I’ve long held the original Batman series to be one of the funniest shows in television history. It’s so brilliant in its deadpan lunacy that it makes even as great a show as Pee-wee’s Playhouse look a little effortful.
If nothing else, the daffy goings-on the show presented are probably the truest filmic approximation of what a superhero comic book would actually be like if we lived in that world for real. And Adam West’s mock-earnest portrayal of Bruce Wayne and his caped alter ego is up there in classic Shatner territory, for sure, for its understated in-costume masculinity.
This week the show celebrated its 50th anniversary, to surprisingly little fanfare (the first show aired on January 12, 1966).
One cute gag the show never stopped doing, similar to the endless “POWWWW!” cutaway graphics during the show’s many groovy brawls and punch-ups, was to affix a standard ALLCAPS label to all sorts of items that would never bear one in the actual world, prompting the inevitable thought, “Who on earth would put those there? And why??” Most of the names strike the same sort of tone as Adam West’s line readings, so you get an “ANTI-CRIME VOICE ANALYZER,” a “BAT SUPER ROCKET,” a “TRANSISTORIZED SHORT WAVE RADIO BAT RECEIVER,” and so on, with a perfectly straight face.
An intrepid Tumblr known as A COLLECTION OF BAT LABELS has dedicated itself to the task of “collecting the explanatory labels on everything in the 1966-1968 Batman TV series,” and a wonderful Tumblr it is indeed. As the website demonstrates, the show had a refreshing lack of rigor about what got a label and what the precise phrasing would be, they just slapped them anywhere they felt like.
Here’s a generous sample, but by all means check out the real thing.
Much more after the jump…...