Episode Title: The Joker’s Epitaph
Original Airdate: February 16, 1967
When we last left Gotham, Robin was about to be pressed into a comic book…and none other than Bruce Wayne has his hand on the lever. It seems like Joker and his robot henchmen are about to be victorious. Let’s see what happens in part two of this story, The Joker’s Epitaph.
Bruce is doing all he can to resist pulling the lever that will cause the end of his old chum, but the strength of Joker’s robots is far too great. Luckily, it seems that Robin didn’t come to Joker’s lair alone, as we were previously led to believe. Down on the street is a figure who appears to be Batman! But how? Bruce Wayne is in the villain’s lair. Well, it’s none other than Alfred in a spare Batman costume. Unable to reach Robin on the radio, he climbs up the side of the building and jumps through the window. Before deploying some Bat Gas, Alfred even speaks in Batman’s voice. Through the blue smoke, the villains escape, however. Oh, and if you’re wondering how Alfred was able to speak with Batman’s voice, Bruce explains, “That was my own voice, Robin. Remember those lessons in ventriloquism?”
Although our heroes are safe, all is not well. It seems that as part of his ruse, Bruce drew up a document naming Joker (as Mr. W.C. Whiteface) as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Gotham National Bank. Joker managed to snatch the document during the melee, so now he is legally on the bank board. At the bank, things seem fine…except for having robots as tellers. Joker, however, has further plans involving Bruce Wayne. Later, at Wayne Manor, Joker tries to use a recording of Bruce trying to get counterfeit money to blackmail the millionaire into killing Batman and Robin for him. However, Bruce says he has nothing to do with violence since the death of his parents. So, Joker initiates plan B, which is to have his moll Josie marry Bruce. The marriage contract entitles Joker to three million bucks.
All of Gotham is shocked by the news of Bruce Wayne’s upcoming nuptials…especially Commissioner Gordon. He even gets a doctor to declare that Bruce is clinically insane for agreeing to marry such a villain as Josie…not to mention naming Joker to the board of the bank. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin hatch a plan to use the robot they captured in the previous episode to learn how to reprogram all of Joker’s mechanical henchmen. No sooner do they succeed in doing so, than Chief O’Hara arrives at Wayne manor to slap a straight-jacket on Bruce and haul him off. Robin and Alfred (once again disguised at Batman) have to pursue and bust Bruce out of the paddy wagon using a Bat Ray and super-powered magnet.
Now, our heroes have to stop Joker one and for all. They head to the bank where Gordon is attempting to remove Joker from the board because Bruce was not sane when he gave him the position. Then, one of the robots (reprogrammed by Batman) comes in and starts declaring that Josie is his wife. Since she is supposed to marry Bruce, Batman and Robin have the opportunity to arrest Joker. The charge: aiding and abetting attempted bigamy. Joker manages to regain control of his robots for the final fight, but our heroes come out on top in the end.
What a wonderfully ridiculous and convoluted episode this is! When it started with Alfred filling in for Batman, I knew things were off to a good start. Seeing the lanky Alan Napier doning the loose-fitting batsuit is perhaps one of the funniest images in the history of this series. He even gets to do the classic vertical climb up the side of the building. Adding a window cameo to the scene would’ve been great, but Robin only had a few seconds before being turned into a comic book. The line about Bruce having taken ventriloquism lessons, though, made a great sequence even better. I also love how Robin gets so frustrated with himself for not remembering that Bruce has that skill. The millionaire consoles him, though, by saying, “It’s sometimes difficult to think clearly when you’re strapped to a printing press.”
That’s all just in the first five minutes of the episode. What makes this episode so fantastic is that it gets even weirder from there! For example, we learn that in Gotham City a doctor can diagnose someone as insane without actually examining or even talking to the patient in person. Want more? Well, if seeing Alfred dressed as Batman once wasn’t enough, he does it again leading up to the episode’s climax. My favorite moment, though, is that after struggling for two episodes to find something concrete they could charge Joker with, the Dynamic Duo finally get him on bigamy-related charge. At least we now know that Gotham City is not in Utah.
This may be one of my favorite episodes of season two, thus far. The twists and turns are just so out there, and Adam West, Burt Ward, and Cesar Romero deliver spot-on comedic performances. Next time we have the return of another classic villain, Catwoman. But on a sad note, it’s the start of the last story that will feature Julie Newmar in the role. Join us next time for Catwoman goes to College. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel (superhero).
Bad Gadgets Used:
Compressed Steam Bat Pole Lift
Super-Powered Bat Magnet
Holy Stomach Ache
Holy Wedding Cake