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Match to Flame – 73

posted on May 10, 2018

Allow me to digress for a moment (I don’t know if you can have a digression before you’ve even written word one of the actual intro, but just work with me here). It was the heart of the winter of January 1966 and there I was sitting in the front row of seats in the TV room of Kent State University’s Stopher Hall about a minute away from something that I felt was going to be Earth shattering. Turned out that the only thing shattered that black night would be my belief system and entire philosophy of life. Maybe they weren’t exactly shattered, but they were certainly dinged up.

President Johnson was going to be giving a State of the Union address that evening and its implications regarding my future promised to be enormous, but that’s not why I was there. I was waiting to catch a new television show that was premiering that night. To make sure I had a front-row seat for the 7:30 program, I had shown up in my dormitory TV lounge at 5:00. Which meant that I had to sit through Captain Penny’s Fun House at 5:00, Yogi Bear at 5:45, the ABC News at 6:15, Honey West at 6:30, the news and weather at 7:00, and Dorothy Fuldheim at 7:15—all to catch the premiere of Batman at 7:30. As the appointed hour neared, I was totally psyched and then some. Being a comic book aficionado from almost before I could read, the prospect of seeing Batman on TV was beyond exciting. I was in heaven, and then the show started. I had anticipated a drama that took the Batman premise seriously and was prepared to tell an exciting and straightforward story framed by that context. What I saw unfolding before me was a horror show. Insipid, foolish writing coupled with garishly colored costumes and sets, and, worst of all, sound effects that popped up graphically in special effects comic balloons. ABC had decided to turn Batman into an exaggerated, Pop Art, silly piece of camp. I guess the calculus was that it would make it amusing for adults. Well, it wasn’t amusing to me. As far as I was concerned they had blown it. Completely, irrevocably, without even a silver lining of a saving grace blown it. They treated the art form that I aspired to as some sort of lower caste illegitimate that would only be palatable to adults if you made fun of it. The show turned out to be a smash hit for the network. The American viewing public loved it. Well, they were wrong too.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Five