Ed Driscoll

Holy Home Video, Batman!

“Batman fans can rejoice, because one of the most sought-after versions of the Caped Crusader will at last make its long-delayed debut on home video this year,” according to Blastr.com. In other onomatopoeic words, “Pow! 1966 Batman TV series finally coming to home video:”

The official arrival of the show on home video has been a long time coming, with the series only seen in reruns and on bootleg videos in the nearly five decades since it ended its run in March 1968.

The home video rights to the show were, by many accounts, trapped for years in a legal limbo between 20th Century Fox, which produced the series, and Warner Bros., which became the owner of DC Comics and the Batman property years after the show concluded its three-season run.

There have also been reports that the estate of William Dozier, who produced the series, made an ownership claim on the rights, while other issues such as clearances for cameos by certain actors, and even copyright claims on the design of the Batmobile and other elements of the show, have also been cited as playing a role in keeping the series unavailable.

The series was famous for (in its first two seasons) its two-episode structure, with each story being divided into two halves and the first half always ending in a cliffhanger. On the other hand, it was infamous for its ultra-campy take on the Batman mythos and exaggerated comic-book colors and visuals, which enraged comic-book fans who preferred a more serious approach to the material.

By the way, I can now at last reveal to the world the secret location of the Batcave. Here, let me show you. I’ve been there:

Actually, that’s Bronson Canyon, which I visited in 2011 during a trip to PJM HQ in Los Angeles. I wonder how many people who watched the old Adam West Batman TV series in 1966 knew back then that every time Batman and Robin burned bat-rubber tear-assing out of the Batcave, that Gotham City was located so close to Los Angeles:

At various times during the mid-to-late 1960s, Batman, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible were all filming scenes on location at Bronson Canyon. I wonder if the show’s producers ever coordinated with each other to make sure the area was available. “All right, Roddenberry, you can have it for Star Trek next week. And I know the Mission: Impossible boys are going to be there the next. But dammit, we have to get back into the Batcave, or the Riddler will be free to terrorize Gotham City once again!”

Did Americans in the 1960s not realize that between the TV studio backlots and the L.A. locations, pretty much everything they were seeing on TV — even from such allegedly “globetrotting” shows as Mission: Impossible — were almost all filmed in a ten-mile radius of Los Angeles? Or did they simply not care. Presumably the latter.

(Via [email protected].)

Update: In other news from the world of mid-1960s TV, RIP Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on TV’s Gilligan’s Island; his three-hour island tour concluded at age 89. As Johnson himself said of his character decades after his series was cancelled, “I was at a speaking engagement for MIT … and I said … the Professor has all sorts of degrees, including one from this very institution! And that’s why I can make a radio out of a coconut, and not fix a hole in a boat!”

More: Well, this post began fun, but is increasingly turning into a Boomer-era TV buzzkill: Dave Madden, who played Reuben Kincaid in the Partridge Family also died today TMZ reports; he was 82.