Harvey Two Face

Harlan Ellison wrote an unfilmed Batman TV show two-parter starring Two-Face?

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Dec 2, 2013, 11:44 AM EST (Updated)

Fans have always wondered why iconic villain Two-Face never made it into the 1960s Batman TV series. Well, apparently he almost did -- in a script written by the legendary Harlan Ellison. 

Two-Face, aka Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent, has been one of the Caped Crusader's chief adversaries for decades, appearing in the comics, several animated series and films, and playing a prominent role in the feature films Batman Forever (1995) and The Dark Knight (2008). But, strangely enough, one place he never showed up was the ABC-TV Batman series starring Adam West that aired from 1966 to 1968. 

As it turns out, however, Two-Face was indeed considered for the show, and it was the great Ellison -- author of classic tales like "A Boy and His Dog" and "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman" -- who came up with the first written attempt to introduce him. 

That script, titled "The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face," has now been officially published in Brain Movies, Volume 5, the latest installment in a series of books containing all of Ellison's original teleplays. The description from Ellison's own Harlan Ellison Books site reads like this: 

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” was never produced, but now you can read what the Unrepentant Harlequin had in mind for the Dynamic Duo and their Bifurcated Foe.

Unfortunately we have yet to get our hands on a copy of the book to find out what the editor's notes reveal, but Ellison himself has said for years that his attempt to write for the Batman series was squashed by an ABC executive named Adrian Samish. 

According to the story, Ellison and Samish had gotten into a physical altercation years earlier over a script Ellison wrote for the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series, leading to Samish banning Ellison from ever working on an ABC show again (good thing he wrote the brilliant "Demon With a Glass Hand" for The Outer Limits before this happened!)

Ellison's take on Two-Face was reportedly very close to the character's comic-book origins, but a second attempt at a teleplay starring the villain, by a new set of writers, veered in another direction entirely, positioning the character as a TV personality maimed by an explosion. Legend has it that Clint Eastwood was considered for the role at the time, but it was ultimately deemed that Two-Face's disfigurement was too frightening for the "kid-friendly" ABC show.

By picking up Brain Movies, Volume 5, you can now read how Harlan Ellison would have handled Two-Face -- and wonder whether this was a massive missed opportunity for the Batman TV show.

(via Den Of Geek)