There was a period, when I was younger, that ITV’s breakfast television went for a burton. The TV AM strike of, I think, about 1987 was a momentous time – adults switched to BBC Breakfast for the news, but the rest of us enjoyed things like Flipper, Happy Days and – best of all – Batman.
Camp as Christmas and twice as colourful, the Batman TV series was as far removed from the gritty gravelly “I’m Batman” stuff of today as it was possible to be.
But, you know what, it was great.
A self-deprecating show that knew exactly what it was doing – from all of Robin’s little “Holy whatevers, Batman” to the insanely specific, and handily labelled, machines in the Batcave (and elsewhere) – it was a masterstroke of genius.
Which is why it’s referenced with absolute affection in the Lego Batman movie, the video game Lego Batman 3 and countless other places too.
There are certain things that are iconic. The thwips, bishes, bashes, clangs and thwaks of the fight scenes. The long walk up the side of a building while people – often stars of the period – poked their heads out to have a chat with the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder. The ridiculous cliffhangers, which often saw our heroes in mortal peril attached to some nefarious – but story or villain specific – death trap and the narrator begging us to tune in at the same bat time on the same bat channel.
It was a magical time.
And that’s without even mentioning the infamous Bat Shark Repellant – or any of the other incredibly specialised Bat Items held in the Bat Utility Belt. Or the handle in the Batmobile for quick turns.
Or the sporadic public safety warnings that Batman would impart to the viewers by way of a stern talk with Robin who, of course, was quick to act without considering the consequences.
Adam West once said that “anything that triggers good memories can’t be all bad.”
I have nothing but good memories of the time I spent watching the most colourful of all the Batmen. I remember being confused, when I first read a Batman comic, that it was nothing like the show. But, luckily, I realised that wasn’t what mattered. I was too young to question whether I should like both.
I just did.
As I have with every variation of Batman since. Apart from Clooney. I’m not a mad man.
But for all your Afflecks, Bales, Kilmers and Keatons, there’s still a lot of love for Adam West.
For a good portion of my youth, Adam West was Batman. Not the Dark Knight, though.
A Bright Knight.
Riding a steed of black with a joyous cry.
“Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed…”
Gotham City’s a little less colourful today.