Episode Title: The Dead Ringers
Original Airdate: October 27, 1966
When we last left Gotham, Batman and Robin were about to be perforated into player piano rolls, courtesy of Harry, the gangster brother of piano maestro Chandell (both played by Liberace). Things seem hopeless for the Caped Crusaders. Let’s see what happens in today’s episode, The Dead Ringers.
As the episode begins, both of our heroes are clueless as to how to get out of this mess. But an idea suddenly hits Batman. He tells Robin to sing a series of notes, copying the ones Batman sings precisely. Both start singing various tones as they slide into the machine. Miraculously, they come out of the other end unharmed. It seems that the machine was punching the holes based on a recording playing nearby. The notes sung by our heroes threw that off. Not only that, it made sure that the hole punchers landed outside of their bodies. This was carefully planned and executed by Batman who, of course, has perfect pitch. After freeing themselves, the heroes manage to capture Harry, but his three beautiful accomplices escape.
It doesn’t take long, however, for Harry’s shifty attorney to get him freed. They claim that someone called “Fingers” was really to blame. Back at the Batcave, the Dynamic Duo eventually figure out that Fingers is really Chandell and that he seeks to get his hands on the Wayne fortune. But how? Well, If he manages to bump off both Bruce and his heir, Dick, the money would then pass to Aunt Harriet. As we saw in our last episode, Chandell has been romancing Aunt Harriet. So, he plans to marry her and get the money, a few million of which will be paid off to Harry. Problem is, Harry figures out this plan as well. His attorney informs him that the legal system will take several years to get that money, so Harry switches places with Chandell to get the money himself. However, when Chandell (actually Harry) kisses Aunt Harriet on the hand, she realizes he is an impostor.
Later, during a performance, Aunt Harriet decides to expose the truth…pulling a gun on Harry. Unfortunately, the girls knock the old lady out using the tones from a sinister set of bagpipes. Harry has Harriet and Alfred placed in a giant trunk and then blasts it with a machine gun. Just then, Batman and Robin (protected by the Bat Shield) leap out. They had been tracking Aunt Harriet all along and took her place. In the end, both Chandell and Harry end up behind bars…with Chandell even doing a prison concert on a black and white striped piano.
I liked this installment much better than last week’s part one. It definitely starts on the right foot with a completely looney resolution to the cliffhanger. Who would’ve thought that having perfect pitch could one day save your life! The episode is also a lot of fun in how it uses the subplot of Chandell romancing Aunt Harriet from the previous episode. Last time it just felt a bit weird and creepy, but it’s nice that it actually plays into the plot this time. And I gotta hand it to Aunt Harriet, she really takes matters into her own hands this time around. I’ve said it before that I often find Aunt Harriet to be a character that really wasn’t necessary for this series. This is probably the meatiest part she’s had on the whole series so far. I mean, she’s packin’ heat in this episode and tries to nab the bad guy all on her own. It doesn’t work out well for her, but I gotta admire her effort.
Liberace also feels a bit more comfortable in both of his roles in this episode than he did in part one. He actually excels more as Harry this time than as Chandell…strange since the later role is essentially Liberace playing himself. I will say, though, that the final scene is a real treat. It sees Chandell tickling the ivories of a piano with prison stripes. Harry and his lovely accomplices (Do, Ray, and Mimi) look on from their cells, as do a number of other criminals. It would’ve been a whole lot better, though, had some other iconic Batman villains like Joker, Penguin, or Catwoman been enjoying the concert as well.
Speaking of the more famous villains, it’s been some time since we’ve seen any of them. That changes next time, though, as Burgess Meredith returns as the Penguin in Hizzoner the Penguin. Don’t miss it…same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Wayne Manor TV Circuit (Closed)
Holy Perfect Pitch