Episode Title: The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul
Original Airdate: January 5, 1967 (By the way, that’s exactly 50 years ago, yesterday)
Well, it’s been a few weeks since we last visited Gotham City. I just know you’ve been on pins and needles all this time wondering how Batman and Robin were going to get out of their current predicament. If you recall they have been trapped inside a giant X-Ray machine by the Mad Hatter and are about to be zapped out of existence. Let’s see what happens in today’s episode, The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul.
We open with Mad Hatter (David Wayne) and his goons returning to the lab where they find two skeletons wearing Batman and Robin’s costumes. A gruesome site, for sure. News of the Caped Crusader’s demise quickly spreads as a cleaning woman reports the skeleton’s to a newspaper, which then informs Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara. All of Gotham goes into mourning. World leaders even join in the sorrow. Of course, our heroes are not really dead (I know you were deeply concerned). Turns out that Batman had a Bat X-Ray Deflector tucked in his utility belt. They then borrowed some skeletons from Professor Overbeck and dress them in some spare costumes they had in the Batmobile in order to fool the villains.
Meanwhile, back at Mad Hatter’s lair, he has his men dispose of the tracking device Batman had hidden in his other cowl (the one that turned pink, remember). They dump it in a nearby water tower so there is nothing to cause the police to track him down. We then learn Mad Hatter’s big plan. He’s going to take the jewel he stole in the last episode and use it to replace a ruby on a Buddha statue that is much more valuable.
Back at the Batcave, our heroes are trying to find a way to track Mad Hatter’s whereabouts. They suddenly get a ping due to the Underwater Bat Sonar Device built into the bug hidden in the cowl. Remember, Mad Hatter’s goons dumped it in water. This leads them to the villain’s location and the final fight breaks out atop the water tower.
There are a lot of fun elements to this episode. I definitely liked that the cliffhanger takes a while to be resolved. First, the sight of skeletons wearing the Caped Crusader’s outfits is one of the wackiest images we’ve seen in this series. We as the audience, though, are left hanging for many minutes before we learn that Batman and Robin survived. Not that we had any doubt, but it’s fun that it’s stretched out a bit. Plus, the explanation of how they got out of the jam is so wonderfully convoluted you can’t help but love it.
It seems a bit morbid to say so, but some of this episode’s funniest moments revolve around the reactions of various people to the demise of the Dynamic Duo. Gordon’s reaction to hearing the news is as gloriously over-dramatic as they come. Aunt Harriet also has a fun scene where she is organizing memorial efforts. She’s got a funeral committee of over 4,000 women! We also get a series of scenes showing phone operators at the White House, Buckingham Palace, and even in Russia getting the news for heads of state. The Russian operator screams, “Niet! Niet! Niet!”
The highlight of the episode, though, is the final fight. I loved that this episode dared to do something different by setting the fight on top of the water tower. The stunt men have tighter quarters to work with, so there’s not as much bounding around as we usually get, but the sequence is still quite creative. Robin (or his stunt man, actually) even ends up dangling off the edge of the tower at one point.
Strangely, the weakest element of the episode is that David Wayne’s Mad Hatter doesn’t get much of a chance to stand out this time. There’s so much else going on, though, it doesn’t really effect the episode in a negative way. Next time, though, we get not one but two always colorful villains. Cesar Romero is back as the Joker with Burgess Meredith as the Penguin in episode one of the series’ first three-part story. Join us next time for The Zodiac Crimes. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel (Superhero)
Bat Gadgets Used:
Bat X-Ray Deflector
Underwater Bat Sonar Device
Holy Memory Bank