Monday, November 17, 2014

Biff! Bam! Boffo! – on Blu-ray!

Batman’s 75th Anniversary has also been a great year for the BATMAN (1966) TV series. 

There is the wonderful BATMAN ’66 comic book from DC Comics… and now there is “BATMAN THE COMPLETE TV SERIES LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY”! 

I just got, and spent much of the day with, this amazing Blu-ray set! 

"It is TRULY AMAZING, Old Chum!"
By all accounts, it’s been a long and difficult battle to get the BATMAN (1966) TV series to DVD – but was this remarkable deluxe set ever worth the wait! 

All three complete seasons on Blu-ray discs – with many Extra Features. 

A softcover Episode Guide book.

The Adam West Scrapbook, hardcover and filled with great photos from the Batman '66 era. Including one each of West with William Shatner... and John Wayne!

A reproduction set of the original Batman Cards (the first set with drawings, and not actor’s photos) that I had way back in 1966! 

A Hot Wheels Replica of the Batmobile!  (…Atomic Batteries to Power!  Turbines to Speed!

The episodes TRULY never looked better!  The picture quality is bright, sharp… and Bat-tastic!  And, for a series that used color in such a then-unique way, Blu-ray is the perfect format for BATMAN! 

I must note that the illustrations used here are culled from around the Internet, and my own scans, and are NOT indicative of the magnificent picture quality seen in the Blu-ray set!  

"HOLY HIGH-DEF! We look MUCH better than this, on Blu-ray!"

On the first day, I skipped around the vast BATMAN ’66 video-verse with gleeful abandon!  It went something like this: 

"Buckle-up! You're in for quite the ride!

The first two-part episode, featuring Frank Gorshin as The Riddler: “Hi Diddle Riddle” / “Smack in the Middle” – an amazingly new and colorful approach to television (…even though *I* first saw it in Black and White), with an equally amazing Jill St. John disguised as Robin.  Hmmm… Methinks Adam West’s Batman might not have been “The World’s Greatest Detective”, after all! 

Oh, and the episode was based on this comic.

Skipped to the first appearance of my favorite TV-Bat-Villain, the great Victor Buono as King Tut.  “The Curse of Tut” / “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut”. 

Jumped to the many Extra Features and watched the Batgirl Pilot – with Adam West, Burt Ward and the (need I say…) amazing Yvonne Craig as the Terrific Trio vs. Killer Moth, a comics villain who never appeared on the series.  Alas, the actors who play Killer Moth and his Mothmen remain uncredited in the piece.  It runs just shy of 8 minutes and really does feel like a “lost” episode of the series.  

Then, “Batmania Born! Building the World of Batman”, a superb documentary on the “life and times” of the show as a pop-cultural phenomenon, with Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, persons from DC Comics like Paul Levitz, Mike Carlin, Dan Di Dio, Jim Lee, and Len Wein, key creative figures in Warner Bros. different Batman animated series Bruce Timm, James Tucker, and Alan Burnett, and file footage of Caesar Romero, Producer William Dozier and Writer Stanley Ralph Ross.  This feature should actually be released on its own!  It’s THAT GOOD!  

On to Season Two and the first appearance of Vincent Price as Egghead “An Egg Grows in Gotham” / “The Yegg Foes in Gotham”.  After all, it recently WAS “Vincent Price Week”! 

Next, near the end of Season Three, the final appearance of Victor Buono as King Tut.  “I’ll be a Mummy’s Uncle”. By Season Three, most Bat-episodes were one-part and self-contained.  A wonderfully funny affair with great dialogue.  …And, you KNOW how I love great dialogue!  By this time, Buono was REALLY hamming it up! 

 And, “The Joker’s Flying Saucer”, the last appearance of Caesar Romero’s Joker! 

"Is it really THE END for me? Unthinkable!" 

Finally, back to Season One, for its second adventure “Fine Feathered Finks” / “The Penguin’s a Jinx”, and the first go-round for Burgess Meredith as The Penguin. 

That is SOME BAT-DAY!!! 

I hate to "RIP" anything about this set, but...

If there’s one CON about the set, it’s something that may unfortunately be typical of Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray product – specifically such product that contains “episodes or installments” that should play individually off of a menu.   It’s certainly true of the three Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Blu-ray sets. 

Once you select an episode for play from the episode menu, at episode’s end we are not taken back to the menu to make another selection – but, instead, the NEXT SELECTION (from whatever point you are at on that menu) plays automatically, and then the next, in non-stop fashion.

It’s an involuntary version of “PLAY ALL”, only starting at which ever point you choose.  It’s rather annoying to not be able to make “your next viewing choice” yourself, without explicitly pressing the “MENU” button of your remote.  …But, in the grand Bat-scheme of things, this is a minor quibble. 

SECOND DAY UPDATE: Another minor quibble”, but particularly noticeable to someone like me, is that, in the first two seasons at the end of “Part Two” of every episode, there was a Next Week's Villain” intro.  It would just be a STILL of the villain that would hold on the screen for as long as it took William Dozier to say: Next Week: Batman vs. The Penguin!”  These bits have always been cut from syndication prints.  

Alas, they are also missing from these otherwise perfect episodes. However the Next Week's Villain” intro for Zelda the Great, at the end of the first Mister Freeze appearance, Instant Freeze” / Rats Like Cheese” seems to have been accidentally left on, to the great pleasure of authenticity enthusiasts everywhere!   

What are you waiting for?  Get down those batpoles, already! 

“BATMAN THE COMPLETE TV SERIES LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY” is pricy, but SOOOO worth it, especially with online deals – and Black Friday coming up.  So, slide down the Batpoles, and get yours on the “Same Bat-Day!”  

"I'm getting MY COPY right now!" 

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