Shout! Factory // 1966 // 510 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // September 19th, 2007
"Your bullets cannot harm me -- my wings are like a shield of steel!" -- Batfink
An over-the-top narrator who peppers his words with cliches and delivers a cliffhanger message just when we think our heroes are doomed.
Nearly every on-screen action is accompanied by a well-placed "POW," "ZAP," "ZOOM," or "BEEP."
A hero available at a moment's notice when the Chief of police calls.
Deeply dimwitted villains who always seem to miss their most obvious weaknesses -- like the guy who has super hearing but forgets to protect his ears from nasty sounds like HUGE BELLS!
Apologies to both Adam West and Burt Ward, but I am NOT referring to the live action TV Batman of the 1960s who danced the "batusi." Yes ladies and gentlemen, you guessed it -- I'm talking about Batfink!
With his super-sonic sonar radar and bulletproof wings, wheeling about in his unforgettable signature vehicle the 'Batillac,' and with his trusty sidekick Karate at his side, yes true believers, he's Batfink!
Batfink has ruled his own special corner of TV airwaves since the show was created in 1966. Created quickly as a cartoon lampoon of the Batman and Green Hornet live-action shows that aired during the same era, Batfink has become a treasured memory for a wide audience of fans ranging from those in their 40s who watched when it first aired, to younger fans who have seen the show in re-runs. The show continues to air around the world today from Cartoon Network in the U.S. to Nickelodeon in India as recently as 2007, and translated into Hindi to boot!
As I get older, my childhood memories are becoming the increasingly more cherished ones. And as more and more of my cherished childhood memories are arriving on DVD, I am able to introduce (my wife would say 'indoctrinate') my children to the classic cartoons that came before them.
It's the child in me that relates to these shows, taking me back to a time before I had a job to go to every day or a mortgage to pay. Shows like Batfink were cherished friends I could spend my early Saturday morning time with -- they told me fun stories that captured my imagination, showed me dazzling and vibrant images, and even made me laugh.
To this day, Saturday morning fare like Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo (pre-Scrappy Doo!) Batman/Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour, Blackstar, Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, Dungeons and Dragons, Flash Gordon, Superfriends and yes, even Batfink, have a special place in my memories. Even as I re-watched the show and revisited my childhood in preparation for this review, I watched in awe as my five-year-old son transformed into a Batfink fan, right before my eyes!
Not unlike The Flintstones, to save money and production time, Batfink episodes reused backgrounds and other elements. But like The Flintstones, these kinds of little quirks are what add to the character and charm of an animated show. At times as I watched Batfink: The Complete Series, I found the drawing style used on some of the characters and background plates kept reminding me of something else, and I realized it was the 1969 Rankin/Bass release of Frosty the Snowman -- another beloved animated childhood memory.
But what's the appeal of a show like this, when the animation isn't that stellar, the dialogue is cheesy and each episode only lasted around five minutes? Those very same elements that may be seen as weaknesses are strengths in my mind. If you know a young child or have one of your own, you know that five minutes is a pretty good guess at their attention span. And it doesn't take Emmy Award-wining dialogue or high-end CG animation to impress a child.
The voice of both Batfink and villain Hugo-A-Go-Go, Frank Buxton has remained largely behind the camera as an unseen announcer or character voice until the early '90s, when he appeared in the film Frankie and Johnny, and more recently, in a variety of TV roles. Buxton has impressive additional credits as the writer and/or director of various episodes of '70s sitcoms Happy Days, The Odd Couple, and The Bob Newhart Show. Rounding out the balance of the main recurring characters, Len Maxwell lends his voice talents to both Karate and The Chief.
All 100 episodes of Batfink are included on this release (yes, I just said ONE HUNDRED) and are distributed as follows:
"Pink Pearl of Persia" (pilot), "The Short Circuit Case" (pilot), "Ebenezer The Freezer," "The Sonic Boomer," "Big Ears Ernie," "Batfink on the Rocks," "Manhole Manny," "The Mad Movie Maker," "Nuts of the Round Table," "Skinny Minnie," "Fatman Strikes Again," "The Kitchy-Koo Kaper," "The Dirty Sinker," "Gluey Louie," "Brother Goose," "The Chocolate-Covered Diamond," "Crime College," "Myron the Magician," "Brain Washday," "M P F T B R M," "Gloves on the Go-Go," "Sporty Morty," "Go Fly a Bat," "Ringading Brothers," and "Out Out Darn Spot."
"Goo-Goo A-Go-Go," "Crimes in Rhymes," "Stupidman," "A Living Doll," "Bat Patrol," "Dig that Crazy Mountain," "Spin The Batfink," "Greasy Gus," "The Mark of Zero," "Swami Salami," "The Human Pretzel," "Jumping Jewelry," "Roz the Schnozz," "Karate's Case," "The Wishbone Boner," "Hugo for Mayor," "The Indian Taker," "The Devilish Device," "Goldstinger," "The Shady Shadow," "Party Marty," "The Beep Bopper," "The Super Trap," "Bride and Doom," and "Topsy Turvy."
"The Rotten Rainmaker," "Gypsy James," "The Kooky Chameleon," "Beanstalk Jack," "The Time Stopper," "The Kangarobot," "Presto-Chango-Hugo," "Curly The Cannonball," "Robber Hood," "Slow Down! Speed Up!," "Sandman Sam," "Yo-Yo A-Go-Go," "Hugo's Hoke," "Backwards Box," "The Great Escapo," "Watch My Smoke," "Daniel Boom," "Queenie Bee," "The Thief from Baghdad," "The Mean Green Midget," "Double Double Crossers," "The Baffling Bluffs of Hugo A-Go-Go," "Napoleon Blownapart," "The Atom Boom," and "Magneto the Magnificent."
"Hugo the Crimefighter," "The Trojan Horse Thief," "The Zap Sap," "Unhappy Birthday," "Buster the Ruster," "Karate's Day Off," "Mike the Mimic," "Cinderobber," "Bouncey Bouncey Batfink," "The Bomber Bird," "The Copycat Bat," "Old King Cruel," "Victor the Predictor," "Goldyunlocks and the Three Bears," "Jerkules," "Hugo Here, Hugo There," "Bowl Brummel," "Fleiderfink," "Blankenstein," "Whip van Winkle," "Tough Macduff," "Judy Jitsu," "Ego A-Go-Go," "Father Time Bomb," and "Batfink: This Is Your Life."
I'm thankful that Shout! Factory took the time, effort, and love to get Batfink: The Complete Series onto DVD in any form, so keep that in mind as I review both the video and audio elements of the presentation. How does the show look on DVD after over 40 years? The colors are washed out and muted, the image is generally soft throughout, and some dirt or minor damage is also visible in nearly every episode. But without a Warner or Disney budget backing this show, it's hard to expect a frame-by-frame restoration. The set fares better on the audio front, as the audio presentation, though focused in the center channel, is crisp, clear and distortion-free.
noth*ing [nuhth-ing] 1. no thing; not anything; naught: to say nothing. 2. no part, share, or trace (usually fol. by of): The Batfink set contained nothing in the way of extras. 3. something that is nonexistent. As you may have gleaned, aside from brief promo spots for The Milton The Monster Show: The Complete Series and Best of The Electric Company, the set includes no extras of any kind.
If you're a fan of Batfink from childhood, you likely already know about this new DVD set. But if you're not, Batfink: The Complete Series is definitely worth a look, especially if you're a fan of cartoons from the 60s and 70s.
Batfink: The Complete Series is cleared of all charges and released to keep the streets safe from bumbling evil-doers everywhere. Oh yeah, and we fired everyone involved in bringing this courageous and carefree champion Chiroptera before us on these ridiculous charges in the first place!
Review content copyright © 2007 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 510 Minutes
Release Year: 1966
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* IMDb for Batfink: This is Your Life
* IMDb for Bouncey Bouncey Batfink
* IMDb for Batfink on the Rocks
* IMDb for Spin the Batfink