Episode Title: It’s How You Play the Game
Original Airdate: December 1, 1966
When we last left Gotham City, Batman and Robin had been tied to stakes by the villainous Shame and are about to be trampled by a stampede of cattle. There is no way to stop them! What will our heroes do? Let’s find out in It’s How You Play the Game.
As the cattle get closer, Batman finds that the rumbling of the hooves causes the stake his hands are tied to to loosen. He manages to free his hands just in time to stand up and grab his cape. He uses it like a matador to lure the cattle away from Robin. When all is safe, Robin comments that he thought bulls went for red capes. Batman then explains that bulls are colorblind, it is the movement that attracts them. Now our heroes just need to get the bottom of Shame’s plan. They determine that he is not entering in the Grand Prix after all, but what is his scheme? They decide to consult radio DJ Hot Rod Harry to get some clues. Harry, however, has no good leads so he sends them on to used car dealer Laughing Leo. Leo is not at all helpful and just seems to want our heroes to trade in the Batmobile for a new used car. Turns out, though, that Leo is in league with Shame.
Shame is actually working on a souped up truck which he will use to transport four black angus cows on display at the Gotham City Rodeo. Each is worth $300,000! Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, the Dynamic Duo are examining the remains of Bruce Wayne’s limo, which Shame stole in the last episode and Alfred has since found pieces of. Batman finds a green speck and a red speck on the steering wheel….chili and guacamole. This leads our heroes to the Mexican restaurant where Shame has been hard at work on his truck. But the baddies have already retreated to their western film set hideout. They all meet up and there and shootout ensues…which leads to Robin being shot in the ankle!
Back at the Batcave our heroes realize Shame’s plan to steal the prize cows. They head for the expo center but are too late to stop Shame. They eventually track him down to the KO Corral and face Shame in a High Noon style showdown. But Shame plays dirty and has all his gang aiming guns at the heroes. Luckily, Batman releases a smoke bomb to hide behind while they count the number of shots fired. Once they determine the bullets are all spent they jump out and fight the bad guys. In the end, Shame and his gang end up being hauled off to prison.
This episode continues the trend of skipping the recap of the last episode before the credits. All they do is remind us of the cliffhanger. The resolution of this cliffhanger is wonderfully goofy. Robin even shouts “Ole Batman!” as if it actually helps keep the cows from trampling him. Speaking of goofy elements, we also have the return of the little boy Andy who does the “Come back Shame” routine several more times in this episode. Oh, and we also see a little old lady buying a used car…she came all the way from Pasadena to buy it. Eh, get it!?
The continuing of the western theme we saw in the previous episode remains a highlight of this one. The final showdown plays directly off of High Noon and has some fun camera angles as our heroes stare down Shame at the other end of the street. I did find it a bit disappointing that they didn’t do more with the rodeo location. Shame just shows up there to swipe the cows and then Batman shows up too late. Not much happens there. Plus, there was one thing that really bugged me about the sequence. When our heroes arrive, Batman explains that the black angus cows are being displayed on an upper level of the convention center. Now here’s the thing…I live in Denver, the city which every year hosts a very large event called The National Western Stock Show. It’s been going on for over 100 years and they even do a parade where cattle march down our city streets. I’ve been there and seen the livestock displays…let me tell you there is no way on earth that cattle would be displayed anywhere above a ground floor. Besides the fact that cows don’t use stairs or elevators…there’s all the poo! What janitor wants to pick up all that!?! It’s very obvious why the cows are on the second floor of this episode…so Batman and Robin can climb up the side of the building and to give us a window cameo.
This time the window cameo is Werner Klemperer…aka Col. Klink from Hogan’s Heroes. Having grown up in the Chicago area, I saw a lot of Hogan’s Heroes. It was the show that channel 9 always went to whenever there was an extended rain delay during a Cubs game. Plus it was one of my dad’s favorite shows. What’s weird is that Klemperer appears in this episode as Klink! Batman and Robin seem to recognize him and call him Colonel. They are quite friendly to him, in fact, which is strange because Klink is a Nazi! Why would the Caped Crusaders be friendly with a Nazi!? Not to mention the fact that it’s 1966 and the war’s been over for like 20 years. Our heroes even tell him to say hi to Hogan for them.
So, there’s a lot of strangeness to this episode, but it’s still a lot of fun. Cliff Robertson is once again a real treat as Shame. Everyone involved seems to be having fun playing cowboy. We leave the old west behind next time, though, for the return of a classic Batman villain. Burgess Meredith is back as the Penguin in The Penguin’s Nest. Same bat time, same bat channel (superhero).
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