Thursday, May 19, 2005


Here's a guest essay by my cathode comrade, Hugh Davis. It's a great read to see how Gorshin's Riddler ultimately fit so deeply into the TV Universe overall......

I'm sorry to hear of Frank Gorshin's death, and I thank you for the tribute.

I've always liked him. My father (definitely the one who has fed my interest in pop culture) has always said he was the first impressionist to really make himself look like the person he was portraying, such as stretching or contorting his face to become Kirk Douglas.

I will take issue with you mentioning Jim Carrey--Carrey didn't stand a chance against ol' Frank.

In the grand interest of the televerse, however, I wanted to point out Frank Gorshin's Riddler and his connection(s) to the greater network of television shows, one which crosses at least two media forms and includes animated versions of characters. As you'll recall, I normally link programs through common actors in roles.

Frank Gorshin played the Riddler on Batman, which had direct and official crossovers with The Green Horner (both in a two-parter and as part of a "wall-crawling" gag). Also popping out of windows for such gags were Lurch, Col. Klink & Sgt. Schulz, and Jose Jimenez.

*Lurch was from The Addams Family, which ties to a pair of animated versions (the 1970s version had Jackie Coogan recreating Fester; the 1990s version had John Astin recreating Gomez); the earlier animated version crossed with Scooby Doo.

*Klink & Schulz were from Hogan's Heroes, which tied through a gag in a flashback story to Green Acres, which was part of the world of Hooterville with Petticoat Junction. There is a Granny connection to Mr. Ed, which I contend is still a legit link. Also, through the Ad-verse (I think I like that better than Blipverse), Jed Clampett was seen having dinner with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which tied to Different Strokes and The Jeffersons, two very popular programs in Toobworld.

*Jose Jimenez was Bill Dana's comic creation, one of the times (as with Elvira and Pee Wee Herman) that an actor was completely taken for one character. Besides appearing on such programs as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1980s version), Toast of the Town, and the Steve Allen Show, the character was the focal point on the Bill Dana Show and the elevator man on Make Room For Daddy.

Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show is one of the key programs for crosses, spinning off Make Room for Granddaddy and The Andy Griffith Show (which itself begat Mayberry, RFD--the rural shows from the old CBS are all linked after all). Among other things, Danny Williams was on the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, an extended version of I Love Lucy, which had the episode "Lucy Meets Superman."

I go through all of this to point out that it is my contention that, as George Reeves is credited as playing Superman in the episode, never as "himself," this is a crossover to The Adventures of Superman tv show. Thus, Adam West's Batman and Reeves' Superman are part of the same tv universe.

As for crossing media boundaries, one need only notice that the later Lois Lane on this show (played by Noel Neill) was also Lois to Kirk Alyn's Superman in the two Columbia serials to realize that connection.

Going back to Batman:Adam West and Burt Ward also voiced the Dynamic Duo on the Filmation animated New Advs. of Batman & Robin in the 1970s, a show which both aired as a single series and with the anthology Batman (later Tarzan...) & the Super 7. This included segments of "Superstretch & Microwoman", "Webwoman," "Manta & Moray," "Galactic Guardians," and "Jason of Star Command."

*Tarzan was also part of an animated hour with Filmation's cartoons of Zorro and the Lone Ranger.

*Jason of Star Command had the spinoff Space Academy.

*Galactic Guardians was a team featuring Super Samurai, Merlin, and Hercules (who had the previous year been part of a show called Young Sentinels, later Space Sentinels) and an animated version of Isis. Filmation made a real point that Isis was their character from the live-action show being animated.

That show had several crossovers with the Shazam! show (Captain Marvel), and Filmation later also made an animated version of Captain Marvel's Marvel Family on The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! The rest of the hour was based around a sequence called Hero High, and one episode had Isis, again animated, as a substitute teacher at the school.

In the late 1960s, Filmation had an earlier animated show of Batman & Robin. This was part of a joint hour with a Superman cartoon, which the year before had also paired with Aquaman. Filmation also made short sequences with Hawkman, Green Lantern, Atom, the Flash (brought together in JLA installments), and the Teen Titans.

*Superman was voiced by Bud Collyer, who first provided that voice for the Superman radio show and then for the Max Fleischer animated film shorts. Ergo, by my logic, all these Superman are the same.

*Filmation's one other Superman was brought to (animated) life for an episode of the Brady Kids, which also featured as guest stars Wonder Woman and the Lone Ranger. The show further crossed over with Mission: Magic.

*Brady Kids was the cartoon spinoff of the Brady Bunch, which in live action also produced The Bradys, the Brady Brides, and the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. The Brady Kids also appeared Live at the Hollywood Bowl with HR Pufnstuff of Sid & Marty Krofft's canon.

The original Filmation voices for Batman & Robin were Olan Soule and Casey Kasem, respectively. These two went on to voice the Duo on Scooby Doo (which crosses several places, including Addams Family, as said above) and on the Superfriends, which existed under several variant titles over about 12 years.

*Several of the "added" SuperFriends (completely created by Hanna-Barbera) have appeared on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

*In the final season of SuperFriends (the Galactic Super Powers Team), Wonder Woman was voiced by BJ Ward, who also provided the voice in an episode of the 1988 Ruby-Spears Superman cartoon (thus allowing one more Superman series to be included).

*In this same season, Batman was voiced by Adam West, tying up all these Batmen.

Finally--in 1978, there were two live-action comedy specials featuring super heroes. Called "Legends of the Superheroes," the two installments were The Challenge and The Roast, and they were similar to the Legion of Doom season of SuperFriends. The villains were played by a variety of comics, including Jeff Altman, Ruth Buzzi, Howard Morris, and Charlie Callas. The heroes were played by unknown actors, but the characters included the Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern and Captain Marvel (so these animated and live action versions link), and the headliners were West & Ward as Batman and Robin, and the chief villain in the Challenge was The Riddler, as played by Frank Gorshin.

This is my long-way-around version of things to point out that Gorshin is at the center of one of the most intricate and detailed corners of the Televerse.

May he rest in peace and reruns.


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