Batman S:02 E:57

Episode Title: Pop Goes the Joker
Original Airdate: March 22, 1967

The last few weeks of Batman have been a bit rough. We need an old dependable villain to fully recover from the effects of a liquored up Tallulah Bankhead. Luckily, this week we have good ole’ Cesar Romero, back once again as the Clown Prince of Crime. He decides to take on the art world in today’s episode…Pop Goes the Joker.

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As we begin, Joker and his goons crash an art gallery, where Alfred happens to be shopping, and start dousing the works of art with paint guns. Let’s stop right there. It’s worth noting that a very very similar situation was used with Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the 1989 Tim Burton film, Batman. Ok…back to the plot. So, Alfred quickly calls Batman and Robin into action. When they show up, Batman takes out Joker with one punch. However, the original artist ends up being thrilled with what Joker has done to the paintings. So, he ends up walking free.

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Next thing we know, Joker is taking part in an art contest with several other modern artists. The challenge is to come up with a piece of art in three minutes. The others all create abstract pieces, Joker, though, leaves a blank canvass. He calls it “Death of a Mauve Bat.” Of course, he wins. This gives him the clout to open an art school which all the richest Gothamites flock to…including Bruce Wayne, who is really just there to keep an eye on the Joker.

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Well, in the middle of a class, Joker’s men bust in with guns. All the millionaires are now being held for ransom (the notes have even been sent already). What Joker wants are the priceless art collections these families own. When Commissioner Gordon phones Robin with the details, he heads off to Joker’s studio. A fight breaks out, with Bruce Wayne helping out. The villains end up getting the upper hand, though. Now, Robin is strapped to a piece of art…a giant mobile with spinning blades ready to chop him to bits. Cue the cliffhanger narration…

Cliffhanger Narration:
Robin diced to driblets?
Batman certainly can’t help him
Will the Joker go free to practice the art of crime?…
And make a crime of art?
Find out tomorrow…
Same bat-time…
Same bat-channel!

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Now THIS is more like it! This is truly a return to form for the series. Cesar Romero is at the top of his game as the Joker in this installment. Plus, I love his plan here! For all we know as this story unfolds, Joker has just become an art nut. It isn’t until we’re just a few minutes from the end of the episode that his villainous plans are revealed. I admire the patience of this episode to not just lay it all out there for us right from the opening credits!

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One of the extraordinary things about this episode is all the weird artwork Joker and his students create. The episode is actually a pretty biting satire as it addresses what was now considered “art” in the world of 1967. The other artists in the contest have some very strange approaches to their art. One paints with his feet, another covers himself in paint and rolls around on the canvass. The weirdest, though is one dressed like an organ grinder who has a monkey toss balls of paint at the canvass. And this monkey is the strangest looking monkey I’ve ever seen in my life. He is the stuff nightmares are made of.

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We get some nice supporting players in this one, including Fritz Feld, Jody Gilbert,and Diana Ivarson. We also have a fantastic device for the cliffhanger. This mobile thing that Robin is strapped to is crazy, but it’s also quite intimidating looking. That thing is going to slice him up big time. How will he get out?! Join us next time for Flop Goes the Joker. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).

Bat Gadgets Used:
Bat Radar Scope

Holys:
Holy Tipoffs
Holy Hoaxes
Holy Hostage
Holy Hamburger

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