Hi Diddle Riddle: The Batman '66 pilot, according to Adam West

Holy debut episode, Batman!

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Few series debut to a more feverish audience than Batman. His already built-in audience hotly anticipated the Caped Crusader's 1966 outing, and the show was an instant hit. But things weren't always a sure shot; a live-action Batman could've gone horribly wrong in many ways. Luckily, though, we live in this, the best of all possible Bat-worlds, and the Batman show was a fun, lighthearted affair that's looked back on with fond memories and a love for its campy style. It's even luckier, then, that we also live in a world wherein Adam West, Batman's Batman, left us with his recollections in Back to the Batcave, his 1994 autobiography.

Among the behind-the-scenes details offered by West in his book are his memories of filming the show's pilot episode. "Hi Diddle Riddle," as the episode was titled, saw the Dark Knight take on the green tights-wearing baron of befuddlement, The Riddler. The chapter devoted to the experience is filled with praise for West's collaborators and conspirators. 

Specifically, the man behind the Cowl celebrates the contributions of director Robert Butler. West was impressed by the attention Butler gave to the show's staging. Even while West and co-star Burt Ward (Robin, the Boy Wonder) were engaged in dialogue, Butler kept them moving, ensuring nothing in an episode ever felt stagnant, especially while Batman and Robin discuss the Riddler's modus operandi, the Dynamic Duo pace back and forth across the Batcave, as well as across the frame.

However, West also mentions that he and the show's director didn't always see eyehole to eyehole. West cites an incident while filming the pilot wherein he improvised a bit of prop work, only to have his idea shot down. 

"When Burt and I were in the library," West recalled, "I took it upon myself to drop some fuller's earth inside an old tome so that when I closed it, a fine film of dust rose up to catch the light. Butler thought that was too extreme and had us do it over again, without the dust."

What did the show's star do when the director questioned his know-how? "I usually deferred to him," wrote West. "His comedic taste was wonderful. And that first show set a real tone for the series."

He was right; that first episode perfectly encapsulates much of what would make Batman such a popular commodity. In addition to establishing the show's characters, setting, and tone, "Hi Diddle Riddle" also saw the debut of another famous Bat-artifact, the Batusi. This was a very specific dance move Batman does in the pilot episode (and then again in "The Pharoah's in a Rut"). Batman makes two horizontal V-signs with the pointer- and middle finger of each hand then passes the V's across his face in time rhythm with the music. 

Not bad for the very first episode!

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Melfins 9 months ago
Why is METV showing only Riddler, Penguin, Joker & Catwoman episodes? I wish they would show all in chronological order.
Kaydee Melfins 8 months ago
Unfortunately MeTV only shows one episode of Batman per week on Saturday evenings after Svengoolie at 10:30. I've been requesting that MeTV at least cut the crap with the "extended" Svengoolie to 10:30 instead of back to the original 10pm. And then MeTV could show an hour of Batman Pts 1&2 But for the most part MeTV does show ALL of the Batman villain's episode per episode. Just keep watching, MeTV is cheap on Batman episodes but they are not discriminating. By the way, if you have the "Heroes & Icons" channel they show Batman episodes on Saturday & Sunday mornings stating at 9am But MeTV does show more than just Riddler, Penguin, Joker, & Catwoman episodes. Also a more extended array of Batman villain's appear more in the 3rd and last season of Batman ie: Egghead, Olga, Minerva, Dr. Cassandra etc. Keep watching! God Bless the Last surviving original Batman cast members Burt (Robin) Ward, 78 years old & Julie (Catwoman) Newmar, 89 years old.
Inkwell765 10 months ago
I understand the Batman pilot was originally one hour, but ABC only had two half hour time slots available. So the pilot was reworked into a two parter. That would explain the cliffhanger being a cheat: Riddler’s “operation” is making a Robin mask, and he isn’t in danger!
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tootsieg 10 months ago
Not bad for the first episode at all.
If I remember correctly, there was an episode of Batman on and President Johnson broke in with a special report. The switchboard at the network just lit up with so many complaints. The next day in school that was all everyone was talking about. I don’t think that ever happened before or since.
Wolfie 10 months ago
Adam West, you are fondly missed, along with everyone else from Batman (1965-1967) that's passed away 🦇

EP2020 10 months ago
Visit: Batman Forver Series on Facebook!
Runeshaper 10 months ago
Great story, MeTV! Love ❤️ me some Batman 🦇!!!
Coldnorth Runeshaper 10 months ago
Holy Wah Batman!!!!!
Bapa1 10 months ago
The pilot episode was a little bit darker than the rest of the series. It was already mentioned that Molly was killed, there is also the scene where batman thinks The Riddler was holding a gun on someone, and also a scene where Bruce Wayne mentions his parents being murdered. Was a big fan of Batman and Gorshin's Riddler was the best Batman bad guy.
daDoctah Bapa1 10 months ago
Gorshin was certainly a surprise to viewers at the time, and it's funny that now we think of the Joker as *the* premiere Batman villain. As a seven-year-old viewer at the time the series debuted, I always felt the Penguin was the most interesting regular bad guy, with his dual trademarks of fish and umbrellas brought in from the comics.
Kaydee 10 months ago
The pilot Batman episodes of "Hi Diddle Riddle" was one of the best two episodes of the Batman TV show in my opinion. The plot was great, the storyline was excellent and the acting was very well done from both Adam West and Burt Ward along with as always an excellent performance from the fabulous and talented Frank Gorshin. Jill St. John gave a very impressive performance as well as "Molly" although her character will go down in the history of the 1966 Batman TV show as the ONLY character to actually die on the show. It saddened me as a child while watching that episode as a Batman fan and it's still a downside feeling for me as an adult still watching Batman. Also watching Adam West perform the "Batusi" was a joy to see in that episode.
Null88 Kaydee 8 months ago
I recall an episode with Mr. Freeze where he freezes a policeman and the cop topples and fragments. THAT'S dead.
Kaydee Null88 8 months ago
Oh wow! I don't remember that episode. Would you happen to know the title of that episode?
Pacificsun 10 months ago
𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒔 is a really neat article, and nicely written. I like this quote, especially!

"It's even luckier, then, that we also live in a world wherein Adam West, Batman's Batman, left us with his recollections in Back to the Batcave, his 1994 autobiography."

Batman (the Series) and Adam West are certainly to be appreciated for the times in which they debuted. More than "just" campy (though there really wasn't another way to describe the experience. The Show was artfully conceived and directed. Constantly in motion, is only one aspect. Camera angles increased suspense and character motivation. Watched it just the other night, and had forgotten how quickly an episode flew by because of so many interesting details to follow.

I hope Batman is a cement anchor to the Sci-Fi Sat. Nite lineup!!
Andybandit 10 months ago
I love watching BM on Saturday nights after Svengoolie. Please don't put on Sventunie.
Andybandit 10 months ago
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BrittReid 10 months ago
With Jill St. John as Molly.
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