REVIEW: PLANET OF THE APES (2001)

CAST
Mark Wahlberg (The Perfect Storm)
Helena Bonham Carter (Dark Shadows)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Scorpion King)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Estella Warren (I Accuse)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Kris Kristofferson (Blade)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes Original)
Evan Parke (Alias)
Glenn Shadix (Hercules: TLJ)
Linda Harrison (60s Batman)
Melody Perkins (Power Rangers In Space)
Martin Klebba (Project X)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
In 2029, aboard the United States Air Force space station Oberon, Leo Davidson works closely with primates who are trained for space missions. His favorite simian co-worker is a chimpanzee named Pericles. With a deadly electromagnetic storm approaching the station, a small space pod piloted by Pericles is used to probe the storm. Pericles’s pod heads into the storm and disappears. Against his commanding officer’s orders, Leo takes a second pod and goes in pursuit of Pericles. Entering the storm, Leo loses contact with the Oberon and crashes on a planet called Ashlar in the year 5021. He discovers that the world is ruled by humanoid apes who can speak human language and treat human beings as slaves.
Leo comes across a female chimpanzee named Ari, who protests the awful treatment humans receive. Ari decides to buy Leo and a female slave named Daena to have them work as servants in the house of her father, Senator Sandar. Leo escapes his cage and frees other humans. Ari sees them, but Leo convinces her to join a human rebellion against the apes. General Thade and Colonel Attar march ape warriors in pursuit of the humans. Leo discovers Calima (the temple of “Semos”), a forbidden, but holy, site for the apes.
Calima turns out to be the remains of the Oberon, Leo’s space station, which has crashed on the planet’s surface and looks ancient (the name Calima coming from the sign “CAution LIve aniMAls”, the relevant letters being the only ones not covered in dust). According to the computer logs, the station has been there for thousands of years. Leo deduces that when he entered the vortex he was pushed forward in time, while the Oberon, searching after him, was not, crashing on the planet long before he did.
The Oberon‍ ’s log reveals that the apes on board, led by Semos, organized a mutiny and took control of the vessel after it crashed. The human and ape survivors of the struggle left the ship and their descendants are the people Leo has encountered since landing. In the present, a battle ensues between the humans and the apes. A familiar vehicle descends from the sky and is identified immediately by Leo as the pod piloted by Pericles, the chimpanzee astronaut. Pericles was pushed forward in time as Leo was, and had just now found his way to the planet. When Pericles lands, the apes interpret his landing as the return arrival of Semos, the first ape, who is their god. They bow, and hostilities between humans and apes disappear.
Pericles then runs into the Oberon and Leo runs after him, followed by General Thade. Inside, Thade and Leo fight, with Pericles trying to help Leo, only to be thrown hard against a wall. Thade gets hold of Leo’s gun, but does not understand how to use it at first. Seeing that Thade is in the pilot’s deck, Leo closes the automatic door of the entrance, trapping Thade as he shoots the gun, the bullets ricocheting off the door harmlessly. Thade thrashes around to escape, but after all attempts to do so fail, he finally gives up. Leo then decides that it is time for him to leave the Planet of the Apes, so he gives Pericles to Ari, with her promising to look after him, also saying farewell to Daena. Leo climbs aboard Pericles’s undamaged pod and uses it to travel back in time through the same electromagnetic storm. Leo ends up crashing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Earth. He looks up at the Memorial, and sees it is now a monument in honor of General Thade. A swarm of police officers, firefighters, and news reporters descend on Leo, but on closer inspection, they are all apes.
This is a remake which managed to outdo all the production values of the previous ‘Apes’ films, but ended up with a film which feels like it was made for a straight-to-TV. We all make mistakes, and this one was was Tim Burton’s. There was no reason to remake what was (and is) a classic film.
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REVIEW: BEHIND THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Roddy McDowall (Batman: The Animated Series)
Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur)
Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Linda Harrison (Batman: The Series 1966)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Naughton (Hostages)
 


This release was first broadcast by American Movie Classics (AMC) and is hosted by the late Roddy McDowell who played “Cornelius”. Included here is three plus hours of footage (in addition to the main documentary) that will be most welcome to fans of the series and a pleasant surprise to those like myself who are not that familiar with “Apes”. All five films in the series are covered and trailers included for all. Also here is the 1967 North American Theatre Owners (NATO) presentation as well as a fascinating screen test featuring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, who was originally tapped to play Heston’s ape nemesis, but later bowed out due to health concerns.


All in all, this will appeal to two groups of DVD fans-those that love the “Apes” series and those who love behind the scenes and “the making of” type documentaries.

REVIEW: BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES

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CAST

James Franciscus (Cat o’Nine Tails)
Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur)
Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
Linda Harrison (Batman: The Series 1966)
Victor Buono (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?)
Paul Richards (Kiss Me Deadly)
James Gregory (Barney Miller)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Natalie Trundy (Huckaberry Finn)

Following the events of Planet of the Apes, time-displaced astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) and the mute Nova (Linda Harrison) are riding on horseback through the desert of the Forbidden Zone. Without warning, fire shoots up from the ground and deep chasms open. Confused by the strange phenomenon, Taylor investigates a cliff wall and disappears before Nova’s eyes.

Elsewhere in the Forbidden Zone, a second spaceship has crash landed after being sent to search for Taylor and his crew. Like Taylor’s ship, it has traveled into Earth’s distant future. However, surviving astronaut Brent (James Franciscus) believes he has traveled to another planet. He encounters Nova and notices she is wearing Taylor’s dog tags. Hoping Taylor is still alive, he rides with her to Ape City, where he is shocked to discover the simian civilization. He observes the gorilla General Ursus (James Gregory) leading a rally calling for the apes to conquer the Forbidden Zone and use it as a potential food source, against the objections of the orangutan Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans). Brent is wounded by a gorilla soldier and taken by Nova to the home of the chimpanzees Cornelius (David Watson) and Zira (Kim Hunter), who treat his wound and tell him of their time with Taylor. The humans hide when Dr. Zaius arrives and announces that he will accompany Ursus on the invasion of the Forbidden Zone.
Attempting to flee the city, Brent and Nova are captured by gorillas. Ursus orders they be used for target practice, but Zira helps them escape. They hide in a cave which Brent soon discovers is the ruins of the Queensboro Plaza station of the New York City Subway, making him realize that he has traveled through time to Earth’s post-apocalyptic future. After following a humming sound deeper into the underground tunnels, Brent begins to hear voices telling him to kill Nova. Entering the remains of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, he finds a population of telepathic humans who worship an ancient nuclear bomb.

Brent and Nova are captured and telepathically interrogated, and Brent reveals the apes are marching on the Forbidden Zone. The telepaths attempt to repel the apes by projecting illusions of fire and other horrors, as they had done to Taylor and Nova. Dr. Zaius sees through the illusions, however, and leads the ape army to the ruined city. With the apes closing in, the telepaths plan to detonate their “Divine Bomb” as a last resort. They hold a religious ceremony, at the height of which they remove their masks to reveal that they are in fact still-intelligent humans who are descended from survivors of the nuclear wars. The nuclear fallout has mutated them by removing layers of their skin, but greatly increased their psychic abilities.  Brent is separated from Nova and taken to a cell, where he finds Taylor. The mutant Ongaro (Don Pedro Colley) uses his telepathic powers to force Brent and Taylor to fight each other to the death. Nova escapes her guard and runs to the cell, screaming her first word: “Taylor!” This breaks Ongaro’s concentration, freeing Brent and Taylor from his control. They then overpower and kill him. Brent describes the bomb the mutants worship and Taylor recognizes it as a “doomsday bomb”, capable of destroying the planet, marked with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega on its casing.

The apes invade the subterranean city, killing Nova and making their way to the cathedral. They are confronted by Méndez (Paul Richards), who raises the bomb into activation position before being gunned down. Brent and Taylor attempt to stop Ursus from accidentally setting off the weapon, but Taylor is shot. Brent manages to kill Ursus before being shot dead by the gorillas. The mortally wounded Taylor pleads with Dr. Zaius for help, but Zaius refuses, saying that man is only capable of destruction. In his last moment, Taylor brings his hand down on the activation switch, triggering the bomb. As the scene whites out, an ending narration says “In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe, lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead.”

A great sequel. This film will keep your mind occupied as the battle between apes & man reaches a surprising climax – recommended

REVIEW: PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

CAST
Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur)
Roddy McDowall (Batman: The Animated Series)
Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
James Whitmore (Them!)
Linda Harrison (Batman: The Series 1966)
Lou Wagner (Chips)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
Norman Burton (Wonder Woman 1977)
Billy Curtis (Adventures of Superman)
Astronauts Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton) and Stewart are in deep hibernation when their spaceship crashes in a lake on an unknown planet after a long near-light speed voyage, during which, due to time dilation, the crew ages only 18 months. As the ship sinks, Taylor finds Stewart dead and her body desiccated. They throw an inflatable raft from the ship and climb down into it; before departing the ship, Taylor notes that the date is November 25, AD 3978, approximately two millennia after their departure in 1972. Once ashore, Dodge performs a soil test and pronounces the soil incapable of sustaining life. After abandoning their raft, the astronauts set off through a desolate wasteland in hopes of finding food and water before their provisions run out. Eventually, they encounter plant life. They find an oasis at the edge of the desert and go swimming, ignoring strange and eerie scarecrow-like figures. While they are swimming, their clothes are stolen. Pursuing the thieves, the astronauts find their clothes torn to shreds, their supplies pillaged and the perpetrators — a group of mute, primitive humans dressed in torn clothes — raiding a cornfield. Taylor is attracted to one of the humans, whom he later names Nova (Linda Harrison).
Suddenly, armed, uniformed gorillas on horseback charge through the cornfield, brandishing firearms, snares, and nets. They capture some humans and kill the rest. Dodge is shot in the back and killed. Landon is wounded and rendered unconscious. Taylor is shot in the throat and taken prisoner. The gorillas take Taylor to Ape City, where his life is saved after a blood transfusion administered by two chimpanzees, an animal psychologist Zira (Kim Hunter) and surgeon Galen (Wright King). While his wound is healing, he is unable to speak. Taylor discovers that the various apes, who can talk and are in control, are in a strict caste system: gorillas are the police, military, hunters and workers; orangutans are administrators, politicians, lawyers and priests; and chimpanzees are intellectuals and scientists. The apes have developed a primitive society based on the beginnings of the human Industrial Era. They ride horses and have carts, rifles, and even primitive photography. Humans, who are believed by the apes to be unable to talk, are considered vermin and are hunted: either killed outright, enslaved, or used in scientific experiments.
Zira and her fiancé, Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), an archaeologist, take an interest in Taylor, whom Zira has named “Bright Eyes”. Taylor attempts to communicate by writing in the dirt, but Nova, who has been following him around, attempts to destroy his writing with her hands. The letters she doesn’t destroy are obliterated by Zira’s and Cornelius’s superior, an orangutan named Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans). Back in his cage, Taylor steals Zira’s pencil and notebook and uses it to write the message My name is Taylor. Zira and Cornelius become convinced that Taylor is intelligent, but upon learning of this, Dr. Zaius orders that Taylor be castrated. Taylor escapes and during his desperate flight through Ape City finds himself in a museum, where Dodge’s stuffed and eyeless corpse is now on display. When Taylor is recaptured by gorillas, his voice has recovered enough to growl, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
A tribunal to determine Taylor’s origins is convened by the president of the Assembly (James Whitmore), Dr. Zaius, and Maximus (Woodrow Parfrey). Dr. Honorious (James Daly) is the prosecutor. Taylor mentions his two comrades. The court produces Landon, who has been subjected to a lobotomy that has rendered him catatonic and unable to speak. After the tribunal, Dr. Zaius privately threatens to castrate and lobotomize Taylor if he does not tell the truth about where he came from. With help from Zira’s socially rebellious nephew Lucius (Lou Wagner), Zira and Cornelius free Taylor and Nova and take them to the Forbidden Zone, a taboo region outside Ape City that has been out of bounds for centuries by Ape law. A year earlier, Cornelius led an expedition into the Forbidden Zone that found a cave containing artifacts of an earlier non-simian (believed to be human) civilization. The group sets out for the cave to answer questions Taylor has about the evolution of the ape world and to prove he is not of that world.
Arriving at the cave, Cornelius is intercepted by Dr. Zaius and his soldiers. Taylor, now armed, holds them off, threatening to shoot them if necessary. Zaius agrees to enter the cave to disprove their theories and to avoid physical harm to Cornelius and Zira. Cornelius displays the remnants of a technologically advanced human society pre-dating simian history. Taylor identifies artifacts such as dentures, eyeglasses, a heart valve and, to the apes’ astonishment, a talking children’s doll. More soldiers appear and Lucius is overpowered, but Taylor again fends them off.Dr. Zaius is held hostage so Taylor can escape, but he admits to Taylor that he has always known that a human civilization existed long before apes ruled the planet and that “the Forbidden Zone was once a paradise, your breed made a desert of it… ages ago!” Taylor nonetheless prepares to search for answers, but Dr. Zaius warns him that he may not like what he finds. Once Taylor and Nova have ridden off, Dr. Zaius has the gorillas lay explosives to seal off the cave and destroy the remaining evidence of the human society. He has Zira, Cornelius and Lucius charged with heresy. Taylor and Nova, at last free, follow the shoreline and discover the beach-covered remains of the Statue of Liberty, revealing that this “alien” planet is actually Earth long after a global thermonuclear war. Taylor falls to his knees in despair and anger, condemning humanity for destroying the world.
After all this time it still holds up as a quality slice of science fiction. The ever so slightly ropey special effects of the astronauts in space quickly gives way to the fantastic looking creepy landscape of the planet of the apes and its full steam ahead from there. The ape effects themselves are still good as well.

 

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: WHO’S AFRAID OF DIANA PRINCE ?

CAST

Ellie Wood Walker (The New Interns)
Linda Harrison (Planet of the Apes)
Maude Pickett (Hazel)

The first attempt to translate Wonder Woman to the small screen occurred in 1967. The success of the Batman television series led producer William Dozier to commission a pilot script by Stan Hart and Larry Siegel. A portion of the pilot, under five minutes in length, was filmed under the title Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince? The piece starred Ellie Wood Walker as Diana Prince, Linda Harrison as Diana’s Wonder Woman alter ego and Maudie Prickett as Diana’s mother.

As with Batman, the reel took a comic slant on the character, although while the Batman character himself was played straight, in the proposed series Diana Prince (not Wonder Woman) would have been the focus of the comedy. Diana, an awkward and rather plain young woman, lives with her mother close to a United States Air Force base. Much of the film consists of her mother berating Diana about not having a boyfriend. When her mother leaves the room, Diana changes into her Wonder Woman costume and admires her reflection in a mirror. What she sees is not Diana Prince, but rather a sexy super-heroic figure (played by Linda Harrison) who proceeds to preen and pose as the song “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” plays on the soundtrack. The pilot ends with Diana climbing out a window and flying away, indicating that, despite her apparent delusions regarding her alter ego, she does have some super powers. This pilot episode was never broadcast and the project was taken no further. The pilot has been circulated on the Internet and is of interest to Planet of the Apes fans for the early appearance of Linda Harrison, who would later go on to play Nova in the first two films of that series.