Episode Title: A Horse of Another Color
Original Airdate: October 12, 1967
If you recall, when we last left Gotham, Penguin and his accomplice, Lola Lasagna, were deep into a plot to make big bucks with a rigged horse race. In fact, Penguin is in the middle of trying to steal a valuable book on umbrellas and parasols from the Gotham City Library in order to sell it so he has a big wad of cash to bet on the race. Let’s see what happens next in today’s episode, A Horse of Another Color.
Before the opening credits even roll, Batman and Robin bust into the library to stop Penguin, but thanks to one of his trick umbrellas, he escapes with the book. Rather than chase, Batman decides to let Penguin move forward with his plan. The first thing the villain needs to do is sell the book. As luck would have it, he finds an ad in the paper from someone looking for antique books, especially ones on umbrellas, from a Mr. A.L. Fred. Read it again, folks, A.L. Fred. Well, Mr. Fred (it’s Alfred geniuses, do I have to spell out everything) buys the book for $10,000…which means Batman will be able return the valuable item to the care of Gotham’s librarian, Miss Barbara Gordon.
Meanwhile, Penguin has Lola see to it that the only horses that are going to be in the big race are her horse Parsaol, and the horse Penguin stole from the glue factory last time, Bumbershoot. But remember, the two horses have been disguised as each other, so that the underdog (really the thoroughbred) wins, paying off to Penguin big. When Batman hears that only two horses are left in the race, he makes arrangements to add his best horse, Waynebow, to the ticket. Jockeys are needed, though. So, it is decided that Dick Grayson will ride Parasol (which is really Bumbleshoot). Penguin is riding Bumbleshot (really Parasol)…but someone is still needed to ride Waynebow. Then the idea hits Batman…how about Batgirl!? A brilliant idea, but how do they find her. Of course, Alfred knows how to find her.
The big race takes place, with Bruce watching from the stands. It looks for a time like Penguin and his horse are going to win, but at the last moment, Waynebow pulls ahead. After losing Penguin tries to escape, but our three caped heroes go after him. After the obligatory fight, both Penguin and Lola are hauled off to the big house.
This episode is definitely a big improvement over part one. Still, there’s not a whole lot of story this time, it’s all just a lot of build up to the big race. I ended up not minding that the story was a bit thin because the race is a downright fun sequence. First of all, Penguin’s jockey outfit is nuts. He still has the dickey, bowtie, and purple top hat…not to mention the cigarette holder. His jockey goggles even have a built in monocle for him. Dick Grayson ends up looking quite at home in a jockey outfit. Let’s face it, Burt Ward was exactly tall in stature. He might have actually done quite well as a jockey. He could’ve gotten some lessons from The Monkees’ Davy Jones (who actually did train as a jockey). Batgirl just races in her standard costume.
Now, I was fully expecting the race scene to be a cheesy rear projection sequence…and I was somewhat looking forward to that. However, they use actual footage of horses going around the track. It’s not just shot at a distance either. Many shots use a moving camera zooming down the track alongside the horses. It’s very impressive. I mean, let’s be honest, for all the fun moments this series has had, the producers have not been beneath cutting a few corners from time to time. They don’t do that here and the sequence ends up being one of the more effective action moments in the series so far.
On the negative side, once again, Ethel Merman serves no purpose in this episode. Even when it looks like she’s going to have a moment, when she’s assigned to get the other horses out of the race by dousing them with itching powder, that actual crime itself happens offscreen. Ultimately, including the Lola Lasagna character seems to have just been a very weak attempt at including an extra guest star in this two-episode storyline. Other than that, though, this turns out to be a pretty enjoyable installment.
Speaking of guest stars, we need to mention who is revealed as next week’s villain in the epilogue of this story. Well, you don’t have to be a professor at Yale (that’s a hint, folks) to figure it out…especially when Barbara tells her father that she is tidying things up in the Egyptology section of the library. Then a mysterious figure appears among the books. You guessed it…Victor Buono returns as King Tut! Join us next time for The Unkindest Tut of All. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Diversionary Tactic