The Adventures of Batman
The Adventures of Batman, also known as Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder was the Batman section of the 1968-1969 Saturday morning cartoon Batman/Superman hour, which ran on CBS’ Saturday Morning cartoon lineup. The first animated adaptation of Batman, the series followed Batman and Robin as they solved crimes in Gotham city.
Spoiler Level: Low
Just like many Saturday morning cartoons of the time, The Adventures of Batman had plenty of flaws, but plenty of charm along with it. They weren’t necessarily good, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some enjoyment to be found in them. It may not have had the merit of Over the Garden Wall or Bojack Horseman, but it didn’t have to. The series was created by Filmation, well known for Saturday morning cartoons such as The Archie Show and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The company was known by their very distinctive style, which, unfortunately, wasn’t intentional, and instead came from their desire for quantity over quality. They would reuse certain shots, all of their characters had a very distinct look to them, and they used less than the required amount of frames per second. As a result, the shows looked cheap.
The Adventures of Batman was no different, The animation was at times laughably terrible, with awkward movements and scenes where you could tell the creators used the same frames over and over again. The body positioning was often out of place. The Joker, for one, looked like he had bowel movement issues throughout the entire seventeen episodes by the way he walked. The show was chock full of these irregularities. The effect on the audience was sometimes amusement from the strange positions the characters put themselves in, and sometimes mild discomfort from the inhumanness of the motions. There were some odd close-ups, which also added to the general cheap look of the cartoon given their poor quality and lack of necessity in the situations in which they were in. And, a lot of the editing had plenty of flaws. The series was overly fast paced; there were times when it almost felt necessary to pause the episode as there would be very quick jumps with very little to no transitions between them. There would be parts of words cut off or scenes that could’ve been drawn out a few more seconds.
Furthermore, the writing was poor, but amusingly so. Similar to the live action ABC series that was going on around the same time, this series featured a lot of really wacky, zany plots, which made very little sense and didn’t need to. Villains would come up with these ridiculous ideas for how to commit crimes, including The Joker makes a movie, and running for mayor. While these plots may make absolutely no sense, they are incredibly entertaining to watch. Certain specific plot points are wildly amusing. For example, there’s a scene in which Batman is stuck in traffic and therefore can’t save Robin from peril. While Batman’s struggle here is humorous in its banality on its own, it’s made even more amusing by his solution to the problem. Alfred comes over with the Batcopter, and Alfred and Batman switch spots, leaving the Batcopter unmanned for several seconds during the switch. And so, a situation which was funny initially becomes all the more amusing with its equally ridiculous solution.
Also, there’s usually a section of the episode in which Batman and Robin spend time trying to deduce the culprit of the crime. This part of the episode tends to be the most ridiculous, as this is where Batman and Robin come to conclusions that end up making little to no sense. For example, in one episode, there’s a company called Emperor involved in a crime. Batman and Robin figure that because Emperor is a type of penguin, then The Penguin must be the one who committed the crime, because it fit his modus operandi. It doesn’t take a grade A detective to realize that that reasoning is a little silly, which ends up making it all the more entertaining. Furthermore, Robin, played by Casey Kasem or the voice of Shaggy from the original Scooby Doo series, says an infinite amount of exclamations, all starting with the word holy, and ending in something else. For example, he would be apt to say something similar to, “Holy Door hinge” or “Holy ham-and-cheese”. Both of these fake examples aren’t as ridiculous as some of the exclamations he brings up, which are always mildly amusing.
It’s important to note that while some of these scenes do come off as amusing, these moments were intended to be taken as serious or suspenseful moments. The audience is meant to fully believe that Batman, with all of his money and gadgets, has to wait in traffic, and has to have Alfred save him with the Batcopter. The series isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and if one takes it that way, they’ll think the series is absolutely absurd. Part of the reason the series works, in general, for me is that it’s not complicated, and very easy to watch. It doesn’t have a ton of emotional complexity, or visually pleasing art or animation for the most part. But, the enjoyment comes from its absurdism, and makes it worth watching for that reason. The series is rarely boring. There are 34 total segments in the series, with 17 episodes worth of content in total, each episode being 22 minutes each. There isn’t an overwhelming level of content that one might feel obligated to finish. And, each segment, with two of them in a 22 minute episode, end up being either 14 or 6 minutes. So, there isn’t a ton of room for you to get bored with the content given there’s a complete plot within those 6 or 14 minutes. With that, each plot is creative in it’s silliness. The series’ writers kept finding ways to make the villains do excessively ridiculous things. I mentioned earlier The Joker made a movie in one of these segments, but did I mention that it was about pirates? The ridiculousness never bores.
While a lot of the art is incredibly basic and required a very low budget, there are some shots that were fairly unique in nature. These shots are comparable to some of the artwork of the 1994 Sega Genesis video game, The Adventures of Batman and Robin. While both of these works feature fairly poor art, there are some moments of quality within the art style, featuring visually pleasing, heavily stylized images that are dark and Gothic in nature. While no one would argue that the game play or the mechanics of The Adventures of Batman and Robin are particularly unique given the time period, some of the art does stand out due to its dark and gothic nature, which made me drawn to the game. The series is very much the same way. There isn’t anything special with its technical quality, but the art does intrigue with its dark and gothic nature.
As a final note, it’s important to note that the villain of Simon the Pieman is first introduced in this series, and is included in two different segments. Simon the Pieman, for the many of you who don’t know, is a villain who’s both a pastry chef and says “Simon says” before ordering any of his henchmen to do anything. He appeared in very little beyond this series. The only reason it’s worth mentioning is that for those of you that are die hard Batman fans, this is a tidbit of knowledge that might be useful to you when asked for your favorite Batman villain. Surely no one will have Simon the Pieman as an answer.
The Adventures of Batman may not be the most technically proficient or well written series, but it is entertaining if you appreciate it’s wackiness.
The Adventures of Batman:
- Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 7.5/107.5/10
- Music - 7.5/107.5/10
- Production - 3/103/10
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