Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There’s Still a Batman Missing!

The possible great news of the 1966 BATMAN TV series coming to DVD, as reported in THIS POST, leaves me with an additional thought. 

With even this long-disputed bat-property finally coming to authorized DVD, one is left to wonder where is the 1968 Filmation BATMAN animated series?  

UPDATE: February 06, 2014:  It IS coming!  Click HERE for more details!

Where?  Even the Dark Knight Detective doesn't know!
Considering there was a release (though incomplete) for Filmation's SUPERMAN


And the catch-all, remainder DC HEROES

Why has this series – which nicely reflected Silver Age Batman comics, because it was written by such Silver Age DC Comics writers as Bob Haney and George Kashdan – never been released to DVD?

Not even released through Warner Archives, like some of these…

So, when Adam West joins Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Kevin Conroy, Rino Romano, Diedrich Bader, Bruce Greenwood, and other actors who have performed (in body or voice) as Batman “sometime in 2014”, Filmation's voice of Batman, Olan Soule, will still be missing.  

...And so will be "Simon the Pieman"!  

You won't find ME anywhere else, folks!



Anonymous said...

I think fans and comics historians tend to focus on either Batman's camp period (the 1966-68 TV show) or the grim Dark Knight image (which is how the character began in 1939, and to which he returned in the 1970's). The pre-camp and post-camp Silver Age, including the Filmation series, tends to get lost in the shuffle. -TC

Joe Torcivia said...

I would completely agree with everything you say, TC, (…and DO agree in terms of the popular perceptions of the character of Batman), if not for the fact that so much of the rest of the Filmation / DC Comics material has been released.

I certainly understand why Superman would come first. But Aquaman? The Flash, Green Lantern, etc. fillers? …And not Batman?

For 1968, Filmation’s Batman may well have been the best thing released in TV animation. I was somewhat in awe of its “even approach” at the time, coming off the outlandish final season of the Adam West series. (The Bat-Trio being flattened into cardboard cutouts, and the explosive mechanical mice / pied-bat-piper scenes particularly come to mind as things that would not have occurred in Season One! Not that I didn’t like them on some wacky level, mind you!).

Filmation Batman’s only memorable new competition for that season came from H-B’s Wacky Races and Filmation’s Archie Show… and, ironically, both are probably better remembered today than Filmation’s Batman.

I’d guess that’s because there were so many OTHER animated versions of Batman (both great and bad) that this one fails to stand out because it wasn’t oft-repeated.

From guest-starring in The New Scooby-Doo Movies, to the many incarnation of Super Friends, Filmation’s own vastly inferior later Batman series with the ultra-annoying version of Bat-Mite and equally ultra-annoying pro-social messages in every episode, Bruce Timm’s spectacular animated series, Justice League, Brave and the Bold, and whatever else will come – it’s easy to see why this “pretty good” version gets lost, languishing equidistantly between two extreme (bat) poles. (Pardon!)

Finally, wasn’t Warner Archives made for stuff like this? Even though the other Filmation stuff were general releases. …C’mon, Warner!

Anonymous said...

It DOES seem odd that even Aquaman would be available on DVD before the far more famous Batman. Especially since Aquaman has become something of a joke, e.g., when the guys on the Big Bang Theory were going to a costume party dressed as the Justice League, and Raj didn't want to be Aquaman because the character was so uncool. (When they said the alternative was to dress as the Muppets, Raj didn't want to be Scooter, who was "the Aquaman of the Muppets.")-TC

Joe Torcivia said...

I’ve always believed that Aquaman got his Flimation show in 1967 (Actually, he SHARED it with Superman, as “The Superman – Aquaman Hour of Adventure”, along with Flash, GL, and the others) because Filmation wanted another DC Comics property to build on the success of “The New Adventures of Superman” on CBS Saturday mornings, and Batman was still likely under some sort of exclusive license to William Dozier, FOX, ABC, or some combination thereof.

Once the ABC Batman series was canceled, Filmation quickly pounced on the property for the fall 1968 line-up on CBS. And, as I said before, did a pretty good job with it – certainly for the time.

That might explain why Aquaman GOT a show, but not why that series was – and still remains – released on DVD before Batman!

Aquaman eventually became cool, with the Peter David comic book series, Grant Morrison’s Justice League comic, and the animated Justice League and Brave and the Bold. Raj might still be recalling those inglorious days when Aquaman led “Justice League Detroit”! If so, I can’t blame him.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the Superman-Aquaman Hour included a Teen Titans segment, but with Speedy instead of Robin. I would assume that it was for the same reason: Batman and related characters were still licensed by ABC, Fox, and/or Dozier's Greenway Productions. Filmation sure didn't hesitate to produce a Batman series after the ABC show was cancelled. I don't know what the ratings were like, and I don't remember offhand how long it lasted, but I do remember a sort of anti-Batman backlash in the late 1960's, due to the character's over-exposure when the ABC series was running. Still, I'm surprised the 1968 cartoon series wasn't offered on home video, or syndicated in TV reruns, in 1989. The Batman fad that year was almost comparable to the one in 1966. -TC

Joe Torcivia said...

I’m sure that is precisely why Robin was excluded from the Teen Titans segment.

And, there WAS a VHS tape of several episodes of Filmation’s Batman released in the ‘80s, by whatever Warner Home Video called itself back then. It had an orange box cover with a Jim Aparo-style running Batman on it. I had that, of course, and still wonder if they could have released it on VHS, then why not on DVD after all these years.

You can find an illustration here.

Chris Barat said...


If the BATMAN live-action series release comes to pass, and it sells well (as it almost certainly would), it might shake loose the '68 BATMAN series. Who knows?


Joe Torcivia said...


If much of what I’ve read on DVD message boards over the years is true, BATMAN 1966 should be a great seller. There’s been a built-up demand for years! And, it’s certainly possible that the Filmation 1968 series could ride in on its coat (cape?) tails.

But, I would have thought that to be true during the release flurry of the other Filmation DC properties some years back, or be prompted by the success of the Silver Age inspired BRAVE AND THE BOLD. So, it’s anybody’s guess.

What I’d really been anticipating was a release of THE BATMAN SUPERMAN HOUR, which was the show’s original incarnation in 1968.

This consisted of a two-part Batman, a two-part Superman (which were not included in the NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN set), a one-part Superboy (also not included in the Superman set), and a one-part Batman.

And, the fact that the two-part Superman episodes (and a few one-parters that were held over from the previous series) and all the Superboy episodes (also held-over) were NOT part of the Superman set, sure led me to believe that a BATMAN SUPERMAN HOUR set – presented just as it was in fall, 1968 – was coming.

…I’m still waiting on that. And, such a set would complete all the Filmation DC Comics productions!