Friday, September 19, 2008

Famous First Fridays: Adam West/Batman

I know it's cool these days to make fun of the ABC-TV version of Batman that ran from 1966-1968. It's even considered especially kewl to be ashamed of the show. I have a news flash for ya--without that show, we might've never gotten the great Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams, Bob Haney/Jim Aparo, Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers, or even Doug Moench/Kelly Jones takes on the Caped Crusader. Without the Adam West Batman, I would bet money there would never have been a Michael Keaton or Christian Bale version. And there's one thing I can tell you with complete and utter assurance: without Adam West's Batman there would never have been a Groovy Agent. (Y'see, that's why I didn't mention Val Kilmer or George Clooney!)

Y'see, Groovesters, Batman and Robin were pretty much headed down the tubes by the early 1960s. His comic was running on fumes. Nobody was diggin' him. Editor extraordinaire Julius Schwartz was hired to revamp the Dynamic Duo, as he had done so successfully with the Flash, Green Lantern, and the Justice League. TV producer William Dozier, legend tells us, got on a plane with a Schwartz-edited ish of Batman (#171), decided those comics would make a whale of a great TV comedy, and set out to bring 'em to life. The rest is history. Or hysteria, 'cause the show led to a phenomenon called Batmania!

The Classic Batman Theme/Intro




Li'l Groove was naught but three years old when the ABC-TV version of Batman first aired. Believe it or not, I can still remember seeing the promos for that show. I can remember going across the street to my neighbor's house to watch the it--'cause the neighbors had a color TV, baby! Yeah, Batman made that much of an impact on me. Because of the Batman TV show, especially because of the wonderful acting by Adam West, who made me believe in Batman and what he (in those days) stood for, I was lured into the life of a comicbook fanatic. It started small. Maybe a Batman coloring book or puzzle (or pennant, or Halloween costume, or Batmobile toy--no, not a tiny little car, but a plastic dashboard that made groovy sounds!--Li'l Groove had 'em all!). Then one comic. Then another. Then some with other colorful, crazy characters like the F.F., Spidey, the Mighty Crusaders, the Flash, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, or Aquaman. I don't remember much after that. It's all a blur. Next thing I knew I had a crate full of comics. Now I have shelves piled to the ceiling.



I don't think I was the only one affected that way. My whole neighborhood was crawling with comics fiends. We'd go out on my back patio and spend hours trading comics. There wasn't a kid in my school who didn't know what was going on when I yelled, "To the Batmobile!" I often wondered what teachers thought when they saw a dozen or so second grade boys run by singing, "Nananananananana..." You couldn't go to a store without seeing Batman toys or bubble gum cards lining the shelves. Batman, thanks to that campy, wild, hilarious TV show, became a huge part of our culture.

The 1965 Batman Network Presentation



Today is Adam West's 80th Birthday, and this is Ol' Groove's tribute to him. He is my Famous First ever super-hero. Oh, him and a fella named Batman, natch.

Adam West and Burt Ward's Screen Tests

6 comments:

  1. Groovy indeed. Here is the story of my brother and I battling Dad for a Color TV in the early days of the Batman TV series (still the only Batman that really counts. Check it out on my blog here.

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  2. Thanks for sharing that. Like I said, our generation holds that old show in a very special place, and posts like that prove my point.

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  3. for all my proper Batman right-on-ness, i gotta say it: Adam West IS Batman.

    there. i said it. i feel better now.

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  4. Good going, Joe!

    Look out, Dr. Phil--Dr. Groove is comin' at'cha!

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  5. Adam West is the only Batman worth watching! That show was a true American classic... on a level of comedic genius with Ernie Kovacs, Jay Ward and Roger Price.

    Ashamed of it?? Heck, it's about the only super-hero flick I can still look at... LOL

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  6. Groove, how could you punch Batman in the face?! That punch-me toy almost turned you into a super-villian! We're lucky we didn't end up with the Anti-Groovitor

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