Episode Title: Fine Finny Fiends
Original Airdate: May 4, 1966
Well, we’ve made it to our final adventure of season one of this classic series. It sees the return of one of Batman’s top villains up to his old tricks once again. Burgess Meredith is back as that waddling master criminal, the Penguin, in today’s episode, Fine Finny Fiends.
We open at a Gotham City fish market which is advertising “cut-rate caviar.” Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred, just so happens to be in the market for twenty pounds of caviar for an upcoming party. As Alfred inspects the product an umbrella that is part of the display collapses down and traps the dutiful butler. Bruce and Dick are surprised when they hear from Commissioner Gordon that there has been a kidnapping…and that the victim is their own butler. Immediately, the Caped Crusaders spring into action.
Given the umbrellas involved in the crime, it’s no doubt that the Penguin is involved. The monacled fiend must be after Alfred to learn the location of the upcoming Millionaires Award Dinner, where millions of dollars will be donated to a lucky charity. Alfred is in charge of the food for the event…but not even he knows the location of the secret dinner. Our heroes decide to rush off to the fish store to investigate. But Penguin is well aware that Alfred does not know the location of the gathering. Penguin’s real purpose is to brainwash Alfred using his “Penguin Box” so that once he does know the location, he will divulge it to the crook.
At the fish store there are few clues to be found…other than that proprieter of the now vacant business was one “Knott A. Fish.” In the middle of the investigation, Gordon calls to inform our heroes that Alfred is safe and sound back at Wayne Manor. Strangely, Alfred has no memory of the kidnapping, as well as a strange twitch in his right eye. The poor guy can’t even ID a photo of the Penguin when Batman shows him a mug shot. Later, during a gathering of the millionaire’s club at Wayne Manor, a fish hook is found in one of the h’orderves Alfred serves. Batman begins to investigate businesses on the pier and finds a warehouse also owned by Knott A. Fish.
There, Penguin and his men await the arrival of the Dynamic Duo. When they enter, Penguin springs the trap which involves umbrellas that spring open around the room, making the fight with the henchmen more difficult. The bad guys have the upper hand and end up trapping our heroes. Penguin then places them in a vacuum tank filled with balloons. The air in the room is gradually being sucked out, causing the balloons to pop. When the last balloon pops…it’s the end of Batman and Robin. Cue the cliffhanger narration…
Can this be happening to the Dynamic Duo?…
How can they live?
Will the be vanquished by a vacuum!?
We’ll hold our breath for you both —
Until tomorrow night –
Same time, same channel!
This episode is a little bit odd in that it seems to put more emphasis on the villain’s gang than on the villain himself. Penguin has three henchmen this time: The tall and bald Octopus, the short and rodent-like Shark, and Sword-Fish…who seems to come and go at random. The abduction of Alfred is pulled off by these guys. Penguin doesn’t even show up till almost a third of the episode has passed. Of course, Penguin also has a lovely lady in tow. This time her name is Finella and she’s completely obsessed with one day appearing in a bathing beauty contest. This pays off in the second part…which is the same for many aspects of this episode. Finella is played by Julie Gregg who would appear in many TV series’ and films. Most notably, she played Sandra Corleone (Sonny’s wife) in both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II.
Perhaps one of the best elements of this episode is that it gives Alan Napier a bit more for Alfred to do than usual. Alfred is a major element of the first half of the story, giving Napier some meaty scenes to work with. His scenes with Burgess Meredith in the Penguin’s lair are a treat. It’s fun watching him try to keep his proper British composure as the Penguin sweats him into submission in the Penguin Box. I also love the way Napier does the little eye twitch which clues Batman in that something may wrong with his loyal butler.
Our heroes don’t get as many spectacular moments in this episode, though Batman does dish out an important piece of advice. As the duo run out to answer the Bat Phone in the Batmobile, another car zips in front of them. Batman stops Robin and says, “Remember, Robin, always look both ways.” Truer words have never been spoken. But that advice won’t help our heroes out of a vacuum chamber. How will they ever survive? Find out next time in Batman Makes the Scenes. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Wayne Manor