Monday, October 10, 2016

TV Quote of the Day (‘Batman,’ With Grammar Wedged Into Crimefighting)

[Catwoman's "getaway rocket" won't start]

Robin [played by Burt Ward]: “You can't get away from Batman that easy!”

Batman [played by Adam West]: “Easily.”

Robin: [nods] “Easily.”

Batman: “Good grammar is essential, Robin.”

Robin: “Thank you, Batman.”

Batman: “You're welcome. Now, let's get them!”— Batman, Season 2, Episode 4, “The Cat and the Fiddle,” Sept. 15, 1966, teleplay by Stanley Ralph Ross, directed by Don Weis

When I was a seven-year-old, watching Batman in its original run, lines like the above sailed straight over my head. (I was more interested in the periodic word-clouds of “POW!,” “ZOWIE!” and the other sounds of the Caped Crusader and Robin the Boy Wonder clashing with no-goodniks.) Now, lines such as these—really campy, delivered with a completely straight face—are what I look forward to the most any time I catch the episodes on a cable station that reruns vintage TV series.

I imagine that the teachers in my elementary school—especially the nuns—must have groaned at the mere idea that the youngsters they were trying to steer onto the straight and narrow could have been enthralled by Batman and its copycat ABC cousin that I also never missed, The Green Hornet. Little did they know the sneaky do-good lessons the show was imparting to us (albeit with tongue in cheek)!

They would certainly have smiled at the idea that Batman would have reinforced the grammar lessons they were teaching to his “young ward” (as the show put it) just before taking on a whole room of bad guys. 

And, taking a wider view of the proceedings, they would have been pleased that, by having impetuous young Robin listen to his older, wiser guardian, the show was surreptitiously suggesting, in the generation-gap Sixties, the importance of heeding the counsel of one’s elders—even if, in this case, the “elder” was—oh,  let’s stop being politically correct about this!—a weirdo who ran around in a bat costume more than half the time, and then invariably got himself and poor Robin into a life-threatening cliffhanger at the end of every other episode.

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