Episode Title: Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time
Original Airdate: January 11, 1968
In this week’s episode, we see the return of a villain we were first introduced to earlier this season, Louie the Lilac as played by Milton Berle. I wasn’t all that thrilled with his first appearance, I gotta admit. Let’s see if things end up any better in this second appearance, Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time.
As we begin this time, we are at Bruce Wayne’s beach house. Dick Grayson and some of his friends are going to have a bit of a party there, and Bruce and Barbara Gordon a chaperones. When Dick and his friends come in from the beach, they have with them a large piece of ambergris…a grease produced by whales that is used in making perfume. A few moments later some gun-toting goons come in a demand the valuable substance. Leading them is Louie the Lilac, who decides to take Bruce Wayne and his ward along for a possible ransom.
Later, at Louie’s hideout, his lady friend Lotus (Nobu McCarthy) tells Louie that she needs all sorts of animal products from various musk producing animals to make the perfumes Louie wants to conquer the marketplace. Muskrats, Musk Deer, etc. So, Louie’s men head off to the zoo to steal the animals. Knowing that Bruce Wayne is an international sportsman, he decides that the millionaire will be the one to remove the glands from the animals.
Of course, knowing who kidnapped Bruce and Dick, Barbara Gordon heads off to change into Batgirl and save the Caped Crusaders. She gets a tip from Alfred (and the Bat Computer) as to where Louie’s hideout might be. She shows up at the perfume factory with the police in tow just after the Batmobile has arrived thanks to Alfred and a remote control. That makes everyone think the Caped Crusaders are looking for a way in. Not content with waiting, Batgirl busts in but is quickly overcome by Louie’s men. He decides to boil her alive if Bruce won’t extract the glands from the animals. Bruce ends up giving in, but says he needs two glasses of warm water to do the job. Louie obliges and sends Bruce and Dick off to the basement. Now alone, Bruce pulls out two tablets…which are actually Instant Unfolding Bat Costumes. Drop in water and they become full-sized bat costumes, complete with functioning utility belts. After donning their costumes, our heroes bust in for the final fight. During the battle, Batgirl frees herself and joins in. Then, our heroes sneak off, and become Bruce and Dick again in time to be rescued from the basement.
I actually found this to be one of the more enjoyable third season episodes so far. In it’s favor is a strong streak of originality. Just the fact that the whole premise revolves around Bruce and Dick being kidnapped, and therefore unable to become Batman and Robin, is a clever one. It is a bit of a bummer, though, that in the end they do become their superhero selves and save the day. I was kind of hoping that Batgirl would be the one to take charge of the situation and that we might not even see the Dynamic Duo show up in this one. Oh well. However, the way that they end up becoming Batman and Robin, tablets that become their costumes when disolved in water, is one of the most wonderfully wacky gadgets we’ve had in the whole run of this series.
As for Louie the Lilac, Milton Berle does a much better job with the character than he did in his debut. Last time, Berle seemed to be playing the role straight, which just did not fit the tone of the episode. Here he’s got the right mix of sinister and slyly comedic. He gives us a bit of a funny roll of the eye when Lotus tells him about all the animal parts she needs to make her perfume, and yet when he threatens to boil Batgirl alive, you kind of believe he’s bloodthirsty enough to do it. Berle is much better in his sophomore effort.
Speaking of Batgirl, there’s one other fun sequence involving her I want to address. When she goes off to change into Batgirl in the secret room in her apartment, she is briefly halted due to the presence of a maintenance man played by actor Percy Helton. He discovers that there is a secret room behind the wall, but thanks to a button labeled Secret Batgirl Room Instant Transformer, she is able to turn the room into a regular closet until he leaves.
Overall, this is a surprisingly good entry for the otherwise lackluster 3rd season. After this episode I would’ve been more agreeable to seeing more of Louie the Lilac, but this is the character’s last appearance. Next time, though, we get a new baddie (who, of course, shows up in a teaser at the end of this episode). Get ready to meet Nora Clavicle in Nora Clavicle and the Ladies Crime Club. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Two-way Transistor Wristwatch
Secret Batgirl Room Instant Transformer
Secret Batgirl Room Instant Re-Transformer
Batmobile Remote Bat Control
Instant Unfolding Bat Costumes
Laser Bat Cutter
Batgirl Vat Opener
Holy Finishing Touches