Friday, November 20, 2015

Batman - The Television Series: The Complete Third Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Leap into the third and final season where the felonious and foul must be stopped to keep Gotham safe, and a newly formed Terrific Trio must turn chaos to calm! With rogue wrongdoers like the sly Siren, lethal Louie The Lilac and unethical Egghead running rampant, Batman (Adam West), Robin (Burt Ward) and Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) have their Super Hero hands full. Now completely re-mastered, all the originality, crime-fighting action and arch-villainy of special guest villains like Milton Berle, Eartha Kitt, and Joan Collins, are on DVD in pristine splendor like never before — for those who were there, and a new generation of Bat-fans!

Show (3 out of 5 stars)
I've been a fan of the Batman television show since I was a kid and got to see it every now and then whenever repeats came on. I know that I haven't seen every episode so I've been excited that the show has finally been released on DVD and Blu-ray (if you buy the complete series set). The show came out in 1966 and starred Adam West as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Burt Ward as Robin/Dick Grayson and it was envisioned by show producer Bill Dozier as a fun and campy show that blended action and comedy for the whole family. 

The show was a massive hit for its first two seasons, but by the third season the rating began to drop and it was decided that the show needed to be retooled. The main change was the addition of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon who basically took over the whole show (and had her own theme song). There were cast changes as well, such as John Astin taking over for Frank Gorshin's Riddler and Eartha Kitt taking over for Julie Newmar to portray Catwoman while Newmar was filming McKenna's Gold

The third season is my least favorite of the three for a variety of reasons including the aforementioned cast changes. While I'm glad that Batgirl provided a positive role model for many people, her character completely overshadowed Batman and Robin who were relegated as simpletons and damsels in distress with her arrival. In their zest to show how tough, smart, and cool Batgirl was, the show's producers and writers willingly sacrificed the main characters's integrity to do it. I don't know why they couldn't have just made all three equally capable, but it really annoys me to see the main characters get the shaft like that. 

Another thing that I didn't like this season is the fact that the show began to pander to its audience which it had never done before. The biggest problem is that they didn't seem to know exactly who their target audience was so their attempts to win over different groups went all over the place with shout outs to the flower children, surfing movie fans, and the rest of the counter-culture youth. Yes, this is the season where one of the episodes involves the Joker trying to win a surfing contest only to have to deal with a surfing Batman. By season three, the episodes were getting more and more campy and out there. WThis season also gave us Joker in a flying saucer. 

While the show still attracted quality guest stars, they were stuck doing lame roles like Milton Berle's Louie the Lilac, or Vincent Price's Egghead. I understand that the show couldn't feature the marquee villains like Joker (Cesar Romero) and Penguin (Burgess Meredith) every episode, but the viewer sure felt their absence when left with bad guys like Lord Ffogg and Lady Peasoup, King Tut, or Olga Queen of the Cossacks. To be honest, by the third season the show had run out of steam which is a shame as the first two season had been so much fun. 

As always, Adam West and Burt Ward are a lot of fun to watch as they straddle the tightrope of being serious and funny at the same time, and the supporting cast is equally good. Yvonne Craig brings a new energy to the show and offered a new hero that the audience could root for. This show is still the perfect entry way for kids to enjoy Batman and superheroes in general, and my seven year old son loves it just like I did, which is great to see. I'm so glad that this show has finally been released so that every generation can enjoy it!

Here are the episodes included for this season:
  1. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  2. Ring Around the Riddler
  3. The Wail of the Siren
  4. The Sport of the Penguins
  5. A Horse of Another Color
  6. the Unkindest Tut of All
  7. Louie, The Lilac
  8. The Ogg and I
  9. How to Hatch a Dinosaur
  10. Surf's Up! Joker's Under!
  11. The Londinium Larcenies
  12. The Foggiest Notion
  13. The Bloody Tower
  14. Catwoman's Dressed to Kill
  15. The Ogg Couple
  16. The Funny Feline Felonies
  17. The Joke's on Catwoman
  18. Louie's Lethal Lilac Time
  19. Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club
  20. Penguin's Clean Sweep
  21. The Great Escape
  22. The Great Train Robbery
  23. I'll be a Mummy's Uncle
  24. The Joker's Flying Saucer
  25. The Entrancing of Dr. Cassandra
  26. Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I was at the Comic-Con panel where the complete series was announced and some footage was shown of the restoration done for the Blu-ray set. The footage showed the huge difference between the previous quality and the restored quality and everyone in the audience was shocked at how good it looked. While this DVD set doesn't look as good as the Blu-ray quality I saw before, it still looks way better than anything that I've seen on television. This is such a colorful show that you really notice how much better it looks right away. The colors pop and there's a lot more detail on display too. For a show released in the sixties and on DVD, this looks fantastic. 
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Dolby Digital 1.0 track is fine and works for the show, so don't expect a 5.1 or a 7.1 track for the set. The dialog is clean and crisp so it's very easy to understand and the music also sounds great. The various sound effects, (which there are a lot of) all are blended well with the rest of the track.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
There are some pretty good extras for this set that fans will enjoy. To be honest, I was surprised by that fact as most televisions series sets from long ago are generally thin on extras.
  • Hanging With Batman - This is a thirty minute look at the career of star Adam West. A mix of new interviews as well as archival interviews provide the content. I enjoyed this, but this is kind of an appetizer for fans. If you want to really learn more about the actor you should watch Starring Adam West, a documentary that really goes in depth into his life and career.   
  • Holy Memorabilia Batman - Adam West visits podcaster Ralph Garman's cool Batman collection. Kevin Silva, is also included as he reportedly has the biggest Batman collection in the world.
  • Batman Born! Building the World of Batman - This is a thrity minute look at the enduring legacy of the show that includes interviews with past and present participants including Adam West, Burt Ward, DC animation's Bruce Timm, DC Comic honchos Jim Lee, Mike Carlin, and more.
  • Bats of the Round Table - a 45 minutes chat over dinner between Adam West, Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, Jim Lee, and Phil Morris.
  • Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West - Now this is pretty cool. We get to hear Adam West read the comments he originally wrote on a couple of his scripts which kind of makes this a mini commentary track.
  • Na Na Na Batman - We hear from some cast and crew from Warner Bros.based shows who talk about the series and its theme song. 
  • Bat Rarities! Straight from the Vault - This twenty one minute collection of rare footage includes various scenes from the Batgirl Pilot; the screen test of Adam West and Burt Ward, and the screen test of their rivals Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell. There's also a James Blakeley Tribute
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
This show was my first exposure to Batman and his world when I was a kid and I still enjoy it even if it's an appreciation of different aspects because I'm older. The show's positivity and life lessons for kids is still good and the action and humor are just as fun as I remember. This DVD set offers great video and audio quality and the extras are excellent. Other than the Blu-ray set, this is the best that I've ever seen the show and this is an easy set to recommend. While I prefer the first two seasons more than this one, this is still a really fun show that the whole family can enjoy.

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