Batman Television Series Reboot - It's About Time

Adam West is in this picture of
Julie Newmar - so I'm told.
It's been a while since I had a rant about Batman but I've been listening to recent Batman on Film podcasts where the team there again reiterated that a live action Batman should be exclusive to the Silver Screen as an 'event' movie that fans look forward to.

I completely disagree.

Batman's career on film started in serialized shorts in the cinema back in 1943 and again in 1949. It was the success of the re-release of the 1943 serial in 1965 that inspired the 1966 TV series and movie spin off. All of these series were quite popular and demonstrate that Batman works as a serialized product.

I haven't even mentioned all the Batman TV cartoon/animated series over the years.

More so than the films it's Batman on Television (mostly the '66 series and various animated series) that has kept the legend alive for main stream audiences - even more so than Batman comics. Personally I've never read a complete Batman story in the comics.

Having to wait 3-5 years minimum for a new Batman story on the big screen and having to wait around ten years just to get through a trilogy of films is a crock. I don't care how good a movie is. There's only so many times you can rewatch it on DVD.

Don't get me wrong. I love the films and they should be 'event' movies. I just don't see that you can't have a good Batman series on television that is its own thing. Completely unrelated to the movies. Audiences are sophisticated enough to know that a TV show is unrelated to the continuity of a movie franchise.

Live action Batman on television is screaming out for a reboot for a new generation. Batman on television has been defined by the 1966 series for decades. It's a series that you either love or loathe. I loved it as a kid. It's the reason I'm a Batman fan today. However it's somewhat cringe-worthy (but still fun) to watch it as an adult. Unsurprisingly Adam West who played Batman in the series is still popular and is fairly active on Facebook.

As a reboot I'm not talking, necessarily a Christopher Nolan style copy reboot. If I'm completely honest, Christopher Nolan's Batman isn't my Batman. There's a lot I like about his version but there's still something missing for me. What Chris has done, however, is shown that Batman can be popular as serious drama/action movie. It doesn't need over the top design, special effects and comedic scripts.

Crime shows on television are real popular right now with the CSI and Law and Order franchises. I've already written about how I'd like one of these shows to perhaps do their take on Batman in The Bat Suit and CSI: Batman.

I've also written about how there's an opportunity to put Robin on the small screen to tell his Nightwing story perhaps in Can Batman's Robin find his Cool?

More than anything though, the reason to put Batman on TV is not to create a series with self contained one hour episodes each week. Rather it's to tell longer and more detailed stories in serialized format.

As an example I'm going to highlight the 2003 British TV series State of Play which was adapted into an American film of the same name in 2009 and starred Russel Crowe. I am a huge fan of both for different reasons but one thing most people can agree on is that the series is better. Not because the movie is bad, it's just that the series has so much more depth in every aspect of the story and covers more ground.

Imagine a Batman series in the format of State of Play. Not single, self contained and similarly structured episodes with threads running through to future episodes but one complete story that unfolds over the entire series with twists, turns, surprises and more. Is that not how Batman should be done and is that not a good reason to put a live action Batman on TV? To tell bigger more detailed stories.

Forget this BS of live action Batman should only be on the big screen. At the rate these films get made I'm only likely to see two or three per decade and, to get a detailed story like Nolan's, it takes a decade just to tell one complete story.

There's plenty of room between movies to fill the gaps with a Batman television series. Especially now that Nolan's last film is set for release this year. It's a great time to bring Batman back to the small screen in a ground breaking, prime time drama series for adults.


5 comments:

  1. Fun article, but then again I could still be laughing at the comment under the picture.

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  2. I think a serious batman version of Smallville might make a good TV series. It's a part of batman's story that has never really been fleshed out fully; that being Bruce Wayne's training and travels around the world before the suit. I would watch it anyway...

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    1. A Smallville style Batman wouldn't be my first choice. Batman Begins kind of covered the origins of Batman more than enough for me. But I'd watch it just the same. At least if they started doing origin stories for some of Batman's foes as part of the series it's going to be more believable than Lex Luthor growing up in Smallville.

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  3. Lex Luthor and Clark were friends in the comics too. Although that could have been retconned. But that was one of the reasons I hated Smallville. Also, villain of the week because of Kryptonite didn't do it for me. I forced myself to watch 3 seasons because we didn't have cable and were stuck in a bedroom due to crappy air conditioning. Someone lent us the series. My favorite was every episode the blond friend would say "Clark" after he disappeared to save Lana.

    Regardless, I think a series about Batman could work. I don't think the original comics were meant to be funny. They were detective comics. But I haven't read many of the originals so I'm not going to pretend to be an expert. I wouldn't mind seeing a young Bruce Wayne. But probably wouldn't be my first choice either.

    I think the tv series was funny to make up for the lack of effects available at the time. I like funny Batman though. Batman Begins was a little dark for me, although I loved The Dark Knight and that was really dark...

    For me, Michael Keaton was the perfect Batman. He wasn't necessarily the best Bruce Wayne for me, which I guess, just barely matters when you're watching for Batman to kick ass.
    Oddly, I think George Clooney is the best Bruce Wayne and probably the worst Batman. lol.

    Adam West is the best parody of Batman for me. lol.

    I think Batman's duplicity is the most amazing thing about him. Bruce Wayne and Batman are so different.

    And then there's the problem of Robin. Batman is so cool and dark, and Robin is a colourful spunky circus freakshow.
    It would be pretty cool to add Robin to the Batman series or reboot and see a spin off movie about his evolution into Nightwing. It would need a pretty good writer. I vote JJ Abrams, he's be able to keep the spunky Robin while still making it intense. Then bring back Chris Nolan for Nightwing. Nightwing seems much darker than Robin.

    OH! or the behind the scenes of Batman hire Aaron Sorkin to write it. :P jk.

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    1. Smallville seemed to get interesting once Clarke got out of Smallville in the final seasons but that's only based on me seeing bits of episodes here and there. I could never get into the premise of the show... it's Superman but not really... and coincidentally a lot of major villains have a need to visit a small rural farming community.

      I'm really over superhero origin stories. It's been done enough now. At least the sixties Batman show was just Batman and Robin fighting crime. Isn't that really all you want to see from your favorite Superheroes?

      I've barely read any of Batman's comics. I came to be a Batman fan through the sixties TV series and the earlier 1940's cinema serials. My Dad bought me a Batman comic when I was about 7 or 8 and it was nothing like the TV shows. It was all serious, there was no Robin and the Batmobile was nothing like the TV show. Other than reading Bob Kane's original first issue of Batman (very recently) I've never read a Batman comic story in full.

      Adam West is a kind of Parody of Batman for me too these days but as a kid he WAS Batman. He was cool and he did kick ass.

      I don't think Robin is as big a problem to make look cool on film as everyone thinks. Joel Schumacher showed the character has potential in his Batman films - even though I wasn't that into the way Chris O'Donnell played him. I still think the portrayal of Robin in the 1947 cinema serial is hands down the best to date on film.

      I don't think I'd like to see JJ Abrams do Batman. To me that seems like you're trying to go bigger and better than Nolan. I think a better way to go is just scale everything back and tell a good Batman story (like they did with the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie).

      That's why I think it's time for a TV show. Get some space between the end of Nolan's series and the next big Batman film. No one expects big budget from a TV show.

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