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Where on the Shelf Is...Batman: The Complete Series

Jun. 27, 2012by: Mathew Plale
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Welcome to "Where on the Shelf Is..." In this column, I look at great TV shows and movies that have never been on DVD and/or Blu-ray. For your pleasure and out of all of our frustrations, this column examines the Where, When and, of course, WHY?! of these non-releases.

Up this week is…

What Is It?

You're all excited for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Just hearing Bane speak and Batman growl gets the hairs of your soul patch all tingly and sweaty. So you’ve broken out your figures (read: dolls). Batman and the Joker exchange fists and blood on the Gotham skyscrapers (read: your bed). The Caped Crusader’s barely hanging on. To the rescue comes Alfred Pennyworth, still in the original box!

And then you're out of breath. You're spent! So you pop in your Blu-rays of BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT. Then you feel nostalgic for Tim Burton's franchise entries. Then you remember you bought BATMAN: THE MOVIE when it came out on Blu-ray. It looks good, but it’s silly. So was the TV series--all three seasons, all 120 Fox-owned episodes, every single POW!, BAM! and ZONK!

But you can't watch that. Not on your TV. Not through a legitimate release. As Batfans worldwide know, BATMAN (1966-1968), is not available on DVD. How exactly is one of the touchstones of one of the most recognizable and marketable superheroes not something you can buy?

Where Is It?:

Rumors and "news" pops up every once in a while regarding the eventual release of BATMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES. In the past decade, with the releases of Christopher Nolan's Batman flicks in 2005, 2008 and 2012, hype for the TV series on DVD was inevitable. Just this summer, Variety posted a story about the future of Batman merchandise, stating that the likenesses of Adam West, Burt Ward and others "on everything from apparel to toys, home goods, publishing and promotions." Notice something missing? There’s the potential for new action figures, busts, t-shirts, comic books, toasters, luggage, underwear, and edible underwear...But no DVDs?

In a 2011 interview, Adam West stated, "I think it's simply a matter of dividing up the pie." That includes residuals, meaning handing out checks to West, Ward, Alan Napier (Alfred), Cesar Romero (The Joker), Burgess Meredith’s estate (The Penguin), John Astin (The Riddler), all three Catwomen, and, of course, Vincent Price (Egghead).

That's certainly one major part of it. But a number of additional explanations have also been offered, including (but absolutely not limited to) music rights, likenesses and even guest appearances. For example, if the DVD set is to include all of the cameos, they're going to have to get the rights to all of the cameos. So if fans want to see Colonel Klink of HOGAN'S HEROES make his illogical crossover appearance during the bat climb scene in the season two episode "It’s How You Play the Game," then Fox (who owns the series) would have to sit down with Paramount and/or those who own the characters outright and negotiate. (What sort of kinky Nazi sex acts Klink paid for in that high-rise is besides the point, people--Let‘s try to stay on task.)

When Will We See It?:

The outlook isn’t good. If Fox, Warner Bros., Greenway Productions, and everyone else involved haven’t gotten it together in time for Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, when will they? The next major cash-in would be 2016, when the series will turn 50. But by that time, it seems we’re more likely we'll get a 3D re-release of BATMAN & ROBIN in Freeze-Vision.

Where Can We See It?:

Syndication, for one. BATMAN currently airs on The Hub after LAVERNE & SHIRLEY repeats.

Another option is ADAM WEST NAKED!, a direct-to-DVD release featuring West offering comments on the series. But, alas, even that’s "currently unavailable" and Amazon "[doesn’t] know when or if this item will be back in stock."

Or, bootleg it--unless you want to sit through a half-hour of Lenny and Squiggy’s shenanigans to get to Bat-time. But we here at JoBlo.com aren’t comfortable endorsing such a reprehensible act. (Watching LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, that is.)

Source: JoBlo.com

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1:21PM on 06/27/2012
I remember running home from school every day to catch this show. I watched it in re-runs in the late 70's. I would never buy it today on dvd.. its so campy I wouldn't enjoy it. Better to remember it as I do now something that was fun to watch when I was little.
I remember running home from school every day to catch this show. I watched it in re-runs in the late 70's. I would never buy it today on dvd.. its so campy I wouldn't enjoy it. Better to remember it as I do now something that was fun to watch when I was little.
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9:50PM on 06/27/2012
I wouldn't buy it for myself either.

But I would buy it as a gift for a child who is perhaps too young to enjoy the Nolan and even the Burton Batmans.
I wouldn't buy it for myself either.

But I would buy it as a gift for a child who is perhaps too young to enjoy the Nolan and even the Burton Batmans.
3:43PM on 06/27/2012
The story goes that Fox was the company that produced the series so they own the rights to the show itself while Warner Bros owns the likeness rights to the Batman character so Fox can't release without their approval. The two companies cannot seem to make any sort of agreement as to how they divide up any potential profits. The movie was able to be released through Fox because movie releases at the time had contracts that extended to home releases (i.e. rebroadcast on TV or DVD now) while
The story goes that Fox was the company that produced the series so they own the rights to the show itself while Warner Bros owns the likeness rights to the Batman character so Fox can't release without their approval. The two companies cannot seem to make any sort of agreement as to how they divide up any potential profits. The movie was able to be released through Fox because movie releases at the time had contracts that extended to home releases (i.e. rebroadcast on TV or DVD now) while older TV shows never had different releases written into their contracts. That's why it's so difficult sometimes to get some of the older TV shows on DVD because they have to get approval and signed off on all new rights for any home video release with the original talent, music, clips, etc. At the time the studios writing the contracts just never expected to be able to release their shows in any other format aside from broadcast television and didn't plan for that possible future. The invention of DVD eventually made releasing television shows in a purchasable format a reality they never considered so now all TV shows have that written into their contracts to avoid this situation in the future.
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9:49PM on 06/27/2012
Here's the latest news on the topic
[link]

You can get the Adam West Batman movie on DVD, which has a great extra documentary about the Ford Futura Batmobile.
You can also get Adam West and Burt Ward playing Batman & Robin in the deeply horrible Legend of the Superheroes from the WB Shop.
[link]of+the+super+heroes+1979[link]
Here's the latest news on the topic
[link]

You can get the Adam West Batman movie on DVD, which has a great extra documentary about the Ford Futura Batmobile.
You can also get Adam West and Burt Ward playing Batman & Robin in the deeply horrible Legend of the Superheroes from the WB Shop.
[link]of+the+super+heroes+1979[link]
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2:08PM on 06/27/2012
I still watch the show nightly on the Hasbro owned network "The Hub", along with ALF, Mork & Mindy and Lois & Clark (of course L&C is only on Sunday night).
I still watch the show nightly on the Hasbro owned network "The Hub", along with ALF, Mork & Mindy and Lois & Clark (of course L&C is only on Sunday night).
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