Our house has discovered a new cable channel -- Hub TV (formerly Discovery Kids). The network plays kids shows during the day, then switches over to family-friendly sitcoms like "The Wonder Years" and "Family Ties," and it has even brought back a classic from the 1960s: "Batman." Not the animated series, not "Superfriends," but the live-action "Batman" starring Adam West.
I used to watch "Batman" almost religiously in my early grade school years, on Ch. 32 in Chicago. One story would be split up into two episodes, with Batman and Robin in mortal peril at the end of the first episode, then escaping and solving the crime in the second. Since I discovered Hub, I've been DVRing "Batman" episodes and watching them with Eldest. The series is good fun. They aren't really that violent (compared with some kids shows today) and are nowhere near as dark as the actual Batman is supposed to be.
But Elder is already catching on to the series' format. The first episode we watched, he asked who was the girl with the Joker. I told him that every male villain seemed to have a female sidekick around for just that episode. On the next episode, Eldest correctly identified "that dumb girl with Riddler. I'm waiting until he discovers these four things, even at age 7:
1. He will discover Batman and Robin will always escape the whirling blades of death, the hot liquid they are slowly being lowered into, the giant weight that will crush them, and the host of other indirect ways the villains try to eliminate the Dynamic Duo. Eldest will also eventually wonder why the villain doesn't stick around to watch the Caped Crusader's doom.
2. He will marvel how the Bat Cave has the ability to discover anything and that Batman and Robin's utility belts have just the right tool to escape any situation. "Quickly, Robin, use your Bat Shamwow to clean up that pool of acid!"
3. He will realize this incarnation of Batman is a sanctimonious, self-righteous, self-possessed superhero, and that Robin is, well, kind of whiny.
4. All these things considered, he'll start rooting for the bad guys, knowing they will never win even though they are more fun. (At least on "Law and Order," the bad guys sometimes don't get convicted.) Once he realizes this futility -- and I don't know how many episodes it will take or if it's more a maturity thing -- he will stop wanting to watch "Batman."
In the meantime, the fight scenes might help his reading skills. He should need only a few more episodes to be able to recognize "POW!", "SLAM! and "CRUNCH!" on sight.