My First Word Was Batman

Adam West died Friday.

My mom once told me that my very first word wasn’t “mom” or “dad” or even “binky,” it was “Batman.” I was obsessed with the show even at the rather early age of 1 or 2, and I would sit on the floor in front of our gigantic Magnavox (TVs really were more like furniture back then) and raise my hands in the air and exclaim “Batman!” when they said it in the theme song (and they said it a lot).

I’ve been hot and cold on the big-screen movies. Keaton was fun in the first two, Clooney was OK but he was stuck in one of the worst movies ever made (it’s funny how Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies try to be more like the original show than Tim Burton’s darker/weirder movies, but they just don’t work), and while I can appreciate Christopher Nolan’s movies and their “quality,” he still doesn’t know how to shoot a fight scene (none of the directors of the movies do, actually) and I don’t think they’re “fun” enough. And yes, fun is still an important element in a comic book movie (I’d still like to see a black and white, set-in-the-’40s, B-movie noir Batman, but that’s a whole other post).

So Adam West will always be the “real” Batman to me. I was too young to get the in-jokes and satire and overdone plots. I watched the show unironically for the fights and colorful villains and that fantastic hidden pole behind the library bookcase and my early love for Julie Newmar. I watched the show again recently, and while I remember thinking “this is so ridiculous!,” I thought it with a smile on my face. The show knew what it was doing and it did it well. I can still remember the feeling when I saw the feature film based on the show. I was too young to see in the theater but when I saw it on TV later it was a big event for me. My God, it’s going to be like the TV show, only longer and with all the villains? Yes!

I’ve always found it fascinating how some stars of old TV shows completely fade away while others reinvent themselves in some way, taking off on their old roles/personas but still doing something fresh. West played similar characters in movies and in many animated shows. Who could have guessed that West would go on to be loved by a whole new generation of fans by voicing the mayor (named Mayor West) in a cartoon like Family Guy? Though I guess a lot of those fans are adults who get it. There was something not just about the tone of his voice but the speed of it and how he structured his words. There was nobody that sounded quite like him.

We all have the things beyond family and friends and geography that have shaped us. Everything I am is because of Raymond Chandler novels and Dean Martin songs and Quisp cereal and TV shows like The Dick Van Dyke ShowLeave it to Beaver, Warner Brothers cartoons and Letterman. I would add Batman to that list too, even if I don’t think of it that much when I make those mental lists we all make. I don’t know if I would put it on any list of the “best” TV shows (I never have), but “best” is a very different thing than “favorite” or “most important” when it comes to lists, or at least it should be. Batman was very important to me.

Godspeed old chum.

4 thoughts on “My First Word Was Batman

  1. Batman was what it was, fun to watch. And when I got older is when I too realized what they were doing. And it was still fun to watch. And Julie Newmar was fun to watch, also!!!! 😉

    Adam West’s delivery reminds me of William Shatner in Star Trek. Both had very unique deliveries that worked in their respective shows.

    As for Keaton, a better script would have brought him back for another movie. I really liked the Tim Burton Batman movies. But Warner Bros. wanted to go in a lighter direction. Too bad. Keaton was a good Batman.

  2. Bob, you said it all here, very well. Mr Mayor, I agree with your first two paragraphs, but not the third. I’ve never liked any of the Batman films; not even Keaton’s. I thought Burton’s ‘Batman Returns’ was SO disgusting with Danny DeVito, I walked out, but not before getting reimbur$ed for that ticket. Shame on ME for having gone to see it in the first place—to see Michelle Pfeiffer as ‘Catwoman’!

    Adam West is the best, and is the only real ‘Batman’. The combination of the brilliant, clever writing, creativity, the best guest stars who ever lived or ever would, all coming together in this one of a kind, never to be repeated series in THE climatic decade of the 20th century. It could only be from the Soaring ’60s, that has left every decade since in its long shadow, and always will.

    I put in some comments on the POST website you’ll find interesting on Adam West, and didn’t want to overlap much here.

    1. You are correct sir! That song’s from ’78 but still great. Meatloaf was also great on the 2011 installment of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’. Gary Busey REALLY infuriated him though. I doubt if they’ve spoken since. I’ll be getting Bob’s letter in the mail next week, right?.

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