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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Batfink: The Complete Series
Batfink: The Complete Series
Shout Factory // Unrated // July 3, 2007
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 11, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

After cutting his teeth at the world famous and insanely influential Fleischer Studios, animator Hal Seegar set out on his own and opened up Hal Seegar Productions. Once he was established, he found a hit with the extremely popular Milton The Monster and then later with Batfink, the later of which ran for one hundred five minute episodes during 1966 and 1967. Each and every one of those animated shorts has been collected on this four-disc set from Shout! Factory entitled, appropriately enough, Batfink - The Complete Series.

So what is Batfink? It's a series of quick cartoons that tell of the adventures of the character of the same name and his right hand man, a Japanese bodyguard named Karate. Together, they solve mysteries and fight crime in much the same manner as Batman and The Green Hornet, the two obvious sources of inspiration for the cartoon which functions more as a parody than anything else. Batfink's powers include his supersonic radar, which he can use to hear things from far away and to find people from a distance (whenever he uses this power a 'BEEP BEEP BEEP' will fly across the screen!), and his steel wings, which allow him to deflect bullets, sort of like a flexible shield. Batfink and Karate get around in a suped up car that looks not unlike a Volkswagen Bug called the Battleac which periodically drives off of bridges but more or less works as a fairly decent mode of transportation for two goofy superheroes. The chief of police, known only as The Chief, communicates with Batfink by way of a handy two-way video conferencing system that connects Batfink's secret hideout directly to police headquarters. Whenever something comes up that's too much for the boys in blue to handle, The Chief simply gets on the videoconference system and has Batfink come in to do the dirty work. Batfink and Karate spend most of their time dealing with the nefarious Hugo A-Go-Go, a mad scientist bent on world domination with a penchant for inventing strange devices that he hopes will put a stop to what considers Batfink's meddling ways.

Voiced by Frank Buxton, Batfink is more or less a goof on the popular superheroes of the day when he's only given five minutes at a time for his exploits to play out, it goes without saying that character development is minimal at best, though the final episode does at least explain his origin. Karate, who was voiced by Len Maxwell, isn't given any more depth than the lead character and this chubby, relatively dim Asian stereotype (he speaks like Charlie Chan and utters periodic catch phrases like 'Solly about that, Batfink' in a horrendous accent) definitely won't play so well in this day and age. While it's unlikely that Seegar's crew was out to offend anyone, there's no denying that this character is very definitely not a product of these more politically correct times where something like this just would not fly on a children's show.

Dated or not, in small doses the show is enjoyable enough. Watch a few too many episodes in a row, however, and you'll soon be overwhelmed by just how much of the same animation is used over and over and over again. This was probably done to keep production costs down but it's amazing how so many of the same clips, such as the Battleac going off the bridge or the video conferencing clips, are seen in almost every one of the one hundred episodes. Add to that some odd inconsistencies in the characters and their powers (sometimes Batfink says his wings are stainless steel, other times he says they're not!) and you've got a show that gets repetitive after a while and which may leave you scratching your head if you tend to think about things too much.

Although the show finished in 1967, the series was popular in syndication up until the 1990s and as such it's retained a fairly loyal cult following over the years. It's certainly understandable how those who grew up with the material might find some nostalgic value in the cartoons even given their rudimentary nature. There were certainly better made and more intelligent cartoons around at the time but there's something to be said for the 'turn off your brain and laugh' mentality of the series. Even with the repetition and the uncomfortable stereotypes the show is fun for a few episodes at a time. Batfink makes for a likeable enough hero and some of the jokes and catch phrases are quite clever.

All in all, there are exactly one hundred episodes of Batfink, and they're presented in this set across the four discs as follows:

1. The Pink Pearl Of Persia
2. The Short Circuit Case
3. Ebenezer The Freezer
4. The Sonic Boomer
5. Big Ears Ernie
6. Batfink On The Rocks
7. Manhole Manny
8. The Mad Movie Maker
9. Nuts Of The Round Table
10. Skinny Minnie
11. Fatman Strikes Again
12. The Kitchy Koo Kaper
13. The Dirty Sinker
14. Gluey Looie
15. Brother Goose
16. The Chocolate Covered Diamond
17. The Crime College
18. Myron The Magician
19. Brain Washday
20. MPFTBRM
21. Gloves On The Go Go
22. Sporty Morty
23. Go Fly A Bat
24. Ringading Brothers
25. Out Out Darn Spot
26. Goo Goo A Go Go
27. Crimes In Rhymes
28. Stupidman
29. A Living Doll
30. The Bat Patrol
31. Dig That Crazy Mountain
32. Spin The Batfink
33. Greasy Gus
34. The Mark Of Zero
35. Swami Salami
36. The Human Pretzel
37. Jumping Jewelry
38. Roz The Schnozz
39. Karate's Case
40. Wishbone Boner
41. Hugo For Mayor
42. The Indian Taker
43. The Devilish Device
44. Goldstinger
45. The Shady Shadow
46. Party Marty
47. The Beep Bopper
48. The Super Trap
49. Bride and Doom
50. Topsy Turvy
51. The Rotten Rainmaker
52. Gypsy James
53. The Kooky Chameleon
54. Beanstalk Jack
55. The Time Stopper
56. The Kangarobot
57. Presto Chango-Hugo
58. Curly The Cannonball
59. Robber Hood
60. Slow Down! Speed Up!
61. Sandman Sam
62. Yo Yo A Go Go
63. Hugo's Hoke
64. Backwards Box
65. The Great Escapo
66. Watch My Smoke
67. Daniel Boom
68. Queenie Bee
69. The Thief From Baghdad
70. The Mean Green Midget
71. Double Double Crossers
72. The Baffling Bluffs Of Hugo A Go Go
73. Napoleon Blownapart
74. The Atom Boom
75. Magneto The Magnificent
76. Hugo The Crimefighter
77. The Trojan Horse Thief
78. The Zap Sap
79. Unhappy Birthday
80. Buster The Ruster
81. Karate's Day Off
82. Mike The Mimic
83. Cinderobber
84. Bouncey Bouncey Batfink
85. The Bomber Bird
86. The Copycat Bat
87. Old King Cruel
88. Victor The Predictor
89. Goldyunlocks And The 3 Bears
90. Jerkules
91. Hugo Here, Hugo There
92. Bowl Brummel
93. Fleiderfink
94. Blankenstein
95. Whip Van Winkle
96. Tough MacDuff
97. Judy Jitsu
98. Ego-A-Go-Go
99. Father Time Bomb
100. Batfink - This is Your Life

The DVD

Video:

For a series sitting at roughly forty years of age, Batfink doesn't look too bad on DVD in its original 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio. The colors are a little bit flat but otherwise things look pretty good. There's a bit of grain here and there but no serious print damage and there aren't any problems with compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement. You'll probably pick out some mild shimmering if you want to look for it but it's never overpowering even when it does appear.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mixes spread across the four discs' worth of material in this set aren't the most ambitious but they get the job done. You won't have any problems understanding the dialogue or in grooving along to the soundtrack. Levels are properly balanced and there aren't any problems in terms of hiss or distortion to report on.

Extras:

Aside from some rudimentary menus which offer episode selection and a play all option, this four disc set is completely devoid of any supplements whatsoever - obviously, this is a big disappointment.

Final Thoughts:

While it's nice to have every single solitary episode of the series in one handy-dandy collection, the material gets repetitive fairly quickly. The quality of the transfers and the audio is okay but the obvious lack of extra features is a little disheartening. Established fans of the series will want this set, everyone else should consider Batfink - The Complete Series a rental.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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