Episode Title: Ring Around the Riddler
Original Airdate: September 21, 1967
Though season two of Batman had plenty of highlights, the absence of season one’s most prolific guest villain, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, was definitely felt. Lucky for us, he’s back for season three. This time he’s got boxing on his mind in today’s episode, Ring Around the Riddler.
As we begin, the Riddler has stopped by a little-used gymnasium (which is even labled as such with a sign) to convince boxer Kid Gulliver to throw his fight later that evening. Of course, Kid refuses, but later we see Bruce and Dick watch the obviously fishy fight on TV. It seems that Riddler was able to drug the boxer to do his will. Meanwhile, the prince of puzzlers robs the box office and leaves a mysterious box, that looks like a bomb. Luckily, Barbara Gordon shows up right after the crooks leave. When she notices there is a problem, she quickly exits and then returns as Batgirl to remove the sinister looking item.
Of course, inside the box is a riddle, “Who rules the ring? No king, prince, or rajah. Look for a clue on walls of Kafajah.” After hearing this, Commissioner Gordon suggests Batman consult his daughter Barbara on this, since she studies this sort of stuff in college. She informs them that there was a temple at Kafajah where people took part in an early form of boxing. Later that night, Commissioner Gordon watches the sports report of Betsy Boldface (really the Riddler’s girl) as she interviews a new boxer on the scene, Mushy Nebuchadneezer (really the Riddler, himself). This all seems suspicious to Barbara, so she changes into Batgirl and heads for the Riddler’s lair. Not sure how she knows where it is, but anyhow. When she confronts Riddler, he introduces her to an accomplice…the beautiful Siren (Joan Collins). She is able to produce high-pitched tones that make men do what she wants. Too bad Batgirl isn’t a man. She ends up captured anyway, though, only to escape (offscreen) just a few minutes later.
Later, Riddler calls up Batman at city hall to get him to face Mushy in the boxing ring. Batman eventually agrees, but you’ve gotta know that the fight is gonna be dirty. Shortly after the start of round 1, Riddler uses some small metal particles and a giant magnet under the floor to make it so Batman can’t move. Luckily, Barbara is in the crowd and changes to Batgirl just in time to take out the magnet, so Batman can win the day.
I tell ya, it’s getting harder to summarize these episodes now that we’ve gone to the one story/one episode format instead of the two-parters we’re used to. The writer’s are trying to cram so much into such a short amount of time. It’s almost too much to handle. This time, I never really get a clear idea of what Riddler’s plan is. He’s drugging boxers with mind-control juice and robbing the ticket window. Okay…but why is he playing dress up as some arab boxer and why is he so desperate to go toe-to-toe with Batman? He doesn’t really stand to gain anything in this, except maybe humiliating the boy in blue. Seriously, though, he doesn’t really think he stands a chance, does he?
It is great to have Gorshin back as the Riddler, though. His energy level is at its usual manic setting. I will say, though, that he almost has too many riddles to deal with in this one. He spouts them off in this one like he just bought a new riddle book down at the Gotham City Barnes and Noble store. Half the time he doesn’t even give anyone else the chance to figure out the answer…he just blurts it out. I guess he’s a little rusty after taking all of season two off.
We should mention that this episode features one of the few season three appearances of Madge Blake as Aunt Harriet. She shows up at the boxing match because “she just loves a good fight.” We also need to mention our next villain. Showing up an accomplice of Riddler midway through we have Joan Collins as Siren. While there is a DC Comics supervillain called Siren, this isn’t her. That baddie usually squares off against Aquaman. This version makes a brief appearance in the main plot but shows up in Gordon’s office at the end to lay the groundwork for our next adventure. Join us next time for Wail of the Sien. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Missing Relatives
Holy Sudden Incapacitation