The moment fans have been waiting nearly 50 years for has arrived: “Batman: The Complete TV Series” finally arrives on Blu-ray November 11, with plenty of Bat-special features and all 120 Bat-episodes packed into its utility belt. On hand to announce this historic moment at Comic-Con International 2014 were the dynamic duo themselves, Adam West and Burt Ward, as well as Julie Newmar, who brought the fiercely fabulous Catwoman to life.
The press conference kicked off when San Diego’s police commissioner Shelley Zimmerman presented West with her official police chief commissioner coin — a “device” that she would later use to summon Batman and Robin into action to fight off the evil cities desperately trying to steal Comic-Con away from San Diego.
The question and answer session kicked off with a question directed to Burt Ward asking if he’s been able to rewatch all the old episodes without recalling all the pain doing his own stunts caused him. Ward responded with a story about his first day of shooting, implying that his tenure as Robin and extreme stunts tended to go hand in hand. The very first shot the actor filming after slipping into his tights was the scene that would become the opening of the show, where the Batmobile comes out of the Batcave at impossible speeds. “I got in the Batmobile and I was expecting to see Adam, but he wasn’t there. Instead, there was another gentleman dressed as Batman.” Ward then learned that the ride had been deemed too dangerous for West to participate in, but the sidekick would have to endure it because his stunt double didn’t look enough like him. “I asked, ‘Don’t I have a stunt man?’ They said, ‘Yes you do — he’s over having coffee with Adam West!'” The stunt ended up injuring Ward, specifically his hand, sending him to hospital — after they got the shot.
While most viewers may have never noticed how dangerous the show’s action scenes really were, they definitely latched onto the series’ playfully irreverent tone and tongue in cheek nature. “This was a different time,” said Newmar. “Between the 1950s and the 1970s, there arose something called ‘camp.’ Camp is really an exaggeration, but thereafter things got darker, drearier, more depressing.” Newmar then playfully looked at Adam West and added, “But oh boy, did we enjoy those ’60s.”
Of all the live action adaptations the Dark Knight has gone through, the version presented in the ’60s television series may just feature the most true-to-the-comics interpretation of the classic Batsuit. West and Ward spent their workdays in spandex bodysuits — or “Python Pants” as Ward called them — and Newmar revealed that wardrobe had to keep hairdryers on hand just to keep the costumes camera ready. “This is the strangest thing you’ve ever said,” exclaimed West, defending himself from Newmar’s allegations of Bat-sweat.
When asked about their favorite episode, West offered up the series debut without hesitation. “The first one with Frank Gorshin as Riddler,” he answered. “It really set the tone for the show, and it worked. It really worked beautifully. And Frank was dramatic and wonderful as Riddler. To play opposite Frank was great for me, because I loved that kind of on the edge dangerous acting and improvisation.”
The new Blu-ray release will allow for fans old and new alike to see that dangerous acting in unreal levels of detail. “It just knocked me out of my socks,” said West describing his reaction to the new box set. “I thought, ‘This is incredible!’ And truly it is. I mean, it’s the way Batman should be seen… It will amaze you.”
Newmar then described what she most enjoyed about playing Catwoman. “I think the sauciness, the sassiness of the character — I just had so much fun with it. It’s like being a six-year-old, hatching plots and schemes and deceptions.”
The stars then described what they thought about the show’s recent resurgence in popularity, specifically the new toys being produced. “I think it’s totally fabulous, except for the bobble-head,” answered Newmar. “That was embarrassing!”
Bobble-head aside, Ward sung the praises of the more realistic Batman figures produced by Hot Toys. “The manufacturers that are putting out the products now have done such an incredible job,” said Ward. “I have seen some of the skin textures of Adam and I in costume and honestly, I’ve shown [pictures of the toys] to people and they think they’re photographs [of us].”
As actors on the show, the cast had an opportunity to take home more one-of-a-kind mementos than those now sold in stores. Adam West revealed that he might have a few batarangs back at home, and then revealed his real prized possession from the series. “I have all of my original scripts — one hundred and twenty [scripts] with all my own notes in them. As part of the [Blu-ray special features], I will be reading one of my scripts a little bit, and showing some of the notes just for fun.”
While the show’s generations of fans have been clamoring for the show to be released, Ward admitted that he’s happy that the show’s making a comeback at this specific time. “In a way it’s actually wonderful that it comes out now,” he explained. “Not only do they have all the adults that watched us as kids, but those adults have children, and in some cases grandchildren, who watch us in reruns. The actual audience for ‘Batman’ is probably two or three times bigger than we had even when we were on in primetime.”
The spirited panel came to a close with the Boy Wonder paying Adam West a mighty big compliment. “I’ve loved working with this man,” the Robin said while gesturing to his Batman. “He is one of my dearest friends… The two of us fought so hard when we made appearances in costume, we would never take off our mask — we would never in any way degrade the character [in front of] kids. When we were in costume, we were those characters. Adam has done the most fantastic job, and in my opinion — no disrespect to anybody — there is only one Batman, and that’s Adam West.”