Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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Keith Mayo
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by Keith Mayo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:18 am

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BATWINGED HORNET
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by BATWINGED HORNET » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:05 pm

AndyFish wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 4:35 am
Before you type your outrage hear me out.
I've recently been watching THE GREEN HORNET as I work on my latest deadline and it's a pretty snazzy show. The jazz soundtrack, Bruce Lee, Van Williams is good as the lead etc. The Black Beauty gives the Batmobile a run for its money.

So is it a better show?

It's certainly different and proof that Dozier COULD have done Batman straight. As much as I love the best episodes of BATMAN the sillier ones still make me cringe.

Personally, I think BATMAN is a better show but simply because Batman is a better character than The Green Hornet. Yes, I know GH was created before Batman and much of his lore was appropriated by Bob Kane and company when they were developing Batman-- but Kane and Co stole from the best. They took what worked from Zorro, GH and most importantly Dick Tracy in coming up with a Rogues Gallery that made there be a need for Batman.

I think if they'd done Batman straight and had him take on gangsters it would have been fun to watch for a couple of episodes but it would have gotten tired fast. Had they done it straight with the villains you just might have had a better show.

I've often dismissed THE GREEN HORNET as being a little on the boring side, and the lack of any real villains doesn't help it-- but its a good show and in many ways its done more "right" than Batman was.

If you have copies of the show I'd suggest watching them again if you've not done so in a while before you offer your opinion, it was certainly better than I remembered it.
Where to start...

The Green Hornet TV series--in terms of pure quality, casting, scripts, direction and visual impact--compares favorably with Batman's only great season--the first--and frankly leaves seasons two and three in a place usually reserved for dreck such as Lost in Space or The Banana Splits.

I still rank it as one of the top five best "superhero" TV series ever produced, as it was largely true to its origins, yet was able to be updated in a slick way that took nothing away from said origins. Unlike Batman, TGH has aged better thanks to the kind of semi-realistic environment the series used for its characters (especially villains) and its backdrop, making it easier to revisit without cringing at too many topical/trendy references and being far ahead of its time by some (estimated) 40 years in predicting the approach to many modern superhero movies and TV series, from the Nolan Bat-movies to the current Marvel Netflix series.

Another key advantage TGH had over Batman is the use of comic relief; at no time would you ever see the Hornet, Kato, Scanlon or Casey become the butt of a joke; that was reserved for Mike Axford, and even then, his humor as trotted out in small does. Compare that to Batman, where we know O'Hara was a dolt, and Gordon would become increasingly dimwitted as the series wore on, but the most egregious development was turning the once detectives-in-costumes, adventurous Dynamic Dou into clueless, stiff as nails butts of everyone else's joke, while eventually elevating the hollow Batgirl to their superior in many ways. Nevermind her lack of experience as a crimefighter.

The Batman and Robin of season one might as well be different characters than the duo peppered throughout season two and sledgehammered in the regrettable third season.

One might argue that The Green Hornet--being a Greenway production in Dozier's often clumsy hands--stood the chance of suffering the same fate if it lasted longer, but I counter that with the fact Van Williams and Bruce Lee--under no circumstances--wanted their series to essentially become "Batman After Dark". From all accounts, they enjoyed the tone and presentation of their series, and its contrasts with the "brother" series, which suggests the series finale, the 2-part "Invasion from Outer Space" was simply an easy script to shoot knowing it was the unofficial finale. Even with silver costumes in place, Dr, Mabuse and his atomic warhead plot were more Bond-ian than anything seen on Batman.

Dozier may have had his faults, and beat certain gimmicks into the ground, but in the The Green Hornet's case, he zeroed in on a tone and approach that pointed the way (in a positive sense) on productions in its future than his most successful TV series.

In fact, the 1966 Batman has the unfortunate "credit" of inspiring Joel Schumacher's universally reviled Batman and Robin movie (1997) instead of anything seen or associated with the most successful modern-day Batman movie adaptations, which can lead one to draw certain fair conclusions about which Dozier production is in a stronger position to stand the test of time.

The Green Hornet certainly had an impact during its ABC run, if for not other reason than so many fans of both Dozier series wanting to see a crossover the moment TGH made its September, 1966 debut. It was a a no-brainer: the clash of oil and water, natural opposites, yet bearing some interesting similarities that all but demanded an "in the field" answer, with the eventual crossover being one of Batman's most memorable stories of not only the sinking season two, but the overall series, despite the presence of a weak villain in Colonel Gumm.

So, is The Green Hornet a better series than Batman? As mentioned earlier, it compares favorably with the best Batman had to offer and is superior to seasons 2 and 3, but both delivered their message (for Batman, season one) and type of entertainment well, making them strong bookends for the other.
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by robinboyblunderer » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:43 pm

BATWINGED HORNET wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:05 pm
but the most egregious development was turning the once detectives-in-costumes, adventurous Dynamic Dou into clueless, stiff as nails butts of everyone else's joke, while eventually elevating the hollow Batgirl to their superior in many ways. Nevermind her lack of experience as a crimefighter.

The Batman and Robin of season one might as well be different characters than the duo peppered throughout season two and sledgehammered in the regrettable third season.
That's a pretty good assessment of the series degradation. I still think the show has a timeless quality, the bright colors, interesting costumes and surreal settings make it a unique world apart from the 1960s. The performances, particularly Adam West's unique way of phrasing a line in addition to his chemistry with Burt Ward make repeated viewings entertaining. Even in the miserable third season there's usually something to be mined, usually based on the performances.

Too bad they didn't keep to the same balance of adventure/comedy in the first season throughout all three and kept Batgirl to a surprise guest star instead of a regular.

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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by TP-6597 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:40 pm

AndyFish wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 4:35 am
The Black Beauty gives the Batmobile a run for its money.
https://imgur.com/a/vLUtX7K

;)
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by BATWINGED HORNET » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:02 am

^ Aside from being a slick design, The Black Beauty actually looks dangerous. The Batmobile...not so much in the dangerous category.
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Dan E Kool
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by Dan E Kool » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:25 pm

Keith Mayo wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:18 am
"Batmanny" - Jewish crime fighter who's secret identity is that of the guy who runs the deli on the corner.
Oy vey!

I agree with johndeblasi. The only thing that really hurts The Green Hornet is the short runtime. I love the look and tone of the show, Bruce Lee is phenomenal, the Black Beauty is brilliant, but half an hour is just not enough time for a full story to develop. Could've been something better than it was imo - and it was already better than average. Shame.
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by Szabol » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:18 pm

Short runtime and no real criminal syndicate continuity. If it were done today, there may be crime families or similar and GH would take out operations on a weekly basis. 30 minutes is too short a time for live action. Still I remember dressing as GH for a Halloween night.

The GH movie did explore the crime syndicate concept, complete with government corruption. If you think of that movie as GH year one, it is actually competent to a certain degree.

As I read through the threads, it looks like we agree that Batman was more entertaining but GH was more real world...except for keeping essential fluids in the Black Beauty when it was upside down.
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by Progress Pigment » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:51 am

Overall, I find The Hornet series stiff. Dragnet in green. The Hornet & Kato have about as much chemistry as Professor Robinson & Major West in Lost In Space. And their dialogue is about as stilted. The show titles were absolutely terrible. "Bad Bet on a 459-Silent" -- "The Frog Is a Deadly Weapon". What corn!

The first season of Batman was brilliant. And the Hornet has it's moments, certainly the pilot. The pilot episode was looser, and I liked the mask much better. And there were good things in episodes. I loved seeing Mako act like a young punk! And he went up against Victor Jory, The Shadow! The Scarf with John Carradine was fun, but so much wasted potential. And Corpse of the Year, with Tom Simcox, who in the episode when they cut to him & Van Willams in their 'Black Beauties', looked like the real Green Hornet! And Williams the fake. If you'd never seen a previous episode of the series, you'd have sworn this was the guy! William Dozier must have been kicking himself when he saw Simcox's face in the mask.

And the abysmal space episodes at the end (Plan Hornet From Outer-Space. Okay, they were less boring than the previous few, but still terrible) showed where the series was headed. Batman season two, or possibly even season three. So for me, it's no. Absolutely no.

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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by BATWINGED HORNET » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:15 am

Progress Pigment wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:51 am
Overall, I find The Hornet series stiff. Dragnet in green. The Hornet & Kato have about as much chemistry as Professor Robinson & Major West in Lost In Space.
..and yet fans of the seires loved their no-nonsense, dangerous edge, hence their desire to see a crossover of contrasts with Batman.
The show titles were absolutely terrible. "Bad Bet on a 459-Silent" -- "The Frog Is a Deadly Weapon". What corn!
Er, a "459 Silent"is real police code for a burglary / silent alarm. Made more sense than endless Batman titles forcing rhymes, and having no bearing on the actual stories.
And Corpse of the Year, with Tom Simcox, who in the episode when they cut to him & Van Willams in their 'Black Beauties', looked like the real Green Hornet! And Williams the fake. If you'd never seen a previous episode of the series, you'd have sworn this was the guy! William Dozier must have been kicking himself when he saw Simcox's face in the mask.
Not at all. Dozier knew who was best for the role and selected the right one--a performer who knew the balance between hard crimefighter, but personable alter-ego/strong leading man. It was rare for that to be pulled off without tripping into caricature or cartoony beliefs about such characterizations, not to mention Williams was visually perfect for the role as well (instead of dry, beat-up Simcox). As TGH, Williams never appeared to be a joke--he was all business. Just one of the many reasons THG compares favorably to the only Batman season of consistent focus and quality--season one.
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by Progress Pigment » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:36 am

BATWINGED HORNET wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:15 am
Progress Pigment wrote:
Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:51 am
Overall, I find The Hornet series stiff. Dragnet in green. The Hornet & Kato have about as much chemistry as Professor Robinson & Major West in Lost In Space.
... not to mention Williams was visually perfect for the role as well (instead of dry, beat-up Simcox).

Dry & beat up?! Yeah, he looked terrible! Let's see a picture of you to compare it with! The guy John Lennon called "That Yankee Cowboy" when they met at a retreat. He popped in the Hornet mask. The youtube posts about that episode write lovingly about him.

Image

He more resembles Skip Ward, who Dozier originally wanted to play the Hornet.

Image

Dozier, it seems, tended to go with "beach boys" to people his series, And ... I have no problem with that! none at all!

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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by BATWINGED HORNET » Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:16 am

Progress Pigment wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:36 am
Dry & beat up?! Yeah, he looked terrible! Let's see a picture of you to compare it with!
Yes, dry and beat up. Not the leading man type, and John Lennon--insecure as he was--was not the best judge of appearance.
Dozier, it seems, tended to go with "beach boys" to people his series, And ... I have no problem with that! none at all!
I dont know about this "beach boys" idea, but Williams was an experienced actor with a leading man ability to carry off the double duty of GH and Reid. One can look back at The Green Hornet as one of the few adaptations where the lead's performance is not completely damaged by the effects of age, changing times, gimmicks or other influences that have made most older superhero adaptations age poorly, or are downright unbearable. There's no "in another era, it would have been a night and day performance" as is the case with endless, older TV and movie adaptations--usually charged with getting it wrong.

Williams did not have that problem.
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Re: Was THE GREEN HORNET a Better Show than BATMAN?

Post by Progress Pigment » Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:59 pm

Lennon just mentioned that his pre-Yoko wife and George Harrison's wife were enthralled with Simcox. :) You may feel he suffers head to head against Van Williams, possibly. But still, he cut quite the dashing figure! Van Williams was certainly a skilled actor, and although flawed, I do love the series. Even to the point that several years back I wrangled some episodes of a post-Hornet series called Westwinds , an aquatic Saturday morning show Williams starred in. So was my mania at the time.We'd be much poorer if the Hornet show didn't exist, that's for sure. And I cringe at 2nd & 3rd (especially third) season of Batman moments as only a real fan of the series can. So much wasted potential. But regardless, life without the Batman series is unfathomable to me. Batman went from fantastic to awful. The Hornet remained, in my opinion, pretty good thru out. Never great, but never bad either.
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