Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Creator of '60s TV camp classic 'Batman' Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies

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Lorenzo Semple Jr., who created the popular and influential 1960s "Batman" TV show, has died, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He was 91.

The man behind "Bif! Bam! Pow!" being the three words — well, sounds — most associated with superheroes created the campy '60s TV show. He also wrote the script for the 1966 "Batman" feature film.

The '60s Batman was funny, played deadpan but wry, with a pop art sensibility most embodied by the flashy sound effects graphics that enveloped the screen. Batman had dark roots, but the '50s had seen Batman getting brighter and the '60s made him brightest of all, before the comics got darker and later films took Batman back to being the Dark Knight.

Semple eventually left TV to move to film, writing movies like "Three Days of the Condor," the 1976 version of "King Kong," the 1980 "Flash Gordon" and James Bond film "Never Say Never Again."

"I think 'Batman' was the best thing I ever wrote, including those big movies. As a whole work, it came out the way that I wanted it to and I was excited by it," Semple told the Archive of American Television.

According to Semple, he first got involved with producer William Dozier and ABC creating a show called "Number One Son," spun off from the Charlie Chan films. However, he was told that ABC decided they didn't want any ethnic heroes — but the network told Dozier "We owe you one," and they were eventually tasked with bringing Batman to television.

Producer Dozier looked with derision at what they'd been given to adapt, but Semple saw the possibilities contained within, particularly in an era with less network supervision, Semple said.

While he worked early on on "Three Days of the Condor," starring Robert Redford, he was pulled and replaced by David Rayfiel, a regular Redford collaborator. He was also pulled from "Never Say Never Again" after some of the film's action scenes were cut, before going on to create more campy, less serious fare.

In his later years, he worked on YouTube series "Reel Geezers" with Marcia Nasatir, together offering their thoughts on modern films. You can watch their review of "Argo" below:

Argo review

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