Episode Title: Nora Clavicle and the Ladies Crime Club
Original Airdate: January 18, 1968
Throughout its three season run, Batman was always a very harmless show. It never really dealt with hot topics, it was just good natured fun. Which brings us to today’s episode which, unlikely as it seems, is sure to offend a number of people. Get ready to see what happens when the women’s movement comes to Gotham in Nora Clavicle and the Ladies Crime Club.
As we begin this story, we are at a special luncheon honoring the long and faithful service of Commissioner Gordon. There is a notable absence, though. It seems that Mayor Lindseed and his wife are nowhere to be found. Eventually, though, they are spotted in the back of the room seeming to have an argument. Then, the mayor takes the stage and presents Gordon with a gold watch, just before relieving him of duty. He announces that the new police commissioner is none other than women’s activist Nora Clavicle (Barbara Rush). She then quickly announces that Chief O’Hara is fired and the new police chief is Mayor Lindseed’s wife. Everyone is confused by what has just happened, but the Mayor later tells Bruce and Dick that he was forced to do this by his wife who has refused to cook or do his laundry for the last several weeks.
A short time later, Commissioner Clavicle calls up Batman on the batphone and informs him that they will no longer be needing the service of he or any other man…Bat or otherwise. She even cuts the cord of the batphone. Plus, she fires all the other police officers and replaces them with women. Now, she is able to start her real plans, which begins with a bank robbery. It goes off pretty easily since all of the female cops are too busy exchanging recipes and talking about where the big sales are happening to go after the crooks.
Later, thanks to the mobile batcomputer in the batmobile, Batman, Robin and Batgirl end up at Clavicle’s hideout of sorts. Clavicle gets the jump on Batgirl though, holding a giant knitting needle to her throat. Next thing we know, all three heroes are tied up in a siamese human knot. Any movement will cause things to just get tighter, causing certain death. It’s at this point the the villainess reveals her true plan, to destroy all of Gotham and then collect on the insurance money. Of course, after the baddies leave, Batman figures out how to get out of it thanks to wiggling his ears and other such nonsense.
Meanwhile, Nora and her ladies have unleashed what will destroy Gotham, and army of wind-up explosive mice. However, the quick thinking Caped Crusader breaks out some small pipes…as in the sort that the Pied Piper would have used. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl then all head off in separate directions, playing their tune to lure the mice to follow them to their end in the river. Then, Gordon, O’Hara and Alfred all show up with Clavicle and her goons captured via citizen’s arrest.
This is such a delightfully silly episode that I gotta admit I enjoyed, probably partially because it’s full of stuff that will make many people in our over-sensitive age foam at the mouth. After all, some people aren’t going to like that the bad guy is a women’s rights activist. The same people won’t like that the female cops are inept and all carry rolling pins instead of billy clubs. But I dare say that if you get caught up in all that stuff you are missing a very important fact: this is the 60’s Batman series!! Has there EVER been anything on this show that was meant to be taken seriously? The show strives to be ridiculous…so let’s all lighten up a bit.
Having said all that, though, the writers of this particular episode do miss a pretty big opportunity given their chosen premise. With Batgirl now a part of the fray, it seems like we could’ve brought in a different angle where she is a more positive force championing women’s rights going up against Nora and her gang. Batgirl ends up just being along for the ride in this one, though. It’s interesting given that earlier in this season, Batgirl was the one who was often helping the boys get out of a jam, whereas now it seems that the writer’s have run out of ideas for her.
One interesting aspect of this episode is that it doesn’t feature a fight sequence. That’s right folks, a Batman episode without any “Pow!,” “Biff!,” or “Zowie!” graphics. I’m sure this is because the bad guys are all ladies, and there is no way that Batman is going to bring himself to trade punches with a lady…no matter what sort of evil scheme she’s up to. In place of the fight scene, though, we do get one of the weirdest sequences the series has ever seen, featuring our three heroes parading a large group of robot mice down the road.
All in all I thought this was a fun episode, especially given some of the dreck that has filled up much of season three. At the end of the episode, everything is back to normal with Gordon back behind his desk a City Hall. He’s there just in time to get a phone call from next week’s villain…none other than the Penguin. It’s the final appearance of Burgess Meredith in his iconic role in Penguin’s Clean Sweep. Join us, same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Portable Bat Computer
Holy Bargain Basements
Holy Knit One Purl Two
Holy Underwritten Metropolis
Holy Slipped Disc
Holy Mechanical Armies