Beard: Holy lack of home viewing, Batman!Written by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Biff! Bam! Zowie! It’s a mystery worthy of the deductive skills of the Caped Crusader: after 45 years as one of TV’s most popular shows, the 1966-68 “Batman” series has never been offered officially in any home-viewing medium. Why? Well, that’s something of a convoluted conundrum.
At its most basic, it comes down to one word: rights. “Batman” involves a multitude of rights issues that would befuddle The Riddler.
One of the factors that made the series so popular was its guest stars. Not only did it claim a galaxy of stars as “Special Guest Villains,” it included a bevy of walk-ons and cameos, some of which involved characters owned by other license holders than those of Batman. There was Lurch from “The Addams Family,” and Col. Klink from “Hogan’s Heroes” and, of course, the Green Hornet … you see the problem? Every single facet of the show has its rights to be secured: production, actors, music, costuming, etc. Interestingly, the 1966 Batman feature film exists on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray, but that’s because its original contracts included wording that covers its use in other medium, such as, yes, television. The TV show contracts, sadly, did not. Holy lack of foresight, Batman!
But, why after all these years haven’t these issues been worked out? There is something of an “X” factor that also figures into the equation, one that remains elusive and has blocked progress on bringing the show into our livings rooms. That said, a new, forward-thinking regime is in place at DC Comics, owners of Batman, and I believe that there may never be a better chance for the show than now. Good luck, Caped Crusader! We hope to be receiving your show, its Bat-extras and Bat-commentaries soon!
Jim Beard will discuss his new book “Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays on Why the 1960s Batman TV series Matters” at 6:30 p.m. April 26 at the Sylvania Branch Library. Registration is required to the free event; call (419) 882-2089.