Batfink – The Complete Series (Animated/Hal Seeger/Superhero Satire)
C Sound: C Extras: D Episodes: B-
West/Burt Ward Batman was so popular
in the 1960s that it inspired a pop comic boom and several animated
satires. One was Courageous Cat & Minute Mouse by no less than Batman creator
Bob Kane himself. Then there was Batfink, Hal Seeger’s hit series. 100 episodes first appeared in 1967 and were
popular going into the years Batman went into huge syndication ratings nationwide. Then it disappeared for about the last 30
years (give or take a brief cable network stint we are told) and now, Shout!
Factory has found all of the episodes and they are all here in the new 4-DVD Complete Series set.
mocked Batman’s set-up all over the place, though an oafish Asian character
named Karake (a very bad Kato knock-off) was his sidekick and is the one very
politically incorrect character the show is stuck with. Of course, everyone was wacky and no one is
spared, but I would hardly call the show explicitly racist in any way.
have a Chief figure they communicate with via two-way TV ands drive around in a
pink winged car (that does not fly and may remind Thunderbirds fans of the Fab 1 Rolls Royce) disguised Volkswagen
Beetle. Ironically, it looks more like
the new Beetle than the old one!
Batman, the world of Batfink is loaded with all kinds of funny, distinctive,
wacky villains who are also as off-kilter as they could get. Each show is only five minutes and becomes somewhat
formulaic, but if you can tolerate Karate, you will find that these shows have
some wit, charm and are fun as they were when they debuted. This is the 40th anniversary of
the show and if the shows are too disturbing to show to young audiences because
of Karate, you can see them in this set with no problem.
X 1 image is not as scratched up throughout as the Courageous Cat set as from A&E and both have their moments of
excellent color. The color on Batfink has even more surprises and
while the quality of the film prints can vary, the issue on this set is that
most of these transfers are softer than they should be. I guess these are old analog transfers and/or
down a generation from master sources, but the color saves their
watchability. Can’t wait to see HD
versions. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is
not bad either, except that the original audio sources are a little compressed
and the optical sources have limited fidelity.
Frank Buxton voiced the title character, Len Maxwell voiced Karate and
the police chief and both did pretty much all the rest of the voices. Who knows what the original audio stems sound
like and if they even survive. Sadly
there are no extras, though the packaging shows you how good the characters and
colors look from the show at their best.
Batfink is very likely to find a new
audience and it will be more than just a cult of older adults. If the 1960s Batman show ever returns to TV or finally debuts on DVD, more
people will even get all the jokes.
- Nicholas Sheffo