January 10, 2011

BATMAN ANNIVERSARY

The Batman TV series (1966-1968) was launched 45 years ago this week. Although our context and image of the character has changed over the years with input from Frank Miller, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and others, we can't deny the incredible impact that the Adam West incarnation had on 1960s pop culture. The visual and narrative styles of competing shows had to punch things up if they were going to stay on the air. The transition of Lost in Space from black and white to color was a prime example. Batman was a true cultural phenomenon, and it's colorful focus on design, gadgets, and fun conventions fit well within the era's fascination with mystery/adventure stories. Images from the Adam West website here, where you can also order signed collectibles by Batman himself.

From fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. writer, Wes Britton: "Celebrating the 45th anniversary of the premiere of ABC’s Batman (Jan. 12, 1966), next week’s Dave White Presents will be a Batman extravaganza! We’ll have two trivia-packed interviews for you including Jim Beard, editor of the brand-new GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES and legendary DC Batman writer Chuck Dixon talking about the 1966 pop phenomena, the movies, and, of course, the comic book that started it all! The 90 minutes of capes, cowls, and fun will debut on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, then 7:30 Pacific over at KSAV. On Wednesday, Jan. 19, the program will be archived for download access anytime you like at Audio Entertainment."


Baby, you can drive my... Batmobile! Spy Vibe creator, Jason Whiton, remembers his first gadget-love:

As a Spy Viber growing up watching the Adam West Batman TV show, I was drawn to his arsenal of Bond-like gadgets. The anti-shark Bat spray notwithstanding, the show had slick gear that rivaled the space-age designs of its competitors. Batman's secret lair was filled with modern computers and technology (what, no rotating bed on prime-time?). But the coolest gizmo by far was the Batmobile! The call to adventure each week meant exciting sequences of firing up the engines and launching the rocket-powered auto from a secret exit in the Batcave. The design was sleek, long with black fins, and a bubble windscreen that reminded me of the window of a WWII-era fighter plane. The parents of my childhood pal, Alec, had a Cadillac in their garage- complete with fins! We spent many afternoons, sitting in the parked car, racing after baddies. I don't remember if we ever decided who was Batman and who was Robin. Maybe we both imaged ourselves in the dark cowl. Well, for Spy Vibers with a childhood dream of really driving the Batmobile, your day has arrived! As Wired reported recently, the folks at Fiberglass Freaks are now offering a complete working replica of the 1966 Batmobile. Despite its "holy price tag, Batman" cost, I'm sure retro gadget fans will be thrilled to see what these beauties look like. Now, if they would only offer a fully loaded Goldfinger Aston Martin DBV. Spy Vibers, what gadget or vehicle would you want in your garage?

7 comments:

  1. Adam West is the only real Batman, as far as I'm concerned!

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  2. Batman even looked great in black & white (we didn't have a color TV until 1969.) One of the best parts of every episode was of course the Batman Theme by Neal Hefti.

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  3. That's an interesting observation about seeing it in black and white. The only show that I remember seeing again as an adult & realizing I had purely black and white memories of is Gerry Anderson's UFO. It has a timeless quality, doesn't it?

    Patti and I were joking yesterday about how 3D is the new "color."

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  4. Yes, B&W has a timeless quality, but it can be somewhat of a double-edged sword when watching period shows from the 1960's that were shot in B&W, as part of allure of films and TV shows from this era today is seeing again the wonderful colors of the time, from the ubiquitous pale turquoise of the early '60's, to the saturated colors of mid-decade.

    An interesting note on the Batmobile: in B&W reproduction, the red striping disappears. When I saw the car in person at the 1966 Chicago Auto Show, I was a bit disappointed on seeing the red graphics - I thought they made the car far less sinister-looking!

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  6. I also found the UFO cars and other vehicles less sinister in color. Less futuristic, in fact.

    Great point about how color quality can be a beautiful element that places a piece in time. Most homage films fail on that score to duplicate period photography and pallet. One of my strongest experiences with period colors was finally seeing the 1940s Powell/Pressburger films The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. That Jack Cardiff had an eye! And I think of some of Hitchcock's work (and choice not to have color with his lower budget film, Psycho). Have you watched the Blu-ray edition of The Prisoner? My first impression is that it looked quite beautiful, but I'll have to go back now and see if the colors pop in 1960s fashion.

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  7. Unfortunately, I haven’t transitioned to Blu-ray as yet. I will be moving to Europe in a few years and in preparation, I suspended some time ago further purchases of any 110-volt hardware.

    Even worse, I will eventually of course have to upgrade my entire library to Blu-ray!

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