Batman (TV Milestones Series) by Matt Yockey (book review)

December 21, 2015 | By | Reply More

Giving a book the name ‘Batman’ could mean anything to do with a certain dark knight. However, the series title ‘TV Milestones’ directs you to the TV and specifically to 1966-68 and not once calling Batman ‘the caped crusader’ or the pair of them ‘the dynamic duo’. Mind you, he did mis-spell ‘effect’ as ‘affect’ twice on one page and only a few holy reference to Robin.

BatmanTV

Matt Yockey’s book is an exploration of the ‘Batman’ TV series long-lasting appeal where children can take it seriously and then as adults dig its satire. I did have a wry grin at the name of the publisher, Wayne State, and did wonder if, just for this book, they might have called themselves ‘Wayne Stately’. This book focuses on how the series developed and its various contributors that made it work. The fact that the series is still in re-runs today, along with a more recent bout of merchandise and DVD/blu-ray release testifies to its long standing appeal, even when there’s more recent darker films out there.

For such a small book, it packs in a lot of information and not in an expected way. When it comes to villains, it only really focuses on the third Catwoman Eartha Kitt and Liberace as Chandell with a smattering of Tallulah Bankhead, Caesar Romero and Eli Wallach. There is a lot more focus on Adam West and Burt Ward’s contribution and Yockey makes a point that they’re being relatively unknown when filming but the accent on the more well-known guest star villains, who were lining up to take part. Lest you think aspects of the internal reality is neglected, Yockey looks at the wealthy Bruce Wayne compared to his caped alias and how, although not appearing alike, most having admirable traits. As Commissioner Gordon points out, they could practically be twins. He uses the example from ‘The Batman Is Riled’ where Adam West having a conversation between himself as Bruce Wayne and Batman on the phone with Commissioner Gordon and others listening in changes his posture as he switches. That’s going to be something I want to watch again because it pre-dates something Chris Reeve did as Clark Kent and Superman much later. West was also the one who contributed the Batusi dance amongst other things and we clearly have been under-estimating his contributions beyond the script.

There is also a look at the changing feminism when Yvonne Craig was brought in as Batgirl and although only there for a season, resulted in her transition to the comicbooks. For DC Comics, this isn’t the first time as they also did this with Jimmy Olsen from the earlier ‘Superman’ film serials.

Lest we forget, its only in the opening story is any reference made to how Wayne’s parents died and not used to motivate his entire life in angst as witnessed in the recent films. Yockey instead points out all the charitable institutions Wayne has around Gotham City to better people. When you consider all the various gang members, you do have to wonder how successful this has been.

The final chapter looks at the parodies of the parody and there was enough of them based off the show. Although I can understand the angst of the comicbook creators having to sort out the stories in the aftermath of the TV series, previous sales of his comics weren’t particularly high and DC Comics were even considering cancelling him. Batman’s heightened popularity ensured that wouldn’t happen and the rest, as they say, is history. It probably made the transformation easier to do if anything as readers were expecting a change.

This is an earnest little book that will keep you engrossed on any travel trip that will have you coming away from it with a little more of the serious issues that came out of the 1966 TV series and I haven’t had to say, ‘Holy exclamation mark!’

GF Willmetts

December 2015

(pub: Wayne State University Press. 147 page slightly illustrated indexed smaller enlarged paperback. Price: £14.95 (UK), $19.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-8143-3817-9)

check out websites: www,wsupress.wayne.edu and www.eurospanbookstore.com

Category: Books, Superheroes, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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