Prev: Batman (1942)
Yes it has been two years. Shut up, I had family issues.
Format: As with Batman (1943): A single story movie serial consisting of one half hour and 14 15-minute episodes, each moving the plot along just enough to leave us with a suitably gripping ‘how will they get out of this one?’ cliffhanger.
Batman: (Robert Lowery)
A forensic scientist ahead of his time, Batman no longer works for the US government, but is a private citizen using gadgetry, fists and smarts to assist a grateful, cooperative police force. His fighting skills are fine, but not
outstanding, as he often gets outfought just enough to be left in a certain death situation at the end of an episode.
And when [SPOILER] someone else wears the suit for a few minutes, his fighting skills are indistinguishable from
Batman’s. But his biggest asset is his brain and his gadgetry. Mostly his brain.
Bruce Wayne: Poor ol’ Bruce Wayne is so TIRED all the time. So. Tired, all the time, Vicki Vale really doesn’t have much time for him. It’s a pretty good disguise: even though Vicki catches Batman driving Bruce Wayne’s car, she still knows Bruce too well to know they can’t be the same person. The only problem is that he thens becomes too lazy to keep up the charade, and swans around being smart and detective-y even when being Bruce Wayne. So much so that the police even call up Bruce Wayne for advice.
Poor secret identity maintenance there, Brucey boy.
Batman’s partner Robin (John Duncan) gets to be pretty important in this series. There are a lot of episodes in which Robin takes center stage, gets the credit, or is otherwise a valuable asset to the team. He is there for Batman to bounce ideas off, to rescue Bruce Wayne when he gets himself in trouble, and generally fails to come across as a teenage boy.
After the last serial, Alfred is an utter delight. He co-conspires with Batman, butles for Bruce Wayne and generally does all the things you need Alfred to do. Which admittedly, mostly involves telling Vicki that Bruce is busy right now could she try another time?
The photojournalist Vicki Vale (Jane Adams) is probably dating Bruce, or she’s a friend, or really she just likes to hang around him to make fun of him. she knows that lazy good for nothing can’t be Batman, but her keen journalist mind won’t let her give up trying to track down the mysterious figure. Even though the mysterious figure – and indeed Bruce Wayne – are jerks to her a lot of the time. Still, she cheerfully ignores everyone’s assholishness and does a pretty good job of fighting the bad guys
We also get to see Commissioner Gordon (Lyle Tarbot)! He’s little more than a contact between Batman and the police, in a show that’s very crowded with characters already. But he has a batsignal! Which he shines out of his window.
The Wizard is a mysteeeeeeeeerious profiteering crime lord who is terrorizing Gotham using a machine that can control any moving vehicle, including trains and Batplanes and armored bank vehicles. the big mystery of the series: WHO COULD HE BE?
Is it professor Hammil (William Fawcett), the inventor of the machine, who is in a wheelchair but has SECRETLY INVENTED a machine that gives him the ability to walk?
Is it Barry Brown (Rick Vallin), the radio personality who is mysteriously making announcements of the Wizard’s movements before even the police know what he will do?
Is it the private investigator who happens to turn up at key incidents in the Wizard’s crime career?
WHICH COULD IT BE?
Spoiler: it’s not important.
Gotham City: Nothing to write home about, still. Generic 1940s movie land. It’s more about the crime than the setting. But it does have an awful lot of caves.
His Wonderful Toys: Gadgetry plays a large part in the show, on both the part of the bad guys, and for Batman, who has a much higher tech batcave this time around, with microscopes and measuring machines and a filing cabinet for the costumes. Half of the crimes are solved by taking evidence back to the cave and doing TECHNOLOGY to them. It’s like CSI, but good.
Still lacking a batmobile. Still driving around in Bruce Wayne’s car. STILL GETTING CALLED ON IT.
Batmannery: Detecting! As mentioned above, there’s fighting, but everyone fights. Mostly the fancy moves that make Batman ‘Batman’ are in gadgets and in the fact that he’s just smarter than everyone. Except the Wizard, but – no, he’s smarter than the Wizard too.
The Best Thing About the Story: Vicki Vale. There’s not stopping her, and her RELENTLESS QUEST FOR THE TRUTH. A Lois character at her finest.
I’m a particular fan of the scene in which Batman tells her she can’t drive to the crime scene, takes her keys and says Bruce Wayne will give her a lift. So what does Vicki do? She gets the spare keys out of her purse.
(And she only has to be rescued every three epsiodes at most)
The Least-Good Thing: The Wizard plotline is actually incredibly boring. It’s really only worth it for the incidental character moments. And by that I mean Vicki.
Batman from the Beginning: