Sunday, April 8, 2012

"The New Adventures of Batman" (Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer, 1968 - 1977/1985)



Episodes Directed by Filmmation Studios

Episodes Written by …

Len Janson (6 episodes)
Chuck Menville (6 episodes)
Mark Fink (3 episodes)
Arthur H. Nadel (2 episodes)

Based on the DC Comics Characters Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Series Executive Produced by Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer

Series Produced by Don Christensen

Series Art Direction by Alberto De Mello and Herb Hazelton

Series Editing by Jim Blodgett and Doreen A. Dixon

Original Television Soundtrack Composed by Ray Ellis and Norm Prescott


Olan Soule … Bruce Wayne/Batman '68
Adam West … Bruce Wayne/Batman '77 (Voice)
Casey Kasem … Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson/Robin '68
Burt Ward … Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson/Robin '77
Olan Soule … Alfred Pennyworth '68
Jane Webb … Barbara Gordon/Batgirl '68
Melendy Britt … Barbara Gordon/Batgirl '77
Ted Knight ... Police Commissioner James Gordon '68
Lennie Weinrib … Police Commissioner James Gordon '77
Larry Storch ... The Joker
Lou Scheimer … Bat-Computer/Bat-Mite

With the frequent aid of Batgirl and Bat-Mite, Batman and Robin fight crime to protect peaceful Gotham City from a colorful cast of evil-doers.


Key Episodes:

“The Joke’s on Robin”
"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Tea Party"
"Two Penguins Too Many"
“The 1001 Faces of the Riddler”
"The Cool Cruel Mr. Freeze"
"Your Crime is My Crime"
“The Crime Computer”
"Will the Real Robin please Stand Up"
“The Pest”
“True Identity”
“Curses! Oiled Again!”
“He Who Laughs Last”
“The Deep Freeze”
“Have an Evil Day” Part I
“Have an Evil Day” Part II
“This Looks Like a Job for Bat-Mite!”


At the height of Saturday Morning glory, you’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable and worthwhile character than Batman.

A perfectly cartoonish example of this “The (New) Adventures of Batman;” a Filmmation cartoon series that ran consecutively from 1968 to 1977 on ABC and CBS before re-appearing for a short spell in 1985.

Following the example set by Bill Dozier’s campy live action endeavor, “The New Adventures of Batman” set out to create a show that was even MORE over the top, even MORE farcical and even MORE entertaining.

More over the top than the "Batman" TV series? Is that even possible?

In some ways, given the logical liberties of animation, it succeeded.

In this incarnation, Batman and Robin continue their battle against crime in Gotham City with the occasional help from Commissioner Gordon, Batgirl and a mischievous inter-dimensional imp named Bat-Mite!

Together, the dynamic duo tackle old foes like The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman and Clayface as well as some new dastardly evil-doers like the Moonman, Zardor, Sweet Tooth and Professor Bubbles! All with the aid of the reliable Bat-Computer as well as an array of Bat-Gadgets and Bat-Vehicles!


Running a handful of episodes on and off during the tenure of its broadcast run, “The New Adventures of Batman” was campy, kid friendly Batman at its zaniest, its grooviest and its most innocent.

No murdered parents. No tortured souls.

This is pure sugar; popcorn, bubble gum, pure and simple.

But that’s Batman for you. No other character in the history of comic books could possibly endure battling a villain like Professor Bubbles and making it through to see today.

The cast is wonderful considering what little they’re given as far as motivation and what not.

Olan Soule and Casey Kasem (if Kasem sounds familiar he should; he’s the voice of Shaggy from “Scooby Doo.”) respectively began the show as Batman and Robin and I always loved their voices. Later on in the ’77 version, the ever faithful Adam West and Burt Ward returned to their characters for the first time in almost ten years and THAT was a rare treat!

Aside from Batman and Robin themselves, everyone else from the villains to Commissioner Gordon are pretty standard.


One of the standout characters, however, HAD to be Bat-Mite. A staple from the 50s comics more akin to the science fiction oriented stories from that decade, Bat-Mite is pretty much Batman’s answer to the Great Gazoo from “The Flintstones,” except not all his Bats are in the Belfry (Ba Da BUMP!). More often than not, Bat-Mite’s interference would lead to the criminal getting away or keep Batman and Robin from doing their job.

The series is most well-known for the fact that, being animation, it was able to take the ‘theatre of the absurd’ approach of the 60s television series and heighten it tenfold.

Adam and Burt couldn’t be shown going to space or the depths of the ocean in the live action series. But in animation, the sky was the limit. In fact there WAS no limit!

Some of the episodes DID actually manage to inject some characterization where possible however, such as the 1968 episode “The Joke’s on Robin,” where Robin’s failed attempts to catch the Joker lead to emotional anxiety that forces Robin to temporarily sit the case out so Batman can do his job properly until the boy wonder gains his confidence back. This story concept is repeated with the Scarecrow in the “Batman: The Animated Series” episode “Fear of Victory” over twenty years later.

But ultimately, for the most part, the cartoon is candy-floss.

Some of the villains created solely for the show are just flat out ridiculous.

Case in point there’s the diabolical Sweet Tooth. He (you guessed it) uses candy and other sweets in schemes to rot the teeth of Gotham City’s children.

I’m being completely serious.

The art direction for the show is pretty nice. The Filmmation technique of minimal animation always has a nostalgic charm when you watch it.

In the end, “The New Adventures of Batman” is genuinely harmless, which probably makes it the single BEST way to introduce toddlers and little children into the Batman universe for the very first time if they’re not prepared for the darker incarnations.

And I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.



And now presenting "The Moonman," the first episode of "The New Adventures of Batman" during its 1977 run.


No comments:

Post a Comment