I’ve talked about this before, how the 1966 “Batman” television series was probably the gateway drug for every comic book fan out there. Even as ‘the old man’ here on the Biff Bam Pop! crew here, even I didn’t experience Batmania as it was happening, but I felt the aftershocks for years and decades afterward. Meet me after the jump as to why this one television program changed the world, and is still one of the best gifts ever.
Batmania Changes and Saves the World
It may be hard to understand now in today’s comic book market that in the early 1960s, Batman was on the brink of cancellation, and while the folks over at Marvel Comics were doing amazing things there, not many folks knew about it. Sure superheroes were on the comeback, and the stories were now a little bit more adult now, the industry needed a kick in the butt to get the whole landscape some much needed attention. In the days before timed and planned publicity stunts, it was not so easy, then along came 1966’s “Batman.”
Brilliantly conceived as a mid-season replacement with a dual line of attack – camp comedy for the adults, but with high flying adventure for the kids, the powers that be at ABC used at first original comic book scripts and then original screenplays to take over the ratings and pop culture world with “Batman,” starring Adam West, Burt Ward, and a special guest villain of the week. The show exploded out of TV sets and into the hearts and minds of viewers all over the world. It’s often been said, the 1960s were about the three Bs – Beatles, Bond, and Batman. Everywhere was Bat-this, Bat-that, and pows and blams galore.
And the success of the show bled over into the source material. Batman was popular again, and comics were popular again. What was good for Batman was good for DC Comics, and what was good for DC Comics was good for the comics industry as a whole. Comics flourished, camp flourished, and with the eyes of the world on a TV show, it made the source material strive to be better. Without pow and blam, we wouldn’t have had Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams on Batman, or Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and more.
For the Generations
I first caught Batmania as part of the first syndication generation in the late 1960s, and for me it was still hot, but then I watched it infect younger and younger friends throughout the seventies and eighties. It seemed that the show was always on TV in some way or another, and then as the video age dawned, it began to disappear and become much more rare as the years went on. And no video release.
Many reasons were blamed for this, be it music releases, or the fact that it was a Fox release of Warner Bros. characters. To this day, the ‘reasons’ remain murky, and what counts is that the complete series of “Batman” from 1966-69 is now available. It came out last year with many different versions to choose from, some with some glitches that have been since fixed.
You can now get the complete series as a set, season by season, or with wonderful extras like vintage trading cards from back in the day, new documentary extras, and even a classic Hot Wheels replica of the Batmobile, and that’s not even mentioning that all the episodes have been beautifully remastered in high definition.
This is definitely a gift for every fangirl and fanboy on your list.