Friday, 4 June 2010

The 1960's

So, we've reached the 1960's - "The Sixties" (as they are known in popular culture) is a term used by many objective academics  to describe the counterculture and social revolution from around 1965 to the end of the decade.

The 1960's are often thought of as a time of irresponsible excess and flamboyance, and was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the generally licentious attitudes that emerged during the later years.

Rampant recreational drug use and casual sex has become indistinguishably associated with the counterculture of the era, as Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner mentions: "If you can remember anything about the sixties, then you weren't really there" (or were really REALLY stoned LoL).

So knowing the era that spawned it its no real surprise (to me at least) that Batman (1966 - 1968) had such a strong psychadelic 'vibe' to it.

It aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network for two and a half seasons from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. Despite its short run, the show had a total of 120 episodes, having two weekly installments for most of its time - clocking up a whopping 120 Episodes in its short life on the screen!

Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, our two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City against the likes of the Penguin, Catwoman, the Riddler, and the Joker.

Originally Mike Henry (who later starred in a Tarzan series) and supposedly DC Comics even commissioned publicity photos of Henry in a Batman costume.

Around the same time, the Playboy Club in Chicago was screening the Batman Movie Serials (from the 1940's) on Saturday nights. It became very popular, and the hip partygoers would cheer and applaud the Dynamic Duo, whilst they would boo and hiss the villains.

ABC executive Yale Udoff, a Batman fan in childhood, attended one of these parties at the Playboy Club and was impressed with the reaction the serials were getting. He contacted West Coast ABC executives Harve Bennett and Edgar J. Scherick, who were already considering developing a TV series based on a comic strip action hero, and suggested a prime time Batman series in the hip and fun style of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. rather than a Kids TV Show.
Season one was excellent, great fun all around - Unfortunately in Season 2 the show started suffer from repetition of not only its its characters but its formula too.

Critics started to comment that the series delicate balance of drama and humor (that the first season had maintained throughout its entirity) was lost as the stories became more farcical and downright silly.

These factors combined with Lorenzo Semple Jr. contributing fewer and fewer scripts meant him having less of an influence on the series - caused viewers to tire of the show and for critics to to constantly remark - "If you've seen one episode of Batman, you've seen them all."

Thanks to the introduction of Batgirl (with the intention of bringing in more female viewers) the Series got picked up for a third Season. Batgirl's alter ego was Barbara Gordon, a mild-mannered librarian at the Gotham Library and Commissioner Gordon's daughter.

Budget cuts were apparent throughout the Season Three episodes, the sets were looking shabby - certain footage was being re-used from earlier episodes (wall climbing, long-shots, the Batmobile, etc) in a further attempt to save money - everything was looking really tired.

Near the end of its third season, ABC planned to cut Batmans budget even further by getting rid of Robin and Chief O'Hara and making Batgirl Batman's full-time partner.

Both Dozier and West vetoed this idea, and consequnetly ABC cancelled the show.

However a few weeks later NBC offered to pick the show up for a fourth season and even restore it to its original twice weekly format - IF the sets were still available for use.

Unfortunately NBC's offer came too late - Fox had already demolished the sets the week before, and NBC didn't want to pay the $800,000 for the rebuild - so the series finally came to an end.

Scrooge-Like executives accomplished something the likes of the Joker could not - they had killed Batman.

Is Batman a good show, yes it is - but like any TV show you have to take the rough with the smooth. From the moment that you hear "Na na na na na na na Batman!", you always know that you're in for something special.

Its a shame Season two was so weak, and what we got of Season three was looking so shabby - but its all good fun, and the Movie was (I felt) excellent!

Batman (often known as Batman: The Movie, is a 1966 full-length theatrical adaptation of the Batman TV Show.

The film was directed by Leslie H. Martinson - who also directed a pair of Batman episodes "The Penguin Goes Straight" and "Not Yet, He Ain't," both from season one. William Dozier wanted to make a big-screen film to generate interest in his then in the works Batman TV series - with the idea of having it in theaters while the first season was before the cameras - but 20th Century Fox studio refused not wanting to share the cost of a series whilst covering the entire cost of a movie (they wanted to know if the series was a hit First).

So no filing was done until the end of the first season of Batman the TV series was in the can.

Filmind of the Movie took place between April 25 and May 31 1966 - at an estimated cost of $1,377,800.

The movie featured four Villains from the show, the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether). Penned by series writer Lorenzo Semple Jr. and directed by series director Leslie H. Martinson (Martinson won a Golden Gryphon for his efforts on the Movie).

Like the television series - the movie featured saturated colors, campy dialogue and special effects - and OTT acting performances.

Though it is often described (like many contemporary shows) as a parody of the popular comic-book character - some folks believe that its comedy is not so tightly confined. Some felt the film's depiction of the Caped Crusader "captured the feel of the contemporary comics perfectly". The film was made at a time when the Batman of the Golden Age comics was already essentially neutered - so its camp humour an parody highlights this.

Certain elements converge into a direct p**s-take of Batman and his history. The movie is strongly influenced by the comparatively obscure 1940s serials of Batman - such as the escapes done almost out of luck, Batmans devices all having a "Bat-" prefix, and the dramatic use of stylized title cards during fight scenes.

I LOVED this film as Child (as I did the Series), and I'll be honest when I sat down to watch it (and a few Episodes) in readiness for this post I was pleasantly surprised.

Its not serious (I actually think the Bale Batmans are a little too Dark, I prefer the Keaton Movies) - not by any means, but that really doesn't detract from how much fun it is.

My advice, just sit back and enjoy the ride!

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