Episode Title: The Duo is Slumming
Original Airdate: December 22, 1966
When we last left Gotham City, our heroes had been captured by Riddler substitute the Puzzler (Maurice Evans) and are now tied up in the basket of a hot air balloon which is slowly rising higher and higher. Once it hits 20,000 feet, the basket will drop like a stone…and our heroes with it! How will they get out of this one? Let’s find out in today’s episode, The Duo is Slumming.
Just as the altimeter is getting dangerously close to 20,000, Batman looks down and notices a piece of chewing gum on the floor of the basket. This was actually set up at the end of last week’s episode, but I failed to mention it. One of Puzzler’s men offered the Dynamic Duo some gum because chewing helps your ears adjust to the altitude. When Puzzler scolds him for such a suggestion, the crook discards the gum. Robin then shouted, “Litterbug!” Now it seems that the gum will come in handy. Batman suggest that they use it to block the air hole of the altimeter as it will throw off the pressure and the reading will stay under 20,000. Robin manages to do just that and they avoid dropping.
Wait, there’s more! Now our heroes have to get down! Batman remembers reading in the paper that the “elusive and high-flying” Giant Red-eyed Hermit Nuthatch Birds are migrating south for the winter. Of course, Robin has been practicing bird calls (this was also in last week’s episode). He hasn’t done this one yet, though…so he has to improvise. He ends up summoning a bird who comes and pecks a hole in the balloon so that our heroes can slowly float to the surface. They end up landing in the middle of nowhere, but luckily right beside an emergency public telephone. This whole thing is perhaps the most epic and bonkers resolution to a cliffhanger we’ve seen on the series so far. Just that it took me two paragraphs to describe it proves that. What I really liked about it, though, is that it played off of several elements (the gum and the bird calls) that seemed so inconsequential in the previous episode but paid off in a big way here.
Continuing on, Batman and Robin immediately head to the balloon factory to nab Puzzler. However, the baddies manage to escape when they drop a ton of balloons on the Caped Crusaders. It looked like the moment that made Hillary bug her eyes out at the Democratic Convention last summer. Meanwhile, Puzzler’s lovely lady, Rocket, is working on millionaire Artemus Knab. She drugs him so Puzzler can break into his vault and snap photos of the plans for Knab’s plane, the Retsoor. This way he’ll be able to swipe it.
Back at City Hall, Gordon receives a package from Puzzler, containing a Rooster. Rooster, of course, is Retsoor backwards. Later, they find a note left with the unconscious Knab, that seems to be blank. However, our heroes find hidden print on it which somehow (I admit I don’t understand how) leads them to discover Puzzler’s phone number. They call and end up with one more riddle…er, I mean “puzzle.” Long story short, our heroes solve the puzzle and end up showing up in time to stop Puzzler from stealing the valuable plane.
This episode starts really strong but kind of fizzles out as it reaches its conclusion. As I said earlier, the resolution to the cliffhanger is just so fantastic! The whole thing gets more and more outlandish as it progresses. It’s also quite long; taking up nearly ⅓ of the entire episode. However, after such a strong opening, it’s understandable that it’s somewhat downhill from there. As things move on the episode does maintain a certain level of lunacy. I loved watching Batman and Robin have to try and fight their way through a shower of multi-colored and odd-shaped balloons. The bit with Batman using some huge headphones to try and determine if the package sent to Gordon is a bomb was also fun. Strangely, Batman has the headphones over the ears of his cowl, which are actually a good two inches or so above where his actual functioning ears would be. This is all crazy fun, but then we get to the riddles…sorry, “puzzles,” and things get really convoluted. The writers don’t even attempt to explain the solutions that Batman comes up with for some of these…we just have to accept that he’s THAT smart.
There is, however, one very bizarre moment that comes midway through the episode…another window cameo. The cameo is: Santa Claus! Now, it’s important to realize that this episode aired on December 22, 1966, just three days before Christmas. Even though we don’t see any other indications around Gotham City that the holidays are in full swing, apparently it’s Christmas time. So…the question is, who exactly is that behind the very fake looking white beard? It turns out that Santa is actually actor Andy Devine. He was known primarily for appearing in many many western films, including Stagecoach, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. You may recognize his voice as that of Friar Tuck in Disney’s Robin Hood. To be honest, he’s a little bit creepy as St. Nick.
Even though the climax of this episode fizzles, the opening alone makes it a very fun watch. On our next episode, we’re going to meet another new-to-the-series villain. Our heroes battle the Sandman! Wait! I thought Sandman was a Spider-Man baddie? It’s a different Sandman, folks. We’ll meet him next time in The Sandman Cometh. Same Bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Secret Writing Detector
Holy Crack up
Holy Ghost Writer