TV on DVD Review: Batman – The Second Season: Part Two (1966-1967)

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Related Review:
Batman -- The Second Season: Part One

No longer content to coast by on the same cliffhanger dependent two part formula in the second half of the second season, Batman's behind-the-scenes team opted to take what they learned making the now-classic original movie and apply it to the hit series.

Along with supersizing the storylines into multi-episodic TV-movie style arcs that were as ambitious as they were outlandish, Batman upped the action and doubled down on the villains to raise the stakes.

From an underwater chase to a slow motion fight, Batman no doubt took a cue from the skyrocketing popularity of globetrotting James Bond blockbusters in order to keep audiences tuning in for more than just the endless alliteration and comic book bright cinematography.

Of course, it's as campy as ever – particularly when it has to rely solely on the scenery chewing charms of some of its B-villains from the Shakespeare quoting Riddler variation, The Puzzler along with The Mad Hatter, and The Sandman.

However, it still manages to win us over with the boundless energy of its core ensemble and sheer dedication to keep its audience entertained by whatever means necessary.

As we get back into the swing of things, we discover an unexpected side effect of Batman's success with the rise of prison overcrowding. Unable to keep up with the demand for more guards or cells, more villains have been sneaking out of lock-up and back into the city – partnering up with fellow mischief-makers in order to keep both the viewers and the caped crusaders on their toes.

Overworked with the rise of jail-breaks and more sophisticated attacks, Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara find themselves having to rely on the Bat-signal in order to send Gotham's guardians an S.O.S. message, interrupting Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson's long overdue vacation.

From the return of Joker and Penguin as part of a Zodiac crime spree (which is all the more eerie given the actual Zodiac crimes of the era) to the flirtatious mayhem involving one villainess who wears love potion laced lipstick during the repeated takes of an on-set movie makeout, the thirty included episodes are packed with outrageously diverting plotlines.

At its best when the show swings for the fences and goes for that creative home run even if it fails, as opposed to playing it too safe by relying on the stale formula, while it's occasionally brought down by incorporating the same techniques again and again, overall there's a lot to admire about Batman's undeniably daring second season.

Growing increasingly over-the-top with each passing episode, Batman is nonetheless elevated once again by the musicality of its dialogue as well as the total commitment of its cast to play it straight.

Artistically intoxicating for its vibrant combination of setting, costume, props and makeup – while it's hard for die-hard millennial fans of the Christopher Nolan adaptations to accept something so uncharacteristically light and bright – Warner Brothers' flawless re-release of the '60s series serves as a great reminder that there are many ways to tell a story.

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