Six Things That Batman ’66 Changed For The Better

[With any long-running, oft-adapted character, there will inevitably be actors who become closely identified with them, who, in effect, ‘become’ them for a generation of fans – and out of all said characters, few have seen more of these than Batman. Just about everyone has ‘their’ Batman.

Michael Keaton is still mine. Kevin Conroy embodies him for many others. For younger generations of fans, he may be Christian Bale, or Ben Affleck.

And yesterday, a Batman died.

For those of you who haven’t heard the news, Adam West has just passed on. He died from leukemia at age 88.

I was greatly saddened to hear of this. My own history with West’s Batman is not particularly extensive – I first saw Batman: The Movie back in college, and watched the actual show only recently – but his uniquely humorous, straight-faced portrayal has still left a deep impression on me. More than that, he himself had always struck me as being a genuinely nice guy in real life, a gentle, funny man who seemed to deeply appreciate having had the chance to portray such a terrific character – he once called himself “the luckiest actor in the world”.

He lived a long life, and died as the patriarch of a large and loving family. He continued being involved in Batman-related projects up until the very end. His was a life well-spent that left a positive impact on millions of people – and though he is no longer with us, I have no doubt that his body of work will continue to affect millions more to come.

As it happened, I had already written this article, which I have been tinkering with and fine-tuning for quite a while now. This seems as appropriate as any a time to post it. I hope you will enjoy it as a tribute to the man’s work, along with that of the many other talented men and women that helped make the ’66 Batman the cultural milestone that it remains even today.

The Bright Knight is gone, but he will never truly leave. Farewell, old chum.]

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Deneb does The Batman

Hark to the tale of Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall, a married couple who did standup comedy back in the ’60’s. They’d made it big. They were about to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, with4650871-4862954480-Cool- millions watching. It was one of those one-time, once-in-a-lifetime chances to make a big impression, and they were not planning to waste it. Yep, things were lookin’ good.

Except that the act just before theirs was the Beatles.

Nobody remembers Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall for any other reason today.

Here’s the thing, though – by all accounts, they were good. Even though their audience had just had their minds blown by the Fab Four themselves, they still managed to give a good performance and get some laughs. Had they come on at the beginning of the show, the names of Brill and McCall might really have come to mean something. It was simply a matter of bad timing.

You may have guessed by now that I’m bringing this up for a reason, and you’d be right. Batman: the Animated Series is without doubt the ‘Beatles’ of animated superhero TV. It definitely blew some minds back in the ’90’s, and continues to do so today. It is, for many, one of the best and most faithful depictions of the Dark Knight, onscreen or off. Any immediate follow-up to it was obviously going to get at least a little bit Brill/McCalled.

Enter The Batman, which promptly got savaged by the fans. They hated it. It didn’t look right, it didn’t feel right, it wasn’t what they wanted. It did ultimately stick around long enough to get a bit of a following, but it’s still mainly remembered as B:tAS’ ugly stepchild, as it were.

Yet did it deserve this treatment? Let’s take a look and find out. Continue reading

10 Batman Animated Series villains that need to be in comics

Well, folks, I finally did it. After years of picking up scraps here and there through cultural osmosis, I have finally managed to catch up on Batman: the Animated Series. Yes sir, all four24-1 seasons and 114 episodes, counting the five crossovers with Superman: the Animated Series, which I have also seen – and it was good, too!

Most of you are probably already well familiar with B:tAS, given that it’s one of the most talked-about and beloved nerd series of all time. It’s not just a great cartoon, it’s also one of the most influential spin-offs of all time, with any number of original characters and character interpretations making their way back into the comics. Harley Quinn, the new version of Mr. Freeze, Lock-Up, Roxy Rocket, Renee Montoya – there’s lots of ‘em.

What struck me, though, was not how many characters had made it out, but how many hadn’t. To the series’ credit, it never leaned too heavily on Batman’s already-established rogues gallery, instead coming up with brand new (or functionally new, as with Freeze) antagonists whenever it seemed appropriate – and you know what? Most of them are really good. Sure, a number did make it back to comics, but there’s also a surprisingly long list of foes that haven’t, and in my opinion really should have by now, because they’re cool.

So why waste time talking about them, let’s shoot out our Bat-Ropes and soar into the night. Ladies and gentlemen, my Top Ten B:tAS Villains That Should Make It Into Comics! Continue reading

The Office: Season Two review

Office_Season_2As lackluster, short, and — let’s face it — nearly irrelevant as season one of The Office was, the decision to pick it up for a 22-episode second season was as surprising as it was fortuitous.  Maybe it was Steve Carrell’s charisma that convinced the network to do so, but good decision, boys!

I consider the first episode of the second season to be the “real” start to The Office.  A lot of work went into rethinking characters and getting into a comfortable groove, and the employees of Dunder Mifflin that we know and love today emerged as a true ensemble force here.  And looking over the episode list, I’m amazed at the sheer quality of hilarious stories that are packed into this season, which is why it propelled The Office into a “must watch” type of show.

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The Office: Season One review

os11There’s a sort of hipster shibboleth that you’re supposed to claim that the two-season British original of The Office was, hands-down, the best.  Say that, and you’re in with all of the cool critics.  While it was sort of funny, I never warmed to it the way that I have since latched on to the American version, which I now consider one of my most favorite TV series of all time.

I guess I won’t be invited to their snooty parties.  That’s fine with me; I’d rather be hanging out with Jim, Dwight, Michael, Pam, and the rest anyway.

I’ve seen the entire nine-season run of The Office several times through now, as it’s one of my constant “comfort foods” in my TV time.  Sometimes I even listen to episodes in the car, because by now my brain can fill in the visuals.  The delightful mix of insanely awkward moments, sincere emotion, and hilarious corporate antics have always made me feel that I’d gladly get a job at Dunder Mifflin if it was with people like these.

So let’s go through the seasons, one at a time, and see the evolution of the characters, the company, and the show.

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Deneb does The Flash

UnknownThe history of live-action superhero adaptations has been largely dominated by movies – and small wonder; the accurate portrayal of such spectacular adventures can prove expensive stuff. Ever since George Reeves first made his appearance as Superman, however, it’s been a rare period when some such super-show isn’t knocking around the small screen. From recognized classics like Batman and Wonder Woman to farcical flops like Captain Nice, the genre has a long and varied history, and has been showing new life lately with shows like Smallville and the currently-running Arrow.

Inevitably though, some such shows do fall through the cracks, and that is where we come in, boys and girls. The spectrum ranges from duds with few defenders to genuine lost gems, ones that probably should be better known, but somehow aren’t. Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of cult.

One such show was The Flash, a victim of shuffling time-slots that lasted a single season, from 1990 to 1991. It’s since become one of those shows where either you’ve heard of it or you haven’t – and if you haven’t, you really haven’t. It’s pretty well-regarded amongst the former, though, and obscurity, my friends, is our bread and butter. And since there’s another Flash show that debuted not too long ago – well, what better reason to check out this older version first? Continue reading

newsDid the Log Lady forsee this?  Twin Peaks is indeed coming back for a nine-episode third season, according to Variety:

“Twin Peaks,” the ABC series that was a forerunner of today’s offbeat serialized cable dramas, is coming back to life with nine new episodes to air on Showtime in 2016.

Sources say series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost are working away on the scripts, with Lynch planning to direct all nine episodes. Showtime declined to comment, but Lynch (pictured) and Frost confirmed the news via Twitter on Monday morning.

The episodes are expected to bow in early 2016, which would coincide with the 25th anniversary of the show’s demise after two seasons on ABC in 1990 and 1991. The new segs will be set in the present day and continue storylines established in the second season. Sources emphasize that the new episodes will not be a remake or a reboot but will reflect the passage of time since viewers last checked in with key characters.