I made a pitch for The Adventures of Judge Jim Thomas, but the network rep must have had narcolepsy. Yeah, that must have been it.
Holy Animation, Batman!
The Batman/Superman Hour debuted in 1968, and marked the Caped Crusader's first animated appearance. CBS had snapped up the animation rights to the character in the wake of the successful live-action series. Half the show was Supes, the other was Batman. The format made it easy to repackage things, as occurred a few years later when all the Batman shorts were broadcast as The Adventures of Batman. It is those shorts that Warner Bros. has released as The Adventures of Batman: Complete Series, with 34 shorts spread over two discs.
The fact the series was prompted by the success of the Adam West/Burt Ward show tells you what you need to know about this set; there are no dark, brooding figures to be found here. Everything is fairly light, but without the campy excesses of the live-action show. Most episodes are two-part affairs, each episode being 10 minutes long; some of the latter episodes are standalone. At that length, you can't do much in the way of story unless you're O Henry.
The show was produced by Filmation; key hallmarks of most of their productions are poor quality animation coupled with bright colors and decent voice acting. That's what you get here. Olan Soule was the voice of Batman—Soule continued to voice Batman in various other shows through 1984, though Adam West was used for a few series. Casey Kasem (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!) voiced Robin and Chief O'Hara; Jane Webb, a longtime voice actor, handled Catwoman and Batgirl; while Ted Knight (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) voiced the villains, with the possible exception of the Joker. The show credits don't identify the Joker, but many online sites credit Larry Storch (F Troop) as the Clown Prince of Crime. I've encountered a few people on the web who claim that Knight voiced Joker as well. Joker has a particularly distinctive voice, but I can't determine one way or another. Either way, the voice talent is pretty solid, with the notable exception of Catwoman, whose voice tends to be raspy instead of sultry. Hagwoman?
The standard def 1.33:1 full frame transfers are decent, but the material is definitely showing its age. Most of the obvious damage has been corrected, though there are still some occasional issues. The Dolby Mono track is clear and free of distortion. There are no extras.
It's a fun diversion, but unlike Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Adventures of Batman suffers from an acute lack of style, either in storytelling or in visuals. It gets points for being the first animated version of Batman, but that's about it.
Not guilty by reason of supreme indifference.
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