Greetings, citizens of Gotham. Do you love the classic 1966 television series Batman starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo? Have you absorbed any and all media relating to it, leaving you wanting more? Do you long to know even the most mundane and obscure bits of trivia related to your preferred pieces of pop culture?
Most importantly, do you like alliteration?
If you answered “yes” to the first question I’m just going to assume the same for the others, and in that case, is this the book for you.
Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show is a new resource from the folks at Titan Books, giving fans an official look at the classic television series. Given that the show has gained a newfound appreciation in the past few years, and with it the opportunity to reach new fans, this book has come along at the perfect time. An official publication released with cooperation from both DC Comics and Warner Bros., this is a surprisingly rich and fun look back at the TV show that holds a few surprises of its own.
The first thing to note about the book is its lovely presentation. I was expecting a more behind the scenes look at the show with lots of prose, lengthy stories, and a few pictures here and there. No, the best comparison I can think of are those old kids books that focused on a single theme, like knights or dinosaurs, and had a bunch of pictures and little blocks of information all over the page.
Where those were relatively low-key and concerned solely with education, this takes the concept and ramps it up to eleven: the text is written in the style of the show, puns and all, and the color scheme closely matches the manic Sixties vibe. It’s as much a blast to read as I’m sure it was to write and design, and all credit should go to “Y. Y. Flurch” and Rian Hughes for absolutely nailing the tone.
The book is a sturdy hardbound with a bright, attention-grabbing cover, but the real surprise comes once you open it. The inside cover pages, both front and back, are shot-by-shot frames of the opening credits animations. Seasons one and two are represented on the front pages, while the season three opener featuring Yvonne Craig’s credit as Batgirl close the book. It’s an inspired choice to be sure, and it certainly gets you in the mood for a good read.
Hughe’s layouts are well-designed and engaging, using colorful graphics in tandem with screen grabs from the show to give the book its distinct look. Credit needs to go to the restoration team, as the stills look incredibly crisp and clear. For a fifty-year-old series to look this good is a wonder, and it just adds to the book’s visual appeal.
Keeping with the flashy presentation, the content is appropriately easy to digest. Spanning all three seasons and even dabbling in the movie, every major character is touched upon, hero and villain alike, alomg with a focus on different Batgadgets, vehicles, and a few locations. The more popular villains understandably get more space devoted to them, so if you’re a hardcore Louie the Lilac fan you’ll be disappointed, but there are plenty of labels and in-jokes woven in so it’s a wash.
There’s very little in the way of behind the scenes information detailing the production of the show; instead, it’s more along the lines of trivia and tidbits, just as the title suggests. The fun is in the reading, though, as even the most well-known facts detailed within have a real sense of energy and buoyancy.
That lack of depth may not appeal to more hardcore fans who have studied the series for the past five decades. I mean, even more casual fans know about Cesar Romero’s refusal to shave off his mustache, but there are a few tidbits that make the book worth seeking out. The tallies of Robin’s “holy ___!” exclamations and Chief O’Hara’s various interjections are great fun, and the infamous unanswered “jet stream and daffodil” riddle is finally solved. I won’t spoil the solution, but the actual script excerpt is referenced, giving a decades-long mystery closure.
I mean, it’s a fairly disappointing punchline, but the fact that it’s there is pretty cool.
With a retail price of $16.95 it may be a bit expensive, especially considering the lack of new information or repeat readability, though it can be found discounted at several online retailers. Regardless, it’s still a fun read and a decent resource on its own terms, and I’d imagine most Batman fans would appreciate having it in their collection.
You can purchase Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show here.
Overall: A good gift that will provide a quick, entertaining read. What Batman: Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show lacks in depth and new material it more than makes up for in energy and humor, and even the most jaded of fans are sure to crack a few smiles.
Special thanks to Titan Books for an advanced copy for review.