The live-action Batman television show—which finally just got its DVD release—is responsible for introducing a mind-bogglingly impressive amount of ideas into the pop culture lexicon: the instantly recognizable Neil Hefti-penned theme; visualized sound effects; the Joker’s moustache. But the program’s most enduringly surreal contribution to the camp landscape remains its window cameos.
The setup is straight out of vaudeville: Batman and Robin are either climbing up or down a building using a rope (filmed with remedial cinematic trickery by having actors Burt Ward and Adam West crouch on a soundstage building façade and turning the camera on its side, a beautifully fake effect that’s perfect BECAUSE it’s so fake). They are using the time to discuss a current case when a celebrity pokes his or her head out of a window and exchanges a couple of gag lines with the Dynamic Duo.
At face-value, the cameos are cynically synergistic cross-branding, but they’re flat-out inspired MAGIC when you consider their glorious illogic—an apparently drunk Santa Claus trying to suss out the location of the Batcave; Don Ho not getting the hint that Batman wants to get on the guest list at his show; Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes apparently enjoying life in Gotham City as a non-fugitive Nazi—and so on. Alone, they’re goofy and often bizarre. Stitched together, as they are in this clip, they become a gloriously demented exercise in fourth-wall breaking. It’s groundbreaking meta-television at its zenith, and this from a show already working hard to not take itself so seriously. Pure Bat-Brilliance.