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We are fifteen days into 2014, and I have already had at least three conversations with people about the possibility of a home video release of the "Batman" television series from the '60s, and until a half-hour ago, I would have said that the odds were slim to none that we would ever get it, much less that we would get it this year.
However, according to Conan O'Brien's announcement (which is being confirmed by home video sites including TVShowsOnDVD and which incorporated a pretty great Adam West joke), Warner Bros Home Entertainment has officially slated the series for a release this year, ending what has got to be one of the longest and most contentious legal rights tussles I've ever seen.
You would think this would have been a no-brainer for all involved years ago when everyone was putting out box sets of every TV show, but there's been a brutal legal battle going on between Warner and Fox over who had the specific rights to put the show out. Character rights, licensing rights regarding the Batmobile, actor likeness rights… everything complicated the process, and as a result, the show has been largely out of circulation even as the DVD sales market peaked and started to ebb.
This could well be one of the last holy grail titles for TV fans, and unlike something like "Land Of The Lost" which you could hear shatter people's childhood fandom as soon as they laid eyes on it again as an adult, "Batman" remains an amazing slice of pop culture, witty and silly and enjoyable on every level. My kids have been raised watching the feature film that Fox put out on Blu-ray, and they adore it, but they've never seen an episode of the show. I believe that there is nothing that looks better on Blu-ray than '60s color, and when you look at "The Prisoner" or the original series of "Star Trek," those shows are almost surreal, they're so beautiful. Now there's going to be a gorgeous box of the complete series?
I cannot wait to throw my money at Warner Bros as soon as this is released. As far as I'm concerned, this is THE story in home video this year. When it does hit, I plan to introduce Film Nerd 2.0 to the glories of the series, and I hope you guys will play along at home.
Now the question I have is will they get to use all of the various commentary tracks that have been recorded over the last few years with various cast and crew members while they were still trying to work out these rights. Boy, I hope so.
There is no date yet beyond 2014. That's good enough for now.