Nostalgia's the only thing in this Batman's utility belt
The story isn't much different than the classic Batman most know, as millionaire Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson fight crime masked as Batman and Robin, with their butler Alfred by their side. Police Commissioner Gordon and his daughter Barbara (who is secretly Batgirl) are there as well. With animation vet Olan Soules giving a stern voice to the not-so-Dark Knight and Casey Kasem bringing a correct blend of youth and confidence to Robin, the show isn't far off the elements that made the live-action show so good. There's even a narrator, who just happens to be the late, great Ted Knight. Sure, the cartoonish "Bang" and "Pow" visuals are missing and the iconic song isn't here, but there are cliffhangers. It's not far off what you need for a good Batman adventure series.
Well, the first problem is the villains. The show relies on a core four bad guys, with the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman present for the vast majority of the stories, including one four-way team-up reminiscent of the '60s Batman movie. Mr. Freeze makes his way into a few episodes, along with Dollman, the Mad Hatter and a disturbing-looking Scarecrow, but for the most part, the rogue's gallery is extremely limited. And instead of bringing in other established baddies from the comic or show, two rather pathetic villains were made for the series, Simon the Pieman (who combines a pastry theme with a rule system like the game Simon Says) and judge, a one-appearance wonder who gets his moniker from stealing a judge's outfit.
Even when the show sticks with the known villains, they are just sad representations of the characters. Of course, this was a '60s kids show, so it can't get too intense, but these villains aren't even trying. Beat up the Joker's jester-themed henchmen and he just stands there waiting to be arrested. And whoever came up with the Riddler's riddles should be embarrassed by how little sense they make or how impossible they would be for Batman and Robin to ever figure out.
Even if the bad guys were written well (and with the show's structure that would be difficult, as there's a two-part first story, broken into smaller chunks, and then a brief, almost throwaway second tale) the animation, courtesy of Lou Scheimer's Filmation, would ruin the show anyway. Everything that SNL's TV Funhouse segments parodied is found here in the cheap, reused animation oft seen in this series. If you removed every time Joker spoke directly to the camera and then threw his head back and laughed, the Batmobile zoomed down the street (at one point with Batman at the wheel, despite him not being in the scene), the Dynamic Duo flew forward like they were on dollies and Batman was in profile in the foreground while Robin stands in the background, there might be 20 minutes of animation left in the show. Maybe for the time this was fun stuff, but now it's just silly.
Sticking with the original presentation, the mono soundtracks sound fine, with clear dialogue and sound effects and good separation from the show's somewhat generic music. This is the kind of sound that succeeds simply by not being totally messed up.
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