Production & SpeculationEdit
The cartoon was produced at Hal Seeger Studios, in New York City, and at Bill Ackerman Productions in Midland Park, New Jersey. It was syndicated by Screen Gems and continued to air on local stations throughout the 1980s. Nickelodeon briefly aired episodes of Batfink on its Weinerville and Nick in the Afternoon series in the 1990s. In September 2006, it returned to the U.S. as part of "Cartoons Without a Clue", Boomerang's mystery lineup on weekends.
The Batfink series was very popular in the UK, becoming a cult series like the later DangerMouse, and from 1967 onwards was shown at least once every year on UK terrestrial television up until 1983, initially on the BBC network where it was allocated an early evening slot just before the BBC News started, and latterly as part of Children's ITV; it subsequently reappeared in 1986 on the ITV Saturday morning magazine show Get Fresh. In the early 1990s it was repeated again as part of TV-am's Wide Awake Club/Wacaday series; after Wacaday finished in 1992, Batfink was consigned to the vaults in the UK for the next twelve years. It was introduced to a new audience in 2004 when it was included in a number of episodes of the BBC's Saturday morning show Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, and since April 2006 has been enjoying an extended, if somewhat irregular, repeat run on CBBC.
Batfink was made quickly and cheaply by re-using many common scenes to the series, instead of having to re-animate almost identical scenes for each episode. Although most serial animations do this to some extent, Batfink did it more than most. Commonly repeated scenes include the intro to the initial briefings by the Chief (the TV screen hotline buzzing into life), Batfink and Karate getting into the Battillac, the Battillac going round mountain bends, the Battillac going over a bridge, Batfink's radar and others.
Some scenes were reused every episode, some appeared sporadically and some were only repeated once or twice out during the entire series. Often, a scene would be used in more than one scenario, e.g. the Battillac going over a bridge on their way to get to a crime would also be reused during a chase scene or when they are looking all over the country for a specific item or person. Sometimes the repeated scenes would be cut short so that only sections of them could be re-used to fit the storyline more closely.
Other villains have included "Queenie Bee" (with her army of bees), "Victor The Predictor", "Judy Jitsu" (a martial artist whose name is derived from jujutsu, and who Karate has a crush on), "Brother Goose" (who always left taunting clues based on nursery rhymes), and "Goldyunlocks" (with an obsession of unlocking every lock she sees).
See: Episode Guide
Batfink was an American Animated series series whose episodes lasted for five minutes each, with the series running for a grand total of one hundred episodes from the 21 April 1966 – 4th October 1967.
Batfink had at his disposal two main superpowers: his super-sonic sonar radar and his metallic wings. At least one of these would feature in every episode in order to help him catch the bad guy.
Super-sonic sonar radarEdit
Batfink's super-sonic sonar radar played upon him being a bat. Bats use echolocation to detect their prey and home in on it. Batfink's radar was the superpower version of this and usually took the form of the letters "BEEP" (sometimes "BEEP BEEP") emanating from his mouth and then flying wherever he needed them to go, accompanied by a distinctive beeping noise.
- "My super-sonic sonar radar will help me!"
The "BEEP"s acted as people: they were able to see, be scared, evade capture and report back to Batfink on what they had seen. In one episode, the "BEEP" even gets beaten up after being ambushed from behind a tree. The "BEEP"s also get confused, misdirected and lost and Batfink has to rely on other means to find out what Hugo A-Go-Go (or some other major villain) has been up to. Once, when the "BEEP" was sent to investigate Queenie Bee and her swarm of villainous bees, it returned with the letters "EEP" swollen with bee stings. When Karate asked Batfink, "How come they just stung the EEP?" he replied, "Because a bee would never harm another B. But a B will tell on another bee — Queenie Bee is in THERE!"
Batfink's main defense were his metallic wings, which he was able to curl around himself as a protective shield against most attacks, thereby spawning the most famous catchphrase of the show:
- "Your bullets cannot harm me — my wings are like a shield of steel!"
(He claimed in some episodes that his wings were stainless steel, but in other episodes he explicitly stated that they were not, since he always carried a can of spot remover to keep them polished.)
He could also use his wings as offensive weapons; in one episode, he used one of his wings as a sword during a duel. His wings would also help him fly at enormous speeds and were often used to help him escape certain death or cut through bonds when he had been captured (he can break out of regular ropes but not rubber ones). In the episode "Ebenezer the Freezer," Batfink had automatic retrorockets built into his wings, but not in any other episode.
Sometimes, however, his wings hindered him; when in water, he would sink because of the weight of his metal wings. Powerful magnets were also a problem for him.
Batfink's life and wings are explained in the final episode, "Batfink: This Is Your Life", in which he is shown his boyhood, and how his real wings were replaced.
Batfink rides in a customized pink Volkswagen Beetle-like car with scalloped rear fins called the "Battillac" (rhymes with Cadillac), that is outfitted with a sun roof and lots of barriers and shields. In this way, when the car falls into a valley or gets shocked by a sound wave, it remains intact. Then, Batfink says something like, "It's a good thing the Battillac is equipped with a thermo-nuclear plutonium insulated blast shield!" and Karate says, "It's also good it was a small bomb." A humorous feature of this expression is that in most of the events that occur a thermo-nuclear plutonium insulation of any sort would not have any realistic use whatsoever and may actually have caused more harm than protection. As soon as a crime is acknowledged Batfink says, "Karate, the Battillac!"
Cliffhangers & Plot DevicesEdit
In many episodes, events would come to a head with Batfink in a seemingly fatal situation. At this point, the action would freeze and the narrator would ironically ask dramatically whether Batfink would survive. Then, the action would continue with Batfink surviving, either through use of Deus Ex Machina or through him using his superpowers.
As an example, Beanstalk Jack, a fiendish farmer who liked to throw beans and spray them with his water gun to make them grow into beanstalks, had a unique Rube Goldberg-style contraption that went like this: "When I shoot Bean (A) onto Floor (B), it will grow into Beanstalk (C), and push up Seesaw (D), tilting Acid (E), which will burn Rope (F), releasing Bomb (G) onto Target (H), blowing up Batfink (I), and Karate (J)." He then shot the bean up, sprayed it with water, and the narrator said, "Bean A did land on Floor B, and Beanstalk C is rising toward Seesaw D. WILL Acid E burn Rope F, drop Bomb G onto Target H, and send Batfink I and Karate J to Kingdom Come K?!" So, Batfink sent out a "BEEP" that turned into a slide, diverting the acid to the base of the stalk he was on, causing it to fall over and free him. He then flew out onto the road, put up a wing in front of Jack's getaway tractor and shattered it, allowing him to capture Jack. Then Karate tried a contraption of his own at the police station: "I pick him up by his Neck (A), throw him into Cell (B), and slam Door (D)." The chief asked, "What happened to C?" and Karate replied, "Oh, C is the Key, and I threw that away."
Hidden Political MessageEdit
According to Dave Mackey's Batfink site, there's a two-part political message hidden in two episodes, disguised as sped-up gibberish. He translates the message as follows:
- Part 1 (in "Spin the Batfink"): "The most dangerous force in America today is Walter Reuther and his political machine. It’s time we realized that they intend to run this country. When the smut publishers put a..."
- Part 2 (in "Bride and Doom"): "...dirty cover on a clean book, let’s take it at face value and call it trash and dump it in the river."
This may not be valid, however, as similar claims have been made about many different cartoons. At one point, when Aladdin was quietly telling Jasmine's tiger to "scat" people claimed he was telling children to take off their clothes. Gibberish is often used in cartoons, and taken advantage of by people who wish to discredit a company.