Episode Title: Ice Spy
Original Airdate: March 29, 1967
Most of the guest villains on Batman were played by a single actor throughout the series’ entire run. Cesar Romero was the only Joker, Burgess Meredith the only Penguin, and so on. When it comes to Mr. Freeze, though, the character appeared in three stories and each time was played by a different actor. We first met him in season one as played by George Sanders, then earlier this season we saw him played by Otto Preminger, but now we get to the version of Freeze I’ve been most looking forward to. The one and only Eli Wallach comes to Gotham to begin the conclusion of season two in Ice Spy.
As this story begins, a ship full of important passengers is on its way into Gotham harbor when it runs across an iceberg. Not something you would typically see in Gotham City. Turns out the berg is a new floating hideout for Mr. Freeze. What the villains are after is a formula concocted by an Icelandic scientist, Professor Isaacson (Elisha Cook Jr.), who is onboard. They manage to kidnap the professor, thanks in part to their person on the inside, ice skater Glacia Glaze (Leslie Parrish…who appeared in a previous episode).
When the Caped Crusaders are called into action, they examine the ship’s guest list and see the name Emma Strunk, the original name of Glacia Glaze. An Ice Skater would make a likely accomplice for Mr. Freeze. Miss Glaze is due to open in a performance at the Bruce Wayne Ice Arena, so Bruce will be taking a closer look. Meanwhile, a seal delivers a ransom note for the professor to Commissioner Gordon. It demands that there be a live TV broadcast saying when the money is ready by none other than Bruce Wayne. Batman and Robin must deliver the loot. This leads to a strange sequence where Batman talks to himself as Bruce across Gordon’s phone lines.
Bruce ends up filming his message in advance so that Batman can show up at Freeze’s lair (beneath the skating arena) at the precise moment that it airs. Of course, our heroes come with a suitcase full of fake money. Freeze sees through this immediately and a fight breaks out with Freeze’s men. Somehow, they manage to overpower our heroes and lock them up in a Sub-zero Temperature Vaporizing Cabinet. This will turn them to ice, which will then be used in the Bruce Wayne skating arena. Cue the cliffhanger narration…
What fiendish freezing isometric exercise is this??
Is it the is-olated end of the Dynamic Duo??
Have they concluded their refrigerated cycle??
To be vaporized and become a part of Bruce Wayne’s ice rink??
Stay frozen to your furniture!!
Same bat-time, same bat-channel!
It’s kind of becoming a trend that these episode are a bit short in the story department. The same is true with this episode. That’s ok, as long as there is enough to keep me entertained. Here, most of the entertainment value comes from Eli Wallach. He is a character actor who I am always excited to see, and he doesn’t disappoint here. His take on Freeze is wonderfully manic, but not over-the-top. The mere fact that he’s even on this show is a testament to what a unique actor he was and the diversity of the roles he accepted. Keep in mind, this is coming after some pretty iconic roles for him in films like The Magnificent Seven and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. One wouldn’t expect to see an actor with such a pedigree showing up on a campy TV show…but I’m glad he did.
Also quite good in this episode is Leslie Parrish as Freeze’s main squeeze Glacia Glaze. Parrish, if you recall, was kidnapped by the Penguin in an episode back in season one. It was a relatively small role that time, but this time she gets more to do and ends up ranking among the better female cohorts of the Gotham villains. While we’re on the subject of Mr. Freeze’s gang…there’s the seal. According to IMDB, the seal’s actual name was Asoulda (yes, she has an IMDB page). While I’m not going to comment on the acting abilities of a seal, I will say that it’s a fun gimmick to have it delivering ransom notes.
Villainous seals aside, the strangest moment of this episode is when Adam West has to play a scene where he has a phone conversation with himself. In one hand he holds the regular Wayne Manor phone, in the other the Batphone. He goes back and forth playing both sides of a conversation as his two personalities work out Bruce Wayne’s role in the plot to take down Freeze. It’s a great example of West’s comedic skills.
We should also mention that this episode does feature a window cameo…and it’s a strange one. I wouldn’t expect many modern viewers to recognize the person peeking out the window. Heck, I didn’t. The gentleman is a man named Cyril Lord, a British entrepreneur well known for carpet manufacturing. Some knew him as the “Carpet King.” Apparently he sold some expensive rugs to Batman producer William Dozier, who paid for the merchandise by giving Lord the cameo. We shouldn’t focus so much on carpeted floors, though. After all, Batman and Robin are about to be turned into the icy floor of a skating rink. Find out what happens next time in The Duo Defy. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Remote Batmoble Control Phase Advancer
Small Echoing Seal Pulsator
Super Thermalized Bat Skivies
Holy Ice Skates
Holy Floor Covering