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The New Adventures of Batman

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Episode Review
History of The New Adventures of Batman
Quick Facts
Voice Cast

History of The New Adventures of Batman

Filmation's Second Batman Series

    "The New Adventures of Batman" was the second and last series of Batman cartoons from Filmation.  The first series aired in 1968-1969.  This series came in 1977.  Both series have been repackaged in reruns as different "series", but there were really just two original Batman series from Filmation.

    This second series is quite a bit different from the "Batman" cartoons of 1968.  The first series was meant to be straight action, while still viewable by small children.  This series, although still viewable by small children, is a lot more camp.  The character of Batmite was added to the cast for comic relief.  Batmite was a humorous, fantasy character in Batman comics from the Silver Age (1950s-1960s).  In comics, he was a rather homely little guy.  Filmation redesigned him and made him look a lot cuter for this cartoon series.

    Some people love Batmite; some people hate him.  Filmation's general rule of thumb was to include at least one character in their adventure cartoons that was chiefly for comic relief.  They didn't always follow this rule, as is evidenced in the first "Batman" series.  The "funny one" was almost always small and not human.  I am the first to admit that I don't usually like it when Batman is tweaked.  For me, Batman has to have Robin, the comics/cartoons have to be well-drawn, and the stories have to have some sort of realism without being "dark".  I never liked the camp live-action TV series of the 1960s.  It was a bit too absurd.  I hate the dark, poorly drawn cartoons from 1992 onward.  And I really didn't like it when the Batman comics took such a serious turn in the 1980s.  How do I like this cartoon series?  I like "The New Adventures of Batman", but not as much as the original "Batman" series from 1968.

    As far as I'm concerned, Batmite made "The New Adventures of Batman".  Without him, there would be little else to watch that would be amusing.  He's cute and funny.  The cartoons themselves were not meant to be serious tales so it worked.  Lou Scheimer's voice for Batmite really worked for the look of the character.  The inclusion of Batgirl was another excellent choice.  Batgirl had been in "Batman", but on rare occasion.  In this series, Batgirl appears more regular, and she serves greater importance to the stories.

    The series is very well-drawn and uses brilliant colors.  If you get nothing else out of it, you'll have to admit it's fun to look at.  Filmation's goal with this series was to use very little violence.  They made up the difference with excellent visuals, especially the gadgetry.  Our heroes and villains all use clever little items of technology whether it's weapons or vehicles.

    There was also a moral to each episode, summed up at the end as a "Bat Message" from the Batcomputer.  This series is halfway educational, or at least beneficial to the mental development of children.


    "The New Adventures of Batman" had a number of quirks besides Batmite and the child-friendly spin.  The Batcomputer had a mind and personality of its own, often spitting out one-liners.  This has never really been done before or since with the Batcomputer.  While the Batcomputer has always been a highly intelligent, extremely efficient machine, it was never sassy or otherwise humorous.  In any other media, it's little more than a tool in Batman's fight against crime.  One huge complaint from audiences is the total lack of Alfred Pennyworth, the butler.  There really was no place for Alfred in this show.  With Batman, Robin, Batmite, and Batgirl there were already a lot of characters to follow, as well as the villains and their cohorts.  As much as I like Alfred, I really can't complain about his absence from this series.  Last, but not least, are the reversed colors on Robin's chest emblem.  In all other media, Robin has a yellow R inside a black circle.  In this cartoon, he is always shown with a black R inside a yellow circle.  And in some shots, Robin doesn't have a chest emblem at all.  In some shots, Batman's logo colors are reversed.

    Perhaps the biggest reason this series is remembered is the fact that Adam West and Burt Ward voiced Batman and Robin, respectively.  They were, of course, the live-action counterparts to Batman and Robin in the 1960s TV series.  I think this helped give the cartoon series "authenticity" to fans of the old show.  Sadly, Yvonne Craig did not reprise her role of Batgirl.  Batgirl was voiced by the excellent Melendy Britt.

Network Politics

    Filmation's Batman cartoons, both series, have an interesting history in network politics.  The live-action series on ABC was at the peak of its popularity in 1968.  This is when Filmation was given the license to do a Batman cartoon series.  Due to an oversight on part of the live-action producers, Filmation was able to air their cartoon series on CBS.  Being on two different networks, and not at all connected to each other, Filmation couldn't get Adam West and Burt Ward to do the voices for Batman and Robin at the time.  Instead, Olan Soule was cast as Batman and Casey Kasem as Robin.  Soule was excellent as Batman.  Kasem's Robin was a bit abrasive; he was much better for other cartoon voices.  Adam West and Burt Ward would have been a great thing for the cartoons' commercial appeal.  Perhaps the original "Batman" cartoon series would have lasted longer than it did.  As it was, "Batman" made its debut on CBS on September 14, 1968 as part of the series, "The Batman/Superman Hour".  The series lasted one season and last aired on January 4, 1969.  The live-action series was cancelled later that year.

    Along came 1977.  Filmation was granted to do another Batman series, but things were complicated.  In the late 1960s, Filmation had the exclusive license to make cartoons of the DC superhero characters.  In 1973, Hanna-Barbera picked up the license.  That was the year the super-popular, long-running "Super Friends" cartoon began.  It ran from 1973-1986 through various incarnations.  "Super Friends" was based on DC's Justice League of America team and related characters.  Basically, "Super Friends" tossed in every superhero and supervillain character from the DC universe they could work in.  Batman and Robin were, of course, two of the many heroes in "Super Friends".

    At the time Filmation developed "The New Adventures of Batman" there were certain characters off-limits because Hanna-Barbera had the rights.  These characters included Riddler and the Scarecrow.  Hanna-Barbera had the rights for these characters in their "Challenge of the Superfriends" version of the "Super Friends" franchise (1978).  Although Scarecrow was a minor character, Riddler was kind of an important absence in Batman's bad guy line-up.  Filmation did a few clever things to still work Riddler into the show.  The opening for "The New Adventures of Batman" features Riddler in a purple (not green) suit.  I believe the suit was deliberately colored purple so Hanna-Barbera couldn't say Filmation was "using" the Riddler.  He wasn't referred to as Riddler in the opening, and a person could say it was meant to be a "new" character.  Plus, we never saw this character in Filmation's series.  It was a smart way to "sort of" include Riddler without actually doing it.  Also, in the beginning of the Deep Freeze episode, Riddler is mentioned (not shown) as having been just sent to prison.  So he was still worked into the show's mythology.

The Return of Adam West & Burt Ward

    The fact that Filmation and Hanna-Barbera both ran cartoons of the same characters at the same time is a rare occurrence in animation history.  This doesn't happen.  "The New Adventures of Batman" might have been entirely eclipsed by the legendary "Super Friends" franchise if not for the fact that Adam West and Burt Ward were Filmation's new voices for Batman and Robin.  In 1977, both actors were very available.  This worked out for the cartoon, because even very young children in 1977 were able to make the connection between the actors and their characters.  They sounded like the Batman and Robin people knew for years!  Who did Hanna-Barbera have voice Batman and Robin since 1973?  Olan Soule and Casey Kasem, the same guys that did the characters for Filmation back in 1968!

Since Then

    Although "The New Adventures of Batman" cartoons were produced for just one season, the cartoons were later repackaged as reruns for later series, such as: "The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour" (1977-1978), "Tarzan and the Super 7" (1978-1980), and "Batman and the Super 7" (1980-1981).

    The saga of Batman has been reworked so many times that any incarnation of the character is going to have its lovers and haters.  Some people like this series and feel it's a respectable version of Batman.  People that tend to be "dark" prefer a no-nonsense Batman.  In either case, Filmation did pretty good with the show's animation and stories, and the characters are likable.  You'll have to be the judge.

Quick Facts:
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"The New Adventures of Batman" (1977)
"The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour" (1977-1978)
"Tarzan and the Super 7" (1978-1980)
"Batman and the Super 7" (1980-1981)
Studio: Filmation

Network Aired: CBS

Episode No.
Original Airdate
The Pest
February 10, 1977
The Moonman

Trouble Identity

A Sweet Joke on Gotham City

Sweet Tooth
The Bermuda Rectangle

Professor Bubbles

Reading, Writing & Wronging

The Chameleon

He Who Laughs Last

The Deep Freeze

Mr. Freeze
Dead Ringers

Curses! Oiled Again!

Catwoman, Clayface
Birds of a Feather Fool Around Together

Joker, Penguin
Have an Evil Day (Part 1)

Catwoman, Clayface, Joker, Penguin, Zarbor
Have an Evil Day (Part 2)

Catwoman, Clayface, Joker, Penguin, Zarbor
This Looks Like a Job for Bat-Mite!
May 26, 1977

Episode Review:

1. The Pest:  Cool Joker story!  The Joker steals a car that runs on water.  The only downside to this episode is that it doesn't have Batgirl.  I don't think the cast of any of these episodes is complete unless Batgirl appears.  All in all, though, Joker fans will love this one.

2. The Moonman: 
This is a good cartoon.  As a general rule, I don't care for supernatural Batman tales.  This was well-done, as it wasn't too kooky or offbeat.  An astronaut friend of Bruce Wayne returns home from the moon, but he feels strange.  Little does this astronaut know that he turns into a creature called the Moonman every time the moon rises in the sky.  It's discovered that the astronaut met with an odd radiation while on the moon that causes his transformation.  The design of the character is pretty cool, and I like how he talks.  Moonman is one of the better, original villains from this series.

3. Trouble Identity:  Great Batgirl story!  Most fans like it when Batgirl is pitted against Catwoman, and it doesn't happen nearly enough in any Bat-media.  Catwoman disguises herself as Batgirl and steals an invention that makes fabric from garbage.  Batgirl must clear her name with the help of Batman, Robin and yes, even Bat-Mite.

    Catwoman's look is way unusual in this series.  The character of Catwoman has been reworked and redesigned many times since her first appearance in 1940, but this is one of the wildest.  Still very sexy, Catwoman has long, light brown hair.  Her mask is black and cat-like, but her bodysuit is yellow with white gloves and boots.  She has a brown panther face on her chest.  Catwoman also has two beautiful woman thugs she calls "kittens".  The kittens wear short green dresses with matching cat masks and long, black ponytails.  Very kitchy.

4. A Sweet Joke on Gotham City:
  Funny, enjoyable cartoon!  Sweet Tooth is a funny villain who talks like comedian Paul Lynde.  He's tainted the city's water supply with chocolate syrup and demands a heavy ransom.  This is a great cartoon for young children with plenty of humor.  Clever and colorful.  There's nothing sinister or scary here.  I think it's also good for elementary teachers to show students as it stresses the importance of taking care of your teeth and not eating too much sweets.

5. The Bermuda Rectangle:  This was a cool story idea, but it just turned out boring.  I guess it just didn't move fast enough.  I liked the original villain, Professor Bubbles.  He sounds like he's bubbling when he talks.  Besides that, he doesn't have any quirks.  He just looks like an ordinary, geeky mad scientist.

    It's an alright cartoon, but there were better episodes in this series.  I do think it's rather odd that in this episode, and this episode only, Batman, Robin, and Bat-Mite KNOW Barbara Gordon is Batgirl.  I think someone goofed when writing this one.

6. Bite-Sized:  Electro shrinks Batman and Robin and forces them to steal military documents.  Bat-Mite teams up with Batgirl to help save the day.  Electro is an interesting villain, but generally I don't think much of Batman tales regarding aliens, monsters, and the like.  It's not true to Batman.  The only exception is Bat-Mite, because he's funny and cute.  Bat-Mite is an appropriate little fantasy character for a kids' cartoon.  Electro seems like more of a Superman villain to me.  Overall, though, a fun cartoon!

7. Reading, Writing & Wronging:
  One of the better cartoons from this series.  It's still a light-hearted little kiddie cartoon, but it's a legitimate Batman tale featuring the Penguin.  The only downside to this episode is that Batgirl is not in it.  Penguin teaches crime to a group of college-age students.

8. The Chameleon:  I didn't really care for this episode too much.  First of all, supernatural stories aren't a good fit for Batman.  Secondly, the Chameleon wasn't a good villain.  There were no limits to him.  He could do anything!  Basically, the Chameleon is just trying to stir up trouble in Gotham City and eliminate Batman and Robin.

9. He Who Laughs Last:  This is a good Joker cartoon.  It's pretty much like any other Joker appearance in any kind of Batman cartoon, except that there are scenes of Batmite in this story.  Joker escapes from prison and gives clues to his crimes before he is inevitably caught again.  I think people that don't even care for this series too much will still like this cartoon if they like the Joker character.

10. Deep Freeze:  This is probably the best cartoon of the series and, sadly, it doesn't have Batgirl.  I've always found the character of Mr. Freeze interesting.  What a "cool" idea for a villain!  Mr. Freeze is given a lot of funny dialogue in this episode...and a German type accent.  It's obvious that they patterned this version of the character after his portrayal in the live-action "Batman" series, probably that of Otto Preminger (before him was George Sanders, and after was Eli Wallach).

    I love what Mr. Freeze calls his car, the Coldsmobile!  His sidekick, Professor Frost, was a good addition.  What I think is interesting is that we never see Mr. Freeze wear his helmet in this episode.

    This episode has the perfect balance of humor and story.  It's just a good kiddie cartoon of Batman that even longtime fans of Batman can enjoy.  My only complaint is that they didn't work Batgirl into the episode.

    The basic plot of the cartoon is this:  Mr. Freeze plots to steal a super-submarine that will help him freeze the world.

    The Riddler is mentioned at the beginning of this episode as being recently arrested.  We never see Riddler in this series, and this is the only time we hear about him.  The closest thing to Riddler we have in this cartoon series is an image of him in a purple (not green) suit in the opening sequence.  Filmation was not allowed to use the character of Riddler in this cartoon series, as Hanna-Barbera owned the rights to use him in their then-running "Challenge of the Superfriends" series on ABC.

11. Dead Ringers:  Clayface, disguised as Batman, and a Robin lookalike kidnap an Arab Minister.  This is a pretty good episode, considering I've never cared for the Clayface character too much.  Good use is made of Bat-Mite and Batgirl in this one; they're not just ornamental.  The voice of Clayface sounds different in this episode; he echoes.  In later appearances, Clayface simply has a growly voice.

    The story in this episode is a bit more elaborate than most stories in "The New Adventures of Batman".  We actually see the secret identity of a super-villain in this show.  Clayface finds a Robin lookalike who works as an acrobat at the circus.  The acrobat is blackmailed into working for Clayface as he is an ex-con and fears losing his job with that information.  The Arab Minister they kidnap has secret plans for an oil-finding invention that Clayface wants.  The Gotham City police is now after the "real" Batman and Robin.  Batman hits his head and gets amnesia.  Clayface sneaks into the Batcave and almost learns Batman's secret identity.  Robin and Batgirl essentially have to pick up the case where Batman left off.  Batman gets his memory back and has to rely on Bat-Mite to find Clayface.  We learn the secret of Clayface's transforming power, and Batman has to save the villain from drowning.  There's all kinds of neat twists and turns in this episode that just isn't common to most of the writing of the series.  Cool stuff.

12. Curses! Oiled Again:  Catwoman and Clayface steal oil.  This is an enjoyable, light cartoon considering the fact that I've never liked the Clayface character that much.  I don't think Clayface is a "true" Batman villain.  He's more suited to Superman or some hero that's supernatural.  I think the team-up of Catwoman and Clayface is very interesting, albeit unexplained.

    In this cartoon series, Catwoman has all kinds of neat gadgets that we don't usually associate with the character.  In this cartoon she has a "Kitty Car", a "Cat Sub" that splits into a "Cat Plane"...all kinds of neat things.  We don't see her female "Kitten" thugs in this episode.

    Bat-Mite has some funny moments, and Batgirl is cool (as usual).

13. Birds of a Feather Fool Around Together:  The villains featured are Penguin and Joker.  The Joker has just a few brief moments in this episode.  It's not a team-up.  Penguin and Joker are actually competitors in this episode.  They are vying for reputation of greatest criminal mastermind.  Penguin's mission is to turn Batman and Robin into criminals.

    Another awesome episode, but suffers from no Batgirl.  A great addition to the cast, however, is Gigi, the fat girlfriend of Penguin.  Gigi's a husky brunette dressed in hip clothes and has Penguin's nose!  I enjoyed this episode.  A neat moment is when Bat-Mite and Penguin switch bodies.  Watch this to find out more!

14. Have an Evil Day (Part 1):  Zarbor, a magical evil genius from Batmite's dimension of Ergo, recruits four of Batman's most notorious villains as a distraction while he steals six of Earth's nuclear power plants.

    The cartoon?  S'okay.  I don't dig the sci-fi, outer space tales of Batman.  This cartoon would have been better for Superman than Batman.  It also would have been better with Batgirl, but she was excluded from both parts of this story.  A big problem with superhero cartoons is that they aren't usually true to the characters.  This was a bit too "way out" for Batman.

15. Have an Evil Day (Part 2):  After having betrayed his four comrades, Zarbor returns to Ergo with his stolen power plants.  Batman, Robin, Bat-Mite and the four other villains go to Ergo to deal with Zarbor.

    I guess the plus-side of this cartoon is that we see Bat-Mite's dimension of Ergo.  It's a colorful, neat-looking place.  The policemen characters of Ergo were cool, too.  I guess I'd rather see cartoons of Bat-Mite in his home world than a tie-in with Batman.  Bat-Mite would have had a great series of his own.

16. This Looks Like a Job For Batmite!:  Bat-Mite's arch-nemesis, Zarbor, breaks out of prison from the Ergo dimension and plans to conquer Earth.  Worst of all, he has Batman and Robin brainwashed to do his evil bidding!  This was a good story because Bat-Mite was an important part of it.  He wasn't just dropped in for a couple cheap laughs.

    I think this episode is okay, but better suited for a cosmic hero like Superman.  Supernatural Batman stories never have appealed to me.

Voice Cast:

Adam West as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Burt Ward as Robin/Dick Grayson
Melendy Britt as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, Catwoman
Lou Scheimer as Batmite, Batcomputer, Clayface
Lennie Weinrib as Commissioner Gordon, Chameleon, Clayface, Electro, Joker, Mr. Freeze, Moonman, Penguin, Professor Bubbles, Sweet Tooth, Zarbor