November 08, 2014

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN



THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BAMTAN
 (CBS, February 12-May 28, 1977)

Filmation Associates, DC Comics



MAIN CAST:
Adam WestBatman/Bruce Wayne
Burt WardRobin/Dick Grayson
Melendy BrittBatgirl/Barbara Gordon, Catwoman/Selina Kyle
Lou ScheimerBat-Mite, Batcomputer, Clayface/Matt Hagen
Lennie WeinribCommissioner James Gordon, Joker, Penguin/Oswald Cobblepott, Mr. Freeze/Victor Friese, Electro, Chameleon, Zarbor, Clayface/Matt Hagen, Moonman/Scott Rogers, Professor Bubbles, Sweet Tooth

For the history of Batman, check out the post here.



Almost a decade after The Adventures of Batman aired as part of the The Batman/Superman Hour, Batman returned to Filmation’s hands for his second solo cartoon in The New Adventures of Batman. Until that point, he was only appearing in Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise with other members of DC ComicsJustice League. With both shows on at the same time, it became the first time that a single character appeared in two programs on rival networks concurrently.
 
Bat-Mite and Batgirl join Batman and Robin.

Filmation essentially created a sequel to two shows in one. The new show utilized the same character models from their previous one reflecting the art style of comic artist Dick Sprang, but updated them slightly to reflect advancements in animation during that decade between. However, new elements also tied it into the live-action ABC Batman series. The major connection was the casting of Adam West and Burt Ward in the roles of Batman and Robin respectively. Olan Soule and Casey Kasem, who had originated the animated roles for Filmation, were currently under contract with Hanna-Barbera for their Super Friends franchise. Additionally, the entrance to the Batcave was shown as being two poles hidden behind a bookcase in Wayne Manor, whereas in the original cartoon just cut to the inside of the cave via a bat-graphic.


Sweet Tooth: the original candy crusher.

Coming at a time when the Batman comics were undergoing a revitalization to bring the character back to his darker roots, the series stood out as being decidedly lighter and fun in tone. However, while the show itself may have had elements of the camp Batman was known for, West and Ward played their roles comparatively straighter than they had previously. The most distinguishing feature of the series was the fact that the “R” on Robin’s chest had its colors inverted inexplicably.


The ultimate obsessed fanboy.

Picking up the comedy slack for the dynamic duo, as well as fulfilling Filmation’s penchant for diminutive comical characters, was the inclusion of a new character to animation: Bat-Mite (Lou Scheimer). Bat-Mite first appeared in Detective Comics #267, 1959 by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, at a time when DC’s comics were taking a more science-fiction approach. He was a child-like imp from the 5th dimension who considered himself Batman’s biggest fan, and therefore always appeared in his own version of Batman’s costume. His advanced technology gave him the appearance of having near-limitless powers. Much like in the comics, Bat-Mite would constantly appear on the show desiring to help Batman on his cases, but usually ending up causing problems and chaos with his mischievous ways. Bat-Mite’s costume was rendered in shades of purple rather than following the color scheme of Batman’s costume.


Incoming Bat-Message morality lesson, Bat-Fans!

Another holdover from the Batman era was the inclusion of Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl (Melendy Britt). Like the previous series, she was the city’s District Attorney rather than a librarian as she was portrayed on Batman and in the comics. Her character model was also updated to cover her neck with her costume, whereas the previous show featured her with a bare neck. Her father, police commissioner James Gordon (Lennie Weinrib) also returned, but this time with the white hair and mustache he had in the comics. Noticeably missing was Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler and father figure Alfred Pennyworth. Present, however, was Filmation’s customary morality lesson in the last minute of the show dubbed a “Bat-Message.”



Penguin, Clayface, Catwoman and Joker.

Like the previous series, the villains were a combination of established Batman foes and ones created specifically for the series. Catwoman (Britt), The Joker, Mr. Freeze and The Penguin (all played by Weinrib) all made appearances, joined by Sweet Tooth, a sweets-themed villain; Dr. Devious, a diminutive mad scientist; Zarbor, an evil version of Bat-Mite; and Chameleon, Devious’ android who could turn into vehicles and metal objects (all also Weinrib). Catwoman would receive a new costume for the show with a better cat-theme design, while Penguin lost his trademarked cigarette due to changing times. Because of their use by Hanna-Barbera, Scarecrow and the Riddler were unable to appear on the show. However, Riddler, in a pink costume, did make an appearance in the opening titles and was referenced to in an episode. Making his animated debut was Clayface, aka Matt Hagen (Scheimer at first, then Weinrib), who needed to take a special formula to gain shape-shifting powers.



The series ran for a single season. In the following years, it aired as reruns paired with other programs. It was seen with Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle as part of The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour, and was joined by the Super 7 in an extended ninety minute block called Tarzan and the Super 7 until 1980. Beginning in 1980, New Adventures moved to NBC with Super 7 in a block called Batman and the Super 7. In Japan, the series was broadcast with a different opening utilizing more clips from the show and an all-new theme song.




West and Ward would return to portray their characters in live-action one last time in Legends of the Superheroes: two one-hour specials produced by Hanna-Barbera for NBC in 1979 loosely based on their Super Friends franchise. While those would prove to be the last outing for Ward in his most famous role, West would go on to replace Soule in the last two versions of Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends. Homage to the series would be paid in The New Batman Adventures episode “Legends of the Dark Knight,” which utilized the same character designs and style for a segment. The Bat-computer’s design was utilized as the Batwave in The Batman. The villain Sweet Tooth also went on to make an appearance on Batman: The Brave and the Bold as well as Team Starkid’s musical “Holy Musical B@man!Brave and the Bold would also serve as the new frequent home of Bat-Mite, voiced by Paul Reubens, following additional comic appearances and a semi-cameo in Batman: the Animated Series.




EPISODE GUIDE:
“The Pest” (2/12/77) – Joker disguises himself as the inventor of a hydrogen-powered car in order to steal it.

“The Moonman” (2/19/77) – Astronaut Scott Rogers is infected by space waves that turn him into the Moonman during a full moon.

“Trouble Identity”(2/26/77) – Catwoman disguises herself as Batgirl in order to frame her for the theft of a machine that changes trash into fabric.

“A Sweet Joke on Gotham City” (3/5/77) – Sweet Tooth holds Gotham City’s water supply ransom by transforming it into chocolate syrup.

“The Bermuda Rectangle” (3/12/77) – Professor Bubbles captures ships carrying weapon pieces he can use to take over the world.

“Bite-Sized” (3/19/77) – Electro shrinks Batman and Robin and uses mind-control to have them steal for him.

“Reading, Writing & Wronging” (3/26/77) – Penguin starts a school to teach teens to steal for him, leading to the theft of Batman’s utility belt.

“The Chameleon” (4/2/77) – A shape-shifting android plans to shut down Gotham’s lunar/solar collector.

“He Who Laughs Last” (4/9/77) – Joker escapes from prison and leaves a series of clues for Batman linked to his various crimes.

“The Deep Freeze” (4/16/77) – To prove himself Batman’s most powerful foe, Mr. Freeze steals a nuclear submarine to commit crimes around the world.

“Dead Ringers” (4/23/77) – Clayface hires a circus acrobat to pose as Batman and Robin and steal an oil-locating device.

“Curses! Oiled Again!” (4/30/77) – Catwoman and Clayface hold the city’s oil supply for ransom.

“Birds of a Feather Fool Around Together” (5/7/77) – Penguin uses his crime-slime to turn people evil, including Batman and Robin.

“Have an Evil Day (1)” (5/14/77) – Clayface, Joker, Catwoman and Penguin attack the city and Zarbor uses the distraction to steal all of Earth’s nuclear power plants.

“Have an Evil Day (2)” (5/21/77) – Batman and Robin track Zarbor back to his home planet and attempt to retrieve the power plants.

“This Looks Like A Job For Bat-Mite!” (5/28/77) – Zarbor uses a mind-ray to turn Batman and Robin into the Crime Crusaders, leaving Bat-Mite to save the day.

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