200 Words with Paul Dini #45 – Disney’s Batman

January 9, 2009

When I was a kid my favorite TV show was about a member of elite society who led a double life. Accompanied by a young sidekick with a bird-inspired nickname and a capable, though occasionally comical Man Friday, this midnight avenger struck terror into the hearts of all who encountered him. In time even the local constable would come to acknowledge and respect the vigilante’s deeds. 

Batman? Not quite; Walt Disney’s Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

Any kid who saw the Scarecrow thundering across the moors never forgot him. By day he was Dr. Syn, trusted country parson. By night, he traded his bible for a mask and became a ruthless, possibly deranged smuggler chief. Matching wits with the king’s soldiers, Syn played both allies and traitors as pawns in his ostensibly heroic schemes.

A few years later rumors circulating among kids at my playground said a new TV hero, Batman, was going to be just like the Scarecrow. That first night as I watched the Caped Crusader disco dance with Jill St. John, I knew grim, oppressed Romney Marsh was worlds apart from sunny Gotham City and that Batman was nothing like the Scarecrow.

But he would be someday.

 


Paul Dini is the Emmy and Eisner Award winning writer of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Detective Comics, Countdown among many, many other things. You can find him online at either kingofbreakfast.livejournal.com or http://www.jinglebelle.com/.

 

Comments

  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I only heard about this series recently with the DVD release.  Actually really interested in checking it out. 

    Crazy.  We actually watched the entire Prisoner series in TV Production class in high school and I remembered thinking McGoohan would’ve made a great Batman.  

  2. Ah, the times when Batman was just a swining single…

  3. Gosh, I caught that when Disney channel was cool and played the good stuff (Tailspin, Darkwing Duck, Short Circut and heavily-edited versions of The Goonies). Scarecrow was awesome. My Dad has fonder memories of Scarecrow; he and his brother cut a hole out of the floor of the laundry room and began digging a tunnel from the house to the woods in the back to be just like Scarecrow. "It was a wonder it didn’t cave in while we were in it and kill us all," he’s said a few times.

  4. Also a member of Prospero’s League

  5. I got this DVD for Christmas!  Actually I bought it for myself before Christmas since the DVD sold out its entire limited print run in less than three weeks, but I didn’t open it until Christmas.  I had been wanting to watch this for years and it did not disappoint.  Lots of Disney fans compared it to Disney’s Zorro but I too compared it to Batman.  Great minds think alike!

     Funny story.  On the making of feature on the DVD, I learned that the famous theme song was performed by George Patterson, who also recorded the Gilligan’s Island theme and…was one of my professors in grad school/seminary.  He is now a psychologist and teaches as adjunst faculty at Fuller Seminary to the Marriage and Family Therapy students.  He taught my addiction and therapy class.  And then I saw him on the DVD.

  6. The intro reminds me of the Blackadder intro. This is the best I could find:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsqfKl5qpLY

    There was a later theme that was a bit different with more clips of him riding a horse. 

  7. I’d rather watch Batman. Sorry.

  8. @chlop – Blackadder is tops. I’ve slowly been completing my Blackadder series (it’s cheaper to do it individually per-season then the boxed set, oddly enough). So far I think the 3rd is my favorite, but I still have to get Goes Forth at some point.

  9. This show/movie is fantastic. The Scarecrow scared the hell outta me as a kid. I’m gonna have to buy this DVD.

  10. if thi guy really existed, wouldnt someone just beat the crap out of him and pee in his butt?

  11. I’m old enough to remember Sunday night Disney being cool.  I just can’t imagine Disney making something like this or Swamp Fox (a personal favourite through the rose-coloured glasses of time) nowdays.  I don’t know what that says about me or perhaps our evolution as a society… but damn it, I want to see idealized fictional recounting of historical figures promoting violence as an equitable means of solving problems! 

  12. Nothing can beat a kids cartoon where one of the characters later on turns to Hitler!

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098737/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_J._Kwak

  13. @ Crippler – Amen, and amen.

  14. I think I would have loved this when I was younger

  15. Awesome.  Leave it to Paul Dini to blow my mind.  I love the look of the show and hopefully it’s collected on DVD at some point.