When I was child (born in 1981) there weren’t many superhero films for me to watch. By the time I was old enough to watch them, there were three Superman Christopher Reeve movies and the original Adam West/Burt Ward Batman: The Movie, based on the classic TV series. That was all I had. (I consider the Tyrone Powers The Mark of Zorro to be a comic book movie in tone, a movie which I have also loved since childhood, although the property is adapted from a novel and not a comic.) I absolutely adored all the aforementioned films, but I found Batman: The Movie to be more comparable in tone with Superman III, movies that were bad but I still enjoyed for what they were. As I have grown up, I seem to still be the only fan in the world of Superman III, even though I do realize it is a poorly crafted film. But I realized Batman: The Movie is actually quality product as a self-deprecating comedy, brazen enough to take chances in a genre that was not fully explored in TV and Film at the time.
So while I also had Batman: The Movie (and since I was a child watching, this; I must have seen this film over a hundred times by now), I was always saddened that the TV series was never made available for purchase. I didn’t know about all the legal obstacles that prevented its release until I was a teenager, hoping that one day all would be sorted out. Well….that day has arrived.
Today marks the release of the complete classic Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The series is coming in many different formats to make the product more affordably appealing to costumers this holiday season. The package that I am going to discuss with you is the holy grail of the Batman TV package: the complete series Blu-ray collection.
While the move towards digitizing everything continues to move forward, this holiday season might having its final hurrah for movies and television shows to be distributed tangibly. And boy, the folks who put this package together made sure that they would put their all into the packaging. The Blu-ray set, containing all 120 episodes comes in a package as ostentatious as the show itself. The colorful packaging features Batman and Robin on the front, along with the classic Batman logo! Colorful and eye-catching, the classic “BAM!”, “KAPOW!”, “SOCK!” captions are emboldened for all to adore! On one side of the package it says, “Press Here!”. Once you do that, you can hear that classic Batman TV song playing out loud. And you can’t help yourself but to laugh. And the other side of the box set, Batman and Robin are climbing on the side of the roof, a perfect image to put on the edge of this package.
The extras in this package are ridiculous in the best possible way. They aren’t necessary in the enjoyment of the TV show. But the show is nuts, and this Batman Blu-Ray collection is similar as well! There is a Hot Wheels Batmobile replica that is simply amazing! Once you open the magnetically sealed packaging (I kid you not!) with more “Bams” and “Pows” visible, there’s a deck of cards inside, that are actually trading cards featuring, I would say, average art depicting the TV series. Then there’s a hardback, yes, hardback “Adam West Scrapbook” that has beautiful art inside with relevant and interesting quotes. The amount of effort that has been put into creating this collection is simply astounding! Having said that, this collection comes with a hefty price tag. On Amazon, you can get a discounted rate of $175, also listing that the standard retail price is $270! That’s a lot of money, and the package presentation is what jacks up the price so high. But with a show this good, it is worth the purchase!
Inside you can easily find all the episodes from Seasons 1, 2, and 3. And there’s a handy episode guide to tell you what episode is on what disc. Every episode looks absolutely beautiful. The folks who restored the show should be commended! Where I live, there is a station that plays Batman in syndication. One thing that I recently found out, that syndicated programs are showing shortened episodes of the series to allow for more commercials. So what was previously a 21 minute show is now a 25 minute show. I must have watched over half the episodes already with my wife, and the show, as seen in syndication, visuals in the show are pitiful. Everything is so blurry, it almost looks like a cartoon. But now, the show appears so crisply clear. With the bright colors of the 60’s, the bizarre villains, the crazy sets; the visuals are simply astounding.
As a television show, I love Batman because it is so tongue-in-cheek. The writers knew what they were doing, which allowed both adults and children to both have appreciation for the TV show, but for different reasons. Adam West and Burt Ward starred in this series, which become a phenomenon, and they were so perfect in their roles as the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder. All the hottest actors and actresses at the time did whatever they could to appear on the series as special guest villain, or a regularly appearing villain if they were lucky.
The special features on this collection are also top-notch! All of these features are also in high-resolution, something that doesn’t always happen with Blu-rays. The documentaries that are made for Batman are short, sweet, but with a lot of love. There’s featurettes that last around a half hour long that focuses on Adam West, the creation of the show, and Batman memorabilia. There’s also a 45 minute conversation piece featuring Adam West, Kevin Smith, Jim Lee and others discussing Batman at a restaurant. Then there is a completely unnecessary feature, which shows a lot of celebrities from The CW and Warner Brothers who don’t know much about the show. So that was clearly just inserted for cross-promotion. And there are more “Bat Rarities”, including the Batgirl pilot, which also was also restored.
It seems as I was growing up, there was a stigma given to Batman, and undeservedly so, that comic book properties were all campy just like that Batman TV series. But in truth, most of these projects failed because they were just simply poorly made. Now we live in a time where comic book movies are so popular, that they have become their own genre. There’s a deluge of products when it comes to comic book properties now, whether it is in film, television, video games, cartoons, toys, or any other related merchandise. And with that success, the classic Batman TV show has once again regained its prominence that it once had starting in 1966, with classic Batman merchandise and comic books having been an incredible success in the last couple of years. With the release of Batman on Blu-ray, now viewers can see this wonderful program as a gift from the past that can be used as enjoyment for the rest of our lives.