Batman producer William Dozier on TV's downfall

By: H&I Staff     Posted: July 31, 2023, 9:48AM    Tags: Batman

"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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