Episode Title: The Cat and the Fiddle
Original Airdate: September 15, 1966
When we last left the Caped Crusaders they had been captured by Catwoman and are now strapped to giant barbecue grills cooking under the sun’s rays, enhanced by two giant magnifying glasses. Our heroes are cooking alive! How will they ever escape. Let’s find out in part two of our story, The Cat and the Fiddle.
Just as things are getting a bit too hot to handle, Batman asks Robin what time it is. You see, there is an eclipse of the sun due in 16 seconds. The brief moment of darkness gives them the chance to move the magnifying glasses ever so slightly with their feet (14 degrees to be exact). This is an attempt to burn through the ropes around their wrists, but one degree off and they could burn their hands off. Of course, their calculations are correct and they are freed.
Back at the Batcave, the Dynamic Duo attempt to figure out where Catwoman is headed. They remember her saying something about an assault on Mount Gotham. Problem is, there is no Mount Gotham. They figure she is referring to the city’s man-made mountains (skyscrapers). The biggest is the Gotham State building. So, that’s where our heroes head. At the building, they learn that the wealthy Zubin Zucchini has rented the building’s penthouse for an engagement that day.
Meanwhile, Catwoman’s men are staking out Zucchini’s home. At the same time, Catwoman switches places with a wealthy old woman named Minerva Matthews. It seems that Minerva is due to purchase two precious Stradivarius violins worth millions from Mr. Zucchini. Catwoman aims to get them for herself. However, when Minerva (really Catwoman) meets with Zucchini she is surprised to find that Zucchini is Robin in disguise. Her men quickly subdue Robin, but just as they are about to toss him out the window, Batman arrives. A big fight breaks out with the henchmen as Catwoman attempts to escape on an “getaway rocket.” When the rocket doesn’t work, she attempts to escape via the window ledge and ends up needing to be rescued by our heroes.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with this episode. Right out of the gate we start with the continuation of a really bizarre cliffhanger, but now the resolution is just glorious. An eclipse of the sun, ladies and gentleman. I guess Catwoman was just too wrapped up in all her criminal schemes to have noticed that such a rare event would be happening that day. Surely it was in all the papers. From there the story gets a bit convoluted, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case. Batman explains that the reason Catwoman wants the violins is because of the “catgut.” Remember, in the last episode she stole a bunch of stuff related to the word “cat.” I admit, I had to Google what catgut is (it’s used for instrument strings)…so that was a bit of a stretch for me.
One of the real joys of this episode is Julie Newmar as Catwoman playing an old lady. When we first see her like this, she’s pretty much unrecognizable. But it’s not just a case of putting on some makeup and a frumpy dress. Newmar really lets herself vanish into the part; proving her acting abilities went way beyond slinking around in black catsuits. Not that anyone ever had a problem with that. Also a lot of fun is when Burt Ward has Robin in disguise as Mr. Zucchini. I admit, I was completely caught off guard by this reveal. This may be the first time that the show legitimately surprised me.
The episode has a number of other great touches that made me laugh. First I love Catwoman’s bright purple getaway rocket. Sadly, she’s never able to get it fired up, so it just sits there. There may have been a good reason for that. I fear that the image of Julie Newmar straddling a long purple phalic-shaped object flying through the sky may have been a bit too much for TV censors of the late 60’s to handle. Batman and Robin also get a few classic exchanges. When they first arrive at the Gotham State Building, Batman insists that they put a nickel in the parking meter even though, as Robin points out, nobody is going to give the Batmobile a ticket. Batman explains that the money goes to building better roads and all citizens must do their part. Later, when Catwoman is trying to escape, Robin says, “You can’t get away from Batman that easy!” Batman then informs him that the correct word is “easily.” “Good grammar is essential, Robin.”
One more fun element of this episode is that we begin to see the seeds of the often hinted at romantic sparks between Catwoman and Batman. The two share a Bat Rope near the end of the episode and she even nuzzles his cheek before she is hauled off to jail. But don’t plan on attending any wedding showers just yet. Next week our heroes face an all new villain. Classic movie matinee idol Van Johnson comes to Gotham as The Minstrel in The Minstrel’s Shakedown. Next week…same bat time, same bat channel (superhero).
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