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
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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

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE COMPLETE 60’S SERIES

CAST

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Legends of The Super Heroes)
Alan Napier (Marnie)
Neil Hamilton (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Stafford Repp (Plunder Road)
Madge Blake (The Long, Long Trailer)
Yvonne Craig (Olivia)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jill St. John (Diamonds Are Forever)
Burgess Meredith (Rocky)
David Lewis (The Apartment0
Leslie Parrish (Sex and The Single Girl)
Cesar Romero (The Thin Man)
Nancy Kovack (Marooned)
George Sanders (All About Eve)
Anne Baxter (I Confess)
Susan Silo (James Bond JR)
David Wayne (The Andromeda Strain)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Myma Fahey (House of Usher)
Julie Newmar (Mckenna’s Gold)
Ziva Rodann (Forty Guns)
Victor Buono (Beneath The Planet of The Apes)
Olan Soule (The Toweing Inferno)
Francine York (The Family Man)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Sherry Jackson (Brenda Starr, Reporter)
Julie Gregg (The Godfather)
Barbara Nichols (Where the Boys Are)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Van Johnson (The Caine Mutiny)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)
Michael Pataki (Rocky 4)
Bruce Lee (Enter The Dragon)
Van Williams (Surfside 6)
Shelley Winters (Alfie)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Liberace (Another World)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
Otto Preminger (Anatomy of Murder)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man)
Ted Cassidy (Genesis II)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
Michael Rennie (The Day The Earth Stood Still)
James Brolin (Hotel)
Lesley Gore (The Pied Piper of Astroworld)
Bob Hastings (batman: TAS)
Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones)
Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek)
Tallulah Bankhead (A Royal Scandal)
Eli Wallach (The Holiday)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Milton Berle (Hey, Abbott!)
Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins)
Rudy Vallee (Sunburst)
Eartha Kitt (Holes)
Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide)
Dina Merrill (Caddyshack II)
Linda Harrison (Planet of The Apes)
Ida Lupino (High Sierra)
Howard Duff (Kramer vs Kramer)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (Jack of Diamonds)

This is the show that set the tone for the Batman franchise for decades, good and bad, as its indelible mark is hard to erase. The power of the show is in how iconic it was, with every element so vibrant that it’s impossible to forget. Yes, it had the advantage of being the first modern-era mass-media representation of the character, and it also basically had the stage to itself forever, but there was so many memorable ingredients that made it the definitive Batman for generations. First among those were the performances of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Playing it completely straight–West with thoughtful gravitas, Ward with youthful enthusiasm–these actors kept the show from descending into parody. The world may be crazy, but our heroes remain vigilant defenders and detectives. The contrast makes their square-jawed heroics comedic, and the effect is enhanced when things get unusual like seeing Batman dance or surf, or when the Dynamic Duo are chilling out in the Batmobile eating burgers.
The structure of the series, which leans heavily on the style of the old serials and a well-defined formula, was also a big reason for the show’s success and long-lasting legacy. During the first two seasons, stories were split over two half-hour episodes, shown twice a week. The first episode would always end with Batman and Robin on the edge of destruction in some sort of insane death-dealing set-up, with the now classic refrain “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” reminding viewers to come back to see the story’s weekly conclusion. These cliffhangers, along with the emphatic narration, the atmospheric music, the wonderfully detailed sets and costumes and the choreographed fight scenes, which feature the show’s famous “Pow!” and “Bam” visual sound effects, all serve to create a larger-than-life adventure series that’s great fun to watch.
Though West doesn’t appreciate the show being described as campy, it’s hard to think of a word that fits the series better. The thing is, you have to separate the ideas of bad and camp. Camp doesn’t have to be bad. It just has to be absurdly silly. So much of the show is obviously aiming for comedy, be it the way Batman solves impossible clues impossibly quick, the goofy names of the bad guys’ labeled henchmen, the villains’ strange obsession with personal branding, the overly literal signs seen all over the place, or the strangely specific gadgets Batman always has at the ready. I mean, really…an empty alphabet soup bat-container? Then there are the overtly humorous parts, like the cameos when Batman and Robin climb up the sides of buildings, which feature celebrity cameos from Sammy Davis Jr., Don Ho, Santa Claus and Lurch from The Addams Family. Elements like this earn plenty of chuckles throughout the series, but they don’t take away from the fun of the action or the crime-fighting plots. They also serve to make for what might be the most accessible Batman ever; enjoyable for young and old alike.
The show burned brightly, but only for three seasons, crashing hard considering the show’s immense popularity. Perhaps it was overexposure due to the twice-a-week schedule, with 58 episodes in season two, but the show was definitely showing signs of slowing down in the final season before cancellation, including mostly eliminating the cliffhanger, instead linking episodes via a coda at the end. Whether it was an artistic choice or otherwise, the weird way the show started to use “suggested sets,” in which parts of a set were placed in an otherwise black room to create the idea of the setting, made it seem like something had changed for the worse. Another major change in the third season also stood out somewhat negatively, as Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (the crime-fighting alter-ego of police commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara) was added to the show as a regular. She didn’t bring a great deal to the party though, outside of a great costume design, as she often needed saving as much as she helped the team.
The other issue with Batgirl was she was further evidence of the show being a product of its time, as, in addition to the clothes, sets and language all being heavily dated to the ‘60s (especially in the third run), sexism is rampant throughout the series, whether display via the eye-candy molls of the villains or the drooling narration for the new distaff member of the Bat-team. The portrayal of women is pretty much entirely negative in the show, with flippant remarks about the vanity of women or their value, while one villain, Nora Clavicle, is actually a women’s rights activist, who replaces the police force with women, who are only interested in coupons and recipes. The rampant misogyny is odd considering the show was progressive enough to have an interracial flirtation between West’s Batman and Kitt’s Catwoman.
Though the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder are obviously the stars of the show, the villains are what defines the series, as has always been the case with Batman. In addition to his traditional rogues gallery, including Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, this series introduced a number of freshly-minted felons, some of which eventually were incorporated into the comic books, like Victor Buono’s over-acted King Tut. The oft-ridiculous nature of these baddies, which were often created to give big celebrities of the day a chance to play, like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Minerva, Milton Berle’s Louie the Lilac or Liberace’s Fingers, was a big part of why the show was viewed as campy.
As goofy as the new creation were, the originals were wonderfully evil, especially Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman (though that shouldn’t take anything away from Eartha Kitt’s purr-fect turn in the cat suit in the show’s third season.) These three each brought something special to the show, be it Romero’s manic glee, Gorshin’s dark intensity or Newmar’s unrestrained sensuality. The problem with having the villains be such a focal point of the show is it makes the series uneven, as a weak villain, like Van Johnson’s Minstrel or Maurice Evans’ Puzzler, usually makes for a weak episode. The exception to that rule would have to the two-part “A Piece of the Action”/”Batman’s Satisfaction”, which had a terrible nemesis in the stamp-forging Colonel Gumm, but which is great fun because of a crossover with The Green Hornet, which meant Van Williams and Bruce Lee were on hand for twice the crime-fighting action. Just seeing Lee on Batman was great, but having two masked heroes and their rich alter-egos interacting without each other knowing made for a fun twist on the heroes.

Looking at the set as a whole, it’s easy to wonder why the first 12 discs are extras-free. There’s not a commentary to be found. Considering how long the wait has been, and how influential and popular the show is, you’d think there would be plenty of people that would want to sit down and talk about this show. It’s bad enough that the lengthy delays have resulted in many of the cast and creators passing before its release, but to not have any contemporary perspectives is just doubling down on this problem.
There’s also the fact that two separate releases of bonus content that have been released in the past, “Holy Batmania!,” which offered four documentaries on the series, and “Adam West Naked,” a collection of recollections produced by West himself. Some of this contest should have been included on the third disc of season three, which has just two 30 minute episodes. What’s worse is Warner Brothers is offering “Adam West Naked” as part of an odd package online that includes the first 64 episodes, the Batman ‘60s movie and some ephemera.
Thankfully the 13th disc fills in a lot of the gaps holding all of the set’s bonus content, most of which is courtesy of master extra maker Alexander Gray, who has produced and directed this kind of material for loads of DC-related DVDs. It all starts with “Hanging with Batman” (29:56), which focuses on West, looking at his life, from his childhood to his acting career, with plenty of time on his experiences as Batman and the legacy of that performance. The piece, which is loaded with archival photos and video, isn’t fluffy in any way, touching on some of the darker moments of West’s life, including controversy that surrounded him at his peak as a star and his personal and professional struggles in the wake of the show’s cancellation and the character’s rebirth with the Tim Burton movies. An excellent profile of a charismatic man with an interesting life.
“Holy Memorabilia, Batman!” (29:59) looks at the fans, a few in particular, and the collecting that sprung up around the show, including the key pieces and the process of acquiring them. With Toy Hunter’s Jordan Hembrough providing expert (and some personal) perspective, the featurette checks out the collections of actor Ralph Garman (Family Guy, the Hollywood Babble-On podcast) and Guinness record-holder Kevin Silva, as well as the work of Mark Racop, who builds replica Batmobiles. The Garman segments also feature a visit by West to check out (and even try on) the goods, and the result is an excellent look at a side product of the series.
An odd inclusion is “Na Na Na Batman” (12:15) which features a huge roster of producers and directors from Warner Brothers-produced series talking about the Batman series, including their memories of watching the show (if they are old enough) along with the costumes and villains. The connection to the show for most of these participants, which include Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Mike O’Malley, Stephen Amell, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, is beyond tangential, which coats the whole piece with a sheen of promotion, but if you’re a fan of shows like Supernatural, Arrow, The Following and The Mentalist, perhaps you’ll enjoy these worlds crashing together. Wedged in here with all these people is West and Burt Ward, bringing things back to center a bit.
The point of “Batmania Born!” (29:41) isn’t entirely clear, as it can get a bit scattered in terms of the subject matter, but it seems to mainly talk about the look of the series, and mainly features the voices of people from the world of comic books and related TV series, though some production design and costuming people sneak in as well to discuss the visuals of Batman, including the influences of the comic books, the animated opening, the tights and, most interestingly, the negative effect the show had on comic books in the larger world of entertainment. Among those sitting down to chat are Jim Lee, Bruce Timm and Julie Newmar, long with archival clips of Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin, making this catnip for comics fans.
Lee and Garman return in “Bats of the Round Table” (45:08), joining Batman superfan Kevin Smith and actor Phil Morris (Smallville), as they sit down for a meal with West. Unsurprisingly, the chat is dominated by Smith–a natural conversationalist–but they all chime in at some point, peppering West with questions and actually getting some interesting answers, including talk about dealing with a difficult Otto Preminger, who West’s favorite guest star and favorite Catwoman was, life on the set and a fun story about Ward and Bruce Lee. One wonders how the mostly unconnected Morris got in on this group (though he does have a Batman story of his own to share), but they all interact well in a smooth-flowing get-together. The ending may be slightly cheesy, but it’s a satisfying featurette.
Though there are no commentaries in this set, there are two pseudo-commentaries, in the form of the two-part “Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West.” These pieces, which run a total of 59:08, feature West, in occasional picture-in-picture appearances, reading excerpts from his shooting scripts for “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Stuck in the Middle” while the episodes play. There’s a tremendous amount of dead air (probably more than half the episodes are just the original audio), which may explain the lack of commentaries, but it’s great when West shares the notes he made on the script during the production process and his thought process for the character.
The bonuses wrap up with a quartet of rarities, which are mostly great to check out. First up is the 7:54 pilot for Batgirl. This never-aired “episode” was intended to show the character could work, in advance of her introduction in Batman’s third season. This compact adventure, which features Batgirl fighting Killer Moth and his gang alongside the Dynamic Duo in a library, feels just like the Batman series, complete with the “Pow!”s, but with a lot more sexism, courtesy of the narrator and Batman himself. Today, it’s really kind of creepy.
Also included are a pair of screen tests for the show, which are truly fascinating. First up is West and Ward (6:16), in a proto-Wayne Manor and the Batcave, doing a pair of scenes, following by a brief tumbling and karate demonstration by Ward and some silent footage of the pair in the ‘Cave. The performances were so fully formed right off the bat (no pun intended) that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles. That’s solidified when you see Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell try out for the parts (4:23), doing the same roles on the same sets, with the same sketchy costumes. Robin is more childish in Deyell’s performance, while Waggoner doesn’t bring the same measured intensity as West. Watching it though, allows you to picture an entirely different history for Batman.
The final entry is a James Blakely Tribute (2:24). The title is a bit misleading, as it’s just a clip of Blakely, post-production supervisor on the show, discussing the story of the series’ development and the idea of editing in the show’s iconic sound-effects graphics. It’s not really a tribute in the traditional manner.
 It’s only natural that waiting so long for these episodes to arrive on home video has made expectations unmeetable, but between the wonderfully silly show, the quality of the presentation and the excellent extras that actually have been included, this set is one all Batman fans will want to own.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES – SEASON 1-3

Image result for star trek the original series

MAIN CAST

William Shatner (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers)
DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Nichelle Nichols (Heroes)
George Takei (Heroes)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings)
Susan Oliver (Peyton Place)
Majel Barrett (Spider-Man 90s)
Malachi Throne (It Takes a Thief)
Meg Mylie (Lipstick)
Robert Walker Jr. (The War Wagon)
Eddie Paskey (Mission: Impossible)
Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Sally Kellerman (Meatballs III)
Roger C. Carmel (Transformers)
Sherry Jackson (Batman 60S)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Kim Darby (True Grit)
Michael J. Pollard (Superboy)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Morgan Woodward (Cool Hand Luke)
Marianna Hill (Messiah of Evil)
Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island)
Madlyn Rhue (A Majority of One)
Arnold Moss (Gambit)
John Astin (The Addams Family)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Emily Banks (Gunfight in Abilene)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Diana Muldaur (The Survivors)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Joan Collins (60s Batman)
Michael Forest (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
David Soul (Starsky and Hutch)
Billy Curtis (The Terror of Tiny Town)
Julie Newmar (60s Batman)
William Schallet (Innerspace)
William Campbell (Dementia 13)
Stanley Adams (The Great Gundown)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Frank Gorshin (60s Batman)
Charlie Brill (Bloodstone)
Ned Romero (Children of The Corn III)
Teri Garr (Tootsie)
Jack Donner (Stigmata)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

The original Trek series established, within it’s brief 3-year span, the panorama of an ever-expanding Federation of planets & civilizations, of which Earth was, in the 23rd century, a founding member (tho the audience never saw Earth during this run, except in time travel stories back to our 20th century). This series also presented mankind as, first & foremost, explorers, embodied by the trio of dynamic captain James T. Kirk (Shatner), his number two, science officer Spock (Nimoy) and irascible but kindly Dr.McCoy (Kelley) – but Spock was, of course, an alien (a Vulcan), an example of the alliances Earth held with many extraterrestrial races. They operated from a magnificent starship, Enterprise (one of several such ships in Starfleet), with a crew of about 400. Creator Roddenberry used the series as a platform to address many social & political concerns of the time. The general consensus of most familiar with the show is that the 1st & 2nd years were superior; the 3rd suffered in the writing & budget dept’s.

The best episodes: “City on the Edge of Forever”-Kirk almost sacrifices Earth’s history for the love of a woman. Almost, and he might’ve done so had he known her a little longer; “Mirror,Mirror”-4 members of the crew switch places with their counterparts in a parallel universe, where the Federation is a hostile Empire; “Space Seed”-the crew awaken Khan, an old-time conqueror boosted by eugenics, who returned in the 2nd Trek film(“The Wrath of Khan”); “Arena”-Kirk battles a lizardian captain of an unfriendly race on a desolate asteroid; “The Naked Time”-the crew lose their inhibitions, back when this was original; “This Side of Paradise”-another one with everyone affected emotionally and forgetting their mission; “The Trouble With Tribbles”-hugely entertaining romp on a space station; “Shore Leave”-another romp on a weird planet; “Journey to Babel”-Enterprise hosts ambassadors, Spock’s parents included, dealing with intrigue & politics; “Where No Man Has Gone Before”-the 2nd pilot which green-lit the series and the 1st with normal humans acquiring godlike powers; “The Enemy Within”-examines duality of human nature; “The Doomsday Machine”-space epic about a huge alien weapon destroying planets; “Amok Time”-detailed look into Vulcan customs; “Balance of Terror”-warships testing each other in space,introducing the aggressive Romulan race; “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”-answering all questions on androids; and “The Devil in the Dark”-which shows you cannot judge monsters by appearance.
As the list above demonstrates, all the concepts we have come to know in later films and series (Next Generation,Deep Space 9,Voyager) were laid out just fine in the late ’60s by some inventive writing (the first film to follow this, for example, merely reworked the episode “The Changeling” with a $50 million budget). The 2nd season also ended with a pilot for an unrealized spin-off “Assignment:Earth” which would have focused on human agent of aliens ‘Gary-7’ in the present day. It was back then, also, that omnipotent beings, such as “The Squire of Gothos” and the Organians (“Errand of Mercy”-which introduced Klingons) popped up to work miracles. The final 3rd season show ended things on a hysterical note as Kirk’s body was taken over by an unbalanced woman – quite unPC these days but nonetheless intriguing & entertaining. The series was followed 4 years later by an animated version, which took place during the same mission. Yes, the original is still the best, and it’s easy to see why. Image result for star trek the original series

REVIEW: BATMAN: HOLY BATMANIA

 CAST

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward(Return To The Batcave
Julie Newmar (Seven Brides of Seven Brothers)
Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Cesar Romero (Ocean’s 11)

Holy Batmania! is a 2-DVD set of documentaries about the iconic ABC television show and its actors. This famous series ran from January 1966 to March 1968. With this set you get to see and hear how this series was conceived through interviews with some of the cast members, creators, including Executive Producer William Dozier, some of the writers, screen tests from 1965, network promos, syndication promos, theatrical trailers, TV spots, a trivia game, the Batman craze, and much more. I found the stories that were shared were very interesting and fascinating.

The two DVDs are broken down this way:

Disc 1 contains four 44-minute documentaries:

1. Batman: Holy Batmania! – a documentary about the series itself
2. Adam West: Behind The Cowl – a documentary about the career of Adam West
3. Cesar Romero: In A Class By Himself – a documentary about the long career of Cesar Romero, who played The Joker on the series.
4. Julie Newmar: The Cat’s Meow – a documentary about the long career of Julie Newmar, who played The Catwoman for the first two seasons of the series.

Disc 2 contains screen tests of Adam West and Burt Ward and also of Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell, who were the runners-up for the roles of Batman and Robin. This disc also contains the Network Presentation from 1966, network promos for all three seasons, syndication promos from 1983 and 1989, theatrical teasers and trailers for Batman: The Movie (1966), TV spots from 1989, a Bat-Marathon and Bat-Trivia (1989).

I found the documentary about Julie Newmar to be probably the most interesting (not by much, though), but all of them are excellent and very well done. I think viewers will gain a new appreciation for Cesar Romero as The Joker. In the last twenty years or so he’s sort of been forgotten about when it comes to actors over the years who have played The Joker. It seems like when people compare who’s the best movie Joker of all time, they always compare Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and forget about Cesar Romero and the fact that he was in Batman: The Movie (1966). Either they forget about him or they’ve never heard of him or they just dismiss him as campy. Sometimes animated Jokers and the men who have voiced them get thrown into the contest, such as Larry Storch, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Mark Hamill. Personally, Cesar Romero is my favorite Joker of all time. He was 58, 59, 60, and 61 years old when he played him. Amazing. He was the most animated, lively and energetic Joker and had by far the best laugh, in my opinion.

All in all I feel this set is worth purchasing as a nice companion to the 60s show.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

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CAST
Lynda Carter (Sky High)
Lyle Waggoner (Return To The Batcave)
THE DEADLY TOYS
Frank Gorshin (Batman 60s)
James A. Watson Jr. (Airplane 2)
John Rubinstein (Angel)

 Three world renowned scientists,  Dr. Tobias, Dr. Prescott and Dr. Lazaar and members of the military are seated around a conference table listening to Dr. Tobias discuss Project XYZ. He angrily tells them that when he and his colleagues realized they were developing the most devastating weapon that would escalate the arms race. Each of them was responsible for one part of its development. To prevent it from falling into the wrong hands they have burned every page of notes, every equation and every trace of their work. The military men look uncomfortable, except for  Major John Dexter [JOHN RUBINSTEIN]. As Dr. Tobias continues, a strange high-pitched buzzing sound is heard and it continues to grow louder.  Soon Dr. Tobias eyes are blinking in a mechanical, rhythmical manner. As the high-pitched sound becomes piercing, Dr. Tobias slowly begins to melt. While the people around the table look on with horror, Dr. Tobias melts to a blob of slightly smoking liquid plastic and formless clothing, hair and wiring.  The next day, Dexter, an old college friend of Steve’s, explains to Diana Prince  and Steve Trevor, Jr. That the real doctor was replaced by an android. Since all three scientists are involved in Project XYZ, there is the possibility that the other two, who are still flesh and blood, may also be replaced by an android. Steve and Diana decide that they must place both remaining scientists under tight security and Steve leaves to arrange this.

Diana leaves to check Tobias’ laboratory for clues. Somebody is already there when she arrives and he pulls out a gun and tells Diana not to move as he makes his escape. Diana sets off after him and spins into Wonder Woman. She captures the man with her lasso and asks him what he was doing in Tobias’ laboratory.   Meanwhile Steve, accompanied by Dexter, has just placed Prescott in a secure location and is returning to his car just as the phone rings. It is Diana who tells Steve that she wasn’t the only one at Tobias’ laboratory.  A short while later a package is delivered to Dr. Prescott -a set of toy soldiers, which he seems to have been expecting. As he places the soldiers into their positions a miniature cannon fires a needle into Prescott’s arm. He gasps, he eyes glaze over and he appears frozen, stupefied, mouth slack and eyes staring. The phone rings and a voice instructs him to do exactly as it says. He leaves the apartment, walking by the guard who suffered the same fate by a toy, and walks to the back stairway. Another Prescott appears and the real Prescott disappears.  It is the Christmas season and a toy maker,  Orlich Hoffman , is busy putting the finishing touches on a toy drummer when a buzzer sounds. He walks to the back of the toy shop and two men enter carrying a long coffin-like box. Inside the crate is the real Dr. Prescott, sound asleep.

Meanwhile, the android Prescott is being visited by Diana. He insists that she has a cup of tea. While questioning him about Project XYZ, she notices that one of his hands is on a hot burner with the coils glowing red, she pulls it off the coil. He quickly jerks his hand away but knowing he’s been caught with no chance of reprieve. He starts to speak and his eyes begin to blink rhythmically too, Diana releases that Prescott has also been replaced by an android. Diana rushes to Dr. Lazaar’s apartment and has a doctor verify that he is still human, warning him that he is the only one that hasn’t been replaced with an android. She tells him that he will have to be moved again so that he will be safe. She notices a set of toy soldiers and questions him as to where he purchased them, then leaves immediately for the toy shop. Diana arrives at the toy shop and meets the owner Hoffman, who grows suspicious when she asks to purchase toy soldiers. He invents many excuses and send her to another toy shop. He hands her a little Santa Claus to put on her dashboard, to make up for his rudeness. It is really a tracking device for a toy plane that will follow and kill Diana. As Diana drives away she notices the plane above her car. It swoops low and drops explosive devices. She stops the car and runs to take cover as more devices are fired toward her. She spins into Wonder Woman and uses her bracelets to deflect two further shots then leaps up and catches the plane. She carries it over to the car and realizes that the Santa Claus was a tracking device.  Later that night, Hoffman applies the finishing touches one of his most recent creations -another android identical in form, figure and costume to Wonder Woman.

Back at Steve’s office Diana tells Steve about the plane and is just telling him that she has had Lazaar moved when Dexter arrives. He seems very agitated and becomes more so when Diana refuses to tell either of them where she has moved Lazaar too. Diana has grown suspicious of Major Dexter. She checks him out with the computer console, IRAC. As IRAC flashes out the information she requests, she now knows that her suspicions were correct. Dexter and the toy maker are working together. While she is gathering her information, Dexter and Hoffman are together in the toy shop. They are making plans to capture Diana as she is the only one who knows where Dr. Lazaar is. Through a phony telephone call, using Steve Trevor’s voice to convince her, they lure her to a park in the middle of the night and to her surprise the android Wonder Woman is waiting for her. She tells her that the two missing scientists are in the basement of the toy shop. Diana follows warily.  She is greeted by Dexter, who points a gun at her and demands that she tells him where Lazaar is. She tells him that she knows he is behind the switches and that she won’t tell him Lazaar’s location. Hoffman opens the lid of a box near Diana and releases some toy butterflies. One lands on Diana’s hand. It clamps on and a needle appears where its mouth should be. As it bites her, she immediately staggers and falls to the ground, out cold. When she comes round Dexter is sitting beside her. The butterfly contained a truth serum and she tells Dexter that Lazaar is at her apartment. He leaves to get him and Wonder Woman is left to guard Diana. She slowly regains consciousness and sees Hoffman and ‘Wonder Woman” loading Prescott and Tobias onto a truck. She realizes she talked in her sleep and Dexter is on his way to get Lazaar in the hiding place. She gets up and whirls into the real Wonder Woman. The two Wonder Women battle and one crumples to the floor. Hoffman has no idea if it’s his android or not. The two continue loading the van and pick up Dexter. When they explain to him their reason for being late, he becomes suspicious He fires at Wonder Woman and she’s forced to deflect the bullet. He knows it is the real Wonder Woman. Hoffman runs but is knocked off his feet by Wonder Woman’s tiara. She stops Dexter from getting away by holding onto the back of the van.

Diana and Steve watch from a distance and they see Dexter and Hoffman drive off in the truck thinking that their precious cargo are the three scientists. Since the lasso makes people forget things that have happened, they are not aware that Steve and Diana have substituted three androids for the real scientists. Steve and Diana take great pleasure in realizing that Hoffman and Dexter will get what they deserve when the people who paid them for three live scientists will be getting three androids. Diana tells Steve she has something she needs to do.  Wonder Woman stands outside Hoffman’s toyshop, she sprays  “Merry Christmas W.W.” onto the window, turns around and smiles.

Wonder Woman is a classic show and the first Christmas episode was a classic and is one I watch every Christmas and will continue. Biggest highlight of course is Wonder Woman vs Wonder Woman.
POT OF GOLD
GUEST CAST
Dick O’ Neill (The Jerk)
Brian Davies (All My Children)
Steve Allie Collura (Perfect Gentleman)

Diana Prince  is on a stake-out in London. She picks up the car phone and reports to the Inspector that she is outside Thackery’s office and is waiting for someone to come out. Inside Thackery’s office, he is giving instructions to a courier  who is on a very important assignment to him. He is to deliver three elements required to produce hundred dollar bills. Counterfeit of course. Accompanying the courier will be a killer dog, Rasputin. The courier leaves the office for the airport with Diana following him. The dog is led to a room behind the counter and the courier leaves the counter and notices Diana behind him. He runs onto the field. Diana whirls into Wonder Woman and runs after him -leaping over planes -catches him. When she asks him where the counterfeit plates are, he informs her that they are on the dog. She looks up and sees that the plane has just taken off for America.

While this was happening in London, Pat O’Hanlon  a man in his fifties who talks with a thick Irish brogue and a cobbler by trade, is just closing his small store which is located on a quiet street in Washington, D.C. He leaves his store and is attacked by two men, Rancher  and Maxwell  who demand he turn his gold over to them. They put him in the back of their van and moments later, they turn to check on him and he is gone. He disappeared into thin air… They report this to their boss, Bonelli who is very angry. He needs the old shoemaker’s gold to buy the counterfeit plates. He promised Thackery the money and he wouldn’t dare not come through. In the meantime, Diana has contacted Steve  to clue him in about Rasputin. He drives to the airport and watches the animal crates being lowered. Unbeknown to Steve, a truck pulls up, stops and the driver gets out. As soon as the latch to the dog crate is opened, the driver blows a whistle and the dog reacts to the silent whistle by running across the airfield, jumps into the truck and the truck races out of sight. Steve stands there and watches it.   A few days later Thackery arrives in Washington. Bonelli toes not have the gold to pay him for the counterfeit plates. Thackery tells him that the dollar has gotten stronger against the pound and he is upping the price by $50,000. Bonelli must do something fast. He and his two henchmen pay Pat another visit. This time Pat takes them to the basement of hls shop and in the center of the floor, Pat sweeps away the dirt from a heavy lid. He raises the lid and there is a large receptacle filled to the top with gold coins. They take the gold and leave Pat locked in the basement. Through a secret trapdoor, Pat escapes and follows them to their hideout. He overhears them discussing that they must steal more gold. He hides in back of an armored truck. They leave for the next job; which is to steal a small shipment of gold. What they to not know is that is a set-up arranged by Steve and the IADC. So much gold has been stolen lately that the IADC was called in to help catch the thieves.
3696d4affd4b2e847380b40b0444a5deDiana is dressed as a security guard. Just as she is ready to catch Maxwell and Ranchers Pat flings open the back of the armored truck and ruins Diana’s chances. Pat is thrown to the ground as the truck quickly speeds off. Diana whirls into Wonder Woman, leaps into the air and lands on top of the truck. Pat is now up on his feet and tries to block the gateway. Rancher and Maxwell are about to run him over when Wonder Woman leaps from the top of the truck and saves Pat’s life. The two thugs get away.  Bonelli now makes plans to meet Thackery and get the counterfeit plates. Pat, who now knows where Bonelli’s hideout is, hears the plans. But, once again, he is caught and tied up. What Pat doesn’t know is that Diana has been following him, and when the thugs to meet Bonelli, she whirls into Wonder Woman and saves Pat. Once inside the hideout, they find an address and know that is where Bonelli is to meet Thackery. She instructs Pat to call Steve. Bonelli and Thackery meet at the appointed place. An exchange of the gold for the counterfeit plates is to take place when Thackery tells Bonelli that the plates are on the dog. As Bonelli reaches for the dog, Rasputin growls and snaps. Bonelli .now realizes that it is a double cross. Steve now moves in and captures Bonelli and his two henchmen. But, Thackery grabs Pat and uses him as a shield as he runs to a waiting helicopter. Diana whirls into Wonder Woman and comes running up behind the helicopter. The helicopter takes off and Thackery pushes Pat out the door. Wonder Woman easily catches him. She then unties her lasso, throws it and it wraps itself around one of the struts on the chopper. She begins pulling the chopper to earth by drawing on the
lasso and within minutes the chopper is on the ground. Thackery is taken away. Wonder Woman promises Pat he will get his gold back. He smiles so kindly that Rasputin turns into a playful little puppy dog…
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Thou not as memorable as The Deadly Toys, this episode Pot of Gold is still a nice episode it has a cuteness too it, thou a Christmas episode the Christmas theme is mostly just in the background so its one that can be watched anytime.