First things first, citizens of Gotham, allow me to apologize for the delay in posting this season three recap. A busy work schedule and computer repairs conspired to delay this post. Now that things are back to normal, let’s take a moment to close out our time with the Caped Crusaders with some final thoughts on the less-than-stellar third and final season of Batman.
As we stated when this season began, this chapter in the story of the Dynamic Duo came with some big changes to the series. The show no longer aired twice a week with two-part adventures. We were now down to a single half-hour episode per week. Though a few of the stories were still done as multi-part stories, most of them tried their hardest to cram a full story into 30 minutes (including commercials). This style of storytelling definitely took its toll on the series. There wasn’t as much time for the silliness of the previous seasons because we had to hurry and wrap things up. Also gone were the wonderful cliffhangers that definitely ranked as a highlight of the previous two seasons. All-in-all, the truncated stories proved to be a major part of the show’s downfall.
Of course, another big change this season was the addition of a new character…Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, as played by the lovely Yvonne Craig. On a whole, Craig was a welcome addition to the cast. She brought a lot of spunk to the role and proved to be a more-than-worthy compatriot for Batman and Robin. In fact, in the early episodes, she was the one who often got the Caped Crusaders out of a jam. That changed, though, as the season wore on. Batgirl soon started to take a bit more of a backseat, even having little more than a cameo in a few episodes. I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to lessen her role or not, but today it certainly reads like someone in the writer’s room said something like, “Hey, do you think we’re taking this female superhero thing a bit too far?”
When it comes to the villains, the highlights were definitely the icons who have been with us through this whole adventure. Cesar Romero’s Joker, Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, Victor Buono as King Tut, and the single episode return of Frank Gorshin as the Riddler all provided some bright moments. Also worthy of mention is Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. While her stories were not as memorable as what we’d seen in previous season, her interpretation of the character ends up being just as iconic as Julie Newmar’s. We also saw some truly pathetic additions to the rogue’s gallery. Lord Marmaduke Ffogg and Lady Penelope Peasoup…puh-leeze. Also not so great was Milton Berle as Louie the Lilac, turning in a performance that was tonally off from the well established feel of the series. The one bright spot when it came to new villains was the eleventh hour addition of Ida Lupino as Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft.
Ultimately, season three of Batman still has it’s fun moments. The surfing contest between Batman and Joker may actually be one of the finest moments in the whole series! However, this final season is also so frustrating. It gives us the chance to witness a one time amazing show take a big nosedive that fully justifies its ultimate cancellation. In the end, though, I still had an amazing time spending the last two and a half years working my way through this classic series. Despite a disappointing third season, I still consider this to be one of the best shows of the 60’s.