A while back, I stuck my head out the door at World Headquarters and found a box on the front step. An unexpected box — like most of them are — and it was a good sized box, to boot.
Now, this box was marked as coming from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, which surprised me, as I’d not made any recent requests for review copies of anything. Nor was I aware that anything was available. I usually get an e-mail notification when new products are about to hit the market, and this was a complete surprise. So after the initial “Ruh?” I brought the box inside and opened it.
My goodness, was this a pleasant surprise. Completely unexpected, and then it got better. And then it got worse. All at the same time:
Gah! How could they do this to me? Numbered. Mint in the box. And the only way to properly review it is to open the numbered box. It was an inner conflict worthy of Anakin Skywalker (the first one, the real one, the only one…). As a reporter, I knew I had to open the box. As a collector of such things, I knew I shouldn’t open the box. As a fan with a son who’s also a fan, there was no question we’d open the box.
But it was slightly painful.
The packaging itself is pretty straightforward Batman kitchy, with the Bam! and the Kapow! and the fun colors. There’s also a Batmobile inside this particular set (something the youngling doesn’t get; this one’s mine…). And inside: all of the episodes, restored and in order along with liner notes for each and every one.
The series itself is just as fun as you’d remember. Plenty of nostalgia here, and it’s a clean copy — at least to these old eyes — that holds up well in the HD transfer. I didn’t notice any major artifacts or glitches when I watched. Nothing to distract me from the fun of the show.
However, when I got to the “extras” in the set, I was disappointed a bit. Besides the episode guide, there’s a small book focused on the career of Adam West and a set of trading cards. OK, fine. On the DVD extras is a featurette on a select few Batman memorabilia collectors, and not one, but two — count ’em, two! — features centered on Adam West. There’s a behind-the-scenes featurette on making the show, but it focuses on the show’s impact on the culture. And while the phenomenon of Batmania is interesting from a historical standpoint, I also want to know more about the actual making of the show itself.
And where’s the feature on Burt Ward? Where are the villain profiles? Why don’t we have a story about the three Catwomen? Why not a feature on how the show managed to cast such reputable actors as villains in this kitchy, campy, superhero TV show? Where’s the featurette on the work George Barris did in designing the Batmobile?
None of that is there, and it’s the one pretty major blemish in an otherwise great piece of Hollywood and comic book history.
For all of that gritching on my part, however, it’s good to finally have the Batman series on home video. The movie has been available for a while, but there was a void in the cosmos from the absence of the show’s availability. Now it’s finally here, and despite the deficiencies in the extras, it’s definitely a “must have” for any fan of the show, whether you read comic books or not, whether you’re a huge Batman fan or not. Because of the unique aspects of the show itself, it’s had a unique fan following. And they finally get to have their Bat-reward.