Episode Title: Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
Original Airdate: September 14, 1967
We begin the third, and final, season of Batman with some big changes, while other things stay the same. We have a classic villain, the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), up to his old tricks. While that may be business as usual, we also have the arrival of a new hero in Gotham. Yvonne Craig makes her debut as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin.
As we begin, Batman and Robin are returning to the Batcave after having defeated Catwoman once again. They won’t be able to take it easy, though, as they have plans to join Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara at the opera. Gordon’s daughter Barbara, a librarian fresh out of college, will be joining them as Bruce’s date. But as Barbara returns to her apartment, she is snatched out of the elevator by Penguin and his men. When the Commissioner and the Chief arrive at her apartment, they are baffled by Barbara’s absence. Bruce and Dick show up just in time for the Penguin to call in. Unknown to them, he is holding Barbara in the vacant apartment next door.
It seems that Penguin’s plan is to marry Barbara so he can be son-in-law of the Commissioner and avoid prosecution for his many crimes. Of course, Gordon calls the Caped Crusaders into action. They start trying to locate Penguin’s lair, but they get an assist from Alfred. Seems that he is meeting with his church’s pastor about a fundraiser. During the meeting, Penguin’s men bust in to kidnap the preacher, who they need to perform the wedding. Quick thinking Alfred pretends to be the preacher and then triggers a silent alarm on his belt. Of course, Batman and Robin track this signal to find Penguin’s lair.
When Alfred arrives at Penguin’s hideout, he is thrown into the same room with Barbara. However, she has dressed up a dummy in the wedding gown and is in the process of sneaking out the window. She then heads off to her apartment and ducks into a hidden room where she changes into a purple clad crimefighter. Next thing we know, Batman and Robin arrive to battle the baddies, and are then joined by Batgirl. Which surprises everyone, I might add. A fight breaks out and it seems that the heroes defeat the villains. However, as the Dynamic Duo go to rescue Barbara (who they think is in the other room) they are gassed by the Penguin’s trick umbrella. The villains then bag up Batman, Robin, Alfred, and the dummy they think is Barbara, and head off to another hideout.
Now, Batgirl is the only one who can save them. Penguin has our heroes hanging over a vat of boiling liquid about to be dipped like teabags. Luckily, Batgirl hops her purple Batgirl cycle (which even has white fringe) and heads off to rescue them. Another fight breaks out, during which Batgirl instructs Alfred to never tell anyone, including Batman, what her true identity is. Then, somehow she’s able to change into the wedding dress and reappear as Barbara so Batman is none the wiser.
It is a bit strange just to see the changes in the show’s format, but it still comes together well. Doing one-part stories now means that a lot is going to be crammed into the meager 26 minutes of running time. We still get the same elements that we had in the first two seasons, just coming at us a lighting speed. We have two fight sequences and even a bit of a cliffhanger, resolved in mere seconds, mind you, but it’s there.
Of course the big thing to talk about with this episode is Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. I gotta admit, her spunk and sass is a welcome addition to the show’s dynamic. Batgirl comes across as a bit more of a free spirit than the over-grown boy scout that is Adam West’s Batman. She comes at Penguin with quippy one-liners, like she’s an 80’s action movie star. There’s also something just a bit magical about when she high kicks a villain in the face! Batman and Robin would’ve definitely been sunk without her in this adventure.
We should note a few other changes we get with this episode. Let’s start with the epilogue, which gives us two things of note. First, part of the sequence sees Bruce and Dick leaving the DMV, where Dick Grayson has just gotten his driver’s license. So now, Robin will be able to drive the Batmobile! The other part of the closing sequence gives us something we would see throughout season three…a teaser as to who next week’s villain would be. Here we have Commissioner Gordon getting on the phone to talk to his secretary, but the voice on the other end of the line is none other than the Riddler. Here’s the best part, though…when we hear Riddler’s voice the cackle is unmistakeable. Yes fans, Frank Gorshin is back!! He delivers the riddle, “when is a jet stream like a dafodil?”
Another change we get with this episode is in the opening credits. Two shots of the animated title sequence have been changed. One comes at the front…we now see Batman and Robin each punch a baddie, followed by Batgirl swinging on a rope to take out a crook. “Bong!” is the exclamation that accompanies it. Also added is a credit for Yvonne Craig. An animated Batgirl rides by as this credit is displayed. This was a real treat for me to see, because I’m pretty sure that when I saw these episodes in syndication as a kid the credits had been streamlined on all the episodes. In other words, they just used the season one and two credits for everything. I don’t think I had ever seen this revised version of the opening titles before.
So, we’re off to a good start with season three. Let’s see what happens next time with the return of Frank Gorshin’s Riddler in Ring Around the Riddler. Same Bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Compressed Steam Batpole Lift
Emergency Batcall Box