Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An Evening With Batman and Robin – Feb. 1, 1966

Back in February 1966, the Batman TV show starring Adam West had only been airing for about a month when the above ad appeared in the movie section of the Journal on Feb 1, 1966 – 49 years ago yesterday. It promoted a one-time showing of An Evening With Batman and Robin at the Tivoli in Lorain.

An Evening With Batman and Robin apparently was rushed into theaters to take advantage of the TV series' popularity. The ersatz "feature" was merely a compilation of the 15 episodes of the 1943 Batman movie serial.
Batman as he appeared in the 1943 serial
The serial was a little ahead of its time, however, with its apparent inclusion of zombies in the storyline.

Here's Episode 1 of the original serial. It's not too bad, actually. It's a little more faithful to the original comics than the campy 1960s version.

The real Batman feature starring most of the TV cast wouldn't hit the screens until July 1966.

Like everyone else our age at that time, my brothers and I were big fans of the Batman TV series, which was televised in two parts on successive weeknights.

Here are the opening credits for the 1966 season.

We had the paperback reprints of the original comics (below), which we brought with us on one of our cross-country camping trips to read in the car. It didn't occur to me that the stories were made up of comics that were decades-old.
We also had the Batman candy that came in small colorful boxes (below) that you could string together to make a genuine Batman utility belt.

I think we had a 45 RPM record of the Batman theme song, but – if I remember correctly – it might have been a different recorded version than what was played during the opening and closing of the TV show.

As for the big 1966 Batman movie, I don't recall seeing it in the theaters. I'm pretty sure we waited until it came to TV. Since it didn't feature the original Catwoman (Julie Newmar), it's probably just as well – although Lee Meriwether did do a good job as her replacement.

I think we lost interest in the Batman TV show during the third and final season when Batgirl was introduced. It seemed ridiculous that Batman and Robin didn't have a clue as to her true identity. Plus I resented Batgirl horning in on the Caped Crusaders' cases.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dan! I remember reading about this "event" for years, but never knew it played in this area. That was the first of two movie serials (believe it or not, those costumes are actually good compared to the 2nd serial, where Batman has devil horns and you can clearly see that the guy playing Robin has a tatoo!). It's considered a bit racist now because the villain was a "dirty Jap" scientist, (played by a Caucasian in make-up) with a secret crocodile pit under the carpet in his living room!

Back in the 1970s they sold an even more edited-down Super 8/8mm reel of the film in the back of comics and Famous Monsters of Filmland! That was the first time I realized that the serials existed!

By the way, my biggest problem with the 3rd season of the TV show (besides the lack of cliff hangers, since it was only one once a week by that time) was the budget cuts that lead to them having minimalistic sets where everything on the sound stage was completely dark, so you just had a black background and maybe a window frame or a doorway (painted some bright color) with a table or two scattered about.

There is a new DVD set of the TV series with great extras in which they talk about all the budget cutting and the inclusion of Batgirl to try and boost ratings.

Thanks for the memories!

--Adam West Jr.