This tidbit seems perfectly timed, considering both the success of DC Comics’ digital-first Batman ’66, and Tom Bondurant’s recent column about DC-inspired movies and television series that should make their way to comics: Author and screenwriter Harlan Ellison wrote a (fittingly) two-part Two-Face story for the classic Batman TV show that, alas, was never produced.
Neil Gaiman discovered that detail over the weekend — “WHY IS THIS NOT NEWS?” he tweeted — in the description for the fifth volume of Harlan Ellison’s Brain Movies, a series that collects his original teleplays.
The listing reads: “SEE ELLISON’S FIRST ADVENTURE WITH THE CAPED CRUSADER: Though Harlan’s written numerous comic book scripts for the Dark Knight, his first slide down the Bat-Pole was in 1966 when he pitched an episode to ABC’s Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Tragically—for reasons explained in the editor’s notes—’The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face’ treatment was never produced, but now you can read what the Unrepentant Harlequin had in mind for the Dynamic Duo and their Bifurcated Foe.”
As that description indicates, Ellison went on to write a handful of Batman stories for DC Comics (the most recent in 2001), he didn’t crack the TV series; he did, however, pen episodes of other shows of the era, including (and most famously) Star Trek, The Outer Limits and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. And while Two-Face was discussed as a villain for Batman, with none other than Clint Eastwood tipped for the role, the character didn’t make his television debut until the 1992 pilot of Batman: The Animated Series.
Given Warner Bros.’ new promotional emphasis on the 1960s series, now that all the rights issues have been sorted out with 20th Century Fox, an adaptation of “The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face” would seem perfect for Batman ’66. Of course, using Eastwood’s likeness might prove problematic …