Episode Title: The Penguin’s a Jinx
Original Airdate: January 20, 1966
You may recall that when we last left Gotham City, Batman had decided that he needed to plant a bug at the Penguin’s umbrella factory in order to get to the bottom of the villain’s latest plot. However, the way to achieve that was to head to the factory as Bruce Wayne to plant the bug. The Penguin detects the bug, however, and now has Bruce (who he figures is a rival umbrella manufacturer) tied up and on a conveyor belt headed for the furnace. Let’s see what happens in our latest episode, The Penguin’s a Jinx.
As he gets closer to the flames, the heat soon wakes Bruce up. Thinking quickly, he grabs his lighter, which has a lifetime supply of butane gas, and tosses it into the flames. This causes an explosion, knocking Bruce off the conveyor and allowing him to escape.
Upon returning to the Batcave, Batman and Robin go back to trying to find clues on the Bat-brella Penguin left for them. As they look at the different colors and features of the Bat-brella, they theorize what links they might have to Penguin’s plot. Thing is, he doesn’t have a plot. He is listening in on a bug of his own and planning his crimes according to what the Caped Crusaders say. When Robin says the colors of the umbrella look like a “beautiful dawn,” Batman realizes that the beautiful actress Dawn Robbins (Leslie Parrish) is in Gotham making a movie. Not only that…Dawn Robbins is working on a movie called The Mockingbird, produced by Ward Eagle, and she’s staying in the penthouse at the Pelican Arms. A perfect kidnapping for the Penguin. The Dynamic Duo even use their computers to lay out the details for the Penguin who is still listening.
Our heroes use a Batzooka to fire their Bat Ropes to Miss Robbins’ high balcony and scale up the wall. The bored starlet is quite thrilled when two superheroes bust into her room. Meanwhile, Penguin and his goons start to slide over to the balcony using their own rope and some special umbrellas. Batman and Robin are waiting of course, but the Penguin knew that…so he uses a Penguin-magnet to stick the heroes to the wall because of the metal items in their utility belts. The Penguin gets away with the actress and demands $200,000 in ransom. The drop off point for the money is to be a neutral location…Wayne Manor. Our heroes decide to hide in two suits of armor that are in hall of the mansion so they can nab the villain. Problem is Penguin is still listening in…he takes out the men in the armor with some of his special gas. Little does he know that Batman is on to his scheme and is actually waiting for the baddies to return to the umbrella factory. Those were just dummies in the armor. Cue the obligatory final fight sequence.
A big part of what makes this episode so much fun is that it is one that seems fully aware of just how absurd this series can get. Considering that, it’s a bit odd that this episode comes so early in the series’ run. Seeing the heroes pull crazy clues out of thin air when examining the umbrella is hilarious. But then, having the Penguin actually use these ideas to craft his crimes is just classic. This entire sequence seems to be saying to the audience, “yep, we know this is all really really silly, but just stick with us and you’ll have fun.”
It’s great to see the Penguin actually get his hands dirty a bit more this time than we saw in the previous episode. His special umbrellas that slide down a rope from one building to another are a lot of fun. For some reason he wears a bandit mask during the kidnapping…because the tuxedo, top hat, monocle, and waddling aren’t dead giveaways as to his identity. Even though the Penguin ends up getting outsmarted in the end (because Batman can’t ultimately lose), I still end up left with the impression that the Penguin is maybe just a wee bit smarter than the Caped Crusaders. You can’t say that of many other members of the rogue’s gallery…but this is one crafty bird.
We also get another welcome addition to the list of lovely ladies of Batman this time with Leslie Parrish. Parrish was a veteran of many movies and TV shows. On the big screen she played Daisy Mae in the feature film version of the musical Li’l Abner and also played Laurence Harvey’s ill-fated wife in The Manchurian Candidate. On the small screen she appeared on shows like The Wild Wild West, Surfside 6, Perry Mason, Star Trek, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and tons more. Here I love her approach to the young starlet, Dawn Robbins. She has grown completely bored with being a celebrity…yawning her way through a photo shoot for Funboy Magazine. When Batman and Robin show up, well she’s ready to find out just what’s hidden behind those blue tights. Parish shows up again in future episodes, but as a different character.
In the end, this is another really fun Batman adventure. A bit silly but definitely fun. Well, we’ve seen Batman and Robin tackle two iconic villains so far in the Riddler and the Penguin…but the time has come to face the clown prince of crime. Cesar Romero debuts as the mustachioed Joker next time in The Joker’s Wild. See you then…same Bat-time same Bat-channel (superhero).
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