Episode Title: The Unkindest Tut of all
Original Airdate: October 19, 1967
It’s time for the return of my favorite of all of the villains created specifically for the Batman television series…King Tut, once again played by Victor Buono. Of course, Tut is actually a Yale professor of egyptology who tends to slip into this other evil personality when clunked on the head. This time an off-screen hit in the head with a brick during a “love-in” sends him back into a life of crime. Here he comes in his penultimate appearance on the series, The Unkindest Tut of All.
As we begin, it seems that a strange figure has predicted several recent Gotham robberies, which the police paid no attention to. It turns out that the prognosticator is none other than King Tut, who goes on television to predict the robbery of Andrew’s Hockey Puck Factory. Of course, it happens, because Tut’s men (wearing rubber skeleton masks) are the ones that pull the crime. This crime throws a monkey wrench into Bruce Wayne’s afternoon plans, attending an accordion recital with the lovely Barbara Gordon.
It doesn’t take long for Batman and Robin to spring into action. They head for Tut’s lair, which he is making no effort to hide. In fact, tons of reporters are on hand to get his next prediction, the robbery of the soccer stadium box office. With no crime to arrest Tut for, Batman leaves empty handed, but heads for the stadium to thwart the robbery. During the fight, one of Tut’s men slips a tracker onto the Batmobile. So…when the Batmobile returns to the Batcave, Tut learns that the secret hideout is under stately Wayne Manor. He even calls the Wayne Manor phone to talk to Batman and inform the Caped Crusader that he will reveal the secret at a press conference tomorrow. Bruce tries to convince Tut that he’s not Batman, but the villain refuses to believe it unless he sees both in the same place at the same time.
The next day, Tut prepares for the press conference and Bruce Wayne is there. Then, the millionaire takes the villain outside where the Batmobile awaits with both Batman and Robin seated in it. Batman even speaks to Tut in a slightly robotic, but authentic sounding voice. Undeterred, Tut sets out on his real scheme, stealing some valuable scrolls from the Gotham library. Tut predicts a jail break so as to distract the police, and then heads to the library to grab the scrolls…convenitently, on Barabara Gordon’s day off. She’s not totally out of the picture, though. Having heard Tut use a quote from Rameses the Bald, which is on one of the scrolls at the library, Miss Gordon figures out what Tut is after. So do Batman and Robin…so all three heroes converge for the final fight and recovery of the scrolls.
This is another episode that has some great moments, but also further illustrates how the series is starting to slip a bit. The first half of the episode is as good as anything else we’ve seen with Tut in the past. Just the idea that he manages to find out who Batman really is had so much potential! Call me silly, but when he makes the realization I actually found myself somewhat worried. How would our heroes possibly get out of this one? I was genuinely concerned. The answer to the conundrum is pure lunacy…and I loved it. In order to have Batman and Bruce Wayne appear in the same place at the same time, our heroes used a very lifelike dummy of Batman. The lips are controlled with a pocket bat-synchronizer. Combine that with Batman’s ventriloquism talents…and it’s enough to fool King Tut. It was certainly a thrill for me, being that I’m a puppeteer by trade.
Here’s the problem, though. The bit with the dummy comes at the midway point of the episode. After that, the whole bit about King Tut knowing who Batman really is is dropped. Tut pretty much just says “oh, well” and moves on to something completely unrelated. I mean, he still tracked the Batmobile to Wayne Manor!! Why not go there and see the Batcave for yourself!? Instead he starts fixating on musty old scrolls in the Gotham Library!?! What a letdown.
Speaking of letdowns, this is the first episode we’ve had of season three where Barbara/Batgirl doesn’t really factor into things much. Batgirl shows up for the final fight because they had to work her in somewhere…but otherwise she’s pretty inconsequential to the story. We do, however, get a fun female character in the form of Tut’s main squeeze Shirley, played by Patti Gilbert.
So, in the end this is an episode that opens strong, but fizzles out a bit in the second half. It’s not deadly dull, though, which leads us to the reveal of our next villain. In the final scene, we see a cop on the street commenting on how things are “deadly dull.” Then, a car covered with flowers rolls by. Behind the wheel is a new baddie…one Louie the Lilac played by the one and only Milton Berle. Join us next time for Louie the Lilac…same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Heart Failure