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You often wonder why this show only was on for one season and how Batman outlived it. This has to be one of the best superhero shows to ever be shown on television and the thing that made it work was that it didn't rely on camp or the crazy quilt of villains that Batman did. Instead, it pretty much was, more or less, a straight crime drama with very little frills unlike other similarly themed shows that were on the air at the same time. Also, Van Williams and Bruce Lee showed that you can have good acting in a superhero show. Too bad that this show never really was given a chance to catch on. If given the time it deserved, it probably would have outlived Batman.
Just because the main characters (Notice the plural) are wearing masks doesn't mean that the program is camp. This is the show that introduced the martial arts legend Bruce Lee to the world, and he probably was the first actor that made people think "Gee I didn't know human beings can move like that". I mean seeing Lee for the first time had that much shock value to the audience, and the attraction of the show had much to do with what's Lee going to do this week ? But I'd like to point out the superb acting that was done by Van Williams too. He looked so good as the main character, and he had a chameleon like method acting capability that made his acting fit the scene's mood perfectly every time. If he was British, I wouldn't be surprised if he was recruited to play James Bond after Sean Connery. Keeping in mind that this was a 30 minute show made in the '60s, this series still scores high in its production value. I would say that it's right up there with other '60s popular action show such as Mission Impossible. The only regret is that this show didn't last longer than a season. Audiences wanted more but for some odd reason, it was canned. They should have made at least two more seasons followed by a movie. I would say that it was a monumental blunder on the network's part to not see what a dynamite show they had in hand. Bruce Lee and Van Williams' talent should have been exploited to its max with this show and who knows what other shows they might have stared in.
Being an avid comic book fan, watching the BATMAN tv series as a kid made me ill; it lent credibility, I thought, to the wonky "seduction of the innocent" scenario espoused by one gonzo nutso. Along came THE GREEN HORNET, and suddenly there was a good reason to watch superheroes on tv again. These guys were serious about stopping crime: they went after drug dealers (unheard of at that time on television- at least the television I watched) and murderers (something superheroes very, very rarely did in the comics of the day). To top it all off, The Hornet's sidekick, Kato, hit below the belt. For a kid who'd grown up on comics, this was a tv show with real grit. I was fascinated by Bruce Lee's Gung Fu. Kato stole the show, to be sure, but that's not to suggest that The Hornet was just another masked man: Van Williams was a solid performer in his own right, and was totally believable in the lead. I've since listened to the old radio plays (which I love; they rank right up there with the best of THE SHADOW), and have recently acquired the entire tv series on video tape. Guess what: the show still holds up, after all these years. The two features that were cobbled together from various episodes were watchable, but nothing beats the series in its original format. If anyone's listening (anyone with clout, with a good eye for a potential goldmine just waiting to be mined), I'd suggest putting four thirty minute episodes per tape in a six-tape boxed set and selling it for whatever the market will bear. Think of it this way: bootleggers have been selling washed-out third generation copies (for far more than they're worth) at comic conventions for decades. Let it slide, and those aforementioned bootleggers will continue to rip off people dying to see the series and the network that financed the series in the first place will continue to lose millions of dollars.
"The Green Hornet" first started his long crime-fighting career-and
remains to this day-an urban variation of the Western cowboy hero The
Lone Ranger. In fact,the popular version of the "Green Hornet",a
vigilante superhero,was first imagined by Lone Ranger originator George
W. Trindle,and writer Fran Striker in the late 1930's,first appearing
on radio,and later on during the 1940's made the transition from radio
to theaters with two low budget but very popular multi-part serials
which starred Gordon Jones as the heroic Britt Reid and Keye Luke as
his ever devoted sidekick Kato. "The Green Hornet" being so very
popular in the movies and on the radio made the leap into the comics
too. Over the years the character has appeared in comic books series
from publishers Holyoke to Harvey Comics,Dell Comics,and finally to
coincide with the Gold Key in the 1960's,as part of the TV series,and
most recently in DC Comics. As part of the story of The Green Hornet is
concerned,the story genealogically speaking,was a man who was bent on
fighting for justice and triumphs over the forces of evil. In fact,The
Green Hornet,Daily Sentinal owner and millionaire Britt Reid,was the
grand-nephew of John Reid,The Lone Ranger. More to the point,Britt
modeled his life on his famous ancestor,right down to his life's
mission,choice of sidekick and job-related gear. Instead of an Native
American sidekick(Tonto),Britt Reid worked with another "ethnic"
outsider,the Asian adversary and humble servant and sidekick Kato.
Instead of a great white steed named Silver,Britt chased down criminals
in a rolling black arsenal called The Black Beauty. Both heroes fought
their criminals with masks and hats,to hide their secret identities.
The Green Hornet's main nemesis was the mob and corruption,rather than
rustlers,nefarious cowboys and Indians,but if you think about it his
dedication to fighting crime was about the same as his grand-uncle's in
which the setting was the mean streets of the big city instead of the
Despite these variations,especially during the mid-1960's that "The Green Hornet" continued onward in popularity in the new format of the series created by William Dozier,who was executive producer of this series under his company Greenway Productions and produced through Twentieth Century-Fox Television. In the spring of 1966,after the runaway success of "Batman",every major television network at the time was looking to repeat the success of the Adam West-Burt Ward series which was a huge hit for ABC. Usually with the other silly or campy which consisted of shows like "Captain Nice and Mister Terrific",or for that manner the spy genre of "Get Smart",and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", Dozier was behind the brains of adapting "The Green Hornet" for television,though he also had the rights to create other projects for television,DC's Wonder Woman(which wasn't produced until the 1970's),and Dick Tracy. The TV series starred Van Williams as Britt Reid,and Bruce Lee as his loyal companion and fierce sidekick Kato. For the most part,the series was more serious than Dozier's "Batman",since most of the attention went toward Bruce Lee,who would go on to become one of the greatest International action stars of all time,due to this series. But the real star of "The Green Hornet" was a customized 1966 black Chrysler Imperial. As far as the villains were concerned,this was a show that did not have freaks who wore outrageous outfits,but some of the villains on the show were either counterfeiters,bootleggers,thieves, corrupt politicians,drug runners,crooked cops,and arsonists. For the most part this was basically your average "crime drama" with a kick. As far as the action were concern,the fight scenes were often brutal with Bruce Lee showing some of his breathtaking martial arts action,which was the best part of the entire show. The series also starred Wende Wagner,Lloyd Gough and Walter Brooke. Only 26 episodes were produced for ABC-TV which ran for one season from its premiere episode on September 9, 1966 and ended on March 17,1967. The show was on Friday nights and had some stiff competition against the fantastically inventive and popular,"The Wild,Wild West"(CBS,1965-1969), and also against the Ron Ely series "Tarzan"(NBC,1966-1969). It was preceded by the Irwin Allen action/science fiction series "The Time Tunnel"(ABC,1966-1967). In order to save the show and boost ratings,the two superheroes met on an "Batman" episode titled "A Piece Of The Action"(3/1/67),and its continuation "Batman's Satisfaction"(3/2/67)where The Green Hornet and Batman(along with Robin and Kato)take on a diabolical villain played by Roger C. Carmel. As the result of low-ratings,The Green Hornet was cancelled by ABC after just one season,but with the episodes it was rarely run or rarely seen in its original form in syndication,which is still rarely seen today but can be seen again through the advanced technology of video and DVD. Shortly after the demise of the series,the success of Bruce Lee proved phenomenal beyond belief. After his death in 1973,he was still quite popular,and a compilation film consisting of Green Hornet episodes was released here in the states to great acclaim. The films were released between 1973 and 1976. The second Green Hornet film called "Fury Of The Dragon",released in 1976 was a smash hit with audiences.
In recent years,there has been talk of bringing the adventures of The Green Hornet to the big screen,and there is a feature film in the works directed by Kevin Smith and starring Jason Mewes as Britt Reid and Jet Li as Kato.
I just watched the Green Hornet for the first time since MeTv just ran a marathon of all episodes. It was great. I thought it would be as campy and cheesy as Batman (although I grew up on that and still like it), but it wasn't. Yeah, some of the effects were low grade, and the scenes of the Black Beauty driving around town were always the exact same clips, but I still liked it a lot. Bruce Lee is awesome, and Van Williams had to be one of the most handsome guys on TV at the time (or even now). I really can't understand why this show didn't make it. I know that Batman is much more popular, but as far as "cool" ratings go, this show has it beat. Cooler lead character, cooler sidekick (no comparison), cooler car, and cooler music. I got them all on DVR and will probably go through them again this weekend.
Like it's predecessor Batman, The Green Hornet was a campy and funny
Van Williams did an excellent job as he played Britt Reid aka The Green
Hornet. The best character was Kato, played by Bruce Lee. I've heard
during the filming, Bruce Lee was going too fast with his slick karate
that the filmmakers had to play his fight scenes on slow. But that Mike
Axford character in this show was such a wimp!
Instead of the silly villains of Batman, The Green Hornet and Kato fought organized crime. Even though it was more of a serious format, I've never failed to see any humor in this show. I've always watched this for laughs as well. Van Williams is the only surviving cast member of this show. Also you could see him play a small part in "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" as a Green Hornet producer. Another great film.
Unfortunately, this show only had 2 seasons. Batman and The Green Hornet have some things in common as TV shows, but not everything. They're both good shows. And like Batman, this was popular for a while too, until it faded away.
The best thing about The Green Hornet TV Series is that it is really a
for Adults that will entertain children too. The tone of the series and
storylines where so far ahead of their time and gritty back in 1966 and
and as a consequence of this The Green Hornet was often (and unfavourably)
cast in the shadow of the far less superior, campy Batman TV Show. The
episodes often dealt with the Mafia, Chinese Triads, Drug Abuse et al, but
all done in a glossy exciting way remeniscent of the Marvel comics being
churned out by Stan Lee and co at the same time. The most remarkable thing
is the onscreen chemistry between Van William's Green Hornet/Britt Reid
megastar in waiting Bruce Lee's Kato. Firstly Van Williams as The Green
Hornet and his millionaire alter ego Britt Reid, the publisher of the
Centenal is as good as the best actors to play Superheroes. He is
as good as George Reeves was as Superman, and alot more believable than
West's Batman. Williams plays the role with an air of Sean Connery-esque
suave, cool and confidence making for a memorable Green Hornet. Bruce Lee
simply a revelation as Kato, possesing an confidence and arrogance in the
role really lifting the character of Kato off the comic book page.
Williams and Lee work excellent. You get the impression that these guys
really are the best of buddies and would die for one another. All this is
met by fantastic production values culminating in the most impressive
representations of superhero movie vehicles, the sublime Black Beauty.
is also the memorable opening credits set to the whirling theme tune by
On the downside it might just be possible that the series takes itself too seriously. But there is enough here to enjoy. Five minutes of Bruce Lee in action as Kato is worth an admission fee, trust me. The writers, and producer William Dozier came up with a great representation of the Fran Striker and George W Trendle characters : an exciting, action packed series, with the odd blimp not withstanding was far too under-rated and undervalued. Kevin Smith and Jake Gyllenhall, the future of The Green Hornet is now in your hands. Do your best guys.
I have been a Green Hornet fan since the TV series first appeared in 1966. I was very angry when ABC took it off the air after the first season without even having the decency to run reruns. I first had to do with reel-to-reel recordings to help me remember my favorite TV show, so when I finally found a source for the videotapes I was thrilled. These tapes like most pirated tapes made from the TV were not very clear and suffer horribly from the butchering TV stations do to fit in the extra commercials added to recycled TV shows. I am eagerly waiting for the day when Fox finally decides to put out official uncut epsiodes. For all that butchering, the Green Hornet series has held up very well considering that 33 years have passed since that first airing. While a lot of people like to compare the Green Hornet TV series to the Batman series, it is like comparing apples and oranges. The Batman series, although it was typical of the overblown psychedelica of the mid 60's, is considered by this long time Batman reader to be an insult to one of comicdom's most powerful characters, an error that was not rectified until the first Batman movie (Micheal Keaton?- who woulda' thought?). The Green Hornet series does not owe its style to psychedelica but is closer in feeling to the black and white detective stories of the forties and fifties, and especially to the original radio show of the 40's. Also the Green Hornet TV series was designed to be more serious in tone with James Bond in mind than that horrid Batman show. I believe that given the time restrictions of the half hour format the Green Hornet did quite well. After all, there was a lot of stuff to fit in that short time including the story set up, the story itself, and the conclusion- and adding the gadgets and Bruce Lee's Gung Fu. Especially considering that all 30 mins were not alloted to the story but time had to be allowed for commercials. The driving, jazzy theme by Al Hirt fitted the series beautifully. The Black Beauty still is the greatest, and coolest supercar to ever hit the streets. Van Williams, who played the Green Hornet, was the sexiest man on TV then- those eyes!!! And Bruce Lee was great in his first TV series. In other words see the Green Hornet, and enjoy for what it is. Don't expect Camp, or pychedelica, and don't expect to see Bruce Lee as the star of the show. Remember it is called THE GREEN HORNET. BTW re: the comment from the Irish chap- leather mask?, peaked cap? excuse me... the masks used were plastic formed to the shape of the actors' faces, and Kato's hat wasn't peaked, at least not the way I define it.
This was meant to be an action-adventure series about the grand-nephew
of Texas Ranger John Reid (better known as The Lone Ranger) and a
stacked luxury car named "Black Beauty", but ended up being a vehicle
for the great Bruce Lee and his amazing exhibitions of the martial
While it didn't have the hilarious campiness of William Dozier's other series "Batman", it did have some goofiness about it. I recall one show featuring Canadian actor Larry D. Mann as some kind of freaky space dude who landed at Britt Reid's home to negotiate their takeover of humanity through the Daily Sentinel. This episode also showed Reid interrupting his TV station's programming via some broadcast console in his living room (yeah, no home should be without one) to warn viewers to take shelter and stay calm.
The fact they had this false floor in Britt Reid's garage that clamps onto that bitchin' sports car, so that the floor can turn upside down and allow Black Beauty to roar out and save the day was kinda fun. Oddly, the Reid estate seems to be within a block of a seedy area of Central City, as Green Hornet, Kato and the rolling arsenal fly out from behind a billboarded wall, onto a conveniently abandoned street!!
Of course, we can forgive all the wacky inconsistencies of the show, when we see the great Bruce Lee in action. Well worth sitting through all the silliness just to see that. How sad sexy Wende Wagner watched her career nosedive after Green Hornet. I always liked the idea of a fighting reporter like Mike Axford. Britt Reid must have been a one-of-a-kind publisher, because I just couldn't imagine a maverick like Axford working for control-freaks like William Randolph Hearst.
Did I mention that I liked Bruce Lee?
I ordered the entire series on VHS (pirated) and this show is great! It's definitely not everybody's taste, since it is a little hokey, but NOT campy. It really is a treat to see Bruce Lee before he'd made those great movies, even though in most episodes he has about 2 lines. It's kind of obvious that 60's American TV wasn't ready for a real chinese action star. (the show Kung Fu anyone??)But even so it's a fun show and it would have been even better if they'd let Bruce show them what he can really do. The best episode has to be the Preying Mantis where Kato totally stole the show!
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