Episode Title: Batman is Riled
Original Airdate: January 27, 1966
If you recall, the last time we were in Gotham City, the Joker had taken over a live TV broadcast of the opera Pagliacci. When Batman and Robin arrived on the scene, they were subdued with the help of some sneezing powder. Now, the Joker plans on unmasking our heroes live on TV for all the world to see. What will happen next in this week’s episode, Batman is Riled?
As the Joker reaches for Batman’s cowl, our hero pulls another gas bomb from his utility belt, setting off the sprinkler system, allowing the chance for the Dynamic Duo to free themselves. The Joker climbs into the rafters and Batman pursues. But the Joker uses his own utility belt to toss a bomb of his own which tangles Batman up in snake-like streamers.
Back in the Batcave, Alfred joins the Caped Crusaders in watching a news broadcast about the Joker’s escape. However, Joker himself shows up to hijack the broadcast. He sends the heroes a message, “He who laughs last, laughs good.” Alfred mentions that the statement should be said “laughs well.’ Batman then realizes that this means that the Joker plans to steal a collection of African artifacts recently brought to Gotham by Professor James J Laffwell. The heroes hop in the Batmobile to stop the crime. Of course, a fight ensues when our heroes arrive. During the struggle, Joker manages to switch Batman’s utility belt for his own. So all Batman manages to pull from his belt is a shower of streamers and confetti.
Now, after two failed attempts to catch Joker, Batman and the Boy Wonder are taking a trouncing in the press. However they must continue with their duties. They have been called upon to christen a new ship…the S.S. Gotham. However, the woman who presents Batman with the champagne bottle is the Joker’s girl, Queenie (Nancy Kovack). Just before smashing the bottle, Batman feels a headache come on and takes a pill from his belt to help. He also insists Robin take one. When smashed, the bottle releases knock out gas and the Joker’s men capture the heroes. Later, on live TV, Joker demands the deed to the S.S. Gotham or else the Dynamic Duo get their heads cut off. Luckily, our heroes aren’t really unconscious. You see, Batman noticed the cork had been tampered with and took, not asprin, but a universal drug antidote pill. Cue the final fight which, as you may have guessed, ends with the Joker back behind bars.
Once again we have both a comical and quite sinister depiction of the Joker from Cesar Romero. When the Joker goes on TV to give Batman clues to his next crime, he does it by staging his own version of the game show What’s My Line? Classic TV fans will get a kick out of this sequence. Later in the episode, though, it’s anything but light-hearted. Joker’s final threat to the citizens of Gotham sees Batman and Robin with their heads resting on a block with a black-hooded executioner holding an axe high in the air, ready to strike. It’s a pretty grim image considering the usual tone of this show. Once again, I have to give big props to Cesar Romero who skillfully handles the two extremes of this classic character.
One of the funnier aspects of this episode involves a bit of a subplot involving the TV news anchorman reporting on Batman’s recent failures against the Joker. He tells the viewers about the bedside prayers of his 8-year-old son Harold….”God bless Mommy. God Bless Daddy, God Bless my dog Spot. And please Batman, whoever you are behind that mask of yours…please save us.” So was Harold praying to God or to Batman!?!? Anyhow, later when the heroes fail to capture the Joker again, Robin laments, “Golly, what do you suppose little Harold’s going to think now?” Fear not, though, we see the newscaster again at the end of the episode, sharing how he told his son, “Yes Harold, there is a Batman, and Robin the Boy Wonder.” It’s these kind of little touches that make this series such a classic.
I should also mention our third addition to the lovely ladies of Gotham club…Nancy Kovack as Queenie. She was present in the last episode, as well, but plays a more pivotal part in this episode. Kovack is another veteran of many classic shows from Star Trek to Bewitched to Get Smart. She does a fine job in this episode, though I did want a bit more understanding of just why she is so devoted to The Joker. Unlike the other ladies we’ve encountered, she doesn’t ever express any attraction toward either of the Caped Crusaders…that is, except for when she’s trying to get out of being arrested. As Batman says, “Poor deluded child.”
Once again, we have an extremely satisfying Batman adventure. After six episodes the series just keeps getting better. Next time actor George Sanders becomes the first of several performers to play Mr. Freeze during this series’ run….in Instant Freeze. That’s next week…same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Universal Drug Antidote Pills
Holy 4th of July