Movies That Never Were – Season 4 of Adam West’s Batman

This week we’re going to look at The Analyst’s favourite TV show of all time – BATMAN! Now known as Batman ’66, starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the dynamic duo, this was the show that sent Bat-fandom in to the stratosphere. First airing on 12th January 1966 this show, and the movie spinoff, gave Batman a legacy. It’s campy tone became a trademark of Batman that he’s spent the best part of 50 years trying to get out of the shadow of.

The original Batman TV Series ran onĀ  for 3 series totalling 120 episodes. The first 2 series featured two part episodes airing twice a a a week and the third and final series featured mostly stand alone episodes. Perhaps one thing we should note for series three is that with the recasting of Catwoman to singer/actress Eartha Kitt we had the first interracial flirtation on US TV. Odd to thing that that was something that happened so recently.

With the changes to stand alone episodes, and it’s airing down to once a week, the third series saw the rating significantly lower than the first two series. Having the series spaced so closely together in their airing (all three series aired over a period of about two years) also didn’t help the show and had left the audience perhaps a little fatigued. The change of tone, entering massively in to surrealism, again didn’t help.

ABC were willing to go ahead with a 4th season but they wanted big budget cuts and a change of tone something that producer William Dozier thought would really hurt the show. Instead a deal was signed so that NBC would take over the production of the show keeping the tone broadly the same but still with that reduced budget. Think of the situation this years Supergirl has been in switching from CBW to The CW network in America and it’s about the same situation.

So with a production about to start, a TV company putting up the finance, the question is why didn’t Season 4 of Batman get made?

The reason is actually pretty shocking.

A week before the deal was signed for NBC to take over production from ABC something happened. That something was that someone in the studio (20th Century Fox), thinking production was wrapped, ordered all the existing sets to be destroyed. The sets for Batman ’66 cost nearly $500,000 in 1960s money which equates to a little over $9 million in today’s money which was an unheard of sum of money at the time and is a frankly staggering sum of money even by today’s standards. Sadly that was the done thing at the time though – once production wrapped sets were to be destroyed rather than saved for posterity.

With no sets on which to film, and the cost of producing new sets being unrealistically high, that was it. No more Batman TV show.

A few bits and pieces for that planned 4th season do exist so we can get some idea on what would’ve happened had it ever been made. Firstly Robin was to be written out of the show along with Chief O’Hara. O’Hara was to be dropped as even in the 1960s Irish Stereotypes were considered a bit of a no-no but no-one seems to know why they wanted Robin gone. Batgirl would’ve become Batman’s full time partner in an “all new” Dynamic Duo.

Two-Face was also set to be introduced and scripts were drawn up and Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry himself, was considered for the role. The scripts however were lost for nearly 50 years. It was only last year, 2015, that they surfaced when DC did a comics adaptation of them as part of the revival Batman ’66 comic.

It’s interesting to think what might have been here but alas, as is the theme of this column, it was all never to be.

So tune in next week at the Same Bat Time on the Same Bat Website for another edition of Movies That Never Were!