Thursday, January 12, 2012

Today in Pop Culture History

You're humming the theme song in your head, aren't you.

12 January 1966: Holy Anniversary, Batman! The original Batman TV series debuted today. Though now it reads more campy than hip, especially in the face of Nolan's dark as night (heh) take on the superhero, the series starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader offers a treasure trove of late-60s celebs, usually playing villains. We've got Milton Berle as Louie the Lilac, Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, and Vincent Price as Egghead. I also will be forever fond of this show because it was an inspiration for the similarly hammy but way more intentionally hilarious SNL shorts featuring Ace and Gary, the Ambiguously Gay Duo. Did you know Ace and Gary were voiced by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell? Another reason to crush on all involved.

12 January 1971: Another classic TV show premiered, though this one has a bit more cultural staying power. All in the Family had an eight-year run that began on this day. The sitcom broke ground with its depiction of racism, homophobia, rape, abortion, Vietnam, and many other issues that no one else on network TV would touch. The show was named the fourth-best of all time by TV Guide, and the grumbling conservative patriarch Archie Bunker was named the best television character of all time by Bravo.

These chairs are currently in the Smithsonian. The location of the others pictured is unknown.

It was also based on an even edgier BBC series entitled Til Death Us Do Part, so I suspect All in the Family also inaugurated the time-tested tradition of liking the British version better.

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