The Adventures of Batman – Blu-ray Review
THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Studio: Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment
Release Date: Blu-ray – February 28, 2023; also available on DVD, Digital and HBO Max
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Description: One of Filmation’s most beloved animated series has been newly remastered in high definition for release on Blu-ray for the first time ever! The Adventures of Batman was one of the spotlight animated television series to be produced by Filmation, who generated more than 50 animated series, over a dozen television shorts, specials and movies, and eight feature films. The Adventures of Batman was also paired with another famous DC Super Hero to become The Batman/Superman Hour.
Filmation veteran Olan Soule (Super Friends, The Towering Inferno) provided the voice of Batman, while American Top 40 co-founder & host Casey Kasem (Scooby-Doo franchise) played Robin. The supporting cast featured two-time Emmy Award winner Ted Knight (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Caddyshack) as Commissioner Gordon, Larry Storch (F Troop) as Joker, and Jane Webb (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Archie Show) as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. Soule and Kasem became the reigning voices of Batman and Robin, respectively, for several years as the Dynamic Duo would appear in two The New Scooby-Doo Movies crossovers, various versions of Super Friends, and The New Adventures of Batman.
Premiering on September 14, 1968, The Adventures of Batman also featured Batman’s primary rogues’ gallery at the time, which included Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, Riddler, Scarecrow, Dollman, Mad Hatter and Simon the Pieman, as well as some notable team-ups of those villains. The series ran until January 4, 1969.
By James Harvey
The first animated adventures of The Dark Knight and The Boy Wonder are finally available in high-definition, courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of The Adventures of Batman. Packed with all 34 episodes which first debuted nearly 60 years ago, watch the Dynamic Duo take down Gotham City’s worst foes in a host of all-ages adventures told as only a 1960s cartoon could tell!
Revered by cartoon fans and originally produced by Filmation Studios, the beloved The Adventures of Batman (not to be confused with The New Adventures of Batman) features 34 quarter-hour episodes, some of which are two-parters, and runs the gamut of Gotham. Starring animation veterans Olan Soule as Batman and Casey Kasem as Robin, with narration by Ted Knight, the series originally ran on CBS from September 1968 to January 1969 before being repackaged in syndication and re-aired throughout the subsequent decades.
Suffice it to say, this is definitely a lighter, brighter and essentially toothless take on the Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder. Still, it was on-brand for the time, as Batman was still going through his campy pop culture phase, sparked by the unquestionable success of the classic 1960s live-action Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. It’s a softer spin, similar to the likes of Superfriends, but still one that makes for fun, albeit eventually tedious, viewing.
Each episode does tend to stick to the same basic format which, while initially amusing, can eventually wear a viewer down if watched in long binges. The Adventures of Batman can be a fun watch, and hits a lot of the right nostalgic buttons – plus it makes for an interesting look at how far Batman has come as a character in animation in the last 50-plus years – but it also doesn’t do much besides deliver a 15-ish minutes diversion. The Adventures of Batman does have a goofy charm to it, but that can only take it so far.
The Adventures of Batman is a pretty light-weight take on Gotham City’s famed denizens. Everything here feels a little watered down, which makes sense for the time the show aired, but it doesn’t really make up for that in any other imaginative way. Animation is as simple as possible, constantly recycled and pretty lifeless, designs are very basic and stories tend to get repetitive fairly quickly. Batman is introduced to the crime of the week, he and Robin thwart whatever foe is causing a problem, and repeat. Younger fans likely won’t have any type of issue with the show’s very basic nature, but older viewers might find the show a bit of a slog.
Throughout the 34 episodes included in this set, a fair chunk of Batman’s assorted foes pop up to cause repeated problems for the Dynamic Duo, including The Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, among others. Batgirl eventually makes a few appearances as well, but that’s not until the very end of the show’s run. Fans of Batman’s classic, pre-Batman: The Animated Series adventures will definitely be pleased with the amount of famed Gothamites who make appear throughout The Adventures of Batman‘s run, each looking ripped straight from a Silver Age comic book page.
Easily the strongest aspect of the cartoon is its voice acting. The Adventures of Batman is led by fun performances courtesy of Olan Soules and Casey Kasem as Batman and Robin, respectively. Both veterans performers, each manage to bring some needed heft to the otherwise slight series. That said, all the actors here are clearly having a blast hamming it up, though the somewhat languid pace of the series squeezes out some of the campy charm and fun.
This classic 1960s cartoon may not be for everyone, but The Adventures of Batman remains still an interesting look at some of The Caped Crusaders earliest animated adventures. It just lacks that extra spark that other cartoons had at the time, such as Spider-Man, where even with limitations it’s still a worthwhile watch thanks to interesting designs and occasionally creatively bonkers stories. This won’t appeal to every fan, and there’s only so much nostalgia can unfortunately blind us to. While it falls short of latter incarnations of the characters, and even other cartoons of the time, its deserves recognition nevertheless for being the first animated exploits of Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder.
That importance of that is not lost on Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment, who give The Adventures of Batman a fantastic-looking release on Blu-ray. Every episode is included here, of course, and the series has unquestionably never looked better. The episodes are split across two discs:
My Crime Is Your Crime / A Bird Out of Hand
The Cool, Cruel Mr. Freeze / The Joke’s on Robin
How Many Herring in a Wheelbarrow? / In Again, Out Again Penguin
The Nine Lives of Batman / Long John Joker
Bubi, Bubi, Who’s Got the Ruby? / The 1001 Faces of the Riddler
The Big Birthday Caper / Two Penguins Too Many
Partners in Peril / The Underworld Underground Caper
Hizzoner the Joker / Freeze’s Frozen Vikings
The Crime Computer / The Great Scarecrow Scare
A Game of Cat and Mouse / Beware of Living Dolls
Will the Real Robin Please Stand Up? / He Who Swipes the Ice, Goes to the Cooler
Simon the Pieman / A Mad, Mad Tea Party
From Catwoman with Love / Perilous Playthings
A Perfidious Pieman Is Simon / Cool, Cruel Christmas Caper
The Fiendishly Frigid Fraud / Enter the Judge
The Jigsaw Jeopardy / Wrath of the Riddler
It Takes Two to Make a Team / Opera Buffa
Every last episode of The Adventures of Batman looks legitimately fantastic. Warner Bros. Discovery’s 1080p transfer looks nearly spotless, with barely any noticeable compression or blocking. That said, it’s clear some noise reduction was used as details can occasionally look a little washed, but the impact of that is minimal. What’s here still looks aesthetically pleasing and true to the show’s original look, with colors looking bold, vibrant, and nearly popping off the screen. The excellent work carries over to the release’s DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio, which offers up a clean mix with nary a fault to be found. It’s not the most boisterous track, but it perfectly captures the crisp, vintage sound of these older-era cartoons.
As with the show’s previous DVD release, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment has opted not to include any additional bonus features or content here on the The Adventures of Batman two-disc Blu-ray set. A disappointment, yes, but not a surprise given the show’s previous releases and just the overall general trends of the home video market. Something that definitely should’ve been added to this release is a seizure warning, primarily due to The Adventures of Batman‘s red-and-blue flashing opening credits, which can be fairly visually aggressive and could trigger photosensitive viewers.
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of The Adventures of Batman is one that’ll definitely please fans of the series, but it may not appeal to many beyond that. Despite being Batman’s first foray into the world of animation, it’s far from the best. While perfectly serviceable, the repetitive and low-stakes nature of the series can make it chore to sit through for new or casual viewers, but it’s still a notable entry in Batman’s animated canon. The Adventures of Batman comes Recommended for long-time fans or those looking for a little nostalgia, but other viewers should try out a few episodes before opting to purchase.
The Adventures of Batman: The Complete Series is available to own on physical and digital media. Please note Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided The World’s Finest with a copy of this title to review.
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