It was never even released to VHS, let alone as any sort of shiny disc, but the wait is now finally over. The 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward will be released as a box set by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment sometime during 2014. KAPOW! BOFF! ZWAP!
Conan O'Brien broke the news via Twitter which was later confirmed by the studio. "Very excited," quoth batfan O'Brien. He posted a picture of himself with the iconic '60s Batmobile, observing that "the seat smells like Adam West".
Hardly rare or forgotten thanks to ubiquitous syndication all over the world, it nevertheless seems incredible that the Adam West Batman has never been available to own before - with the single exception of the 1966 film spin-off.
The reasons stem from a tortuous rights and clearances situation: a puzzle so fiendish it's worthy of The Riddler himself (as long as he's played by Frank Gorshin, obviously; or John Astin at a push). Some say the problem was the joint ownership between three companies: Greenway Productions, and US TV networks ABC and Fox. Deborah Dozier Potter, daughter of Greenway founder William Dozier, unsuccessfully tried to sue Fox for withheld funds from the show in 2006.
Others speculate that the problem has been Fox's ownership of the show versus Warners' ownership of the characters: Warners acquired DC in 1969, the year after the show was cancelled. And also problematic have been the show's many famous-face cameos, done for an unpaid and uncredited laugh at the time, meaning clearances were never signed for any media other than broadcast. The show was as haphazard offscreen as it was on. The sad implication is that, if not every single one of those celebrity walk-ons has now been cleared, we may see some cuts.
There have even been possible issues with who owns the rights to the specific Batmobile and some of the costumes, but somehow The Dark Knight (actually rather light in this instance) has triumphed with the aid of Warners' Bat-legal team and Bat-red tape slicer. Warner Bros. will be releasing the set - in the States at least, later this year. Whether further legal snarls will hinder a Region 2 version remains to be seen, as does the specific format: we'd assume Blu-ray as well as DVD, but there's no confirmation of that yet.