Last week boynton returned to a site she once visited almost daily IRL - the books at the old local Salvos. The word site is probably quite apt because the over-laden tables of uncategorized books made for a browsing experience not dissimilar to surfing the web. Precious children's books nestled with cooking, cultural theory classics with lonely planets, Neil Postman with Women who stay with Men who stray Boynton was hovering for a long time near a man who was squarely staying put over this title, with her eye not on the lofty literature, (as of yore) but the pop culture ephemera. Always a Batman fan - she snapped up The official Batman Batbook by Joel Eisner.
Included in the memorabilia, anecdotes and trivia was this account by one of the writers, Ellis St Joseph.
'My experience with 'Batman' was a very strange one. I loved doing it, but when I came into it, it was in its second year, and its ratings were falling off. I knew why- it was very clear to me - but it wasn't to them, because I believe they were so into it. There is a delicate balance bewteen comic or camp and suspense, and if you listen to the critics too much about the camp, you become totally comic and lose suspense. I think kids as well as grown-ups want a litlle suspense along with the comedy, but they had lost it. So, I set about creating something that would restore the feeling of suspense and even increase, if possible, the comedic elements.."
Getting this critical balance right, and then holding it is indeed the crucial factor.
Boynton can think of a few comedy shows that have sadly devolved into camp by their second or third series. It is rare for them to be able to regain the lost
cred, or comic suspense - as Elllis suggests.
This rare tonal balance is just as important and just as elusive in the theatre - boynton has often watched as the fine line is walked, sometimes trampled, sometimes waltzed.
(footnote: more on the fate of Eliis' episode The Sandman Cometh here)