Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BATMAN!!!
It may have been pop art inspired camp. It may have been a product of its time. For some, it may even have been little more than an acquired taste. For a time though, “Tune in tomorrow, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” was a phrase heard in living rooms coast to coast and many would argue that the Adam West and Burt Ward Batman series was the biggest TV phenomenon of the mid-1960s.
Debuting on January 12th 1966, this series has been loved by fans and a powerhouse of iconic superhero television. It has even been credited, now a half century later, with saving the Batman character, which DC considered killing off at the time due to the comic’s dwindling reader base. All that changed with the television series and the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder have never looked back.
In celebration of the series’ 50th anniversary, here are 5 facts you may not know about the series and 5 collectibles that honor it!
Come on, Robin, to the Bat Cave! There’s not a moment to lose!
1. This series took over television for a time. During its three season, 120 episode run it aired weekly for its entire third season, but you could catch it loading up the small screen with “Bam” and “Kapow” effects twice a week during its first two seasons. For much of the 60s, Batman was the only prime-time television show (other than Peyton Place) to be broadcast twice in one week as part of its regular schedule. This show was a very unexpected success story, considering the show received the worst audience test scores in the history of ABC and only made it to air because so much money had been invested leading up to the pilot.
2. Though uncredited in the series, William Dozier is the ever present narrator of each episode. Dozier was also the show’s executive producer and he performed similar duties within the Green Hornet television series which ran from 1966–1967. He also had a third show in the works for Wonder Woman, but that project failed to launch in 1967. Learn more about him in this great interview via Bat-Mania.
3. It’s funny how things really work. The iconic Shakespeare bust which contained the button to open the bookcase and expose the Bat-poles was actually functional, though not in the way you might guess. Here, it didn’t open the case but rather turn on a light behind the set so the crew knew to slide it open. Hollywood magic!
4. The television series didn’t just re-invigorate Batman, it saved Alfred. At the time the series debuted, Alfred had died in the comics. As producers made it clear he would be included in the show, he was brought back to life in the comic series and has been influential in Bruce Wayne’s life and stories ever since.
5. Once canceled, ABC paused for a time to see if the series would be picked up by a rival network. Eventually, they bulldozed the Batcave. Two weeks later, NBC stepped in to continue the stories. Sadly, the fact that the set was gone made NBC change their mind and Batman faded to history. As an extra aside, the Batcave set was built on the exact spot where the Skull Island Gate was located in the original King Kong back in 1933.
Hand down the shark-repellent Batspray!
Let’s move from the facts of the investigation to the scene of the fandom as we unveil some of our favorite Batman television series collectibles!
Batman ’66 Full Set Plush Figures
Released by Bleacher Creatures
Why shouldn’t this classic Batman series be remembered with a batch of the cute and cuddly? You could do a lot worse than settling in with this set of plush figures at your side for the latest binge rewatch of the series!
Holy High-Rise Batman & Robin Action Figures
Released by Mattel
Whether you love the wall climbing scenes for the witty banter or the regular surprise guest stars who popped out, this action figure set highlights a fun series staple. The caped crusaders often contemplated crime in climbing conversation and this boxed set does those scenes justice.
Released by National Periodical Publication in 1966
No batman collection would be worth its batarang without a tip of the hat to the ride that made the man; the Batmobile! Here, they don’t get much more iconic than this 1966 version released just as the series was rolling out to fans. You seriously have to love the card art here. Classic versions of the characters from the series are done low brow and fun!
Batman Sixth Scale Figure & Robin Sixth Scale Figure
Released by Hot Toys in 2013
We’re cheating a bit by including two items together, but if you are looking for high end representations of the dynamic duo, you really should look no further than the 2013 versions of Adam West and Burt Ward from Hot Toys. Magnificently detailed and loaded up with interchangeable tidbits to represent every occasion, these two are the best of the best.
Surf’s Up Batman
Released by Mattel
Grab your shark repellant because Batman is surfing his way through crime here! Catching the camp that made this series so special perfectly, we close with the Surf’s Up Batman. Simply a must for any serious 60s Bat-collector.