Episode Title: The Penguin’s Nest
Original Airdate: December 7, 1966
I’ve talked before about how Batman and Robin are pretty good and catching and locking up Gotham’s crooks, but somehow the criminals always seem to make it out again. Today we see one of Batman’s arch foes back out on the street, but strangely he’s desperate to be behind bars again! Burgess Meredith returns as the Penguin in The Penguin’s Nest.
We begin at a fancy new restaurant atop a high rise building called The Penguin’s Nest. It’s being run by the Penguin himself, whose reformation has apparently impressed Warden Crichton at the state pen. All of Gotham’s richest citizens are attending the opening night, including Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Aunt Harriet, Chief O’Hara, and Commissioner Gordon. The place seems to be legit. The only oddity is that the patrons must write out their orders on slips of paper. But during dinner Penguin lifts Aunt Harriet’s diamond bracelet. O’Hara is anxious to haul the bird off to prison, but Bruce suggests that Batman be consulted first.
When Batman and Robin arrive they quickly determine that Penguin, for some reason, wants to be back behind bars. The Dynamic Duo, thus, decide not to haul Penguin off in the patty wagon, even after he nails Commissioner Gordon with a pie. After leaving, though, our heroes decide to climb up the side of the building so they can spy on Penguin from a window. Penguin is hip to their jive, though. He stages the murder of one of his henchmen (he actually shoots blanks) in another attempt to get locked up. Batman and Robin do haul him off to jail, but they put him in a petty crimes holding cell…not the state pen.
Back at the Batcave, our heroes determine that Penguin’s plot involves getting back to his reserved cell at the state pen, which happens to be next to the cell of an expert forger, Ballpoint Baxter. Penguin must be seeking to forge check in the names of Gotham’s wealthiest citizens. The best plot now seems to be to transfer Penguin to the state pen so they can catch him in the act. However, Penguin is already in the midst of a prison break which results in Chief O’Hara being taken as a hostage. Later, Penguin calls to tell Batman where to come for a fair showdown. Of course, Penguin has other plans in mind. O’Hara is trapped inside a trunk at the top of a swimming pool slide. When the Dynamic Duo arrive, O’Hara will go into the drink, Penguin’s men with open fire, our heroes will fall into the pool, and for good measure Penguin will electrify the water, just to be sure. Cue the cliffhanger narration…
Cross-fire and electrocution!
Looks like the end!
Have our heroes ever been in a nastier spot??
For the chilling climax, tune in tomorrow…
Same bat-time, same bat-channel…
Batman and Robin…stay away!
For your own sakes, stay away!!!
Having Burgess Meredith back as the Penguin is always a treat, and this episode is a quirky opportunity for him to do his thing. The whole pre-credit sequence is pretty unique, what with Bruce and Dick interacting with the villain and speaking highly of his apparent new lease on life. It’s also fun to see Commissioner Gordon rush off to call Batman in a phone booth while in the booth right next to him Bruce is having Alfred patch the two calls together. Though I wonder if some clever person at the phone company could connect the dots and sell the story to the National Enquirer for big bucks.
Like most episode of this series, this installment is primarily comedic. However, it does have one strangely violent moment. I’m speaking, of course, of when Penguin appears to use his umbrella gun to shoot down one of his lackeys in cold blood. It doesn’t take long for us to realize he faked it, but the scene is still a bit jarring. Things quickly switch back to the comedic, especially when Batman books Pengy not for staging a murder, but for discharging an umbrella gun in the kitchen of a licensed restaurant…which is just a sanitary code violation.
One of the episode’s other strange moments is another window cameo. As our heroes climb up the side of the building, they are serenaded with harpsichord music. Then, popping out of the window is none other than Ted Cassidy, in character as Lurch from The Addams Family. Batman and Robin tell him not to be concerned and to go back to playing his music. Speaking of music, though, Lurch might want to start practicing for Batman and Robin’s funeral…since they are about to be electrocuted in a swimming pool. Find out what happens next time in The Bird’s Last Jest. Next week…same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
State Pen Occupancy Report
Direct Line to Warden Crighton State Penitentary
Holy Straight Jacket
Holy Firing Squad
Holy Blank Cartridge