In honor of the 50th anniversary of both Star Trek and the 1966 Batman TV series, we’ll be spending this final week of 2016 looking at items that relate to one or both of those shows. We continue with two shorts that William Dozier made. The first was made between the second and third seasons to convince ABC to add Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl to the show’s opening credits. The second was a five-minute promo Dozier put together to pitch a Wonder Woman TV show.
Unaired promo short
The Bat-signal: Barbara fetches a book on butterflies for Bruce, who doesn’t recognize her at first, until she explains that she’s Gordon’s daughter. He and Dick are there chatting with another millionaire, Roger Montrose, the lepidopterist (the book she fetched for Bruce is to settle a bet).
Killer Moth and three of his henchmen are also in the library with designs on kidnapping Montrose. Bruce and Dick sneak off to change clothes to stop the villain, while Barbara’s colleague locks up so no one will come in after closing, though there are still patrons present in Montrose and Killer Moth.
Killer Moth’s goons grab Montrose, while Barbara is thrown into the library lounge and locked in—but she’s got a secret closet in the library (really?) and she changes into her Batgirl outfit (which is on under her civilian clothes, her skirt transforming into her cape).
Batman and Robin show up to foil the kidnapping, and fisticuffs ensue. However, Killer Moth uses his spray gun to put the Dynamic Duo in a cocoon, trapping them.
Batgirl bursts in through the window and more fisticuffs ensue. She frees Batman and Robin, at which point more fisticuffs ensue, with Killer Moth and his gang stopped. Once the fight’s over, Batgirl disappears without the Dynamic Duo noticing, leaving them to wonder who she is and where she comes from.
Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! Batman and Robin get into the closed library using the bat-lock-breaking array. Batgirl has a compact that is equipped with a laser beam.
Holy #@!%$, Batman! When Batgirl bursts into the library, Robin cries out, “Holy apparition!” When she whips out her laser beam compact, Robin utters, “Holy vanity case!”
Meanwhile, the narrator cries out “Holy transformation!” as Barbara is changing into Batgirl.
Gotham City’s finest. We only see Gordon briefly, complaining that he never gets to have dinner with his daughter.
Special Guest Villain. Tim Herbert is completely unmemorable as Killer Moth, a villain never seen on the main TV series, though he was also the villain in Batgirl’s first comics appearance in Detective Comics #359.
Na-na na-na na-na na-na na.
“A new member of our team, or a crime-fighting rival?”
–Batman speculating as to who the new chick in purple is.
Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 48 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, author, podcaster, and audio drama producer Jay Smith.
This short was produced for the network and never aired, though it is part of the DVD set.
While there was a previous Bat-Girl in the comics, she was Batwoman’s sidekick, Betty Kane, the niece of Kathy “Batwoman” Kane. Those characters were created in response to Fredric Wertham’s accusations of homoerotic subtext between Batman and Robin in Seduction of the Innocent, but were abandoned in 1964 as being too silly. However, William Dozier and Howie Horwitz approached DC about creating a new Batgirl who was Gordon’s daughter, and Batgirl’s costume on the TV show was inspired by Carmine Infantino’s rendering of the character in Detective Comics #359.
Batgirl’s costume is a different shade of purple, and her secret door is in the library instead of her apartment, which was probably done for budgetary reasons, since this entire short takes place on one set, that of the library.
Pow! Biff! Zowie! “You insidious insect!” Mostly I watched this short thinking that Barbara is a terrible librarian, because she allows the place to get totally trashed, which will seriously mess with the physical plant budget for the next year. It’s going to be a nightmare for her as librarian dealing with the bean counters, not to mention all the books that have to be replaced after the fight…
More seriously, though, this is a charming little piece that nicely introduces both Barbara and Batgirl. It doesn’t actually fit with the continuity of the show, nor was it meant to, but it’s a fun little artifact, and you can see why everyone was high on including this new character, as Yvonne Craig’s enthusiasm and skill are on full display. I’m not so thrilled with the bit where she sits provocatively on the desk while Batman and Robin finish the fisticuffs, but that wasn’t the start of a trend, so whatever.
Unaired promo short
No real need to break this one down as aggressively, as it’s got even less of a plot than the Batgirl piece. In 1967, with Batman and The Green Hornet both on the air (and neither one cancelled yet), William Dozier pitched a Wonder Woman series to ABC.
Dozier’s Wonder Woman is a goofy, klutzy young woman who can’t even read the newspaper without falling off the couch. Her mother wants her to find a husband and settle down and have a family. She cites a neighbor, Lucille Maxwell, who is twenty-four and already has three kids. (WW’s protest that Lucille isn’t actually married falls on deaf ears. This stands out as the only actual funny line in the entire short.)
Once she changes into costume, she finds herself captivated by her reflection in the mirror—played by a different actor, who is more conventionally pretty—while Dozier narrates her abilities. She knows she has the strength of Hercules, etc., etc., but she only thinks she has the beauty of Aphrodite. (Har har.)
Once she tears herself away from her imagined reflection (which takes a while), she flies out the window, her mother calling after her to stop by Kansas City and say hi to her uncle.
If you ever believe that there is no justice in this world, think on this: nobody made a TV series based on this promo. Which proves that there are smart, intelligent people even in Hollywood. Because there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this concept whatsoever. Reimagining Wonder Woman as a barely competent hero with a nagging mother is an idea that is bone-stupid on every possible level. It’s hard to believe that the William Dozier who gave us Batgirl, Catwoman, Marsha Queen of Diamonds, and Zelda the Great, not to mention Casey and several other strong female characters on The Green Hornet, would stoop to this pair of horrendous stereotypes.
A few years later, one of the better members of Dozier’s stable of bat-writers, Stanley Ralph Ross, would develop a Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter which would capture the character much better…
Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest release is the Super City Cops novella Avenging Amethyst, from which you can read an excerpt right here on this site. This is the first of three novellas about police in a city filled with costumed heroes and villains published by Bastei Entertainment. Full information, including the cover, promo copy, ordering links, and another excerpt can be found on Keith’s blog. The next two novellas, Undercover Blues and Secret Identities, will be released in January and February.