Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

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Ricky
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Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Ricky »

Firstly, hello everyone! I used to be active on these forums circa mid 2000's til early 2010's - interesting to see if any familiar names / faces are still around.

Currently for obvious reasons, I have been off work for 2 months now so naturally cracked out the Batman BluRay and have watched through the entire series. I feel guilty for almost neglecting my love for it as it's probably the first time in possibly 4 years or so since I had a proper watch-through. In a way tho, it was nice to be able to relive the moments and almost change opinions on what I like / dislike about the series. For example I used to really dislike the Archer & BlackWidow episodes but this time round completely loved them however, my feelings had changed towards really enjoying John Astin's Riddler previously but feeling less tho impressed this time round.

The one feeling that really stood out for me was season three and how much that it almost felt like your watching a different programme, it just felt contrastingly different. We understand as fans that during the end of season two, public opinion for the show was decreasing and it potentially could have been axed. The obvious inclusion of Batgirl and changing the format to once a week in aim to freshen the show up was given the green light. Now I have a few questions to pose to the group if anyone knows any answers / would like to add to my thoughts.

Firstly, how much of Batgirl's addition gave ABC the confidence in the series? The reason why I say this is logistics. The budget for the show was cut and the length of time for each story was decreased. Logically speaking if I was making the show my decision would be to reduce the amount of characters - less lines to write which will save more time to write in story arcs and less wages to pay actors. The budget is certainly what is evidently wrong with the final season, some episodes looked like they were filmed on a theatres stage - the sets and backdrops were poor for many episodes. Now this is a hard one for me, as I really love the Batgirl character and of corse I have great admiration for all the cast of the series. However, if they didn't go ahead with Batgirl and for the third season dropped Chief O'Hara and reduced Commissioner Gordons appearances (as what happened with Aunt Harriet - understanding the real reasons for this also), then the money saved could have been gone into making a better production with better storylines.

Notably some stories stayed over two episodes with many being single episodes. Why was 'Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin' only a single episode? Introducing a vitally important character and essentially rushed through the whole introduction. That first episode of season three felt highly rushed and would be in say my top 10 list of least favourite episodes. On the other hand however, a story such as 'A Sport of Penguin / Horse of another Color' was given a two parter but probably could have been a one episode feature.

But heck, they did a great job - i'm not film & tv expert. I loved the series as it is, just thinking in my head if the quality of the third season was just that bit better then maybe it could have continued. Any thoughts?

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dell
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by dell »

I think at least some of season three's problems was that many of the important people with the series (actors, writers, producer, etc.) expected the drop in ratings to continue despite the arrival of Batgirl. If you were involved with the series it would be difficult to overlook the significant changes for season 3. Changing from two part episodes with a cliffhanger to one part stories, budget cuts, cheap sets, reduction in the number of characters per episode, etc. had to cast a pall over the set.

Adding a new character is/was often seen as a way to at least partially revive the popularity of a series. I'm not sure how often it worked. Sometimes it failed spectacularly and has become known as the Cousin Oliver Syndrome because of the sad attempt to bolster the Brady Bunch.

I think Yvonne deserves a lot of credit for giving the series as much effort as she did. Some people love the character and others hate her, but I think Yvonne did a good job with what she was given Now some of Batgirl's scenes are cringeworthy, but I think that is because of the writing and direction, rather than Yvonne's abilities. I really hate watching that scene in the Louie the Lilac episode where she trips a henchman, laughs like a schoolgirl and then turns around only to get zapped by Louie's boutonnière. I can practically see the director telling her to do it that way and saying great take after it was over. For me that is one of the worst Batgirl scenes of the series.
dell

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Ben Bentley
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Ben Bentley »

Great to have you back Ricky! You should totally swing by our upcoming Video Bat-Chat this weekend.

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High C
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been

Post by High C »

This subject has been tackled before, Ricky, but it's always fun to take a fresh look at it. Great topic. It's an interesting question as to what might have been if Batgirl hadn't been added. But there's no third season without her, as you know and as I'll explain a bit later for those who might not.

As dell noted, the character of Batgirl often was poorly written. I'd add that so was Barbara Gordon. In the third-from-last episode of the series, this apparently responsible young professional who moonlights as a fearless costumed crimefighter is freaked out by a guy in green makeup. (Never mind that Barbara Gordon herself would be wearing green paint a year later, but I digress. :lol: ) But later in the ep, she again fearlessly charges into a villain's hideout with no backup and no real plan. Brave? Yes. Smart? Not so much.

The problem is Batgirl was a means to an end, which might be one reason why so little care was taken in crafting her actual character. Adding Yvonne/Batgirl, in theory, was supposed to help the ratings in terms of two demographics, young girls and adult males. But the most important reason was that adding a female sidekick was one of ABC's main stipulations for keeping the show on the air, with another one being cutting it down to one night a week because the Wednesday ratings were so dreadful. As Ricky and dell noted, this was completely untenable in itself. Worse yet, it simply continued season 2's downward spiral by cutting the budget that much more.

The interesting thing is the only part of the budget that actually increased slightly was that for the guest villains, whose per diem increased slightly, from $1750 per three days of shooting to $2000 per three days. But that obviously came at the expense of sets, bit players and extras. But by still having name villains, it was another feature that Dozier could push in the syndication package.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. The show, by then, was worth more to Dozier dead than alive and his comments in the media once the ABC ax fell reflect that. He could reap the syndication windfall without the hassle and headaches, financial and otherwise, of producing new episodes.

As far as the hypotheticals that could have made it a more watchable and enjoyable season, I think there needed to be a producer who wasn't merely looking forward to a syndication payday, and a script editor who understood the show, which I believe Charles Hoffman never did. And as noted, more two-part stories to allow the plots to breathe and for actual detective work, as opposed to, let's just ask the Bat-Computer or Batgirl breaks into the villains' lairs (which have no locks or security) and gets captured instantaneously.

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Dr. Shimel
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Dr. Shimel »

Stanley Ralph Ross decided to turn the show into one big joke.

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High C
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by High C »

Dr. Shimel wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 7:54 pm
Stanley Ralph Ross decided to turn the show into one big joke.
True, but an executive producer who wasn't an absentee landlord and and a script editor with backbone and a vision could have stopped him. Instead, it was the Batman version of 'Amok Time' with Stanley Ralph Ross as Mr. Spock.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

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Ricky
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Ricky »

Brilliant insights here. The comment from High C regarding Barbara Gordon being frightened by a green man by day got me chuckling!

I find the idea that Dozier and co were sitting on it to make money out of syndication an interesting theory. How does syndication fees work in the U.S? Call me naive (not got a great understanding of the TV business) but I would have thought there was more money in releasing new content and selling a new product than selling re-runs? I understand when you sell re-runs there's effectively no costs to begin with but its interesting for me anyway, that the profit margins were such that you would make more money flogging the old episodes than the potential profit margins of selling new episodes, after taking into account the production/filming costs.

I understand the sentiments towards Stanley Ralph Ross. I felt that he was one of the writers in the end which effectively made the show a parody of itself almost. Which isa shame because looking back at other episodes he was involved with such as 'Purr-Feat Crime/Better Luck Next Time' and 'An Egg Grows in Gotham/The Yegg Foes In Gotham' were what i'd consider amongst the best episodes of the entire show.

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High C
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by High C »

Ricky wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:43 am
Brilliant insights here. The comment from High C regarding Barbara Gordon being frightened by a green man by day got me chuckling!
Thanks!
I find the idea that Dozier and co were sitting on it to make money out of syndication an interesting theory. How does syndication fees work in the U.S? Call me naive (not got a great understanding of the TV business) but I would have thought there was more money in releasing new content and selling a new product than selling re-runs? I understand when you sell re-runs there's effectively no costs to begin with but its interesting for me anyway, that the profit margins were such that you would make more money flogging the old episodes than the potential profit margins of selling new episodes, after taking into account the production/filming costs.
Again, it's pure profit. Yes, the production company has to cut a distributor in on the profits, but there is no risk whatsoever. And there was no value in making new episodes. The show's value as a new entity had long since peaked.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

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High C
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by High C »

Ricky wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 10:43 am

I understand the sentiments towards Stanley Ralph Ross. I felt that he was one of the writers in the end which effectively made the show a parody of itself almost. Which isa shame because looking back at other episodes he was involved with such as 'Purr-Feat Crime/Better Luck Next Time' and 'An Egg Grows in Gotham/The Yegg Foes In Gotham' were what i'd consider amongst the best episodes of the entire show.
And, of course, he created my all-time favorite character, The Siren. His is a complicated legacy, to be sure. Again, what he and the show needed was someone who would ride herd on him and cross out some of his jokes that didn't belong on the show.

The problem was that Charles Hoffman clearly wasn't the person willing to do that. Besides, he wasn't even good at writing his own scripts, let alone fixing those of other writers. I mean, consider his script for the Riddler boxing caper that introduced The Siren. Not only is it one of those typical season 3 capers in which the end game is unclear in terms of how will the villain make money, but it also is poorly plotted.

And yeah, I get the idea of, 'oh, it's just a fantasy TV show,' but even fantasy TV shows need rules and some kind of internal logic. And I also get how difficult it was to cram everything into 22-23 minutes (minus the credits), but still. The Riddler physically disappears ('on-camera')? A boxer disappears (off-camera)? The Riddler has a drug that makes Kid Gulliver lose his memory for a week, he says, so why does he need to hire Lorelei Circe??? Oh, and with all these boxers disappearing, you'd think Batman might stake out Gotham Square Garden. Oh, and I guess I shouldn't ask how the Riddler in an obviously thinly veiled disguise gets a boxing license in Gotham City--WHEN BRUCE WAYNE IS THE GOTHAM CITY BOXING COMMISSIONER!!!
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

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Dr. Shimel
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Dr. Shimel »

I've mentioned before that Dough-zier started ramping up his apathy once the 1966 Christmas season passed, knowing that was the last gravy train before syndication had left the station. From there, his only goal was to get to the magic 100 episodes to make that happen, which required taking a meat cleaver to the weekly budget. I was just thinking that the show could have been canceled at midseason (13 episodes), which would have gotten them over the threshold and still made Billy Boy happy.

Commodore Schmidlapp
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Commodore Schmidlapp »

Being perhaps an oddball here I'll give my Third Season perspective. My Batman fandom begins and ends with the '66 series. I've never bought a comic book in my life, other than the Kiss comic when I was a kid. And I only bought that because it was made with blood from the band members mixed in the ink. ;)

I am a fan of classic TV shows, and especially 60's shows with an unabashed absurdist vibe; of which by the third season Batman certainly was.

Beverly Hillbillies,The Munsters, Green Acres, I Dream of Jeannie, etc. like Batman, seemed to revel in just how absurd they could get, especially in later seasons. Al Lewis (Grandpa) from The Munsters even thought the show was getting too outlandish toward the end of its short run.

There is certainly absurdity and at times lazy writing in the first season of Batman. But the delivery was such that it felt as if the actors weren't quite in on the joke. But by the third season, this wasn't as much the case. As such, I find most of the third season great comedy, which was likely the intention.

And characters becoming more cartoonish as a series progresses is certainly not unique to Batman. Lisa from Green Acres was actually somewhat suave and sophisticated in early episodes, but became someone very different. On the Jeffersons, early on Weezy was the level-headed voice of reason, as a foil for George's antics. But by the later seasons, she was a snobbish buffoon. And George went from an incendiary, controversial, conniving businessman to kind-hearted, lovable lug, whose former enemy (Tom) became his best friend. Robert Reid (Mike) on the Brady Bunch even refused to participate in that series' final episode because he found it too outrageous.

So with Batman, it may be a case of be careful what you wish for; had the show continued, it could have gotten even more absurd. Having collected many shows on DVD, most are very different by later seasons. Some, like Beverly Hillbillies and The Jeffersons may even have run too long.

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Therin of Andor
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Therin of Andor »

The obvious character to have confronted Barbara Gordon at the public library was... the Bookworm!

Image
Bookworm and Batgirl by Ian McLean, on Flickr

A proper-length episode with a more-elaborately costumed Killer Moth would have been cool. Batgirl could also have joined the Dynamic Duo to have performed a Batclimb. In heels!

I would have enjoyed seeing Dr Cassandra and Cabala again. And an Egghead back to solo schemes, no longer enslaved to Olga?
"Holy nostalgia, Batman!"
Therin of Andor

(aka Ian McLean, from Sydney, Australia)

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High C
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by High C »

Commodore Schmidlapp wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:12 pm

There is certainly absurdity and at times lazy writing in the first season of Batman. But the delivery was such that it felt as if the actors weren't quite in on the joke. But by the third season, this wasn't as much the case. As such, I find most of the third season great comedy, which was likely the intention.

And characters becoming more cartoonish as a series progresses is certainly not unique to Batman. Lisa from Green Acres was actually somewhat suave and sophisticated in early episodes, but became someone very different. On the Jeffersons, early on Weezy was the level-headed voice of reason, as a foil for George's antics. But by the later seasons, she was a snobbish buffoon. And George went from an incendiary, controversial, conniving businessman to kind-hearted, lovable lug, whose former enemy (Tom) became his best friend. Robert Reed (Mike) on the Brady Bunch even refused to participate in that series' final episode because he found it too outrageous.

So with Batman, it may be a case of be careful what you wish for; had the show continued, it could have gotten even more absurd. Having collected many shows on DVD, most are very different by later seasons. Some, like Beverly Hillbillies and The Jeffersons may even have run too long.
You made some interesting points about season 1. I agree with two, not so much with one. There was plenty of absurdity--such as a criminal mastermind believing Jill St. John and Burt Ward would look identical in a Robin costume. As for lazy writing, how about part 2 of Falseface, in which he became more of a shapeshifter than master of disguise. (I mean, how could he know exactly what Commissioner Gordon would be wearing?)

But it wasn't a matter of the actors not being in on the joke--they were reading the lines in a deadpan manner and not making the humor super-duper obvious as in season 3.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

Commodore Schmidlapp
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Re: Thoughts/Ideas particularly about the third season and what could have been.

Post by Commodore Schmidlapp »

High C wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:54 pm
Commodore Schmidlapp wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:12 pm

There is certainly absurdity and at times lazy writing in the first season of Batman. But the delivery was such that it felt as if the actors weren't quite in on the joke. But by the third season, this wasn't as much the case. As such, I find most of the third season great comedy, which was likely the intention.

And characters becoming more cartoonish as a series progresses is certainly not unique to Batman. Lisa from Green Acres was actually somewhat suave and sophisticated in early episodes, but became someone very different. On the Jeffersons, early on Weezy was the level-headed voice of reason, as a foil for George's antics. But by the later seasons, she was a snobbish buffoon. And George went from an incendiary, controversial, conniving businessman to kind-hearted, lovable lug, whose former enemy (Tom) became his best friend. Robert Reed (Mike) on the Brady Bunch even refused to participate in that series' final episode because he found it too outrageous.

So with Batman, it may be a case of be careful what you wish for; had the show continued, it could have gotten even more absurd. Having collected many shows on DVD, most are very different by later seasons. Some, like Beverly Hillbillies and The Jeffersons may even have run too long.
You made some interesting points about season 1. I agree with two, not so much with one. There was plenty of absurdity--such as a criminal mastermind believing Jill St. John and Burt Ward would look identical in a Robin costume. As for lazy writing, how about part 2 of Falseface, in which he became more of a shapeshifter than master of disguise. (I mean, how could he know exactly what Commissioner Gordon would be wearing?)

But it wasn't a matter of the actors not being in on the joke--they were reading the lines in a deadpan manner and not making the humor super-duper obvious as in season 3.
Those are very good examples, and I do agree Season 1 is solid from that perspective.

Another thing worth considering in the hypothetical scenario of the show continuing is what do with Robin Boy Wonder as he became an adult. He was driving the Batmobile and showing an interest in girls as the series progressed. But eventually he'd be a full-fledged adult.

Max Baer, who played Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies, disliked playing that role in later seasons. Granted a grown man portraying such a doofus is a tougher sell than a crime fighter.

And there were more serious-toned episodes in Season 3. Siren and even Louie the Lilac were rather dark with fewer moments of absurdity. Eartha Kitt's Catwoman was meaner than the other two. And for reasons I'm not even sure about, The Sport of Penguins is among my favorite arcs.

But there's no doubt the Joker and Egghead, like the Batman character, had lost all of their edge and were cartoon characters in Season 3.

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