One notable exception to the rule is this week's entry - ABC's '60s take on Batman - which has been denied a home entertainment release for years, due to complicated rights issues...
But there's a light (a Bat signal?) at the end of the tunnel. Earlier this week, Warner Bros settled their long-running legal dispute with Fox over licenses associated with the series. The studio was granted the rights to sell merchandise based on Batman for the first time in 40 years, prompting speculation that the show could finally receive the DVD release fans have been longing for.
With all that and the final instalment in Christopher Nolan's Batman film trilogy on the horizon, what better time to cast our minds back and fondly remember the show that briefly captured the hearts and minds of children (and a few adults too) the world over...
Batman: Originally broadcast from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968
In a 1965 letter to comics fanzine Batmania, the Dark Knight's creator Bob Kane wrote: "ABC Television and 20th Century Fox Films are jointly in the process of making an extremely high-budget colour pilot of an hour-a-week Batman series that may wind up as two half-hour-a-week shows. This is going to be the 'in' show to watch." And for 26 months between January '66 and March '68, Kane - always a visionary - was absolutely right. Batman was a genuine phenomenon.
ABC had been considering a prime-time superhero series for some time and when long-time comics fan and network exec Yale Udoff found his interest sparked by a screening of two 1940s Batman film serials, the project was set into motion. Both ABC and producers Fox were after a show that could be both dramatic and fun - something in the vein of popular spy series The Man from UNCLE.
But there was a twist in store. The in-development show was handed to producer William Dozier - not exactly the biggest fan of comic books, Dozier was convinced that an idea like Batman could never be portrayed in a serious manner. Eschewing the dark approach that the comics of the period had recently embraced, Dozier decided he would make the Caped Crusader's first regular television series a camp comedy.
If there's one word that's always used to label Batman it's 'camp', and under Dozier's direction the show certainly didn't shy away from the bizarre, the surreal and the downright ridiculous. Pop art sound balloons, a pompous narrator - and who can forget the shark repellent Bat-spray or the legendary Bat-tussi dance?
Famously, Cesar Romero, the actor who brilliantly brought the cackling Joker to life, refused to shave off his rather prominent moustache for his Batman appearances - his clearly visible facial hair, barely hidden under thickly-applied white make-up, further undercut any possible dramatic tension. And let's not forget the rather random series of celebrity cameos - everyone from Jerry Lewis to Bruce Lee popped up for a brief appearance.
But is it fair to dismiss Batman as a piece of camp silliness, a show that deserves no real acclaim or appreciation? The show's star Adam West definitely doesn't think so. Writing in his 1994 autobiography Back to the Batcave, West strongly defended the show, voicing his dislike for the term 'camp' and arguing that Batman was *supposed* to be a comedy - it's a farce, yes, but a deliberate one.
Watching the show back now, it's hard to disagree with West, who incidentally beat out Lyle Waggoner - later to star in superhero drama Wonder Woman - for the role of the World's Greatest Detective. Batman is certainly camp, but intentionally so, with West and his co-star Burt Ward (Robin) clearly in on the joke. Holy intentional humour!
Whatever your thoughts on the approach to Batman spearheaded by Dozier, there's no denying that ABC's take on the character proved to be an enormous success, albeit one that burnt brightly but briefly. Batman ran for 120 episodes and spawned a spinoff feature film and countless items of merchandise.
At its peak, the show also attracted a high calibre of guest star. The list of actors who played villains on Batman reads like a Who's Who of great American character actors - Rocky's Burgess Meredith, horror legend Vincent Price, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's Eli Wallach, even (bizarrely) Oscar-nominated director Otto Preminger.
The success of Batman even fed back into the original comics on which the show was based. In his letter to Batmania, Bob Kane (1965) claimed that, despite the character's previous success, "the TV series [would] be the topper to it all," and, again, he was right.
"When the television show was a success, I was asked to be campy," recalled then-DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz. "And of course when the show faded, so did the comic books."
Yes, Batman was indeed something of a fad - following substantial creative changes and the threat of budget cuts, the show was finally canned by ABC after three seasons. Still, it was clearly considered a hot enough property that NBC execs briefly considered picking up the show, only changing their minds when it transpired that 20th Century Fox had already demolished the sets.
But over 40 years later, Batman remains fondly remembered by many. It's arguably what transformed Bob Kane's creation from a popular comic character into a cultural icon. There may have been various Batman adaptations - most recently Nolan's critically-acclaimed film series - and yet millions still associate the character with *that* catchy theme tune.
Are you a fan of Adam West's Batman or is the show just too camp? Share your thoughts below!