Friday, July 1, 2016

Your Quick Reference Guide to To The Batpoles!

Welcome to To The Batpoles! While we've finished our 120-episode marathon viewing and reviewing an episode of Batman a day, we hope you'll come along for the ride after the fact and post your comments on the episodes as you make your way through the series. While you can access all of the entries in the Blog Archive in the sidebar, we thought it would be helpful to provide this index with links to each of the episode reviews, spotlights, season and series wrap-ups, all of the interviews we conducted, and the other special features posted.

Season 1 Episode Reviews
The Movie
Season 2 Episode Reviews
Season 3 Episode Reviews

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

We interrupt this program for a very special announcement

Just when you thought you had seen the last of our "TV show a day" blogs, this week co-host John Scoleri threw caution to the wind, and has embarked on a journey to watch and comment on every episode of Dark Shadows on the 50th anniversary of its original airdate.

And yes, that means starting at the very beginning, not 200+ episodes in when Barnabas arrives.

Right now the key question is can he do it? Remember, we're talking about 1225 episodes here. Five years. Well, perhaps you have the complete DVD collection in your library, and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to crack those babies open. What better time, and what better way than to join in on the fun.

Check it out at Dark Shadows Before I Die!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, Bat-fans!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yvonne Craig 1937 - 2015

Watching Batman in syndication as a kid, there was nothing more exciting than seeing this in the opening credits:

Yvonne Craig, forever Batgirl. RIP

Friday, December 16, 2011

Batman Season 3 and the Complete Series - A Final Report

We hope you've enjoyed this nostalgic trip through the 60s with the dynamic duo (Peter and John) along with our Extra Special Guest Batscholar, Joel Eisner.

Before we get to our individual picks, here are the top five "visited" third season episode reviews on the blog:
  1. The Wail of the Siren
  2. Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club
  3. The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery
  4. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  5. Surf's Up! Joker's Under!

Our Season 3 Top Five Lists

Peter's Picks
  1. The Unkindest Tut of All
  2. The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery
  3. I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle
  4. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  5. The Wail of the Siren
John's Picks
  1.  Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  2.  The Unkindest Tut of All
  3.  I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle
  4.  Surf's Up! Joker's Under!
  5.  The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery

Season 3 Best Special Guest Villain/Villainess

Peter and John's Pick
Victor Buono as King Tut

Season 3 Best Bat-Babe (Batgirl/Villainesses not eligible)

Peter's Pick
Sivi Aberg (Surf's Up! Joker's Under!)

John's Pick
Angela Dorian (I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle)

Season 3 Best Gadget

John's Pick
The Bat Crawler

The Best of the Bats - the Entire Series

The Top Ten Batman Episodes

Peter's Picks
  1. Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle
  2. The Unkindest Tut of All
  3. The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery
  4. I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle
  5. Hizzoner the Penguin/Dizzoner the Penguin
  6. Come Back, Shame/It's How You Play the Game
  7. The Ring of Wax/Give 'Em the Axe
  8. King Tut's Coup/Batman's Waterloo
  9. The Purr-fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time
  10. The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns
John's Picks
  1. King Tut's Coup/Batman's Waterloo 
  2. The Purr-Fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time  
  3. The Devil's Fingers/The Dead Ringers 
  4. Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle 
  5. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  6. The Ring of Wax/Give 'em the Axe
  7. The Joker is Wild/Batman is Riled 
  8. True or False Face/Holy Rat Race 
  9. I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle 
  10. The Cat's Meow/The Bat's Kow Tow

Best Special Guest Villain/Villainess

Peter's Pick
Frank Gorshin as The Riddler
runner-up: King Tut

John's Pick
Julie Newmar as Catwoman

runner-up: King Tut

Best Bat-Babe (Batgirl/Villainesses not eligible)

Peter and John's Pick
Lee Meriwether
Peter's runner-up: Jill St. John

Best Writer 
Peter and John's Pick
Stanley Ralph Ross

Best Director
Peter's Pick
Oscar Rudolph

John's Pick
James B. Clark

Bat-Babe Lifetime Achievement

Yvonne Craig as Batgirl

That's how we saw it. Let us know which you thought were the best!

And be sure to join us in 2012 as we follow the exploits of intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak one day at a a time in our latest blog—It Couldn't Happen Here. If you're a fan of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, you won't want to miss it!

The Batscholar's Epilogue

By Joel Eisner

After 66 adventures done over a period of 120 episodes, the series had come to an end. The show left the air after the final episode. The third season episodes never had a rerun on the network. After a couple of weeks, ABC replaced the show with rerurns of the short lived sitcom The Second Hundred Years. The series went into reruns not long after and remained there ever since. The Batman motion picture went from first run theaters in 1966 to cheap last run theaters over the next year or so. It debuted five years later in July 1971 on the ABC Sunday Night Movie. It later was released on video and is still there. The series has yet to surface on video due to complex legal rights.

What most people do not know is that there almost was a fourth season for the series as Yvonne Craig relates, “I knew someone who had access to all the files and letters that were written back and forth between ABC and 20th Century Fox/Greenway Productions (Dozier’s company), and apparently, they were going wildly over budget all the time. It was a very expensive show to do. ABC did not feel it was cost-effective anymore. So, when we left for Thanksgiving in November, we didn’t know if we were going to do another season or not. We didn’t even say goodbye to one another because we didn’t know that it might be our last season. And then, we weren’t picked up.”

“When we were canceled by ABC, they wondered if we could get on another network. When it looked like we couldn’t, they came with a bulldozer and bulldozed the whole set—the Batcave and all of that. Then, two weeks later, NBC said, ‘Listen, we’d like to take a shot at “Batman,” if you still have the set.’ They didn’t want to start from scratch and build them because the set was $800,000. So, it was too late, and nothing came of it.”
NBC’s unfortunate delay destroyed the series’ only remaining chance for a fourth season. How the series would have fared on the new network is unknown. It might have been restored to its original two part/two night format and lasted a few more years, or it might have just gotten worse and died a death of neglect at the end of the fourth year. There are endless possibilities.

Producer William Dozier, “Well, we had a good three-year run. That’s not bad for what was essentially a novelty show. You’ve got to be realistic about such series. They can’t last too long. In fact, I was surprised that it went a third season. Although the show still led its time slot in the ratings, adults had tired of it, and the audience had become kids who are just as happy watching the old shows; they don’t care if it’s a repeat. So why go on spending $487,000 for new ones?"

Adam West, "I had to take it seriously. I wanted to do it well enough that Batman buffs will watch reruns and say, ‘Watch the bit he does here; isn’t that great?” I’ve never had more fun doing any role than Batman. It was a fortuitous, lucky marriage of a lot of talents, and, as a result, it became a classic. It’s going to be playing forever.”

Burt Ward: “I learned a great deal from Batman. It was an experience I will treasure forever. It gave me a fantastic opportunity. It has enabled me to meet and be welcomed by people throughout the world. Having seen me on television, they treat me as though I’m their friend, as though I’ve been in their home before.”

After the series was cancelled, there were other incarnations of Batman with Adam and Burt. They returned in a Saturday Morning cartoon called The New Adventures of Batman and Robin. It added Bat-Mite but little else. No familiar voices and the show was below par. The two returned for the Challenge of the Super Heroes and Challenge of the Superheroes Roast (both available on DVD from the Warner Archive - ed.), two shot on video attempts to made a live action version of the Superfriends. Besides Adam and Burt, Frank Gorshin came back as the Riddler, but only for the first part. The shows were horrible to say the least. Adam later took over the voice of Batman on the Superfriends cartoon (after the death of Olan Soule, the original voice). Adam and Burt reteamed again for the Return to the Batcave tv movie which contained their original studio screen test footage, it had little going for it.

As for the rest of the cast. Madge Blake died in 1969, Stafford Repp died in 1974, Producer Howie Horwitz died in 1976, Neil Hamilton died in 1985, Alan Napier died in 1988. William Dozier died in 1991. Very few of the guest villains, production crew and assorted henchmen are still alive. Its been 45 years since it premiered but the reruns still keep the memory alive.

Shortly after the series was cancelled, 20th Century Fox, which lost so much money filming Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor years before, sold off most of its studio back lot, (It was turned into the Century City housing development). Most of the producers moved out of Fox and half went ot Paramount and the rest went to Warner Brothers. Charle Fitzsimons went on to work with William D'Angelo on Love American Style and the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series. William Dozier retired from producing and took up occasional acting (just to keep the wonderful medical benefits given by the SAG).
Stanley Ralph Ross worked with D'Angelo on Wonder Woman then went on to producer and write the Monster Squad. The 1976 Saturday morning series tried to capture the flavor of Batman, but fell flat. It featured Buck Kartalian (a catwoman henchman) as the Wolfman, Mike Lane (Black Widow 's Daddy Long Legs) as Frankenstein and Henry Polic II (later of the Webster tv series) as Dracula. Fred Grandy later Gopher of the Love Boat, worked in a wax museum and when he turned on his crime computer (hidden in the chamber of horrors) the wax statues of the monsters came to life and together they set out to solve crimes created a new bunch of arch criminals. Stan Ross was able to reuse and recycle old Batman plots and jokes (including the Ronald Ray Gun). The giant clam, guest stars Julie Newmar, Joey Tata, Dick Bakalyan, Sid Haig, Billy Curtis, Paul Smith (artemus Knab) Barry Dennen. New verisions of Mr Freeze, Falseface, King Tut, (all with different names but the characters were the same). Back in 1976 with other Saturday sitcom kid shows by the Krofft Brothers, I enjoyed this show, however, it was finally released a few years ago on dvd. I was really looking forward to seeing it again, as it never went into reruns. I barely remembered anything, except the episode with Lost in Space's Jonathan Harris as the evil Astrologer. I found the show to be a lame parody of Batman and an overindulgence of Stanley Ralph Ross's ego. He had complete run of the show and it just didn't work. The dvds are inexpensive, so if you want to see what Batman could have turned into check it out.

As for me, this look back on the series has been fun, as I hope it has been for you. Looking at the series on a daily basis enabled me to watch the series slide and deteriorate right before my eyes, something I really didn't pay direct attention to when I wrote the Batbook. Now I see the show in a different light and I hope you do to.

To Be Continued Next Week! Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel! NOT!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 120

By Joel Eisner

After three years the producers were able to get Zsa Zsa Gabor onto the program. She was under consideration for Zelda the Great, she was scheduled for Marsha Queen of Diamonds, but was unable to do it. Now when Mae West was unable to take on Minerva, Zsa Zsa got her chance. They never should have bothered. While not a bad episode, it just wasn't worth ending the series with this episode.

Mae West the comedic bombshell of the 1930's, was now 75 years old and would have been just too much a cartoon version of her former self. Zsa Zsa was much younger but the part was just too vague to be considered an arch villain. Some have suggested that Carolyn Jones return as Marsha in this episode. It might have helped but it was just another one of Charles Hoffman formula/hatchet jobs.

Producers Howie Horwitz and William Dozier made on screen appearances as themselves partly to save on paying for more guest stars and partly to give a send off to the series.

We have a number of returning henchmen in this episode, Al Ferrara last seen as Trap Door to the Black Widow. Boyd Santell, last seen as Sethos in the Spell of Tut (this time he played a security guard) and Jacques Bergerac returns as French Freddie the Fence. Tough guy actor William Smith was Adonis. Mark Bailey who spent most of his career playing guards and army officers (he had a recurring part as a German Officer on Garrison's Gorillas) was Apollo. As far as Aphrodite, this was Yvonne Arnett's only acting role. whether she was someone's girlfriend or just another Fox starlet, this was it for her.

The only other guest cast member was light comedy actor George Neise, who played Mr Shubert, who appeared in numerous sitcoms and worked with Three Stooges.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, “I loved the character; she was a real wicked woman. The wardrobe was all gaudy and silver and nothing can be more exciting than that. She had a beauty parlor and she had these hair dryers on the people’s heads. These hair dryers got all of the spy stories out of the people’s brains and I could find out what they were thinking. One person for example was a jewelry salesman and I could find out the combination to his safe. I opened that safe and diamonds kept on falling all over me. I loved it.”

By this point in time the show had reached rock bottom and even Adam West had had enough.

Adam West: “I became extremely frustrated and unhappy, and wanted out. There was nothing I could do to convince the producers or the studio to make improvements. I was just a hired hand. Eventually I lost all interest because I felt the series was being neglected. They weren’t spending the money they should have and we weren’t getting the scripts we deserved. I didn’t want any part of that kind of situation. But I still hated to leave the character because Batman had been good to me.”

What would have happend if the show had gone to a fourth season is unknown. But there almost was a fourth season. Check out my epilogue for more.

Episode 120: Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires

Season 3 Episode 120
Original Airdate: 3/14/68
Special Guest Villainess: Zsa Zsa Gabor as Minerva
Guest Stars: Jacques Bergerac, William Smith
Written by: Charles Hoffman
Directed by: Oscar Rudolph

Minerva, Queen of the Mineral Spa, has been using her devilish Deep Secret Extractor to learn where millionaires hide their booty. Minerva's latest victim: millionaire Bruce Wayne. Mahvelous, dahling!

PE: The producers have a laugh at themselves this episode as they're cast as millionaires at the spa. I say that with tongue in cheek because we all know it was to save a few bucks.

JS: I'm wondering if they did that to pocket any remaining budget before they turned out the lights once and for all.

PE: Bruce Wayne comes out of one of Minerva's rooms with a big smile on his face so, let's not be coy, we both know what was really going on in that spa. Bruce tells Minerva that after every visit to her spa, he feels like a new man. She answers him back with "I feel like a new man too, Bruce!" That line might have been funny if uttered by an actress you could understand but mangled by Gabor's thick Hungarian accent, it sounds like she actually says "I fell like a newmanitou, Broosh." Then Bergerac shows up and suddenly we could use subtitles.

JS: Bruce obviously had a good enough time that he wasn't worried about them stealing his watch.

PE: Minerva's two henchmen achieved success long before they became simple henchmen. Atlas played outfield for the Dodgers in the 1960s (and was playing for them while he moonlighted on this show) and Adonis was actually Conan the Barbarian's dad. Bill Dough-zier searched high and low for new talent.

JS: So I have to ask. Was Aphrodite's role minimized out of deference to Zsa Zsa? I feel like we were denied a potential Bat-babe.

PE: Minerva's obviously not been in America long as she doesn't find it odd that Bruce Wayne talks to his watch. I guess she figures all these millionaires are nuts, dahling.

JS: I think the fact that she's a little nutty herself helps.

PE: Robin gasps at Minerva's insistence that the Caped Crusaders take it all off before their massage: "If we disrobe... we'd reveal our secret true identities." Ward accents the last bit with a hilarious nod towards his Robin-jewels.

JS: What I found odd was that they didn't just bring towels, they went full Toga.

PE: My "newly-discovered love for Adam West's comedic abilities" moment comes when Minerva's goons are leading the towel-clad Dynamic Duo towards a spa room. Batman jovially exclaims that he's looking forward to a eggplant jelly vitamin scalp massage and caresses the top of his headgear:
Atlas: Minerva thought we'd pop you into the Persimmon Pressurizer first.
Robin: Persimmon Pressurizer? Holy astringent plum-like fruit!
Batman: Only astringent until ripe, Robin!
JS: I guess we should start planning for The Last Precinct-A Day. I have to believe that watching a Stephen J. Cannell sitcom starring Adam West will straighten you out.

PE: What's with the goofy smiles between West and Ward just before they open the Pressurizer door? It looks, to me, like an on-set crack-up that got left in. Very funny!

JS: How many times in this series have they been trapped together in a too-small container? Fortunately it always makes for a good screencap.

PE: It took us 120 episodes but, yep, we finally get to see Alfred without pants.

JS: This will be a day long remembered.

JS: More importantly, we get one last romantic interlude between Alfred and Batgirl. I tell ya, it was a missed opportunity not giving the two of them a spin-off show...

PE: In his indispensable Bat-bible, Joel Eisner says that originally the Minerva role was written for Mae West but she was off doing the equally campy Myra Breckinridge. I'm surprised this wasn't originally intended as a return for Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones) as the plot would fit that villainess to a T. I can only imagine how different this episode would be if you could understand all the deadly threats coming from the mouth of Minerva/Marsha.

JS: Did you notice, in classic Commissioner Gordon fashion, he walks out with the criminal babe on his arm? Don't you think he would have tempered that a bit this season, with daughter Barbara always hanging around?

PE: Not as horrible an episode as I'd been led to believe, just not very good. According to The Official Batman Batbook, the producers knew this would be the last episode. So why not have a nice exit for our boys (and girl)? Instead, there's just a bit of unfunny banter about Batgirl always disappearing and the curtains fall. Not much fanfare for a show that was, at one time, a pop phenomenon.

PE Rating:

JS Rating:

Next up... We wrap up Season 3 and the entire series! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!