When I was a child, my choices of after school TV viewing were pretty limited. Sure, you had GI Joe, Transformers, Voltron and Thundercats, but that was a measly 2 hrs of cartoon viewing! Unlike today where there are entire channels dedicated to cartoons, we had to make due with the many syndicated live action (read:mind numbing) reruns of Diff'rent Strokes, Three's Company, and of course, the deathbringer of afternoons... MASH. To this day, I cannot stand to hear the first few notes of "Suicide is Painless" without having a panic attack. MASH signaled the end of a fun afternoon and the beginning of the nightly parental confiscation of the the TV. Oddly enough, MASH made for a pretty good segue into the 6 o'clock news.
Now, not all live action syndicated shows were bad. In fact one stick out rather predominantly in my mind:
The 1966 Batman TV show.
Every afternoon, Adam West would don the cowl, and Burt Ward would slip on the pixie shoes and for a half hour (and sometimes a full hour) would battle evil in beautiful technicolor!
As soon as the show was over, it seemed like every kid on the block would flood the stoops and streetcurbs, all with the same thought in mind:
"I wanna be Batman!"
"But you got to be Batman last time! You be Robin."
"But I won't want to be Robin."
"I'll be the Joker."
"My porch is the Batcave."
"My bike'll be the Batmobile."
And so on until dark when mothers near and far would stick their heads out the front door and declare, "DINNER!"
That simple 20 year old show captured the imagination of every child I knew. So much so, that on Saturday Mornings, when The Superfriends would come on, Batman seemed to be a shell of the man we spent the week with.
One day, while watching TV a rather curious commercial caught my eye. Kenner introduced me to the Super Powers lines. Finally, I would get another chance at Batman and Robin figures! (I had experienced a setback a few years previously in attempting to acquire a Mego Magnetic Batman and Robin set. But that is a story for another time.)
They even released a Batmobile. It didn't look like the REAL Batmobile, but any car Batman was in automatically BECAME the Batmobile.
On our very next shopping trip to Cityline for various clothing related things, we stopped into the Woolsworths. Now, Woolsworths was a welcome retreat after spending hours upon hours watching my mother buy underwear and socks for the family. Woolsworths had a toy section I could go and browse in. After a few minutes, my eyes went straight to a locked display cabinet. (This was one of those "I need a salesman to open the case so I can buy it" things.) From behind the glass Batman and Robin seemed to wave at me.
To say that it took one minute to locate my mother and drag her to the toy section would be to exagerrate. I do not think it took that long.
Normally I was not a begging sort of child. In fact, I never really ASKED for stuff. I was always rather subtle. The usual "Oh mom, look how neat that it," and then I would go through the work of explaining exactly HOW neat the item was, and that it's probably alot of fun, and well you get the point. I'd try to get my mom to offer to buy it for me. I would feign humility saying how it was unnecessary and make her insist. In the end, I would come home with the toy.
This was not one of those times. I downright asked my mom for Batman and Robin. And the Batmobile. In hindsight, I do believe the Batmobile was the dealbreaker. I was asking for too much at the end of a day where too much money had already been spent. So I got the "Mommy would buy it for you if she had the money" speech. Lord, I hated that speech. That may be why I never came right out and asked for things. I just didn't want to take the chance that I would get that speech.
But all was not completely lost. At seeing my apparent disappointment, my mother said she had enough money to buy one. I could get one at thet very moment, and as soon as she saved some more money we would come back and I could get the other one.
I wasn't about to fall for that again. I'd fallen for that line before with other toys. Sure, we'll come back... and by that time there wouldn't be any more. So my choice was either get a Batman without a Robin. Who would Batman call "Chum"? I could get a Robin without a Batman. Who would rescue Robin when he was tied up? Or I could get nothing.
And suddenly a third choice looked out at me from behind the glass: Superman.
Superman didn't need anyone. He was Superman!
When the sales clerk came over unlock the case and he asked which one I wanted, I calmly said, "Superman." My mom was rather perplexed. "I thought you wanted Batman and Robin."
"I want Superman more," was the only answer I could come up with.
We did return to Woolsworths during our next shopping excursion. I went straight to the toy section and there were no Super Powers figures at all.
And once again, I went without Batman and Robin.