Batman Goes Surfing: Remembering Adam West (RIP) with Perhaps the Campiest Batman Episode Ever

In the var­i­ous obits I read this week­end for Adam West, one word repeat­ed­ly came up–“campy.”

Reuters start­ed its obit: “Adam West, who earned a place in Amer­i­can pop cul­ture his­to­ry with his campy por­tray­al of the title char­ac­ter in the clas­sic 1960s TV series “Bat­man,” has died at age 88, his fam­i­ly said on Sat­ur­day.”

The New York Times added: “His straight-faced por­tray­al of Bat­man in the campy 1960s TV series lift­ed the tight-clad Caped Cru­sad­er into the nation­al con­scious­ness, and inspired future wear­ers of the super­hero’s cape and cowl. The TV show was among the most pop­u­lar in 1966, the year of its debut, and some of the era’s top actors signed on to play vil­lains.”

And The Hol­ly­wood Reporter capped things with off:  Yes, the Bat­man series was campy. But it was also iron­ic — in that, all winks aside, there was some­thing tru­ly right­eous and excit­ing about this pur­ple-clad goof­ball.” Indeed!

If you want Exhib­it 1 of the won­der­ful campi­ness, check out the clip above, an out­take from the Novem­ber 1967 episode, “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under,” which turns on this plot:

The Jok­er plans to become the king of surf­ing, hop­ing the fame will give him con­trol over the hearts and minds of Gotham City. He cap­tures top surfer Skip Park­er, then uses his “Surf­ing Expe­ri­ence & Abil­i­ty Trans­fer­om­e­ter” to trans­fer the need­ed skills and sta­mi­na from Skip to him­self. When all the oth­er con­tes­tants drop out of the upcom­ing surf­ing match, Bat­man steps up to chal­lenge the Jok­er’s suprema­cy.

Just so you know. The Jok­er fin­ish­es first, but Bat­man wins on points.

The full episode (along with 119 oth­er ones) can be viewed on Bat­man: The Com­plete Series, a remas­tered box set released just a few years ago. I loved watch­ing the series in syn­di­ca­tion as a kid. Do they play as well decades lat­er? We’ll find out.

Note: If you want to see where Adam West fig­ured into the long line of Bat­man actors, see this video from our archive: The Evo­lu­tion of Bat­man in Cin­e­ma: From 1939 to Present

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1950s Bat­man Car­toon Tells Kids: “Don’t Believe Those Crack­pot Lies About Peo­ple Who Wor­ship Dif­fer­ent­ly”

1950 Super­man Poster Urged Kids to Defend All Amer­i­cans, Regard­less of Their Race, Reli­gion or Nation­al Ori­gin

Bat­man Stars in an Unusu­al Car­toon Adap­ta­tion of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Pun­ish­ment

The Evo­lu­tion of Bat­man in Cin­e­ma: From 1939 to Present


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