CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW – BATMAN (1966): THE PUZZLES ARE COMING/THE DUO IS SLUMMING

CAST
Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Return to The Batcave)
Alan Napier (Mary Poppins)
Neil Hamilton (General Hospital)
Stafford Repp (My Favorite Martian)
Madge Blake (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
GUESTS
Maurice Evans (Planet of the Apes)
Barbara Stuart (Airplane!)

The Puzzles Are Coming :

Batman and Robin deduce that a backwards puzzle sent by the urbane Puzzler in a toy plane through Commissioner Gordon’s window is a reference to Artemus Knab, a multi billionaire staying at the Gotham Arms hotel. Solving the puzzle, The Caped Crusaders concludes The Puzzler is after Knab and rush to his penthouse apartment. Knab rebuffs The Dynamic Duo, claiming to be working on a legit deal with The Puzzler for a puzzle balloon business.
Returning to The Batcave with a sample puzzle balloon, the Dynamic Duo learn the Puzzler and his gang plan to strip Knab and his guests of all their jewels at the christening of The Retsoor, the multi billionaire’s supersonic plane. Sadly, Batman and Robin arrive too late as the Puzzler and his men have already immobilized the guests with Puzzle Gas and have stolen their jewels. After throwing the gas at The Dynamic Duo, they make a break for it. Recovering from the Puzzler’s gas, Batman and Robin find another puzzle balloon left in The Puzzler’s wake. They follow the balloon’s clue to The Puzzler’s hideout at The Balloon Factory where they are overpowered by Blimpy, Glider and Ramjet and gassed. They regain consciousness to find themselves strapped into the basket of a hot-air balloon that is rigged to send them skyward and then plummeting to their doom once it reaches 20,000 feet!

The Duo is Slumming:


Robin deactivates the hot-air balloon’s altimeter with a piece of chewing gum that was dropped in the basket by one of Puzzler’s men just scant seconds before it manages to reach 20,000 feet. Utilizing a bird call, The Boy Wonder then attracts an elusive and high flying giant red-eyed hermit nuthatch bird migrating south for the winter. The bird pecks a hole in the balloon, allowing it to descend safely to earth next to an emergency public telephone booth.
The Dynamic Duo returns to The Puzzler’s factory where Puzzler distracts them long enough for himself and his cronies to scram. Puzzler continues his quest to seize Knab’s supersonic plane, the Retsoor, sending his sexy moll Rocket to drug Knab’s tea while Puzzler himself photographs the secret plans for the hi-tech jet. The Caped Crusaders are alerted to The Puzzler’s new target by way of a rooster sent to Gordon’s office. Batman and Robin speed to the Retsoor’s hangar, have a tense Batbattle where the entire gang is captured and the theft of the Retsoor prevented. Bruce and Dick end by having fun with Puzzler’s puzzle baloons with Harriet and Alfred.
60’s Batman will always be a classic. The Riddler would of appeared in the episodes but because Frank Gorshin was holding out for money they replaced his character with the Puzzler, who evidentially is mostly a Superman villain. Maurice Evans plays the character perfectly. The two episodes are well plotted and well played by all actors, the Santa cameo is fun too.
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REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASON 17

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ralph Garman (Ted)
Rachel MacFarlane (American Dad)
Nolan North (Con Men)
Emily Osment (Mom)
Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)
Tony Sirico (Goodfellas)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Speciman)
Ursula Taherian (Pretty Little Liars)
Jerry Lambert (Graves)
Sean Penn (Gangster Squad)
Helene Yorke (Masters of Sex)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Christine Lakin (Hollywood Darlings)
Ava Acres (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Ty Simpkins (Iron Man 3)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Marlee Matlin (My Name Is Earl)
Martha Maclsaac (Superbad)
Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl)
Christina Pickles (The Wedding Singer)
H. Jon Benjamin (Wet Hot American Summer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Jon daly (Zoolander 2)
Nat Faxon (The Descendats)
Nicholas Gonzalez (The Flash)
Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
Wil Sasso (Movie 43)
Christina Milian (Bring It On 5)
Carl Reiner (Two and A Half a Men)
Wendy Schaal (American Dad)
Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Lisa Wilhoit (My So-Called Life)
Daniele Gaither (Madtv)
Aimee Garcia (Dexter)
Jim Rash (Community)
Portia de Rossi (Cursed)
Olesya Rulin (Powers)

This season is really season 15. The episodes this season are as follows.

THE BOYS IN THE BAND

Sick of how pandering children’s music is, Stewie and Brian start their own band, singing children’s songs with an adult edge, but Stewie’s old flame and acting school partner, Olivia, shows up and tries to sabotage him. Meanwhile, Chris gets a job as Quagmire’s personal assistant for his sex life.

BOOKIE OF THE YEAR

When Chris starts showing signs of aggression, Peter and Lois end up discovering that he is a talented baseball pitcher. Peter and the guys immediately start betting on the games, as other betters bet big against Chris after seeing him and then lose huge wagers, but Peter is put into an impossible position when the only way to salvage his title game bets is to have Chris lose on purpose. Meanwhile, Brian and Stewie reunite with Frank Sinatra Jr. to open an Italian restaurant, but the restaurant ends up losing money when Frank begins to give everyone free meals.

AMERICAN GIGG-ALO

When the local airline pilots go on strike, Quagmire is forced to look for a new job and gets one as a gigolo. But when his clients refuse to pay him, Peter is forced to help him out, and their friendship quickly turns into a prostitute/pimp partnership. Meanwhile, Brian gets a job at a hardware store when Peter takes him off his health insurance, and Stewie goes from trying to get him fired to having to perform impromptu surgery to save Brian’s life.

INSIDE FAMILY GUY

James Woods hosts a special episode that takes a look behind the scenes of Family Guy. Meanwhile, Peter is replaced and pitches his own television series to Fox.

CHRIS HAS A GOT A DATE, DATE, DATE, DATE

Pop singer Taylor Swift agrees to be Chris’ date at his homecoming dance, and even though Chris is kind and charming, she sabotages the relationship and then uses the experience to write another song about how the men in her life mistreat her. Meanwhile, Peter becomes an Uber driver.

HOT SHOTS

Peter and Lois get involved in the anti-vaccination movement to save Stewie from autism, causing a measles epidemic to break out in Quahog.

HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH

While Peter is hiding out in a library to escape the police for crashing into a family’s house, he reads three novels that are commonly taught (and sometimes banned) in American high schools: The Great Gatsby, Tom Sawyer / The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Of Mice and Men.

CARTER AND TRICIA

Peter tells Tricia Takanawa about Carter’s plan to use toxic chemicals in Pawtucket Patriot when Carter buys the brewery. Meanwhile, Brian’s driver’s license expires, and he gets help from Stewie to renew it.

HOW THE GRIFFIN STOLE CHRISTMAS

Peter becomes a mall Santa, and he becomes drunk with power when he learns that he can get away with anything, but the real Santa is mad about this and takes direct action to stop Peter. Meanwhile, Stewie and Brian crash Christmas parties for free food, drama, and women.

PASSENGER FATTY-SEVEN

Quagmire receives free tickets to fly to San Francisco, and Peter, Cleveland and Joe tag along. Soon after, the guys get into a serious situation when Quagmire’s plane gets hijacked, which puts Quagmire’s flying skills to the test.

GRONKOWSBEES

Peter and the guys discover Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots moving into the house behind the Griffins, but they soon get annoyed with his lifestyle and partying. Meanwhile, Brian discovers that Stewie is a beekeeper and suggests he sell his honey publicly.

PETER’S DEF JAM

Peter becomes a DJ after he and the guys attempt to start their own podcast, leading to discord and (in Peter’s case) deafness. Meanwhile, Brian is forced to move into Stewie’s room after Lois gets an allergy.

THE FINER STRINGS

Peter and the guys form a string quartet, and everyone makes the cut except for Peter, who is kicked out. Meanwhile, Brian becomes Carter’s seeing eye dog.

THE DATING GAME

When Quagmire discovers Tinder, Peter, Cleveland and Joe must save him from his soul-sucking hedonism. Meanwhile, Stewie is diagnosed with scoliosis and (briefly) enjoys the benefits of being injured.

COP AND A HALF-WIT

Peter helps Joe solve cases, but he gets irritated when Joe takes all the credit for himself. Meanwhile, Brian and Chris look after Stewie after he gets a concussion playing football.

SATURATED FAT GUY

Peter opens up his own fattening-foods truck to rebel against Lois’ healthy-eating plans and to make some extra cash, but feasting on his own wares has terrible effects on Peter’s health. Meanwhile, Meg joins a roller derby team, despite Chris’ warnings that it’s too dangerous.

PETER’S LOST YOUTH

Peter gets jealous when Lois upstages him at a Boston Red Sox fantasy baseball camp. Meanwhile, Stewie runs away from home when Meg becomes his babysitter.

THE PETER PRINCIPAL

When Peter temporarily becomes the high school principal, Meg sees his power as an opportunity to get back at her bullies. Meanwhile, Brian and Stewie open up a bed and breakfast and have to deal with a lot of prostitutes.

DEARLY DEPORTED

When Chris’ Mexican girlfriend, Isabella, is deported, he steps up to take care of her twin babies. He eventually enlists his parents and Quagmire to head into Mexico and bring her back to the U.S.

A HOUSE FULL OF PETERS

After Lois discovers that Peter was a sperm donor in his youth, Peter’s past comes back to him when many of his children unexpectedly come to his house – one of whom wants to usurp his place as Lois’ husband.

Celebrate laughter, lunacy and all that jazz with this outrageous collection of 20 Family Guy episodes. It’s a freakin’ hilarious complete season,

 

REVIEW: BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Futurama)
William Shatner (Star Trek: TOS)
Julie Newmar (Return To The Batcave)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Jim Ward (Ultimate Avengers)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Lynne Marie Stewart (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure)
Jeff Bergman (The Cleveland Show)
Wally Wingert (The Ant Bully)
William Salyers (Pandora’s Clock)
Sirena Irwin (Justice League: Throne of Atlantis)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Lee Meriwether (The Munsters Today)

Batman and Robin are invited to a top-secret demonstration hosted by Professor Hugo Strange and his assistant Dr. Harleen Quinzel, that may eventually change the future of Gotham forever. Along the way, Batman takes a stop at Gotham State Penitentiary to visit Catwoman (whose suicide attempt from the first movie somehow failed) to give her a book on poetry by Elizabeth Barret Browning; something to keep her occupied for the next 36 months of her life until she is let out of prison for good. At the laboratory, they meet district attorney and Bruce Wayne’s ally in the war against crime, Harvey Dent, who is famous for having stopped a coin counterfeit, keeping a two faced quarter as a souvenir from the case.Batman-vs-Two-Face-previewHugo Strange believes that good and evil are all but one-sided and has created an “Evil Extractor” to which the volunteering criminals, Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Egghead and Mr. Freeze, will be purified of their corruption. Batman bluffs it off, saying that there are no easy fixes to the straight and narrow path, but Strange conducts his experiment anyway, despite the fact that it will make the jobs of Batman, Robin and Harvey obsolete. All goes well until the Joker entices his compadres to overload the machine. Noticing this, Professor Strange orders Dr. Quinzel to shut it down…but is too late, and Harvey (as opposed to acid from the comic book mythos) is horribly scarred by the explosion of the containment vat, with Batman being successful in saving the right side of his face.2Harvey, now re-christened Two Face, goes on a crime spree as seen in the opening credits, all of which his attempts are foiled by the Dynamic Duo. He is eventually whisked to a hospital where his face has been given reconstructive surgery. His sanity has apparently been restored as well. Now returning to his old job (as the assistant to the assistant district attorney), Harvey spends the next six months in charge of his own fate, but at the same time, King Tut and his henchmen have been robbing an biplane while at Wayne Manor, Aunt Harriet is getting ready for a soiree in Bruce and Dick’s place while they investigate the crime as Batman and Robin. After implying comparisons between King Tut and Two Face, Batman and Robin return to the Batcave where they realize that a double decker bus company are planning to hold the millionaires, including Alfred and Aunt Harriet, hostage. They arrive on the bus via Batmobile and fight Tut and the Tutlings while Alfred escorts the patrons to safety. Unfortunately, the Dynamic Duo are subdued by a pair of twin snakes with knockout venom.4In an urn trap as seen in King Tut’s debut episode, Batman and Robin are to be entombed in the foundations of the Pyramid Towers that are soon to be erected above the digging spot where they are trapped. Cement pours over them and when it appears as though they are doomed, they press the back of their soles against the sides of the jars, triggering the Batjets. They fly to confront King Tut in one final battle and a brick restores his memory. As they take him away, a pair of twins seize the jewels that were stolen by the Tutlings. Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara interrogate King Tut as Harvey waits in the shadows, with O’Hara constantly hitting Tut on the head with his baton. Lucille Diamond, the king’s defendant, intervenes and ushers them out of the room so that she can speak to him. At Tut’s trial, she implicates that the concussion is nothing more than a threat to a mild-mannered man. Chief O’Hara tearfully confesses to hitting Tut and Harvey calls Batman as his next witness, but Professor Mackel Roy himself admits his guilt, ready to suffer the minimum penalty of being rehabilitated in prison. After the sentencing, Harvey shares a highball with Bruce Wayne, much to Dick’s annoyance at bearing the hardships of a third wheel.3Harvey is then due to a attend a charity for underprivileged twins at the Winning Pair casino just as Bruce and Dick resume their identities as Batman and Robin once more. A package has arrived at Commissioner Gordon’s office, a World Atlas book marked for Batman…with its pages eaten away in three holes. Robin surmises the culprit to be Bookworm and the duo race off in the Batmobile to find him at the Gotham City Library where a fight ensues and the three priceless books that Bookworm had his eyes on have disappeared. Batman and Robin deduce that the stolen books were all about duality, but Two Face has already been reformed and try to find another way behind it. Regardless, they head to an abandoned sign factory with Two Face and the twins waiting for them. After defeating the twins, Two Face pins them with a large number two and the flip of his coin landing on the right side spares their lives. Once they have left, Batman believes that Harvey has made a lot of enemies in his career and they are all out to destroy it. Harvey, meanwhile is having some problems of his own after he makes a phone call to… Two Face, who kidnaps Professor Strange as part of their scheme.004a2326Robin is punished to his room by Batman after nearly getting into a row about Harvey’s involvement in Two Face’s plans and Catwoman, who by now has been stood up, escapes the pen by switching places with Lucilee Diamond. Following Harvey to the laboratory, Robin is ambushed by Two Face and Professor Strange corrupts him with the same gas of the extractor that mutates the left side of his body. Batman is forced to fight his beloved sidekick and cures him back at the Batcave, following Two Face to the casino where he is in fact revealed to be Dent, having suppressed his bad side (á la Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Once the Dynamic Duo are strapped to a large silver dollar, he unmasks Batman and deduces Robin’s true identity, then Two Face invites the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Egghead, Shame, Clock King and Catwoman to an auction for the highest bidder of Batman’s true identity. With Catwoman’s help, Batman and Robin defeat the villains, but Two Face gets away on the biplane stolen by King Tut, intending to use the evil gas to remake Gotham City in his image. The Dynamic Duo manage to shoot him down towards a flaming factory where Batman goes one on one with Two Face having completely taking over Harvey’s body. In a battle of wits, Batman urges Harvey to regain self control and he does, defeating Two Face for good as they escape the factory.batman-vs-two-face-trailerThe next morning, Batman and Robin use the Batwing to cure the infected Gothamites and return that night to Wayne Manor where Harvey holds an auction for a bachelor party. Batman appears before everyone, and to his delight, ends up having the first person to bid for him being none other than Catwoman. In the post credits there is a memoriam for Adam West, who portrayed Batman. It also stated “Rest Well, Bright Knight”.1In the hearts of some, maybe even all, Batman fans, Adam West will always hold a cherished place. Batman Vs. Two-Face doesn’t satirize like its predecessor, but fully embraces the original series’ campiness, with one concession: the inclusion of a villain considered too dark and gritty for the series at the time. According to legend, Clint Eastwood was all set to take on the role of Two-Face before studio execs thought he’d scare off young viewers and put the kibosh on it. Always leave ’em wanting more. It’s sad for me to think of what might have been. If only someone had the brilliant idea of bringing Adam West and Burt Ward in to revisit the classic series in animated form earlier, we may have been able to witness the two squaring off against Poison Ivy or Scarecrow or Harley Quinn. But, as it is, this is as good of a send off as our Bright Knight could ever have asked for.

REVIEW: BATMAN: RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Return To The Batcave)
Julie Newmar (Star Trek)
Jeff Bergman (Gremlins 2)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)
William Salyers (Judging Amy)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Jim Ward (Ben 10)
Thomas Lennon (balls of Fury)

The official plot synopsis reads as follows, “It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes – Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman. This time, the four super-villains have combined their wicked talents to hatch a plot so nefarious that the Dynamic Duo will need to go to outer space (and back) to foil their arch enemies and restore order in Gotham City.

What a dose of Nostalgia. The opening credits incorporated many classic comic book covers with some fantastic animation. I could not stop watching. Fascinating, funny, festive, friendly, and very alliterative, the actors, writers, and animators knocked this out of the park.

I was thoroughly amused throughout. None of the dozens of punchlines are particularly surprising, but they are all fun, and many of them require the set-up, animation, and acting to be meaningful.

The movie does get a bit dark. In one particular scene, Robin is horrified by a punch that doesn’t follow Marquess of Queensberry rules. Robin’s reaction to that punch and subsequent actions keep the movie grounded and friendly. I have to give special acclaim for Burt Ward, here — his exuberance and delivery hasn’t changed an iota.

Does the movie get some things wrong? Like the Joker’s hidden mustache? Yes and perhaps. There are dozens of things that are not quite like the 60’s show, and hundreds of things that are spot-on perfect. I don’t recall hearing the Riddler’s music cue, but the Batman theme is incorporated well in many places. The producers have already mention that some of the “mistakes” are intentional, such as the colors of Robin’s logo being flipped in a throwaway shot, an homage to mistakes in previous animations. I will be watching this many times.

The sequel has already been announced, with William Shatner as Two- Face.This is the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in years. Highly recommended.

REVIEW: RETURN TO THE BATCAVE

CAST

Adam west (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (The New Adventures of Batman)
Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Julie Newmar (My Living Doll)
Jack Brewer (Clueless TV)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Lyle Waggoner (Wonder Woman)
Lee Meriwether (The Munsters Today)
Betty White (Th Golden Girls)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Brett Rickaby (The Crazies)
Julia Rose (Something’s Gotta Give)
Erin Carufel (Untraceable)

TV reunions can be pretty painful to watch. It usually just seems like a bunch of overly familiar clips, fluffy talking head retrospectives, and maybe some misguided attempts at material that really should’ve been put to rest a decade or three earlier. If you happened to catch Return to the Batcave when it debuted a couple years back, you already know that this 90 minute special isn’t anything like that.
As you could hopefully guess from the title, Return to the Batcave takes a look back at the Batman television series that aired on ABC in ’60s.  The framing story is set in the present, as original stars Adam West and Burt Ward are delivered phony invitations for a charity auto show. Some cackling criminal offscreen swipes the Batmobile from under them, and to ensure that those orphans don’t suffer any more than they already have, he types with a sniffle, Adam and Burt set off to reclaim the Batmobile and Oof! Wham! Pow! whoever’s responsible. (It’s really not much of a mystery, but play along anyway.) Along the way, they stumble onto clues suggesting that the theft has something to do with their past, and as they reminisce about the show, it’s time to cue the flashbacks.
 The sequences set in the here-‘n-now are played with the same sort of campy, goofy sense of humor as the original series, down to the garish set design and Dutch camera angles. The flashbacks are treated a little more seriously, with Jack Brewster and Jason Marsden stepping into the roles of Adam and Burt. The camp may be dialed down, but these flashbacks aren’t dry, monotone re-enactments. They’re teeming with some of the lurid details from any one of the stars’ tell-all books, everything from Burt Ward’s divorce, Adam West’s relentless womanizing, Ward’s excessive man-basket unsettling the religious right, Fredric Wertham’s accusations of homosexuality between the Dynamic Duo, struggles with the censors, Ward almost getting skewered after a disastrous one-night stand, and internal bickering.  Since it’s not just E!’s True Hollywood Story with a bigger budget, everything from the original casting (including some actual footage of Lyle Waggoner testing as Batman) to the series’ numerous guest stars (including Cesar Romero demanding makeup be smothered over his moustache and a food fight with Vincent Price on the set, to rattle off a couple) to Burt Ward getting bruised, battered, and par-broiled during botched stunts (I don’t have a parenthetical reference for this one) is covered.
 This isn’t a shameless, half-thought-out ratings grab — Return to the Batcave manages to capture the spirit of the original Batman series. A lot of the gags in the framing story got a laugh, particularly quips about the structure of these sorts of reunion specials and more subtle ones like Adam West suggesting they drive his car because it’s already been established. I don’t know how many liberties the movie took with reality for the flashback sequences, but they’re certainly interesting enough, spouting off a bunch of stories I hadn’t heard before. If you’re a fan of the original television series, then…well, you probably already saw this when it originally aired…but if not, I guess you have a chance to now. There isn’t much on this DVD aside from the movie itself, but at least it’s cheap.
Return to the Batcave captures a lot of what made the original TV series such a blast to watch, and if you like the show, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll feel the same way about this reunion movie

REVIEW: LEGENDS OF THE SUPER HEROES

CAST

Adam West (Return To The Batcave)
Burt Ward (The New Adventures of Batman)
Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jeff Altman (Highlander 2)
Charlie Callas (Switch)
Gabriel Dell (Earthquake)
Howard Morris (Splash)
Mickey Morton (Starchaser)
William Schallert (Santa Barbara)
A’leisha Brevard (American Pop)
Garrett Craig (The Blue Knight)
Howard Murphy (Satan’s Mistress)
Danuta Rylko Soderman (The 700 Club)
Bill Nuckols (Sunset Cove)
Rod Hasse (Hero at Large)
Barbara Joyce (Hothead)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ruth Buzzi (Freaky Friday)
Pat Carroll (The Little Mermaid)
Alfie Wise (The Cannonball Run)
Ed McMahon (Bewitched)

On January 18, 1979, NBC aired Legends Of The Superheroes: The Challange, an hourlong special in which Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin reprised their Batman, Robin, and Riddler roles from the campy ’60s Batman series, alongside a cast of legendary TV comedians and generic hunks. The show had the heroes dealing with a series of traps laid by a team of supervillains, with each trap setting the stage for a wacky skit. Intended as a live-action Superfriends, LOTS came off more like a live-action version of Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-lympics.But even The Challenge wasn’t as wretched at what NBC aired the following week: Legends Of The Superheroes: The Roast, in which the cast of the previous special returned for a series of painfully unfunny sketches and stand-up routines. According to the website TV Obscurities, The Challenge finished 58th out of 59 shows the week it aired, and The Roast finished 62nd out of 63. NBC and Hanna-Barbera’s experiment with live-action superhero slapstick was over.

The Challenge opens with the heroes and villains in their respective lairs, where the former have an orderly meeting, complete with a salute to elderly superhero Retired Man (played by William Schallert, better-known as Patty Duke’s dad on The Patty Duke Show), while the latter have a chaotic meeting complete with random acts of violence and lots of indistinct muttering, captured in an ugly-looking medium-long shot.
The villains seize on a doomsday plot put forward by Dr. Sivana (played by sitcom vet Howard Morris, a.k.a. Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show) and divide up, each tasked to find ways to slow the superheroes down. Sinestro (played by funny-faced comic Charlie Callas) poses as a gypsy and reads Green Lantern’s fortune.The Weather Wizard (played by fast-talking young comedian Jeff Altman) poses as a used-car salesman, and sells Batman and Robin a lemon. The Riddler pretends to be a psychiatrist and gets Captain Marvel to sit on his outdoor couch and talk about his feelings. Finally, the heroes locate the villain’s island hideout, where Batman and Robin hop on Jet Skis and chase the wizard Mordru (an obscure DC bad guy played by former Dead End Kid Gabriel Dell) before heading indoors for an old-fashioned punch-up.
Oddly enough, the cheesiness of the costumes are a point in favor of LOTS: The Roast, where the ridiculousness of everything is part of the concept. At the outset, host Ed McMahon jokes that he hasn’t seen so many crazy costumes since he last “had lunch at Alice Cooper’s house,” and adds that the heroes’ HQ looks like “Truman Capote’s closet.”
The Roast is a beast to sit through. The special includes several corny routines in which McMahon trades quips with guests like Hawkman’s mom (played by showbiz legend Pat Carroll, who jokes that when young Hawkman brought notes home from school, “they were strapped to his leg”) and hulking monster Solomon Grundy (who roars and threatens McMahon whenever he’s reminded of the word “swamp”), and, yet again, Retired Man.
Later, Dr. Sivana shows up, giving Howard Morris a chance to get uncomfortably close to Black Canary’s breasts.…and the inevitable Ruth Buzzi pops up as a gun-toting Aunt Minerva.
Also, gossip-monger “Rhoda Rooter” conducts an interview with the unlikely couple of The Atom and Giganta……and West and Ward participate in an interminable skit where Robin tries to keep Batman from finding out that he totaled the Batmobile. Again, it’s impressive—at least for an old DC devotee like myself—to see how far into the character pool the writers were willing to jump, and it’s not like the level of comedy here was any worse than moist shows of its time.  Hanna-Barbera use the occasion of this special to allow Jeff Altman to do a few minutes of stand-up material as Weather Wizard (complete with storms), and to have comedian Brad Sanders lay down some jokes along the lines of “If Hawkman walked through Harlem, by the time he got to Lennox Avenue, he’d be Kentucky-fried,” in the unfortunate guise of Ghetto Man. The Roast ends with Mordru doing a little song-and-dance routine, changing the lyrics to “That’s Entertainment” to something more villain-friendly……and then the whole affair should’ve been permanently consigned to the ash-heap of TV history. But alas, it was dug back up by warner brothers.
It’s a collectable piece for any DC fan as long as they don’t take it seriously

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966)

CAST

Adam West (Return To The Batcave)
Burt Ward (The New Adventures of Batman)
Lee Meriwether (The Munters Today)
Cesar Romer (The Little Princess)
Burgess Meredith (Rocky)
Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Alan Napier (Marnie)
Neil Hamilton (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Stafford Repp (Plunder Road)
Madge Blake (The Long, Long Trailer)
Reginald Denny (Of Human Bondage)

Batman is a faithful movie adaptation of the hugely successful live-action TV series, which for most of 1966 had been a genuine pop culture phenomenon comparable to the James Bond craze and Beatlemania, and almost unique for a TV show before or since. The Batman movie, filmed in the late Spring of ’66 and released that August, between the end of the first season and premiere of the second.
The story is relatively simple, far too simple to justify its 105-minute running time: Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny) is kidnapped – along with his fantastic new invention, a “Total Dehydrator” – by the United Underworld, an uneasy alliance of Gotham City’s most notorious villains: The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether, replacing an unavailable Julie Newmar from the TV series).
As Bruce Wayne/Batman (Adam West) and his ward Dick Grayson/Robin (Bruce Ward) inch toward finding the villains’ lair and uncovering their dastardly plot, Bruce and his alter-ego fall for a Russian journalist from the Moscow Bugle (love that name!), Miss Kitka, actually Catwoman in disguise. Meanwhile, the villains come up with a plan to lure Batman into a trap, using a kidnapped millionaire as bait – Bruce Wayne! Oh bitter irony.
Like the TV show, the movie reaches two very different audiences at once: kids were attracted to the comic book elements while adults appreciated its deliberately campy humor. Many people were responsible for Batman’s success, but the biggest share must go to star Adam West, without whom the show probably wouldn’t have worked. Other actors could have played Robin, and some of the villains were played by different actors over the show’s three seasons. But West was the perfect match for this Batman: there is an earnestness in his consistently hilarious performance that only Neil Hamilton’s Commissioner Gordon comes close to matching. (Hamilton was an excellent “straight man” on this series and a fine actor late in life; by 1966, he had been making films for nearly half a century. See his appearance in the The Outer Limits episode “The Invisibles” as an example of his diversity.)
Handicapped by a cowl that severely restricted his facial expressions, West relied on a funny clipped speech, constantly adjusting its speed. Like Fred Astaire’s dancing, West makes something extremely complex seem easy and natural, but that precise type of delivery had to have required hours upon hours of thought and preparation: it’s a masterwork of comic timing.
In the movie, one also has a new appreciation for his talent as a physical comedian. The scene everyone remembers succeeds largely due to West’s funny, frantic movements: Batman darts around a pier with a lit bomb the size of a basketball, vainly trying to dispose of the thing before it explodes. In every direction is an obstacle, however: a group of nuns, lovers in a rowboat, a Salvation Army brass band, a family of ducks. Again, though hindered by a head-to-toe costume that would seem to limit most expression, West somehow conveys Batman’s sense of urgency, panic, and controlled frustration. For that gem of a scene alone, Batman is worth watching. (Interestingly, West doesn’t simply play Bruce Wayne as Batman unmasked, but in a much less stylized manner. I wonder if this was deliberate, or if wearing the costume somehow inspired him.). The rest of the film is hit-and-miss. Some ideas are quite funny: when the Batcopter is struck by one of The Riddler’s Polaris missiles, sending it crashing to earth, Batman and Robin are saved by an enormous pile of foam rubber – an outdoor display at the Foam Rubber Wholesalers Convention. (“I’d say the odds against it would make even the most reckless gambler cringe,” Batman says.) However, the picture makes the mistake of shooting its wad in the first half-hour. During that time everything there is to see is shown: the Bat Cave, the Batmobile, the four villains and their submarine, as well as several new gadgets, the aforementioned Batcopter and Batboat. After that the film becomes rather serial-like in its extreme repetitiveness. Almost every scene drags on way too long; had it been fine-tuned to 70-75 minutes instead of 105, it might have become a classic ’60s comedy instead of the kind of footnote it’s become.
The film will always be a classic and will always be fondly remembered