Batman producer William Dozier on TV's downfall

Dozier dismissed Batman to the press.

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"We don't pretend it will elevate anyone culturally," William Dozier told The Los Angeles Times in 1966. He was speaking of his hit television show, Batman. While the series may not have captivated Dozier as a viewer, from a business perspective, he understood its power.

"It's entertaining a lot of people, and we're in the entertainment business," he said.

Prior to his successes with Batman on ABC, Dozier spent years as a program executive at CBS, where he shepherded prestige projects such as Studio One, Playhouse 90 and You Are There to the screen.

"But that kind of thing won't get on TV again," said Dozier. "Because the medium has become a merchandising business, and not enough people watched those dramas to move the volume of goods to be moved."

Something that may have separated Batman from those earlier, more dramatic projects is the writing. Initially, Dozier and Co. had much difficulty attracting the right writing staff for the job. "I even drafted my son, Bob, who I discovered knew more about Batman than I did. I guess he was reading comic books, fortunately, when he was a boy and I was trying to get him to read 'Moby Dick.' But now he's gone back to his movie writing, and other writers are knocking down the door to write for Batman."

While he was quick to lament the demise of television as art, Dozier readily accepted Batman as a financial victory. The only downside to the Caped Crusader — at least from a producer's P.O.V — was his failure to captivate 12 and 13-year-olds. 

"Adults may not necessarily like Batman, but they are amused by it. Young kids take it seriously and teenagers see the humor in it, but those around 12 and 13 have blind spots. They don't take it seriously and don't find it funny," Dozier explained.

Despite the unabashed pursuit of merchandise sales in lieu of great writing, Dozier was unfettered in his belief that television would one day bounce back. "TV, good or bad, will survive Batman."

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14 Comments

Mike 5 months ago
Fun Fact:
When William Dozier was casting Batman, he was having a time casing the narrator.
After demonstrating to any number of voice men what he wanted, the sound editor suggested that Dozier do the job himself - and so he did!
Later on, after Bill Dozier retired from producing, he began a new career as a voice-over actor - occasionally even appearing on-camera!
... and lived happily ever after ...
CaptainDunsel 7 months ago
Sixteen Sodium atoms walk into a bar, followed by Adam west.

(Let me know when you get it, but don't spoil it for others.)
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 7 months ago
I was 5 and my brother was 3 when Batman first came out (there was a younger brother but at the age of 9 months he paid no attention). We loved watching Batman followed by That Girl with Marlo Thomas, and were a little confused when Batgirl was introduced. We thought they were talking about "That Girl" and wondered why she would be on "Batman" (we actually thought "That Girl" was her character's name, lol). Then when they showed Batgirl in costume we realized what they were really saying, and obviously that wasn't Marlo Thomas.
Yes, and would you believe I confused Yvonne Craig with Yvonne DeCarlo? Lily Munster couldn't do those kicks...LOL!
I was 8 and my brother was 6 when Batman premiered. We shared the same bedroom and every Wednesday night when Batman was captured by the 'guest villain', he would have a nightmare.
At 8 I knew the addition of Batgirl meant the series was dwindling down to cancellation. Never liked the Batgirl character, though I do like Yvonne Craig.
cperrynaples 7 months ago
To put Dozier's comments in perspective, one of his other projects was The Tammy Grimes Show, a sitcom so bad it was canceled in 4 weeks! Fun facts: Dick Sargent AKA Faux Darrin played her brother! In fact, 2 years earlier Grimes rejected Bewitched, saying "If she's a witch, why would she want to be a housewife?"
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 7 months ago
Still trying to put into perspective the mention of the 12/13 yr old audience, that Dozier felt he was missing. Unless that was the intended audience he was looking for when creating the series, it shouldn't be that important.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 7 months ago
I was wondering the same thing. 🤔
CaptainDunsel LoveMETV22 7 months ago
"It's an important demographic for moychandizing!"
BorisK LoveMETV22 7 months ago
I can see that. I was 7-9 during Batman's run, lost interest at 9 ... my brother was 10-12 and never went for it.
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