Episode Title: Barbecued Batman?
Original Airdate: September 22, 1966
When we last left Gotham City, Batman and Robin were being roasted alive; spinning on a spit thanks to the Minstrel. The heat is rising and things seem pretty hopeless for our heroes. Whatever will they do? Let’s find out in today’s episode, Barbecued Batman?
As our heroes cook, Minstrel and his men are keeping a close watch…so there is no chance of pulling an escape. But suddenly some explosions go off in the hallway outside. As the villains go to investigate, Batman informs Robin that he left some bat bombs so as to provide a distraction if needed. With the bad guys out in the hall, the Dynamic Duo are able to shake themselves free and then hide in wait. When the baddies return a fight breaks out (probalby the earliest in an episode that we’ve had such a fight). Minstrel and his men make it out, though. That is…all except the lovely Octavia (Leslie Perkins). After she and Batman make goo-goo eyes at each other, the Caped Crusader lets her go. This baffles Robin, until Batman admits that he slipped a tracking device in her purse.
Octavia heads back to the Minstrel’s hideout, but he quickly uncovers the bug Batman left in her purse. Rather than destroy it, Minstrel uses it to tell Batman he is about to launch Plan High C which he claims could bring the whole world down. Minstrel instructs our heroes to return to the stock exchange with Gordon and Chief O’Hara. While at the exchange, there is what appears to be an earthquake. But no other buildings seem to be affected. Batman then theorizes that Minstrel is using the ventilating shafts as resonance chambers to cause the building to shake when he broadcasts a certain frequency. Like how a singer can cause a glass to shatter when hitting the right note. Minstrel then shows up on TV again to once again demand money…or else he starts causing buildings to collapse. The stock brokers think they must give in to the villain…luckily Batman has a plan. They need to re-route the power so Minstrel can’t use his device. However, even that doesn’t seem to work. Good thing Batman is one up on the Minstrel and spots him in disguise at the stock exchange. A fight breaks out once again and the bad guys all get hauled off to prison. In the last moments of the episode, Minstrel swears he will escape. As I mentioned last time, though, this character never showed up on the series again…so he never kept that promise.
This episode is a bit of an improvement over our last one, but it still falters a bit simply because Van Johnson’s Minstrel is just not all that charismatic of a villain. However, I do think this episode does a good job of really raising the stakes in a way that no other episode of this show has done yet. Minstrel’s idea of using sonic waves to cause buildings to shake themselves to the ground is a plan worthy of the great supervillains. This is not revealed to us, though, until the last half of the episode. Introducing it earlier would’ve probably raised the tension a bit…but as is it’s still a fun plot device.
It’s actually a bit strange to see just how seriously this episode is played. The tongue-in-cheek style that we’re used to on this series is pretty much absent in this episode. Only one scene, in which Chief O’Hara starts to think Batman might be in league with the Minstrel and Gordon starts to scold him, comes close to the normal Batman tone. But even this sequence has a much more dramatic slant than what we normally see.
A nice addition to this episode is that we get a bit more out of Minstrel’s female gang member, Octavia, played by Leslie Perkins. She and Adam West have a nice scene together that is steamy in a subtle kind of way. The cherry on top, though, is just when you think that Batman has let a pretty face get the best of him, he coyly reveals that he slipped a tracking device in her purse. What a smoothy. Strangely, the role of Octavia is listed as “Amanda” in the end credits.
While the two Minstrel episodes have some fun moments, I can’t say that I’m disappointed that we won’t be seeing this character again. In our next episode, though, we see the return of one of my favorite baddies from season one. Victor Buono returns to Gotham as King Tut in The Spell of Tut. Next week…same bat time, same bat channel (superhero)
Bat Gadgets Used:
Particle Bat Accelerator Units