Episode Title: The Penguin Declines
Original Airdate: January 18, 1967
When we last left Gotham City, Batman, Robin, and the Joker’s former gal Venus had all been captured by the Clown Prince of Crime and chained up to be fed to a giant monster clam. In fact, Robin has already been slurped up by the creature. Let’s find out how they get out of this one in the conclusion of the series’ first three-part story, The Penguin Declines.
Just as the clam is about to try and grab Venus, Batman manages to break the chains around his wrists and muster enough strength to pry open the clam’s mouth and free Robin. So…uh…what!?!? Well, as Batman explains, “Every man has his own unknown inner strength in a time of crisis.” Okay, if you say so, Batman. With that, our heroes decide to head back to the Batcave to figure out Joker’s next step. To keep Venus safe, they drop her off at the rarely used downtown apartment of Batman’s good friend Bruce Wayne.
Meanwhile, back at the Joker’s hideout, he makes plans for the last two zodiac crimes. But, he needs a little help. This comes in the form of the Penguin, sprung from prison in a laundry van by Joker’s men. The next crime on the list has to do with Aquarius. Remember, in an earlier episode Joker tried to sabotage Gotham’s water and was foiled. This time, he plans on using some “Joker Jelly” to turn all of Gotham’s water into strawberry jelly. But where does Penguin come in? Well, Joker’s plan involves the waddling villain heading off to Bruce Wayne’s apartment to romance Venus. Meanwhile, Joker successfully dumps his “Joker Jelly” into the water supply.
Of course, Batman and Robin head off to fix the water, meanwhile, Penguin is putting the moves on Venus. Somehow, he convinces her to try and get Batman to take her to the Batcave. His purpose is to have her wipe all his old crime records from Batman’s computers. We then fast forward to Venus making her request to the Dynamic Duo. Batman agrees to take her to the Batcave, but he has to use some bat gas on her so she won’t see the location of the Batcave. Upon arrival in that most secret of locations, the trunk of the Batmobile pops open to reveal Penguin, Joker, and five of their goons. That’s a big trunk! As the villains celebrate their premature victory, Batman pulls a switch. He turns on the Bat Spectrograph Criminal Analyzer, which records valuable information on the criminals that will aide Batman in catching them in the future. See, he knew what they were up to all along. A big fight in the Batcave breaks out with the Dynamic Duo victorious once again.
I gotta admit, I don’t completely understand the finale of this episode. Batman uses his Bat Spectrograph Criminal Whatever-it-is on the bad guys…but so what? He’s about to catch them in a few minutes, so what’s he need that for?!? The fact that he feels the need to collect data on them to help with catching them in the future seems to indicate that he has no faith in the prison system. I guess that’s understandable, though, since all these villains keep busting out of prison to cause trouble week after week. Heck, in this three-part story alone Penguin busted out of the clink twice! Anyway, the finale of this story is a bit anti-climactic. Though, the Batcave fight is fun. A few of the crooks even take nasty dives off the second level of the Batcave’s nuclear power source.
The gimmick with turning the water into strawberry jelly is an appropriately silly thing for the Joker to do. My favorite moment of this whole jelly incident is seeing Chief O’Hara abruptly interrupted from singing “O Danny Boy” in the shower when red goo pours over him, making him look a bit like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. While we’re on the subject of this episode’s sillier moments, we should also address the resolution to the cliffhanger. Now, this “unknown inner strength” that Batman taps into to break his chains…couldn’t he have used this to get out of just about every other cliffhanger we’ve seen in this series so far? I guess it was a pretty big clam, though.
As for our villains, we’ve got two pros once again in Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith. Both do a fine job, but just like in the first part of this story, Penguin ends up getting the short end of the stick. In fact, in this episode it really feels like Penguin has been shoehorned in. Though, there is a great sequence where Joker and Penguin almost come to blows as they argue with each other over who is the greater criminal mastermind.
All in all, this is not exactly a spectacular end to our first three-parter, but this episode does have it where it counts. It was a big disappointment, though, that this episode does not exploit the seeds of romance between Batman and Venus that were planted in our last episode. Maybe the writers were afraid Catwoman would get jealous. Speaking of Catwoman, she’s back to cause trouble in our next episode, That Darn Catwoman. Same bat time, same bat channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Portable Bat Lab
Mobile Phone Bat Plugs
Special Exploding Batarang
Bat Spectrograph Criminal Analyzer
Negative Ion Attractor
Emergency Bat Trunk Lock
Holy Human Pearls
Holy Jelly Molds