Episode Title: The Londinium Larcenies
Original Airdate: November 23, 1967
It’s not unusual for classic TV show casts to spend an episode or two visiting some far away location. The cast of I Love Lucy famously went on a trip to Hollywood. The Facts of Life went to Paris and Australia. The Brady Bunch even visited such exotic locales as the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and Cincinnati (remember the King’s Island episode?). Well, it turns out that even Batman stepped outside of Gotham City for a three-part episode during the final season. Thing is, though, they didn’t actually travel anywhere. We’re still locked in the backlot, but this time the sets play the part of the city of Londinium (not London) in merry old England. Have your passports ready for The Londinium Larcenies.
As we saw at the end of the last episode, there has been a robbery at Chuckingham Palace. The culprits are Lord Marmaduke Ffogg (Rudy Valee) and his sister, Lady Penelope Peasoup ( Glynis Johns). Ffogg uses a Sherlock Holmes style pipe to create a cloud of fog under which they make their escape. Back in Gotham, Commissioner Gordon gets a call from the President asking for Batman’s help with the case. Luckily Gordon was already going to be going to London…er, Londinium and invited daughter Barbara to join him. Of course, when the Commissioner and Barbara board the ship, they find that Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Alfred also happen to be heading to England. Batman and Robin are on the ship somewhere, but Gordon doesn’t know where.
Upon arriving in England, Alfred sets up a new substitute batcave. See they brought many gadgets along, including the batmobile (which Alfred reminds them to drive on the left side of the road). They then get a briefing from Superintendent Watson at venerable Ireland Yard. By the way, Watson’s office looks exactly like Gordon’s with some slightly different touches. Upon learning of the strange fog that accompanies the robberies, Batman starts mentioning different fog related items…foghorn, fog bound, aftergrass (a form of lawn sometimes called fog). Watson reveals that Lord Marmaduke Ffogg has one of the best fog grass lawns, so our heroes decide they should drop by.
Batman and Robin arrive at Fog Place with Watson and Barbara. It turns out that Lady Penelope runs a girls school on the grounds with the help of her niece, Lady Prudence (Lyn Peters). Prudence takes Robin off for a tour of the grounds and admits to him that the girls at the school are trained as shoplifters. Meanwhile, Barbara sneaks off to call Alfred, who delivers a suitcase to her carrying her Batgirl suit. A short time later, as the Batmobile speeds away, they encounter a road block. Then a bunch of Lord Ffogg’s men pop out of the bushes to rough up the Caped Crusaders. Batgirl shows up to get into the fray. Our heroes then zoom off to their substitute batcave where some sort of fog bomb goes off as they arrive. As the smoke rises, the narrator tells us to come back next week.
If your read that synopsis and thought this episode seemed a bit thin on plot, you’d be right. There’s not a whole lot that happens in this episode. The beginning of the episode takes a lot of time creating a reason for our characters to head overseas. Then we have to have a scene explaining the fact that Bruce, Dick, and Alfred will also be (coincidentally) showing up in England. Once we get to the other side of the pond, most of what we see is setup for things that will play out in parts two and three. For example, the introduction of Lady Prudence and her group of student shoplifters (who all think Batman and Robin are dreamy). We also have to be introduced to Lord Ffogg’s lackeys, which includes his butler played by Monte Landis. I always remember him as Mario, the magic shop owner, in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. We also are shown that Lord Ffogg has a nest of killer bees in his yard. If that doesn’t come into play later I’ll be very upset.
As for our villains, I’m a big mixed on them. Rudy Valee as Lord Ffogg is appropriately pompous but is lacking in the animated qualities that many of the other Batman villains tend to have. That certainly can’t be said of Glynis Johns, who is lovably loopy as Lady Peasoup. Johns is probably most famous for playing the mother in Disney’s Mary Poppins, released just a few years before this episode aired. There are certainly interesting elements to both these villains, but so far they aren’t really working together as a team very well. We’ll see how that pans out as the story continues.
We aren’t really given a cliffhanger at the close of this episode, nevertheless, we have to wait until next time to see what comes next. Join us for The Foggiest Notion. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Anti-eavesdrop Plug (Batgirl gadget)
Holy Contributing to the Delinquency of Minors
Holy Show Ups
Holy Surprise Parties