ANDY FISH

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Batman Season Four Print! Fantasy Season



HERE it is folks! In FULL COLOR! This is the last print in the series, celebrating SEASON FOUR! In case you've forgotten some of those great episodes I've included an episode list below- and if you ORDER ONE by clicking the STORE link above-- and if you ask for it I'll email you a doc file of this episode list.

ORDERING is available for 24 hours only!

In case you can't tell, this was a lot of fun. The prints are 13x19 on heavy gloss cardstock and FULL COLOR. We go to print with these on Wednesday Dec 19th but we're opening up the orders right now. Midnight Dec 20th the run ends and its sold out-- and that's the end, so if you want one (and enter code BATDEC to save 20% off your entire order) get it now. These'll ship out Friday and Saturday signed and dated.

Batman Season Four
NBC-TV Sept 1968 – March 1969

EP 1 & 2 - CATWOMAN A NEW GIRL / TOMORROW THE WORLD
Bruce, Dick and Alfred prepare for life without Aunt Harriet, as she leaves on her trip around the world, they are surprised when Bruce’s Aunt Agatha (Reta Shaw) comes to live with them, vowing to keep them from their “shenanigans”. Unlike Aunt Harriet, Agatha is no shrinking violet.

Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) is released from prison and approaches Batman about working on his team with Robin and Batgirl. Batman not only accepts her at her word much to the objection of Robin and Batgirl, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Catwoman) decide to marry, causing Robin and Batgirl to go off and form their own team.

Commentary: The first of the multi part subplots that ran through the season, creating essentially a soap operaish ongoing storyline. The ailing Madge Blake is replaced by Reta Shaw as the much more aggressive Aunt Agatha, something that didn’t sit well with fans at the time, but in hindsight gave the show a needed boost. Overall ***1/2

EP 3 & 4 – THE MONSTER NAMED STRANGE/ THE STRANGE MONSTER
Sinister Professor Hugo Strange (William Shatner) is determined to raise the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange), and uses a circus sideshow as his cover. The Batgirl/Robin team is put to the test and they find working without Batman’s guidance is harder than they thought it would be, while Bruce and Selena (Catwoman) travel on their honeymoon.
BATWOMAN (Diana Rigg) is introduced, a masked performer in Strange’s show on engagement from Londonium—she comes to the aide of Batgirl and Robin, revealing that she too is a crimefighter and secretly Kathy Kane.

Commentary: The first episode of Batman without Batman as Adam West was in contract negotiations with the producers who at one point considered killing his character off. What could have been one of the best episodes of the entire series is lackluster, due in part to the odd casting of Shatner as Strange—who seemed wrong for the part. Nice cameo by the original Frankenstein Monster, Boris Karloff, as the mind reader who pops out of the tent Robin and Batgirl are climbing. Even the addition of the great Diana Rigg as Batwoman—whose amazing fighting skills we saw in THE AVENGERS, can’t save this one.
Overall *1/2

EP 5 & 6 – PUBLIC LUNA-TIC NUMBER ONE / IT’S THE WAY TO GET THINGS DONE
Gotham is panic striken when The Joker (Cesar Romero)’s face takes the place of the Man in the Moon—has the Joker somehow managed to set up base there? Batman comes to Robin and convinces him to help him travel to the moon while Batgirl stays behind to handle things in Gotham with Catwoman.

Catwoman reveals her true colors when she tries to kill Batgirl and the two end up in a catfight which leaves Batgirl the prisoner of Catwoman.

Commentary: Batman in space seems to make diehard fans cringe, but this episode, adapted from Detective Comics #388 is actually one of the best, thanks in no small part to the return of Adam West’s Batman. It’s interesting to see Lyle Waggoner appear in this episode as rival millionaire Thomas Blake, since Waggoner was a possible choice to replace West if contract negotiations had fallen through. The appearance of the Bat-Moon-Buggy and the Dynamic Duo working together again (albeit in space suits) makes this a standout episode. Overall ****1/2

EP 7 & 8 – THE MAN OF STEEL / THE ART OF THE DEAL
Newspaper reporter Clark Kent (Elvis Presley) comes to Gotham City to do a story on Batman—and with him comes his alter ego, Superman, who saves the day when a meteor threatens Gotham City. It’s trouble though, when GORILLA GRODD (Bob Burns & the voice of Boris Karloff) appears with enough Kryptonite to kill Superman ten times over.

Catwoman tells them Batgirl was kidnapped by Hugo Strange, who was not killed in the previous episode as we thought, Robin is suspicious but with Batman busy with Superman he agrees to join her on the hunt for the missing dare-doll. He and Catwoman “uncover” Batgirl in a state of frozen suspended animation at Strange’s Abandoned Circus and soon the Boy Wonder is in her clutches as well.

Commentary: Presley was an interesting choice for Superman, since he can’t help but be Elvis Presley. Originally offered the role of Captain Marvel—Presley jumped at the chance and was rumored to be disappointed when they changed the character at the last minute (Presley was a big fan of Captain Marvel). Gorilla Grodd might be a Flash villain, but he works and the addition of Boris Karloff’s Grinch like voice gives the character real menace.
As if having Presley in the episode wasn’t a big enough draw, the cameo by The Beatles makes this the episode with the biggest ratings of the last two seasons.
Overall ****

EP 9 & 10 – THIS TIME FOR REAL / THE MAN WHO STEALS
With Superman incapacitated by GORILLA GRODD, Batman and Catwoman head to his secret African tribe to consult with the society of Gorilla’s, an organization who ousted Grodd and his plans of world domination. Jungle Lord KATAN (Ricardo Montalban) travels back with the new dynamic duo to help defeat Grodd and save Superman before its too late! Batman is anxious to get back to Gotham to find Robin—but the new team of Aunt Agatha and Alfred in Batman and Robin Costumes is already on the job.

Commentary: The first four part episode seems overlong. Presley spends most of the episode flattened by Kryptonite and one has to wonder if they were trying to cash in on the popular Tarzan series of the time (the Tree cameo by Ro Ely would certainly support this). Batman meets Gilligans Island and it doesn’t always work. Montalban’s KATAN is only slightly more memorable than characters like Minerva from Season Three. Overall: **1/2

EP 11 & 12 – THE CLOCK KING STRIKES / IT’S THE CROONER, YIKES!
The Clock King (Bob Hope) returns to Gotham City with a plan to stop time once and for all—using a nuclear warhead. Teaming with The Crooner (Frank Sinatra) a singing idol who is secretly a gangland boss they ransom the location of the bomb to the police.

Commentary: Batman seems to have forgotten he’s looking for Robin and Batgirl in this groaner with two characters who can’t add up to one decent villain. The idea of including the Nuclear Warhead element to the plot seems completely out of place in Batman’s world making this the first absolute miss episode of the season. Overall: *

EP 13 & 14 – REVENGE IS A DISH… / … BEST SERVED COLD
Mister Freeze (Alfred Hitchcock) sits in his prison cell contemplating the accident that caused his condition and cost him his wife—all of which he blames on Batman. He breaks out and seeks his revenge, and this time he’s not playing, and we learn that he’s been blackmailing Catwoman into working for him and he is behind the disappearance of Batgirl and Robin—wanting Batman to experience the loss he felt when his wife died.
Catwoman sacrifices herself at the last minute—telling Batman she really did love him—and Batwoman makes her second appearance in the series.

Commentary: Possibly the most dramatic episode in the entire run of the show, Hitchcock makes a surprisingly sympathetic Freeze and Catwoman’s declaration of her love for Bruce mimics the ending of Batman Returns twenty some odd years later, but with much better effect. Batman was clearly taking note of the changes in popular fiction of the time as we saw in ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE which was the heaviest of the Bond films with the death of 007’s wife (played in that movie by Batwoman Diana Rigg) and the darker times of the late 1960s. Very little camp in this episode makes it seem more like one of the first episodes of the First season.
Overall *****

EP 15 & 16 – KING TUT STRIKES BACK / THE MUMMY’S ATTACK
King Tut (Vincent Price) returns with plans of resurrecting an army of the dead- using the abo rabo system boo forumula and the help of the villainous DEATHMAN (Malachi Throne) and the aide of kidnapped scientific genius Eisner Albstein (Don Knotts) to aide him, they successfully unleash an army of Mummy’s against the Terrific Trio plus the newly added Batwoman.


Commentary: While it’s bizarre to see Price as the formerly robust King Tut, he makes a truly frightening monarch, evoking more of his work as Doctor Phibes than as Egghead. HOLY WEIGHTLOSS remains my favorite exclamation by the Boy Wonder when he first see’s Tut and its interesting to note that original Tut Victor Buono was replaced due to filming conflicts but appears just two episodes later as a whole new character. Price’s Tut lacks the comedy genius of Buono’s but after the heaviness of the last episode, and the beginning of this one with Bruce at Selina’s grave site, maybe it was time for a change. The army of Mummy’s was certainly frightening, and this like the Strange Episode earlier in the season is clearly more horror-related.
Overall: ***1/2

EP 17 & 18 – IVY’S TOUCH / MAYBE NOT SO MUCH
Batman and Robin fall under the spell of the enchanting Poison Ivy (Anne Margaret) but Batgirl and Batwoman remain immune to her charms and must carry on alone to find them before it’s too late.

Commentary: Talk of Burt Ward’s leaving the series had many speculating that he’d go off to college as he did in the comics of the time, but this episode, which spotlights the relationship of Batman and Robin shows there was some chemistry left. Ann Margaret makes a killer Poison Ivy.

EP 19 & 20 – FACE OF CLAY / CLAYFACE
Aunt Agatha seems to have an ulterior motive for moving in with the Wayne family—and her take over of the board of directors for the Wayne Foundation seems to give weight to that motive being greed driven.

At a press conference, the world is shocked when Batman levels a right hook at Aunt Agatha—who reveals that she has been replaced by Clayface (Victor Buono).

Commentary: Buono said in interviews that he was happy to be back on the series as a more serious villain, but one has to wonder if he misses the wisecracks, and he certainly didn’t look happy under all that heavy makeup. Overall: ***


EP 21 & 22 – WHO KILLED BATMAN? / I KILLED BATMAN!
The World’s Greatest villains gather in the Riddler (Frank Gorshin)’s lair. Batman has been missing for weeks and is now presumed dead—and they want to get to the bottom of it to give credit to his killer with the United Underworld Award for Villain of the Year. DEATHMAN, SHAME, JOKER and PENGUIN are just a few of the villains to appear in this episode as well as the first appearance by THE SCARECROW (Clint Eastwood—who would have made a great Shame).

Commentary: A pretty good episode that avoids the cheat of ‘Cassandra’ and actually features guest appearances by several of the series biggest villains, although Eastwood makes a pretty strange Scarecrow—there’s no dancing here, but the scene where he sprays Batman with fear gas and he hallucinates about his father, Thomas Wayne (Marlon Brando) is one that is hard to forget.

EP 23 & 24 – A CAPE OF ANOTHER COLOR / WE LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER
Newspaper reporter Vicki Vale reveals Batman’s connection to the criminal Catwoman causing Gotham to doubt their greatest hero. CATMAN (Lyle Waggoner) appears, announcing he’s stepping up to be Gotham’s Protector, but Batman proves the feline avenger isn’t all he claims to be.

Commentary: It’s interesting to see Waggoner as a Batman like character, since he was Adam West’s primary competition for the show’s lead role. Rather than just being a Catwoman replacement, Catman is actually a pretty interesting villain, more of Batman’s polar opposite, or as Ellery Queen said (who guest wrote the episode) The Player on the Other Side.
While Batman is driven to fight crime, Catman is driven to fight law and order.
The Cameo by Catwoman at the end of the episode gives credence to the fact that Catwoman would return.

EP 25 & 26 – A GHOST OF A CHANCE / BATMAN CAN’T DANCE
The Gentleman Ghost appears (or doesn’t appear since he remains invisible through the whole episode) to plague Gotham City and Batman. Batman has to call on Zatanna the mysterious lady Magician to help him capture the ghost and end his reign of terror.

Commentary: Invisible men were all the rage of late 60s television, and there’s nothing more boring than watching an empty set—still, the scene with The Ghost walking the halls of Police headquarters with a sheet and a pair of glasses evokes images of Michael Myers in Halloween ten years later. Zatanna makes for a groovy guest star in her trippy shroud. Overall: ***

EP 27 & 28 – THE PENGUIN’S FOLLY / THE FATMAN’S JOLLY
The Penguin starts an off broadway play called FATMAN which features a heavily overweight version of Batman and a scrawny pimply faced Robin. The Penguin might actually be reformed, he’s making a fortune on this show—a campier version of Batman, but can Batman be the laughing stock of Gotham City as the price?

COMMENTARY: Hilarious Parody of how bad some of the second and third season episodes were—and one that shows that the producer’s knew where they were going wrong.

EP 29 & 30 – A FLIP OF THE COIN / THE DUO’S REJOIN
Bruce Wayne’s boyhood friend and crusading Television District Attorney Harvey Dent was horribly disfigured when a TV Camera exploded—shrapnel in his head has caused him to become a criminal mastermind and Batman is torn about apprehending his friend. DRAGNET’S Joe Friday and Bill Gannon are working special detail with the Gotham City Police.

COMMENTARY: Producer fears that the makeup was too intense was proven out by parents groups who wrote angry letters about this episode, one which allowed Adam West to flex his dramatic acting chops. The bizarre guest starring of Joe Friday and company is completely out of place.
***

EP 31 & 32 – THE JOKER’S GRAND PLAN Parts I & II
The Joker decides to turn Halloween in Gotham City into something very scary indeed—handing out candy that turns anyone who ingests it into a white faced, red lipped green haired crazy copy of himself. Commissioner Gordon is one of the first victims, sending the Gotham Police Department into chaos.

Commentary: Possibly the best episode of the season, a near perfect combination of comedy, camp and drama.

What would have happened with Season Five?
It’s pretty certain Adam West would have moved on so they would have had to replace Batman—Dick Gautier comes to mind.

There was also a script written in which Alfred would die and later come back as the villain THE OUTSIDER as he did in the comics, which would certainly have been interesting. But I guess we’ll never know….