I’m no longer sorry I didn’t fork down almost three hundred smackers on the “Batman” series starring Adam West. While the series will always have a place in my heart for being one of the gateways in to my obsession with superheroes, the nostalgia for the show is fuzzy at best. Watching it as five year old, compared to watching it twenty seven years later is a vast difference. I can appreciate the show for its camp and surreal take on Batman, but I can’t argue for its quality. Especially considering that season three is when the writers and producers began scrambling to inject some new blood in to the series. As with most series involving superheroes, you either have to keep thinking of new ideas, or you will dip in ratings and risk repeating yourself.
The writers of season three took a wise turn in introducing Batgirl (who makes her appearance in episode one of this season), and she’s a highlight of the show’s latter years. I fondly remember as a kid watching the show, just hoping Batgirl would make an appearance in the credits, indicating her co-starring on the episode. Yvonne Craig is still a stone cold minx from the sixties, and looks insanely gorgeous in her Batgirl costume. As Batgirl, Craig is likable and charming, giving enough chemistry with West and Ward to keep the series chugging along on life support until the producers could milk the last drop from the show. I don’t begrudge them for adding Batgirl, since she is a great character in her own right, but her addition adds almost nothing as the show began repeating itself, and revealing its gradually dwindling budget.
Worst of all, Batman is kind of pushed in to the sidelines once Batgirl makes her presence felt. For folks still not aware, the show is centered on millionaire Bruce Wayne and his young sidekick Dick Grayson, both of whom use Wayne’s vast wealth to fight crime as the vigilantes Batman and Robin. Along the way they meet their fair share of villains, most of who are absurdly over the top and comical, and almost never menacing. The show did make good use of producing top notch guest stars, all of whom would pose as the villain of the week, and keep the dynamic duo on their toes for a little while. The show is kept at a brisk pace thanks to Adam West and Burt Ward’s wildly self-aware performances, along with the hilariously stilted and melodramatic narration by William Dozier.
“Batman” is still a raucously weird variation of the Dark Knight, taking him down avenues inspired by Andy Warhol, and sixties pop. The show didn’t take the source material seriously, and still manages to be a bang up good time. For goodness sake, Penguin’s henchmen wear black sweaters with white bold letters on them reading “Henchman.” The series falters in season three with repetitive episode plots, some fairly forgettable villains like Siren (Joan Collins), Louie The Lilac (Milton Berle) and Egghead (Vincent Price), not to mention, premises for classic villains that are much too idiotic to take with a tongue in cheek (Batman and the Riddler boxing?). It’s a good thing the series drew to a close, and ended on a pretty good note with the introduction of Batgirl. It’s a fine set to have for collectors of the series that can appreciate even the silliest flaws of the show’s final episodes. As with all the DVD releases of the seasons, there are no special features. That there’s for folks that forked over money for the complete series, y’hear?