Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 11, is a day that many Bat-fans have literally been waiting decades for!
On that day, Batman: The Complete Television Series will vroom onto both DVD and Blu-Ray discs.
Holy Bat-discs, Batman! Let’s all sing along together, “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA-BATMAN!”
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
First, a brief description for those who came in late: “TV’s iconic Dynamic Duo, Adam West and Burt Ward, has been captured, along with a legion of abominable archenemies in a POW-erful collection. Featuring ALL 120 original broadcast episodes, ever popular guest stars like Julie Newmar and Cesar Romero, complete episode guide — and exploding with over three hours of all new extras — you can bring home all the crime fighting action that won generations of fans!”
When Batman debuted way back in 1966, I was about ten years old. I was already into comics at that point, with Batman as my favorite character.
Wednesday and Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. were “must-see TV” for me as I watched the Dynamic Duo take on many costumed villains I’d seen in the comics. The Riddler, the Penguin, Catwoman and the Joker all came to life on the small screen. I confess that this is when I fell in love with the Batmobile, with those red stripes, laser beam and cool car body capturing my attention. Still love it today!
When the series left the air after three seasons, I was heartbroken. I’d never lost a show I loved so much (even though the “camp” would later be embarrassing to me). I was like the people who went to see the Avengers movie in the theaters who said they just wanted to see those heroes portrayed in live action. Seeing Batman in costume and driving a cool Batmobile was a great and formative experience for me!
AFTER THE SHOW LEFT THE AIR
For a long time after Batman stopped playing on ABC, it could be seen on cable networks, although that was a fledgling thing in itself. I began to cringe when I’d watch it as I attended college and tuned into it after that. The worst one was when the women of Gotham took over, causing the city to crash and burn. Finally, the men wrested control back from them, and the ladies decided it was more fun to go shopping, anyway, so they let the guys take the government back.
I can always hear the women’s liberation proponents screaming about that one!
Eventually, one had a tough time finding Batman on cable, if at all, so even though Adam West and Burt Ward remain to many the most memorable people under the masks, the show faded away while leaving an indelible impression that Batman would always be “camp.”
When the series was cancelled, Batman and Robin ended up on Saturday morning cartoons, if at all. Those programs kept that same “camp” feeling most of the time. And so it continued.
Once Batman left ABC, the hero’s comic sales started to fade. It was a fad, after all, and people turned from it in droves once it was no longer “cool.”
The comic deserted many of the Bat-staples that the show had made popular, including the Bat Cave, Robin, the “POW” and “BAM” visuals when the Dynamic Duo hit someone, and the cape that just hung down Batman’s back.
In their places came Bruce Wayne moving to a swanky downtown apartment, Dick Grayson heading off to college, a more visual style to punches and a flowing cape that itself seemed a living thing at times.
For a long time, the only way to see Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin was to buy a videocassette of the Batman theatre movie, which featured a gathering of the most popular villains teaming up against the Caped Crusader. Oh, and it had Batman trying to get rid of a bomb, one of the best-remembered sequences of the franchise.
And so, the fans waited. And waited. And waited.
THE TIMING FOR THESE DISCS COULDN’T BE BETTER
With many nostalgic shows available for convenient viewing on home TVs, I’m sure the legal wrangling over just who owned the rights to Batman must have been something to witness, if you could. After all, the character has had several very successful movies and has been a mainstay in comics. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?
Eventually, it seems, enough palms were greased appropriately, and the work on bringing the show to disc began in earnest. Holy Bat-business, Batman!
With remastering now all the rage in music, television and movies, those Batman episodes look better than they ever did. And the music is much more clearly heard than ever before.
Also, as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Even though I still find myself cringing at some of those sequences, I’m still interested in watching episodes, particularly the ones with the Joker in them. He’s still the big nemesis for Batman, even if his moustache has been painted white! And I never thought I’d find myself feeling that way!
THE SHOW AND THE COMICS
I mentioned that the comics after the series left the air had to “grow up,” as it were, in order to appeal to comics readers and buyers. Some of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read happened when the folks at DC decided to appeal to a more adult audience.
Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was 180 degrees the other direction from the 1960’s Batman comics. I don’t know that Batman would ever be the Dark Knight he is today if the ABC Batman series hadn’t pulled the character so far in the other direction.
But the fondness for that era remains, and some of us still love that storytelling. The weekly digital-first Batman ’66 from DC Comics, along with the similar action figures and related toys, are a big success, and on many levels, have whetted the appetites of fans for the release of the discs.
It just shows that you can have more than one incarnation of a popular hero like Batman, and still have them be successful.
Personally, I think it’s great that Adam West and Burt Ward are making some more money and becoming more popular as a result of being in that series. Not even they thought it would remain in the public consciousness this long, I bet!
So, how will the discs sell? Will the sales of the Batman family of comics be affected? What about Batman in the movies? Stay tuned, as we continue to examine this Bat-phenomenon moving forward here at MajorSpoilers.com!