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How Batman’s Silly 1960s Series Saved The Dark Knight

The TV series Batman premiered on January 12, 1966. That makes the show 50 years old! In some ways, the series is a relic of a bygone era, but it also it seems like just yesterday. Compared to the more recent Michael Keaton/Christian Bale/Ben Affleck Batman movies, the ‘60s series is a real outlier, and even at the time was just plain goofy. There was a method to the madness, as the TV show followed the resurgence of Batman comic books. Believe it or not, until the mid-’60s, the Batman comic book character wasn’t all that popular, and was even declining.

In response, DC editor Julius Schwartz drastically revamped the book in 1964: He threw out the science fiction elements and put Carmine Infantino on art. Infantino had a cleaner, more realistic style than previous Batman artists such as Dick Sprang and he completely redefined the book. The result was an action series with a penchant for the ridiculous. Batman often solved mysteries that made little sense using solutions or tools that made even less sense, and often found himself stuck in elaborate death-traps. It is, to modern eyes, all a bit silly, but it sold: By 1965, Batman was back on the charts.

The idea of a Batman TV series had been in the works since 1961, but stalled repeatedly. It was saved by ABC executive Harve Bennett, who saw the potential of a series (in a nice bit of nerd symmetry, Bennett would go on to save Star Trek in the ’80s). Bennett saw the popularity of a roadshow of the old serials and hits like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and thought Batman would be perfect for the network.

And Batman as a comedy was a hit. You can read the story of how that can to be at Gamma Squad.


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After I moved out of my parents' house ALL of my comic books were thrown into the trash. All those years of collecting those precious comic books were gone and there was no way to get them back! I had sooo many of them. Mostly Superman and Batman comics. Oh how I wish I still had them. Just to read them! But I am sure they would bring a pretty penny to collectors, too.
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I still watch it on ME-TV here. LOve the little jokes like "New Guernsey" being across the river, Mayor Linseed, Ireland Yard when they were in jolly olde England. Escaping near death using props like the "Anti-Explosion Bat Spray" from his utility belt. Best bit, after hiding behind the bat shield from machine gun fire, Batman calmly folds it up and stuffs i into his utility belt. Robin asks what he's doing and Batman replies, they are out of bullets, I was counting. Hilarious.
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