Sunday, March 23, 2008
Batman and The Green Hornet cross over episodes
In a cross over episode of Batman from the same time and companies, Kato had a battle with Robin that ended in a draw (the same thing happened simultaneously with their senior partners). The impression Lee made at the time is demonstrated by the second of two TV series tie-in coloring books produced by "Watkins & Strathmore." While the first is called Crimebusting With the Green Hornet, the other is titled, Kato's Revenge Featuring the Green Hornet. The Green Hornet's success in Hong Kong, where it was popularly known as The Kato Show, led to Lee starring in the feature films that would make him a pop culture icon.
One of Batman's running gags was to have Batman and Robin scaling a building and to have someone open a window, stick their heads out and say howdy! Those people were always famous and within the first month of The Green Hornet hitting the air, those people were the Green Hornet and Kato. Okay, it was just a quick throwaway cameo but it was also nice promotion for The Green Hornet on a hot show with a similar target audience. It didn't seem to help though. The Green Hornet just didn't become the hit Batman did.
In March 1967 a real full blown crossover happened with the Green Hornet and Kato returning for a second visit to Gotham City and the Batman show. My guess at why this crossover happened are the same as the first - just too good an opportunity to pass up and another chance to try and boost attention to The Green Hornet with the Batman audience.
The episode followed standard comic book protocol for the first full blown meeting between super heroes - due to some misunderstanding they have to fight each other! It has to happen. You just wanna see the big guys duking it out. The plot had both duos trying to uncover a counterfeiting ring at a stamp factory but who the hell cared! This wasn't about villains and plots! It was about coming up with an excuse for these shows to collide.
The misunderstanding was easy to stage. Sure Batman and Robin as well as the Green Hornet and Kato were heroes but they were also all vigilantes. So it was easy to get each side thinking the other had stepped over to the wrong side of the law. From there it was a short step to getting the punches flying. Only there was one complication.
Etiquette would seem to dictate that Batman and Robin win the fight. It was their show, their show was the hit... and who would want to tune in to The Green Hornet after they beat the crap out of the much loved Batman and Robin. The Green Hornet and Kato should obviously be the ones to lose the fight. One problem: Kato was played by Bruce Lee. While not yet a major film action star, Bruce Lee was a real life action hero - an expert and innovator in the martial arts. And they wanted him to take a dive and let himself get beat by Burt Ward - Robin! The boy wonder kicking Bruce Lee's ass? Get real. Bruce was not gonna let that happen.
The solution? A draw. Both teams duke it out awhile only to finally just stop and sort of go, "What are we nuts?" Then they could set about comparing notes, teaming up and saving the day!