I selected Batman as a 1001 TV Show as I figured that my husband’s choice of Black Mirror would be dark enough that we would need something lighter to serve as an antidote… or at least could run in parallel as this list is long enough without each entry taking 2-3 months. Well, here I am having watched a buttload of Batman episodes having been emotionally thrown for a loop by the fourth episode of Black Mirror (‘Be Right Back’, which is just a powerhouse) – so I think I made the right call.
When I was an especially tiny kid, there would be repeats of Batman on the television which I used to enjoy watching. It would be the same slot that, on other days, would show I Dream of Jeannie and one of my favourite shows from the 1960s – Bewitched. Through this early exposure and the osmosis of this series being a cultural reference goldmine, watching these episodes of Batman was weirdly transportative.
Batman as the franchise is pretty ubiquitous as being this darker side of comics where the likes of Superman operate in the the light. The fact, therefore, that they made a groovy 1960s family-friendly version with a dollop of camp is actually incredibly weird. Like, I’m glad that someone was on some edible at the time when they green-lit production as this is such a classic piece of pop culture, but the tongue is so in cheek throughout much of the show that it’s drilled through and licking the show’s ear.
What makes it work, however, is the level of commitment by Adam West and Burt Ward. If they were half-arsing it Batman would have crumbled, but they are so into their roles (ridiculous as they can be at times) that you kinda go along with it. There’s a scene in one of the King Tut episodes, for example, where Batman starts dancing really stupidly… and because of all the other times we’ve seen him and because of the general tone of the villain it’s… oh who am I kidding, that scene is downright ridiculous.
At the end of the day, Batman succeeds in being what it wants to be – a light-hearted comic book caper that uses Dutch angles and visualisations of sound effects to make everything larger than life. It’s a pity that it kinda lost it’s way a bit after the first season (Batgirl not helping things there), but it’s hard to deny the level of influence.