Episode Title: The Spell of Tut
Original Airdate: September 28, 1966
One of the unexpected highlights of Batman season one was the appearance of Victor Buono as the villainous King Tut. I say “unexpected” because I usually don’t expect as much from the series’ original bad guys as opposed to the more iconic members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Tut left a big impression, however. Apparently the producers of the show thought so, too. He was brought back here in season two. We begin with part one of the story, The Spell of Tut.
As the story begins a set of amber beads have been stolen from a wealthy Gotham citizen by a pair of robbers in Egyptian garb. When discovered by the owner, the crooks clunk him on the head with a lead pestlel. It seems pretty obvious that King Tut has returned to Gotham City. Batman and Robin are quickly called into action by Commissioner Gordon. While meeting with Gordon and O’Hara, the Caped Crusaders meet the commissioner’s new, somewhat absent-minded, secretary, Miss Patrick (Marianna Hill). The use of the pestle as a weapon suggests to Batman that they search for an apothecary where Tut may be hiding. They decide to check out the Apex Apothecary Shop, which happens to be in the Pyramid Building.
Meanwhile, Tut’s men have returned with the beads. Inside are ancient scarab beetles that have been long extinct. Tut extracts them from the beads and then uses a strange chamber to shock them back to life…Frankenstein style. At first nothing seems to happen, but with more power comes success! The insects live again! But, Batman and Robin soon arrive after scaling the side of the building. Of course, there is a fight with Tut’s men. They are easily overpowered by the Dynamic Duo, but some sneezing powder allows them to escape with Tut…and the scarabs.
Later, back at the Batcave, Batman realizes that Tut is out to concoct an ancient formula for Abu Rabu Simbu Tu. It requires an ingredient obtained from the scarabs. This concoction could allow Tut to control the minds of the citizens of Gotham. But Batman has a plan to locate Tut. It just so happens that, as Bruce Wayne, he recently purchased the great sphynx statue from the season one Tut episodes. He has Robin hide inside, Trojan horse style. Of course, Tut will try to steal the statue back…then Robin can hear his plans from inside. Unfortunately, Robin is discovered inside the statue and Tut decides to feed him to his crocodiles. Now, the platform is retracting from under the Boy Wonder, with several hungry crocs beneath him. Cue the cliffhanger narration.
Is Robin Doomed?
Those crocodiles look mighty hungry
Was Tut right?
They’d soon be having a tasty dinner?
Or was he merely shedding crocodile tears?
Above all, will Batman arrive before the Boy Wonder’s perch slides away?
Tune in your batsets tomorrow.
After our last two episodes with the mediocre Minstrel, having King Tut back is fantastic! Victor Buono is at the top of his game once again, playing Tut with a wonderfully maniacal energy! In the scene where he resurrects the scarabs, Buono gets to channel his inner Victor Frankenstein, and he does so with great gusto. Just hearing him grunt the word “LIVE!” is amazing. Adding to this already colorful villain, though, we also have an exceptional crew of henchmen. Leading them is the great Sid Haig. A fixture of many TV series’ and B-movies, Haig has played some wild characters. From bizarre old horror flicks like Spider Baby to more recent appearances in the films of Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie. Haig’s wild-eyed expressions and extreme mannerisms in this episode make him one of the most sinister henchmen we’ve seen on the show yet. I’m not sure who is more over-the-top, Haig or Buono…but both are a treat! Also joining the crew is the latest lovely lady of Gotham, Marianna Hill as Miss Patrick. I guess it’s a bit of a SPOILER to say that Miss Patrick is a part of Tut’s gang. Hill is also a veteran of many classic shows, including Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Hogan’s Heroes. She even played opposite Elvis in Paradise Hawaiian Style. She does a great job playing the sexy, but a bit loopy, secretary. It’ll be interesting to see how she factors into part two of this story.
One other highlight of this episode is another window cameo as Batman and Robin climb the side of Tut’s hideout. When the window opens we see the Green Hornet and his faithful helper Kato as played by Van Williams and Bruce Lee. After the success of Batman’s first season, producer William Dozier was able to bring a new series, The Green Hornet, to ABC in the fall of 1966. Unlike Batman, The Green Hornet was not done with a comedic slant…so it’s interesting to see these two crime fighters come together here. It’s also worth noting that this cameo would’ve come only about three weeks after the premier of The Green Hornet.
Considering the mess that Robin is now in, perhaps the Hornet and Kato should’ve stuck around. It doesn’t look like Batman’s going to make it in time. We’ll find out in our next episode, Tut’s Case is Shut. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
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