January 12: BATMAN!

Batman66Riddle me this! What is the greatest television show ever made? The Wire? The Dick Van Dyke Show? Hill Street Blues? The Simpsons? No, it’s Batman, which premiered on this day in 1966!

Okay, so maybe the campy Batman starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader isn’t the best program to ever hit the airwaves, but it’s certainly one of the most entertaining. Amusingly, the show was originally supposed to be a more serious take on Batman done in a style similar to the Lone Ranger series or the hip spy show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Initially, ABC network executive Yale Udoff had heard that Chicago’s Playboy Club was screening the 1940s Batman film serials on Saturday nights. These serials were a hit with club goers, so Udoff thought that a TV series based on the Dark Knight Detective would be a similar success.

After obtaining the rights to Batman, ABC and 20th Century Fox put producer William Dozier in charge of the Bat-project. Prior to producing the show, Dozier had never read a comic book in his life, so he picked up a few issues of Batman. Now, during the mid-Sixties, in addition to fighting his normal rogues gallery, Batman also had an tendency to get caught up in very weird adventures: Including but not limited to fighting robots, traveling back in time, being pestered by inter-dimensional imps and many other flights of fancy. So, after reading some of these odder stories, Dozier thought the only way to properly capture the out there tone of the comics, was to reframe Batman’s adventures as a pop art camp comedy.

Batman and Robin would serve as straight men to the outre antics of Gotham City’s criminals, played by some of the biggest celebrities of the day. It’s a surprisingly daring show for its time. It brought a self consciously tongue in cheek camp attitude to the mainstream and created a distinct visual language for the show (for instance, every sequence in a villain’s lair was shot at a Dutch angle–before that became a cliche) which was a relative novelty for television at the time.

Although Batman doesn’t drink, (he says alcohol hinders his ability to notice the smaller clues that help him solve crimes) let’s raise a glass to Batman and Robin with a Batman cocktail. It’s a dark colored cocktail with a nice range of spices and flavors.

Batman

  • 1 ounce Spiced Rum
  • 1/2 ounce Kahlua
  • 1/2 ounce Vanilla Vodka
  • Root Beer

Combine all ingredients over ice in a highball glass; top off with root beer.

Tomorrow: “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die…”

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