Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

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Batfan 66
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Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Batfan 66 »

The comics explain Robin's origins and backstory, but I don't think the tv series even touched on it once, other than Batman telling Minerva that "Although I would be proud if he were, he is not my son, but Robin the Boy Wonder".

Why didn't they include a little bit of what happened, like mentioning Dick's parents once, or slipping in a comment about acrobatics, or the flying graysons, or something small and subtle...just a little history? With 120 episodes you'd think they would be able to include even a little something without taking away from the action or story. I'm not saying there needed to be a biography for Robin, but tiny things like that would probably made it a more interesting (and probably gotten more people to read the comics),

Just saying...

Whats do you guys think?
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Sol
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Sol »

I believe the flaw in the program - the reason it struggled in the ratings once the initial excitement faded - which was early on - was because the lead characters were entirely undeveloped. Even Bruce Wayne's beginnings were hardly touched upon. The problem was that the show in its design was a joke and Batman and Robin were just another facet of that on-going, episode-upon-episode joke. As much as I enjoy the style of the show to an extent, I certainly can see how it wore thin on the audience of the time. Audiences return to a TV series because they identify with or believe in the substance of the characters. With BATMAN, their were no lead characters with any level of depth to root for.

That all said, the reason, I believe, that no reference was made to Dick Grayson's origins is that Dozier and his staff did not see how it could add to the "joke". The thinly established premise didn't require it.
But I do believe, as I've indicated, that actual consideration to the development of Batman and Robin would likely have led to a longer life - and ultimately - a greater respect for the program by the general public.
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Progress Pigment
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Progress Pigment »

I generally agree with what Sol said. Dozier had no interest in developing the characters. Really all that was mentioned of Bruce's background, is that his parents were killed by 'dastardly criminals'. And this was in the first 5 minutes of the pilot. Semple's 'Batman bible' for the show may had had a bit more. But I guess we'll never know. Actually, I'd say 'The Flying Grayson's" weren't even the parents of TV's Robin. If they were he probably didn't know it. They probably would've said he was a baby left on the doorstep, if any origin had been mentioned.
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AndyFish
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by AndyFish »

Lorenzo Semple wrote a bat-bible for the show and warned about getting silly-- which is exactly what happened.

I think the primary reason Robin didn't get much play throughout the series is he wasn't the star of the show. Batman was. I know as a kid I appreciated whatever help Robin could do, but Batman was always center stage. Look at the movie-- Adam gets a whole out of costume role that goes on quite lengthy (and I believe that was one of his conditions for doing it) while Burt is out of costume for about fifteen seconds.

I would have loved to have seen them develop characters and actually have some interplay, rather then the cartoonish direction the show took with junk like the pied piper routine, the abstract sets and just cramming in all these villains that were really not worthy of the show (no names because like the Penguin says "every one of them has a mother").

Batman would not have been a flash in the pan hit if it had developed some of the drama that was there in a few episodes of the first season.

Bottom line overall-- this was a comic book property and in 1966 nobody took that too seriously. Flash forward to today and AVENGERS is the biggest movie money maker of all time -- no indicator of quality there though I've not seen it.
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dell
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by dell »

Wow, some really good ideas here. I like what you guys said and have to agree. They really must have thought it would be a flash in the pan and the way they took the show made that a self fulfilling prophecy.
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Gleeps, it's Batman
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Gleeps, it's Batman »

I remember as a kid not knowing anything about Robin's backstory until I got hold of one of those paperbacks with a pic from the series on the cover. I think there are two paperbacks? Anyway, I had the one with the green cover, and funnily enough, the only thing I remember from it was finding out that Dick had an acrobatic background. I wasn't a comic book reader, so that paperback was the only place I got information other than the series itself. I wish I could find that paperback to read again, but if it's still around anywhere, it's probably with my other Batman-related stuff that I've been unable to locate.

The show never seemed to give us much background on anything, the opposite of now when the superhero movies keep doing origins stories and delving into everyone's psyche.
WayneGrayson
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by WayneGrayson »

I think the Robin character was cheated in the series - it was rare that he got himself and Batman out of a cliffhanger (the Black Widow episode was one I can think of) - he had a utility belt, too, but he never produced any gadgets - he mostly deferred to Batman - it seemed like he was just supposed to play second fiddle.

Holy Monday Morning Quarterback!!! I think showing a capsule of the origins of Batman and Robin would have made a great first episode. Instead of being properly introduced to them, we just pick up on their latest adventure. It didn't seem like a pilot episode at all.
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SprangFan
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by SprangFan »

I agree it would have been interesting to see some character development, and might indeed have added to the longevity of the show. Someone once pointed out that all the shows that really endure have character dynamics that make them compelling even when the main plot is lackluster. For instance the romance between Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty (or for my mom, Perry Mason and Della Street), the bantering/fued between Doc and Festus (or McCoy and Spock) and so on. Those kind of things provide continuity and "comfort" in their constancy, and the occasional "payoff" when characters take a tentative step forward in their relationship, or take a "ceasefire" in a feud to reveal their true friendship underneath.

I don't know where that might've fit in "Batman" but as-is, all the characters are pretty one-dimensional, like little wind-up toys that can be counted on to do pretty much the same thing every single time. Which means you're dependent on the inventiveness of this week's death trap and escape, or the eye candy of the latest gadget, gun moll or costume to generate novelty each week.

As far as backstory, though, you can only milk that for so much. The Batman comics went for decades with only the occasional reference to Robin's, or even Batman's, origins. The constant compulsion to tell and re-tell origins is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Plus, if you establish on the show that Robin started out as a circus acrobat, you're probably going to have to make good on that at some point and show him doing something spectacularly acrobatic. And I'm not at all sure Burt could've delivered, or that the budget existed to set up the situation in the first place.
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bat lugosi
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by bat lugosi »

We don't get much in terms of origin stories in the series, are there any villains on the show that Batman and Robin face for the first time? A few maybe? It always feels like they have faced off against the villains at least once before.

This post does get my imagination working. I start to wonder how old Dick Grayson was when Bruce took him in? How Dick Grayson found out Bruce was Batman? How long the training took? Was some of it on the job training? How did Aunt Harriet fit in? Anyway, some back story stuff for Robin would have been interesting but I think Sprang Fan post covers up some of the issues of why Robin doesn't get at least some back story.
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clavierankh
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by clavierankh »

Neither the comics nor the TV series of the 60s dwelt on back stories. When you think about it for young boys who saw their parents murdered Bruce and Dick grew up pretty well adjusted. I suppose they were the ideal. Coming out of tragedy and becoming better men for it.

After the 60's , I guess the writers decided someone going through a trauma like that should carry more baggage.
celestialhost
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by celestialhost »

I like the fact that the series does not focus on backstories.

One of the most tedious things in the comic world are origina stories, especially when they get re-told again and again. Why is it that every time a DC or Marvel superhero gets a new film franchise, they have to have their origin story re-told once again? We all ought to know who Batman and Superman are by now.
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Gernot
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Gernot »

I decided to weigh in on this topic now. ;) I feel the reason why Robin's origin was ignored (and Batman's glossed over greatly) was because they may have been too horrorific for the target audiences. The Waynes and Graysons were both murdered by criminals and may have been deemed too dark for where they wanted to take the show (and DID take the show).

That's probably why we never saw much of THE Batman on the show. but plenty of good ol' Boy Scout Batman. :)
Mr.Freeze
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Mr.Freeze »

They had to tone it down.....had there been a TF we never would've seen him getting burning acid on his face like in the comics , it'd be too hard core to show.
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Gernot
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Gernot »

I agree completely, Mr. Freeze. Only adult shows would've (and should've) shown such violence. We didn't need it, and Batman certainly didn't. :)

Even when Joker returned to his killing ways in the early '70's, he was a serial killer, not a mass murderer. He was scarier than the idiotic buffoon they're writing about now. :(
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Mr. Comic Book
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Re: Why wasn't there more Backstory for Dick/Robin?

Post by Mr. Comic Book »

clavierankh wrote:Neither the comics nor the TV series of the 60s dwelt on back stories. When you think about it for young boys who saw their parents murdered Bruce and Dick grew up pretty well adjusted. I suppose they were the ideal. Coming out of tragedy and becoming better men for it.

After the 60's , I guess the writers decided someone going through a trauma like that should carry more baggage.
For me, the idea that Bruce and Dick emerged from those horrific experiences as better men was and still is the entire point of the Batman mythology. That you could emerge from tragedy as something greater. The idea of Bruce becoming just as monstrous as his enemies is an invention of Frank Miller and his followers, and frankly misses the whole point of the character entirely.

The weirdest part to me is that while Bruce became every bit as corrupt as his enemies starting in 1986, Dick still remained a well-adjusted, heroic guy. He became more worthy of the Batman name than Bruce did. Where did Alfred go so wrong with Bruce if Dick still turned out to be a good man? That's the most bizarre thing about Batman's slide into Grimsville.
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