Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his youthful ward Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) have a secret…they are really Batman and Robin. When Gotham City is threatened by the likes of the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and the seductive Catwoman (Julie Newmar), Batman and Robin are there to protect it with the help of Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred (Alan Napier), Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton), and Chief O’Hara (Stafford Repp).
Batman—Season 1 ran from January 12, 1966 to May 5, 1966. The series aired twice a week on ABC on back-to-back nights. The series became an instant success and a cultural phenomenon. Batman is frequently named one of classic TV’s best series. Due to legal constrictions, the complete series was not released on DVD until 2014.
Batman was a constant as a kid. Although I was born ten years after the series aired, Batman’s ’66 series fit seamlessly in with shows like Super Friends (which also featured voice acting by many of the players like Adam West and Burt Ward) and other shows like Wonder Woman, and The Incredible Hulk…it was a good time to be a superhero fan.
While Batman is fun to watch day-to-day, it can be a bit tedious to watch back-to-back-to-back. Batman (like most TV series of the time) were thinking of the long term viewing and often just put out new episodes with the thought that even in reruns, you didn’t sit and study the series. The plots of Batman were generally the same and the two-night format essentially sets Batman up for a one hour show with a break. The series involves Batman and Robin pursuing __________ criminal, Batman and/or Robin (and/or Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson) getting captured by __________ on the first night. The second night has them escaping __________ and foiling his plot. It is a bit repetitive, but the dialogue writing is rather clever by having Bruce and Dick be the purest of pure heroes (something that can no longer be said about Batman).
Adam West and Burt Ward are perfect and shiny for the roles. They are the boys next door (but it does get a bit creepy between them at times). Alan Napier is good as always right Alfred, and Madge Blake is the dimwitted Aunt Harriet who can’t figure anything out. Both Gordon and O’Hara (Neil Hamilton and Stafford Repp) are totally inept and in awe of Batman and his abilities.
Batman’s real strength comes from the great guest villains. A lot is made of Cesar Romero’s Joker but I think Burgess Meredith’s perfect Penguin steals most of his thunder (and even Frank Gorshin’s Riddler probably upstages Joker). This season has Julie Newmar playing Catwoman in a two episode arc but she was replaced in Season 3 by Eartha Kitt. Victor Buono plays the rather dull King Tutt and George Sanders plays Freeze this season (with Otto Preminger replacing him in Season 2). I do like Roddy McDowall as Bookworm but he’s played a bit too dark for this series.
The series does have some inconstancy issues with sometimes the villains taking deadly steps against Batman but other times they are playful. Visually however, Batman is totally iconic with its Dutch angle title camerawork, its bright colors, and the BOOMs, POWs, and BOPs that fly across the screen during fights.
It is nice to get back to Batman and see a happy Batman. Batman was always one of the series I had hoped to be on DVD when the format started popping up and it is fun to finally get to watch uncut, unedited versions. The prints are great and the visuals are still classic…I just wish the plots held up a bit better.
Batman—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:
1.1 Hi Diddle Riddle (Episode #1) Airdate: 01/12/66
Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) find the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) is back. When the Riddler tricks Batman and Robin into a lawsuit, Batman and Robin must find a way to stop the Riddler before their true identities are exposed.
1.2 Smack in the Middle (Episode #2) Airdate: 01/13/66
The Riddler has captured Robin, and Batman will stop at nothing to get him back. The Riddler is hatching a plot, and his agent Molly (Jill St. John) might be the key to tricking Batman once and for all!
1.3 Fine Feathered Finks (Episode #3) Airdate: 01/19/66
The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) is out of prison and up to a new scheme. When Batman and Robin set out to find the Penguin’s plans, Bruce Wayne might be caught in the Penguin’s trap.
1.4 The Penguin’s a Jinx (Episode #4) Airdate: 01/20/66
The Penguin plans to use Batman to commit his crimes. Using his bugged umbrella, the Penguin and his men might kidnap movie star Dawn Robbins (Leslie Parrish) using Batman and Robin as the means to do it.
1.5 The Joker Is Wild (Episode #5) Airdate: 01/26/66
The Joker (Cesar Romero) has escaped from prison and making plans. The Joker’s got plans to steal a ship and he’s got his own new utility belt to do it.
1.6 Batman Is Riled (Episode #6) Aigate: 01/27/66
Batman and Robin must catch the Joker who is using his new utility belt to make fools of them. When Joker targets the christening of a ship, the Dynamic Duo could be sunk!
1.7 Instant Freeze (Episode #7) Airdate: 02/02/66
Mr. Freeze (George Sanders) is on the loose and terrorizing Gotham. Freeze has his eyes set on Gotham City’s diamonds and only Batman and Robin can stop him!
1.8 Rats Like Cheese (Episode #8) Airdate: 02/03/66
Mr. Freeze continues to hold Gotham in his icy grip and Mr. Freeze’s only goal is the destruction of Batman…and it means the kidnapping of Gotham’s baseball star Paul Diamante (Robert Hogan).
1.9 Zelda the Great (Episode #9) Airdate: 02/09/66
A female thief is hitting Gotham and Batman and Robin question who the attacker is. Zelda the Great (Anne Baxter) and her partner Eivol Ekdal (Jack Kruschen) have a bigger score…and Aunt Harriet (Madge Blake) might get caught in the crossfire!
1.10 A Death Worse than Fate (Episode #10) Airdate: 02/10/66
Aunt Harriet is hostage of Zelda the Great and Eivol Edal, and Bruce Wayne has been called upon to pay the ransom.
1.11 A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away (Episode #11) Away Airdate: 02/16/66
The Riddler is back in town and targeting the fortune of visiting King Boris (Reginald Denny).
1.12 When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play (Episode #12) Play Airdate: 02/17/66
The Riddler believes he’s eliminated Batman and Robin, but Batman and Robin plan to surprise him with their survival. With the Riddler’s man impersonating Batman, the real Batman and Robin will need to jump into action to save a local monument.
1.13 The Thirteenth Hat (Episode #13) Airdate: 02/23/66
The Mad Hatter (David Wayne) is back and using his hat factor to try to capture Batman’s elusive cowl as he hunts hats within Gotham.
1.14 Batman Stands Pat (Episode #14) Airdate: 02/24/66
Batman has escaped the Mad Hatter’s attempt to capture his cowl, but the Mad Hatter is still after his quota of thirteen hats…and Batman must find the connection to the thefts.
1.15 The Joker Goes to School (Episode #15) Airdate: 03/02/66
The Joker begins distributing money to Woodrow Roosevelt High School and breaking the morals of the students…but Batman and Robin discover that the Joker might have allies even closer than they thought.
1.16 He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul (Episode #16) Airdate: 03/03/66
Batman and Robin escape Joker’s trap to discover Joker is working with Susie (Donna Loren) of Dick’s school…leading Dick Grayson to go undercover as Joker tries to throw the high school basketball game.
1.17 True or False-Face (Episode #17) Airdate: 03/09/66
False Face (Malachi Throne) is back in Gotham and using his disguises to commit crimes with his partner Blaze (Myrna Fahey). When Batman and Robin uncover that False Face has planned for a counterfeit scheme, False Face impersonates Chief O’Hara (Stafford Repp).
1.18 Holy Rat Race (Episode #18) Airdate: 03/10/66
Batman and Robin escape False Face’s trap with the help of a mysterious ally. As False Face plots the deaths of the Dynamic Duo, they might need all the help they can get.
1.19 The Purr-fect Crime (Episode #19) Airdate: 03/16/66
Catwoman (Julie Newmar) has returned and stole half of a set of cat statues. With Batman and Robin on her tail, Catwoman sets out to show she can defeat Batman and Robin.
1.20 Better Luck Next Time (Episode #20) Airdate: 03/17/66
Batman and Robin are free from Catwoman’s trap, and Catwoman is on the run…and Catwoman better hope she has nine lives.
1.21 The Penguin Goes Straight (Episode #21) Airdate: 03/23/66
The Penguin appears to have become a superhero…but Batman and Robin suspect that the Penguin is plotting something evil.
1.22 Not Yet, He Ain’t (Episode #22) Airdate: 03/24/66
Batman and Robin have been framed by the Penguin and are wanted by the police…and Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) might be pushed to use lethal force.
1.23 The Ring of Wax (Episode #23) Airdate: 03/30/66
The Riddler is back and using the wax museum as his cover…Batman and Robin could become a permanent exhibit when they walk into his plot.
1.24 Give ’Em the Axe (Episode #24) Airdate: 03/31/66
Batman and Robin are believed to be dead after the Riddler tries to turn them into candles, and the Riddler and his gang moves in on his real target.
1.25 The Joker Trumps an Ace (Episode #25) Airdate: 04/06/66
The Joker has targeted the visiting Maharajah (Dan Seymour) and his golden golf clubs. With the Maharajah his prisoner, Batman and Robin must catch the Joker.
1.26 Batman Sets the Pace (Episode #26) Airdate: 04/07/66
The Maharajah is held hostage by the Joker. When the Maharajah agrees to pay the ransom, Batman finds he must be part of the crime…but Batman suspects a fraud!
1.27 The Curse of Tut (Episode #27) Airdate: 04/13/66
King Tut (Victor Buono) is back from the dead and claiming Gotham City as his own…and Bruce Wayne might fall into his trap.
1.28 The Pharaoh’s in a Rut (Episode #28) Airdate: 04/14/66
Bruce Wayne escapes King Tut’s kidnapping attempt, but Batman has a plan to get Bruce kidnapped again.
1.29 The Bookworm Turns (Episode #29) Airdate: 04/20/66
The Bookworm (Roddy McDowall) has killed Commissioner Gordon…or so it appears. When it is revealed that the incident was faked, Batman must find what Bookworm’s true goal is.
1.30 While Gotham City Burns (Episode #30) Airdate: 04/21/66
Robin’s been kidnapped by Bookworm, but when his plans fall through, Bookworm creates a literary trap for Batman and Robin.
1.31 Death in Slow Motion (Episode #31) Airdate: 04/27/66
The Riddler is back and making fake silent films while committing crimes, and Batman and Robin might be his stars!
1.32 The Riddler’s False Notion (Episode #32) Airdate: 04/28/66
Robin is a prisoner of the Riddler and with the help of Commissioner Gordon, Batman must free him and stop the Riddler’s plans.
1.33 Fine Finny Fiends (Episode #33) Airdate: 05/04/66
Alfred (Alan Napier) has been kidnapped by the Penguin, and the Penguin has plans to use him for a major crime…but Batman and Robin might find Penguin first!
1.34 Batman Makes the Scenes (Episode #34) Airdate: 05/05/66
Penguin activates his brainwashing of Alfred to learn the location of the Millionaires’ Dinner, but Batman and Robin have a surprise for him!