Dearies, have been feeling a bit depressed, irritable and overwhelmed lately, truth be told.
The World is going to Hell in a Basket of Deplorables. And nobody seems able to stop it. The Armageddon Election, terrorist attacks, Syria, Palestine, South Sudan, Brexit, Ukraine,invasions, bombings, floods, earthquakes, forest fires, teachers strikes, drone strikes, melting glaciers, doomed species, political gridlock and enmity, cancer, suicide, death and destruction: the list goes on and on and on…It’s in our faces 24/7.
While listlessly draped on the sofa watching TV, quite by accident, flipped onto an old episode of Batman. Holy Bat Cave!!!
Laughed so hard for the next half hour, at the beautiful uncomplicated silliness of it all, and also cried- for the sheer joy of remembering a kinder, gentler time. As a kid, never ever missed a single original show, and the absurdly wonderful humor is even funnier today than it was then.
So many thoughts and memories:
Ah, the Villains. Who can forget The Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin and The Riddler? Their dastardly evil plots were quite benign by todays standards. The sheer joy with which Cesar Romero, Julie Newmar, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin and others played their roles, was not lost on us kids. No scenery was left unchewed, no cliché held sacred…KAPOW!!!
The sets were absurdly simple and whimsical. Yes, they had a sense of whimsy without cutting-edge technology getting in the way. The props were hysterical. From the looks of the old TV episodes, it must have cost $50 to make a show, excluding actor’s salaries (which by today’s standards would be absurdly low). That includes costumes and make-up. The wonderful cheesiness of it all, enhanced the shared experience. WE HAD TO USE OUR IMAGINATIONS.
Reminds me of the early Dr. Who and the TARDIS/Phonebox from Britain’s BBC. The austere rough-hewn simplicity and boundless fun of its earlier incarnation was equally and wonderfully cheesy. These were afterall, the same folks who brought us Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men.
The sheer darkness and introspection of what followed, the Big Screen versions of Batman and Robin, have to a large degree mirrored the ever darkening lens of world events. Early magical Super Heroes like Adam West and Burt Ward, have been supplanted by the likes of Henry Cavill, Christian Bale and Robert Downey Jr., worthy actors in their own right, commanding a larger, brooding stage.
The gazillion dollar budgets for each new Batman movie and its Super Hero cousins, become more obscene with every film. These budgets could lift several Third World countries out of poverty permanently. But I digress…
The witty repartee flew fast and furious with each Batman TV episode. Even as kids, we knew it was funny and as an adult, it is even funnier.
Thelonius Armstrong compiled a list of some of “Adam West’s Funniest Quotes as Batman” and I would like to discuss each of them. They are so relevant to the world that we find ourselves in these days:
- “It’s obvious. Only a criminal would disguise himself as a licensed, bonded guard yet callously park in front of a fire hydrant.” Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin need to be tied to fire hydrants and forced to watch old Batman TV episodes
- We’ve come a long way from the Prime Minister’s exploding cake. Or have we?” Actually Dearies, we still have a ways to go. Political and character assassinations have become a way of life, and are much less fun than exploding cake. In some ways, Paul Ryan has become the Martha Stewart of exploding cake.
- “A reporter’s lot is not easy, making exciting stories out of plain, average, ordinary people like Robin and me.” As Comrade Trump and Fox News never tire of telling us, media needs grist for its never-ending 24/7 mill. As Vladimir Putin’s minions would tell you, hacking makes it a hell of a lot easier.
- “It’s sometimes difficult to think clearly when you’re strapped to a printing press.” Hmmm, wouldn’t if be fun to strap Comrade Trump and Vladimir Putin to a printing press…
5. Robin: “You can’t get away from Batman that easy!”
Batman: “Good grammar is essential, Robin.”
Robin: “Thank you.”
Batman: “You’re welcome.”
Dearies, never has there been a greater need for both civility, and good grammar. Bigly! Canadian, American and European politicians are constantly breaking new ground in nastiness. And in the Ukraine, why they just throw their politicians into the dumpster Listen to any of Canada’s CBC (Our version of The Beeb) radio’s news broadcasts, and you will want to throw yourself in front of a bus, over the appalling grammar.
6. “Yes, he moves very quickly for an overstuffed and unlikely Egyptian Pharaoh” Dearies, I admit to almost being at a loss with this one. No, hold on, am getting a picture of Governor Chris Christie in my mind…
- Robin: “Let’s go!”
Batman: “Not you, Robin. They have strict licensing laws in this country. A boy of your age is not allowed in a drinking tavern.” Dearies, haven’t been in a drinking tavern in years. Have left all that to Steve Bannon. Funny how in the US you can do your grocery shopping and buy all the alcohol you need at the same time. Here in Cantada, well British Columbia to be exact, I have to go to the government liquor store to buy my champers.
8. Chief O’Hara: “Will you be wanting extra police protection?”
Batman: “No thank you, Chief O’Hara. This time I think Robin and I better go at it alone. Any large contingent of police officers might create unnecessary confusion.
Well, this is a no-brainer – If I see one more cheesy photo-op of Comrade Trump and gaggles of law-enforcement officers, am going to puke!
9. “Catwoman, I find you to be odious, abhorrent, and insegrievious.”I just adore that word insegrievious. Am going to make it my word of the month. And how anyone could find the delectable Julie Newmar odious, is beyond me.
10. “Robin: Where’d you get a live fish, Batman?”
Batman: “The true crimefighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.”
Dearies, it is quite clear to me that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the usual GOP Jesus suspects have NEVER lived by this critical rule
11. “It is the duty of every good citizen of Gotham City to report meeting a man from Mars in a public park”. Will keep this in mind while watching the next episode of “Homeland” or during the next ICE raids rounding up “illegal immigrants”.
12. “No, Robin. With my head sticking out of this neosaurus costume, I might not appear like an ordinary, run of the mill crimefighter.” Said Attorney General Jeff Sessions to to no one in particular.
13. .“Bartender, a bit of advice. Always inspect a jukebox carefully. These machines can be deadly.” This ad hominem always worked well on “Cheers” and in various pubs in Northern Ireland.
14. “Let that be a lesson. In future, be more careful from who you accept free lemonade.” With apologies to those in Jonestown but not those in The Tea Party…
15. (after coming through Barbara’s window): “We would have entered the building by more conventional means, but we didn’t want to startle the tenants.” I believe the Navy Seals who found and killed Osama Bin Laden, live by this motto.
Thank You Thelonius Armstrong.
So Dearies, after putting these thoughts to paper, metaphorically speaking, am starting to breathe a bit easier, to feel a certain heaviness lifting off my chest. Feel somewhat re-enerergized and ready to fight yet another day in the trenches. All thanks to the Original Guys in Tights, those fearless and pithy crimefighters, The Caped Crusader and Robin.
They weren’t slick, they weren’t technologically advanced. They just got the job done. And made us laugh along the way. Raising a glass of champers to Batman and Robin, and All Who Sailed with Them…
***Footnote: Raising a glass or 3 in Memory of The ONLY Batman who could make us laugh, the late Adam West. To Live in Hearts We Leave Behind, Is Not to Die.