde!
Worst … costume … decision … ever. Yes, I know, Yvonne Craig played Babs as a brunette, though that has largely been written off as taking place between issues #361 and #362 during a brief phase where she was “experimenting” with different things, including hair color. However, even in the television continuity, she donned a red wig when in her heroine guise. But a blonde!? I mean, pay attention guys! What are you basing this on? Did you learn nothing from the Joel Schumacher version that killed Alicia Silverstone’s Career!?
Oh, and finally we’ve got commissioner Gordon (played by what I can only assume is Neil Hamilton’s ghost).
Yeah, okay, true to the TV version, but here was their golden opportunity to correct an oversight from 45 years ago. Commissioner Gordon needs to have the mustache. This is just doubly-disrespectful to established DC Canon! I demand a special edition be released where they either re-shoot these scenes or add a CGI ‘stache to his face in post? Did these people ever pick up an issue of the comic book?
As for the plot, I’d love to give you a rundown, however, I promised my buddy Vince no spoilers, since the poor guy only made it through the opening scene before passing out on the couch … for some reason. Suffice to say it’s a kidnapping plot, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Richard III, with a lot of … added nudity. Really … extraneous nudity … in fact. Now, based on what I’ve read about the making of the original ’66 series and the particular appetites of Adam and Burt, I’m sure, had it been allowed on TV at the time, Lorenzo Semple might have written in a bit of nudity — though maybe not in the quantities of bouncing asses they’ve put in this film. I mean, yeah attempting to boldly bridge the gap between Bill Dozier’s camp of the ’60s and Chris Nolan’s gritty/adult version of today is one thing, but I’d venture to say somebody is naked in about 85% of this movie — and most of the time for no good reason that even remotely advances the storyline. I mean, hey, can’t we have a few “Pow! Zap!” fight scenes or at least something resembling … oh, I dunno … suspense?!
Anyway, as is plainly obvious from the trailer (so no spoilers here) the story includes a Riddler (Evan Stone)/Joker (Randy Spears) team-up.
WTF? Yeah, like THAT would ever happen. Clearly, the Joker’s unstable nature prohibits him from forming bonds of trust with anyone, so why is a mass-murderer paling around with a non-lethal malignant narcissist whose only superpower is his uncontrollable ability to blab the gang’s secret plan to any superhero within earshot in the form of a transparent clue that any fifth-grader could guess. What, does this guy really enjoy the food (and occasional fondle from the security guards) at Arkham? Were Deadshot, or Mr. Freeze, and hell even Egghead unavailable for a caper that week? One can only assume there is a deleted scene or easter egg somewhere that I’ve overlooked wherein The Joker carves a question mark into the Riddler’s forehead with that knock-off Star Trek phaser prop he carries around and proceeds to make a yo-yo out of Nigma’s … well … tremendously disproportionate … manhood (again, no canon reference in any of the comics as to how big Riddler’s “cane” is, so we’ll let this slide). And that’s another thing, logic suggests that the Riddler’s hyper-intelligent, problem-solving skills were overcompensating for something. So, when did this guy find time to do all that studying? It looks like he spent all his time either at the gym or the HGH shop. I can suspend a lot of disbelief, but you expect me to accept that this walking Chippendale in an effeminate chartreuse and mauve ballerina outfit is the only Math Club president in the history of high schools everywhere to ever get laid … oh wait, I said no spoilers, didn’t I? Okay, fine, one spoiler. The Riddler gets laid in this movie.
Yeah … I’m just confirming the Riddler here. I’m not gonna spoil anyone else’s sexual fate.
I know what you’re thinking though. You’re going to direct me to the debate on comic-nerd.com’s message board about how the TV series doesn’t actually take place on Earth 1, but on a separate Earth in the DCU Multiverse, where maybe we’ve got a kinder, gentler Joker. Well, to refute this, I point out that this obviously isn’t the TV series continuity, because as a fully-credited Catwoman expert, I can tell you that this version of Catwoman (Tori Black) is about three cup sizes, and 12 years younger than the revered Ms. Newmar …
… who, by the way, wasn’t even on the show for the third season and never appeared in an episode with Batgirl. I know this because if they had been on the screen simultaneously, a four-year-old Darrin would have spontaneously combusted in front of his TV tray and PB&J sandwich, much to his mother’s dismay — but not to her surprise. This simple contradiction merely supports the assertions put forth in my well-publicized 1991 essay on rec.arts.comics.batman.canon that the ’66 TV series should be considered part of Silver Age/Pre-Crisis comic book continuity, and which I assert begins between Detective Comics issues #342 and #343 and Batman issues #175 and #176. This does, however, mean that Robin (James Deen) would be more prone to showering with Speedy (that kid would do anything for a ball of tar) at Titan Tower on the weekends, and not with Batgirl, as this movie would have us believe. Further, since Dick Grayson doesn’t hang up the mask to attend classes at Hudson University until 1969, we must assume the story takes place in late 1967/early 1968 when he was only … ummm … 16 years old. Okay, that does make the climactic scene, in which Batman and Robin attempt to … shall we say … “reform” Catwoman … through clever use of their … er … bat poles … well, just a bit … disturbing … to say the least.
Though at least it debunks all the stories put out by those slashfic writers who said Batman and Robin were actually gay lovers. As IF!
Oh, yeah, and if you really want to see the movie for yourself, (NSFW!!!! — DUH!!!) you can find it here…