Episode Title: Dizzhonor the Penguin
Original Airdate: November 3, 1966
When we last left Gotham City, the mayoral election between Batman and the Penguin had become heated…literally. The Caped Crusaders are currently suspended over a vat of sulphuric acid…slowly lowering closer and closer. What will happen and who will win the election? Let’s find out in today’s episode, Dizzhonor the Penguin.
Just as all seems hopeless for our heroes, Batman covers his face with his cape and actually leaps into the sulphuric acid. Needless to say, Robin freaks. But a few seconds later, Batman emerges from the acid unharmed. He explains that recently Alfred upgraded his costume with acid-proof material. Our heroes are safe, but Penguin still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
The villain decides that he will take down Batman in the big debate. He claims that Batman can’t be trusted because who is he always spending his time with? Criminals, of course. Whereas the Penguin is often in the presence of the police. Hmm, makes sense to me. As Batman tries to respond, some of the Penguin’s men hijack the TV signal and play a Pengy campaign song over Batman’s answer. Then, in the middle of the debate, a report comes in that a gang of thieves is committing a robbery of a jewelers convention at the convention center. Both Batman and the Penguin head off to fight the crooks. In the end, Pengy bags more baddies. The polls quickly swing to Penguin’s favor.
On election night Batman insists that polls do not decide elections…voters do. Things seem grim but late in the night more and more votes come in for Batman. Penguin is left with one option…kidnap the election officials so the votes won’t be counted. Luckily, Batman tracks Penguin down and rescues the officials and wins the election. In the epilogue Batman resigns and turns the job over to Mayor Lindseed before receiving phone calls from both political parties asking him to run for President in 1968.
Like part one last week, this episode is a lot of fun. Especially in a political season like the one we’re currently going through, you have to appreciate the way these episodes both point out some of the ridiculous aspects of the political process while encouraging voters to take their responsibility seriously. The debate sequence of this episode is particularly brilliant. The double talk that the Penguin engages in surprisingly prescient, pointing to the world we now live in where candidates and media alike spend considerable effort to twist any and everything they can to besmirch their opponents.
Once again, Burgess Meredith is fantastic as the Penguin. This is undoubtedly his best performance of the series so far, maybe even one of the best of any of the villains. His balance of comedy and villainy is perfect. It’s skillfully handled and comes across as quite effortless. All around the comedy is solid in this episode. The opening escape from the cliffhanger is both inspired and completely nuts. The fight at the convention center is also crazy fun, with reporters keeping score of how many bad guys each candidate knocks out…not to mention the reporter who tries to interview Batman mid fight.
In many ways, I wish that more people would approach our elections like these two episodes of Batman have. Yes, they are lighthearted, but still show great respect for the privilege we have to elect our leaders. Today I see mostly backstabbing and name calling…and before you think I’m not talking about YOUR candidate, I am. All are guilty. Honor has vanished. So I say…Batman 2016.
Next time we move away from the realm of politics as Mr. Freeze returns, but embodied by a new actor. Otto Preminger takes over for George Sanders in Green Ice. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero)
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Coffin Nails