Warner Brothers has completed the entire run of Batman on DVD with the recent release of The Complete Third Season. Although the series remains well known 50 years later, and still airs on Me-TV and IFC at the time of this writing, the second season must not have performed well in the ratings because the third season was cut from 60 episodes airing biweekly to 26 episodes airing once a week. The majority of the stories now took place in one episode.
The most notable change was the addition of Batgirl / Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Barbara (Yvonne Craig). She appears in the very first episode. “Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin.” Rather surprisingly, Batman has little interest in learning the identity of the mystery woman who has also appropriated the bat to fight crime. She has a lone confidant in Alfred (Alan Napier), Bruce Wayne’s butler, who promises to keep her secret, and their relationship is sweet.
This season Gotham and its citizens saw the return of the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), King Tut (Victor Buono), Egghead (Vincent Price), the Joker (Cesar Romero), and Shame (Cliff Robertson). Not only did the Riddler return, but so did actor Frank Gorshin to the role. Catwoman was back on the prowl, but with Julie Newmar unavailable because she was working on a movie, Eartha Kitt played the part to purr-fection.
In addition, Batman’s Rogues Gallery expanded yet again with appearances by the following new villains created for the show: Siren (Joan Collins); Lola Lasagne (Ethel Merman); Louie, the Lilac (Milton Berle); Olga, Queen of the Cossacks (Anne Baxter); Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (Rudy Vallee) and Lady Penelope Peasoup (Glynis Johns); Nora Clavicle (Barbara Rush); Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft (Ida Lupinio); and Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor).
The show continued with its trademark wackiness this season and remains one of the best TV series to bring a comic book to life because of its writing, cinematography, and production design. One of the most memorable episodes of the entire series is included in this set, “Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under,” where Batman and the Clown Prince of Crime settle things by hitting the waves.
The Complete Third Season DVD release is different from the previous DVD sets in that there is a disc filled with special features. Hanging with Batman (30 min) – Adam West, from different interviews, talks about his relationship with the role over the years. Holy Memorabilia Batman! (30 min) – Many collectibles and some devoted collectors are presented. Batmania Born! Building the World of Batman (30 min) – A look at the making of the series and the impact it had on some modern comic-book creators. Bats of the Round Table (45 min) – West is joined by Ralph Gorman, Kevin Smith, Jim Lee, and Phil Morris, who ask their hero questions and get him to tell stories.
Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West (60 min) – West offers select commentary during the series first two episodes, “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Smack in the Middle.” Na Na Na Batman! (12 min) – This one is rather odd because the collection of modern actors and creative types don’t have much connection to the series and appear to have been included only because they work on other Warner Brothers TV shows, if I have it right. Bat Rarities! Straight from the Vault contains the Batgirl Pilot (8 min), screen tests of Burt Ward (6 min), and Lyle Waggoner as Bruce and Peter Deyell as Dick (4 min), and James Blakeley Tribute (2 min), the show’s Post-production Supervisor.
Not only is Batman: The Television Series: The Complete Third Season a must-own for Batfans, it would be first one I would recommend to anyone interested because of the extensive special features.