The Batman TV Wannabes Of '67: Mr. Terrific Vs. Captain Nice

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Mr. Terrific DVD packaging. Right: Gold Key's Captain Nice comic book. Sources: Amazon.de; eBay

You remember Adam West's Batman from 1966, but what about Mr. Terrific and Captain Nice from 1967? These two superhero series, both launched on the same day, attempted to capture the magic of the caped crusader's show -- but couldn't.

"Holy ratings Batman!" That was the phrase around ABC in 1966 when their Adam West starring, ultra camp TV series that focused on the lighter aspects of the Dark Knight premiered. For a brief period of time, Batman was the biggest show on the network. It pulled in children as well as adults, and featured a who's who of guest stars. Batman was such an instantaneous, inescapable hit that it inspired clones of all masks and sizes.

While ABC attempted to replicate their success by going back to DC Comics with The Green Hornet, NBC and CBS tried a different route. They created their own campy superheroes. Mr. Terrific (CBS) and Captain Nice (NBC) premiered on the same night in January, 1967. Both shows featured out-of-their-depth superheroes who were more Superman and Shazam than they were Batman, but it's undeniable that these shows were blatantly pulling from the Batman '66 playbook.

Neither series was a hit. They only ran for one season apiece, with Mr. Terrific winning the race to the bottom with a whopping 17 episodes to Captain Nice's 15. The story of these shows is a fascinating look at the entertainment industry's quest to recreate the success of something original, only to see their work become the stuff of the pop culture dust bin.

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