Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Is the Pick of the Week

As a teenager living in the ’80s I developed a great fondness for old ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s television shows. A lot of fledgling cable channels found it valuable (and no doubt cheap) to rerun old shows rather than create original programming. I’d sit every afternoon watching that old stuff. I loved just about all of it from the cheesy shows of the ’50s like Donna Reed and Father Knows Best to more urban and socially conscious ’70s series such as Good Times and The Jeffersons. It was during these classic TV afternoons that I discovered two of my all-time favorite things: Batman and The Monkees.

I became an instant fan of The Monkees, both their zany antics and their music. Still love their music to this day. The ’60s Batman series was a delight. Surely, I’d seen some incarnation of the character before, but what that might have been I don’t know. I didn’t read comic books nor see any animated series before the 1990s, so likely it was just knowing of his existence in the cultural zeitgeist. Whatever my knowledge of the character before then, I absolutely adored what Adam West was doing to him.

That show is so charming in its ridiculously cheesy way. As a kid, it had all the action and adventure I needed, and as a young teen it brought in plenty of humor with a knowing wink. Though I’ve not seen the series in quite some time, I just watched Batman: The Movie a few weeks ago and it still holds up. Even my five-year-old daughter enjoyed it.

There have been numerous animated series, movies, and specials since those days. Pretty much all of them have taken on the more serious tones the movies have displayed since the Tim Burton movies. Which is why it’s both surprising and kind of wondrous that Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders even exists. In this animated special, the character has gone back to its ’60s-series style and they even roped in as many of the actors from that series to do the voices as they could. There’s Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin, and even Julie Newmar doing Catwoman. In the cases where the old actors are no longer with us, the new guys are doing voices as similar to the originals as possible.

How fun is that?

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Star Trek: Beyond: I’ve not been a fan of these J.J. Abrams reboots of Star Trek, and actually found the last one, Into Darkness to be rather terrible (our own Gordon S. Miller called it “Shit Trek.”) To say I’ve not got a lot of hopes up for Beyond is more than fair. I’ll eventually watch it because I always wind up watching Trek movies, but lets just say it’s not at the top of my list.

Anthropoid: Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan star in this based-on-a-true-story drama about Operation Anthropoid, a WWII mission to kill SS General Heydrich, who was the main architect behind The Final Solution.

Imperium: Daniel Radcliffe goes undercover amongst a bunch of radical skinheads in order to stop a terrorist plot. Reviews have been mixed and that’s a pretty well overdone plot line, but I like Radcliffe enough to give it a shot.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Series: I tried to like this series about a former Confederate soldier looking for vengeance but I couldn’t quite get into it. Season Five is being released as well today, but if you haven’t bought the previous seasons this is a nice collective boxed set.

Neighbors (1981): Hot off making the hugely successful Blues Brothers, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd once again teamed up for this comedy about a low-key, peaceful suburbanite whose life is interrupted by some new, loud, obnoxious neighbors. It was plagued by production problems, mostly caused by the stars who made multiple changes to the script, questioned every decision by the director and abruptly decided to switch their roles (with Belushi playing the boring guy and Aykroyd taking on the loud-mouth role). It bombed at the box office and was never officially released on DVD. Its finally getting a Blu-ray release and I’m anxious to see if its as bad as everyone says it is.

The Sea of Trees: Gus Van Zandt directed Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe in this drama about a man who goes camping in the dense forest surrounding Mount Fuji (the same one that Natalie Dormer goes into in The Forest) to kill himself. Instead, he meets a Japanese man and the two begin a journey of reflection and survival. Naomi Watts also stars.

Outlander: Season 2: I keep hearing good things about this time travel show where a woman cannot decide between the lovers she has both in 1945 and 1743.

Bad Moms: Mila Kunis Kristen Bell, Lilly Singh, Kathryn Hahn, Jada Pinkett Smith and Christina Applegate star in this comedy about a stressed out group of moms who…go bad, I guess.

Mat Brewster

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