Episode Title: Give ‘em the Axe
Original Airdate: March 31, 1966
When we last left Gotham City, the Riddler had successfully snatched a rare book on ancient Incan treasures from the central library. Unfortunately when our heroes tried to nab the goons at a wax museum, the villains got the jump on them. Now, Batman and Robin hang above a vat of hot wax, about to be dipped and turned into human candles. Will they survive? Let’s find out in today’s episode Give ‘em the Axe.
As the Caped Crusaders slowly lower closer to the wax, Riddler, Moth, and the other henchmen start to become annoyed by the fumes. They decide to watch from another room. Now with the villains out of the way, Batman starts to plot. He spots a barrel with a complex chemical formula on it…which Batman recognizes as being an extremely explosive concoction when exposed to heat. Then Batman spots a small sliver of sunlight coming through a hole in the roof. He shifts his body so that his “highly polished belt buckle” lines up with the sunlight. It reflects the rays to the barrel, which explodes and blows the heroes free. Riddler figures the Dynamic Duo perished in the explosion and calls Commissioner Gordon to break the news. Of course, he also offers a riddle: What has four legs, runs day and night, but never gets anywhere?
Gordon gives the clues to our very much alive heroes and they quickly determine that the answer is the lion-shaped fountain in front of the Gotham City Museum. The museum is preparing to display treasures of an ancient Incan emperor. That must be it! When our heroes arrive at the museum, they find the doors locked. The only window is too small for Batman, but Robin uses a bat-rope to scale the wall and get inside. Sadly, before Robin can get to the door to let Batman in, he is overwhelmed by Riddler’s men.
When he’s taken before the Riddler, Robin pretends that he is seeking revenge for Batman, who he says died in the explosion. But Batman uses a ram on the front of the Batmobile to burst in a rear entrance of the museum. A fight with Riddler’s men ensues, in which Batman uses the various medieval torture devices stored in the museum to subdue the crooks.
This episode begins with what may be my favorite cliffhanger escape of all…at least so far. Reflecting sunlight with a belt buckle to cause a chemical explosion is simply brilliant. I guess we should let this scene serve as an example to us all that we should always be sure to have a highly polished belt buckle. You never know when it might come in handy. The whole set up of the escape is also priceless. At the end of the last episode, Riddler was thrilled that he would get to stand there and watch the demise of Batman and Robin…making it harder for our heroes to launch an escape plan. But those nasty old wax fumes are just too much for our crooks to handle, so they have to retreat to another room. That’s all the window of opportunity Batman needs!
Beyond that opening sequence, there actually isn’t a whole lot of action to this episode. However the wordplay between Batman and Robin is a lot of fun. It’s always a treat watching the Dynamic Duo figure out the riddles, but this one is especially fun because there’s some extra dialogue that seems to have been added to cover up some budgetary restraints. The answer to the riddle is the lion fountains in front of the museum…but Robin points out that the fountains aren’t running right now (as the riddle suggests) because of the “water shortage.” When they arrive at the museum it’s clear that the lions are not fountains, merely standard lion statues in front of a generic backlot museum facade. Way to cover your rears there boys. Also funny is the dialogue our heroes have as Robin scales the side of the museum. Robin has to use his “throat communicator” since he doesn’t have a free hand to use the traditional sort. That explanation is nicely ADR’d in, as well. The two have a conversation about how diplomatic relations with our South American friends would be seriously damaged if Riddler were to harm these priceless Incan relics. It’s good to know that superheros care about making sure our country stays in the good graces of our allies.
Though this episode is not as action-packed as some others, it makes for a solid conclusion to our previous episode. And, of course, Frank Gorshin is still a joy to behold as the Riddler. Oh, and one final note: this episode is strangely low on Robin’s “holy” exclamations. One of them is the downright generic “holy smoke.” Kind of a letdown…but oh well. Next time we get another one of the show’s most iconic villains as Caesar Romero returns for his third go-round as the Joker in The Joker Trumps an Ace. Next time, same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Highly-polished Belt Buckle