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WEIRD & WILD: Holy reruns, Batman!
December 27, 2010  | By Diane Werts
 
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Batman's back! Adam West and Burt Ward romp once more at 11:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. ET weekdays on The Hub, starting Monday night.

Not ideal times, or an ideal format, for that matter, when it comes to Adam West's legendary '60s live-action crimefighting comic lampoon.

Just give us the DVDs already!

But since those likely aren't forthcoming any time soon (read the whys-and-wherefores here), we'll have to settle for random cable repeats.

The Hub used to be called Discovery Kids, if that helps find it on your cable/satellite guide. Its website, Hubworld.com, is mostly devoted to the tot stuff that runs during the day on this channel now co-owned by toymaker Hasbro. (You might try consulting its Channel Locator.)

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The site's Batman page is sadly second-rate -- the photo tab brings up black-and-white pictures, for cripes' sakes, of this splashy let's-sell-color-TVs show from the mid-'60s era when monochrome was finally being phased out. Can you imagine this ZAP! BAM! POW! comic-book-come-to-life being broadcast in black-and-white? (You don't have to. Just eye the website!)

I wouldn't even have known about this Batman resurrection if I hadn't stumbled across the show title last week while researching Christmas listings. There they were, Batman repeats, tucked into the dead-of-night slots at 3 and 3:30 a.m. ET -- back-to-back, the way they should be, for instant gratification with the two-episode arcs that powered the show when it burst onto ABC twice a week back in 1966.

Kids of the era probably still remember racing to their grainy '60s TV sets Wednesday and Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. ET (prime time started a half-hour earlier then), flocking weekly to the much-promoted "same Bat time, same Bat channel!"

Holy pop culture phenomenon, Batman! The old DC comics characters became TV sensations, with all their pop art color and deadpan wit, perhaps TV's first true triumph of style over substance. Younger viewers came to know veteran actors Burgess Meredith and Cesar Romero as arch-villains The Penguin and The Joker rather than as studio-age Hollywood movie stars. The show even inspired a minor tempest when masked hero Batman and sidekick Robin failed to fasten their Batmobile seat belts (!), at a time those brand-new safety devices were being resisted by kids everywhere. Moms complained. And B&R started buckling up. Holy role models!

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Robin's trademark exclamation of "Holy [everything]!" became a familiar catchphrase. Also working their way into the zeitgeist (before we called it that) -- the BANG! POW! graphics flashed during fistfights, the slanted-angle camera shots, and more.

Batman still has its tongue-in-cheek charms, especially with those all-star over-the-top weekly villains. Shelley Winters was evildoing over the weekend, while baddies on the way this week include Victor Buono (King Tut), Walter Slezak (The Clock King), and the dynamic dastardly duo of Joker and Penguin when we get weekend double doses (Friday-Sunday nights at 3 and 3:30 a.m. ET on The Hub). Also Julie Newmar's immortal Catwoman!

"Quick! To the Batcave!"

 

1 Comment

 

Mac said:

Batman came out while I was in high school. Shortly before this, I had spent my youth gobbling up comics for free in my Dad's corner drug store. I looked at comics even before I could read them. He kidded us kids in front of customers that the "approved" seal on comics (mid-1950s on saw a taming of comics) wasn't put there till one of his four boys read the comic. But in high school comics were uncool then and serious reading from my English profs (Dickens, James Joyce, William Felding, etc) took up lots of my time anyway. But it was hard to stay away from the DC Universe, just as Marvel was just starting to change things. The TV Batman came along and sillified the comic book, complete with black & white checkerboard covers letting the reader know that crap lay waiting inside. DC was running out of steam by then and many stories had soap opera elements. One reason why Marvel found an audience quickly was not only that their stuff read better, the competition never answered the bell. TV Batman was not the answer for comic book readers and it ruined DC for years to come.

 
 
 
 
 
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