arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Dad Memory



I have been trolling the Facebook pages today, and many of those appearing in my sphere are posting memories of their fathers.  I should be one of them, but I am not tech savvy enough to post a photo of my dear departed Daddy.  Instead I will reminisce about one memory when he was being mean, or so I thought at the time.

This memory also ties in nicely with my thoughts on the passing of Adam West last weekend.  His death came as a bit of a shock even though he was well in his eighties age-wise.   It’s just that I saw him live for the first time last April at a Three Stooges Convention, and he seemed wonderfully healthy and spry for a man of his years.  West qualified as a guest since he was the leading man in the Stooges last feature film, The Outlaws is Coming.

During the question and answer period of his presentation, West recounted how he was on the set of the film when he learned that he had gotten the lead role in a new television series, Batman.  West explained that one of his costars, Moe Howard, warned him that such a role could typecast him.  Moe turned out to be correct in the long run, but West took on the role and achieved television immortality.

Batman premiered in early 1966 and I was hooked immediately along with millions of other American children.  His adventures became a part of my world: I lived for Batman and Robin two nights every week - remember that the hour long episodes were divided into two parts on successive nights which introduced me to the drama concept known as the cliff hanger - and The Three Stooges every afternoon.  I did not ask for much more than to watch these shows in peace.

One of West’s obituaries recounted his comments in an interview how he was eager to do the type of comedy which the role of Batman offered.  Comedy?  Batman a comedy?  This is sacrilegious!  Batman to me was always real life!  It was never a comedy in my mind, and every adult in my life obliged me with this fantasy.  Of course every adult in my life knew that I was too young to understand another concept of drama known as camp.

Anyway, this story started out being about Dad.  Somewhere around the fourth week of the first season my brother and I did something which he felt merited some sort of punishment.  I don’t recall what we did; we were after all always perfect angels!  The punishment Dad meted out was we could not watch Batman that week!

How cruel!  How unfair!  This was my favorite part of the week!  How could he do this to us?  

Nevertheless we were sent to bed early so that we could not be up for the 8:00P start time of the new episode with Mr. Freeze as the guest villain.  Dad made sure that we would not sneak out of bed:  he stayed in our room until he was sure we had fallen asleep.  I know this because I woke up, tried to get out of bed, and was forced back down when Dad saw me.

Drat!

It took a long while for me to forgive him for what I felt was an unjust punishment.  Over time I realized the lesson he was teaching me: I needed to prioritize my life so I could be a success in life.  In this case getting a good night’s sleep was more important than some television show.  There may have been other things he wanted me to learn from that experience, but that is the lesson which has remained with me.

The next week I got to watch my precious television show and continued to do so until the mean executives at ABC canceled the show two years later.   I enjoyed it throughout its initial run - comedy, camp or not.  Looking back from the perspective of a middle-aged male mind, I can see how silly it was.  After all, the plots and dramatic situations were grounded in a comic book fantasy world of super heroes and super villains.  It was a world we escaped to in a society filled with racial tensions and the surreal nightmare many young people faced in a far away and all too real land known as Vietnam.

So this weekend I will say Dad, I miss you.   Adam West, Rest in Peace.

(Thank you for reading.  “To the Bat Poles!!!!!”)

2 Comments:

Blogger Raybeard said...

Taking on board the feelings you have for your irreplaceable dad - I only really appreciated mine in the final few years of his life before he died in 1979 aged 69, never at all when I was young, to my eternal shame - I was also a Batman fanatic even though when the series started I'd have turned 20. I grasped the self-knowing angle of it from its beginning though I was surprised and disappointed that there were so many people around who didn't, dismissing it as 'inferior'. Far from it, I thought it was the best thing on TV at the time.
My favourite villain was the Joker, brought gloriously alive by Cesar Romero's extravagant, vocals and campy gestures. Frank Gorshin's Riddler wasn't bad either, as was Eartha Kitt's Catwoman, who was never bettered. But I didn't have quite the same degree of awe for Burgess Meredith's Penguin. Then there were the occasional villains - Mr Freeze you mention, and do you remember Liberace (I think he only appeared the once)?
But high-quality entertainment indeed. And Adam West's Batman is indeed impossible to improve on.

June 19, 2017 at 5:17 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you Raybeard for your thoughts. I enjoyed all of the villains and later saw the earlier works of such actors as Romero (The Thin Man - 1934)and Meredith (Of Mice and Men - 1939). Then Meredith got "discovered again" with the Rocky films. I've come to appreciate the scope of their talents from straight drama to broad (very broad) camp. I vaguely remember seeing the Liberace episodes a few times, but I think by that time I had moved on to other things and did not watch it as part of my routine.

Okay Warrior Queen and I just played a few clips from the Liberace episode on Youtube. Liberace was quite good as the evil twin brother.

June 24, 2017 at 8:09 AM  

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