Friday, December 16, 2011

Batman Season 3 and the Complete Series - A Final Report

We hope you've enjoyed this nostalgic trip through the 60s with the dynamic duo (Peter and John) along with our Extra Special Guest Batscholar, Joel Eisner.

Before we get to our individual picks, here are the top five "visited" third season episode reviews on the blog:
  1. The Wail of the Siren
  2. Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club
  3. The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery
  4. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  5. Surf's Up! Joker's Under!

Our Season 3 Top Five Lists

Peter's Picks
  1. The Unkindest Tut of All
  2. The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery
  3. I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle
  4. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  5. The Wail of the Siren
John's Picks
  1.  Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  2.  The Unkindest Tut of All
  3.  I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle
  4.  Surf's Up! Joker's Under!
  5.  The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery

Season 3 Best Special Guest Villain/Villainess

Peter and John's Pick
Victor Buono as King Tut

Season 3 Best Bat-Babe (Batgirl/Villainesses not eligible)

Peter's Pick
Sivi Aberg (Surf's Up! Joker's Under!)

John's Pick
Angela Dorian (I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle)

Season 3 Best Gadget

John's Pick
The Bat Crawler

The Best of the Bats - the Entire Series

The Top Ten Batman Episodes

Peter's Picks
  1. Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle
  2. The Unkindest Tut of All
  3. The Great Escape/The Great Train Robbery
  4. I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle
  5. Hizzoner the Penguin/Dizzoner the Penguin
  6. Come Back, Shame/It's How You Play the Game
  7. The Ring of Wax/Give 'Em the Axe
  8. King Tut's Coup/Batman's Waterloo
  9. The Purr-fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time
  10. The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns
John's Picks
  1. King Tut's Coup/Batman's Waterloo 
  2. The Purr-Fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time  
  3. The Devil's Fingers/The Dead Ringers 
  4. Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle 
  5. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
  6. The Ring of Wax/Give 'em the Axe
  7. The Joker is Wild/Batman is Riled 
  8. True or False Face/Holy Rat Race 
  9. I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle 
  10. The Cat's Meow/The Bat's Kow Tow

Best Special Guest Villain/Villainess

Peter's Pick
Frank Gorshin as The Riddler
runner-up: King Tut

John's Pick
Julie Newmar as Catwoman

runner-up: King Tut

Best Bat-Babe (Batgirl/Villainesses not eligible)

Peter and John's Pick
Lee Meriwether
Peter's runner-up: Jill St. John

Best Writer 
Peter and John's Pick
Stanley Ralph Ross

Best Director
Peter's Pick
Oscar Rudolph

John's Pick
James B. Clark

Bat-Babe Lifetime Achievement

Yvonne Craig as Batgirl

That's how we saw it. Let us know which you thought were the best!

And be sure to join us in 2012 as we follow the exploits of intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak one day at a a time in our latest blog—It Couldn't Happen Here. If you're a fan of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, you won't want to miss it!

The Batscholar's Epilogue

By Joel Eisner

After 66 adventures done over a period of 120 episodes, the series had come to an end. The show left the air after the final episode. The third season episodes never had a rerun on the network. After a couple of weeks, ABC replaced the show with rerurns of the short lived sitcom The Second Hundred Years. The series went into reruns not long after and remained there ever since. The Batman motion picture went from first run theaters in 1966 to cheap last run theaters over the next year or so. It debuted five years later in July 1971 on the ABC Sunday Night Movie. It later was released on video and is still there. The series has yet to surface on video due to complex legal rights.

What most people do not know is that there almost was a fourth season for the series as Yvonne Craig relates, “I knew someone who had access to all the files and letters that were written back and forth between ABC and 20th Century Fox/Greenway Productions (Dozier’s company), and apparently, they were going wildly over budget all the time. It was a very expensive show to do. ABC did not feel it was cost-effective anymore. So, when we left for Thanksgiving in November, we didn’t know if we were going to do another season or not. We didn’t even say goodbye to one another because we didn’t know that it might be our last season. And then, we weren’t picked up.”

“When we were canceled by ABC, they wondered if we could get on another network. When it looked like we couldn’t, they came with a bulldozer and bulldozed the whole set—the Batcave and all of that. Then, two weeks later, NBC said, ‘Listen, we’d like to take a shot at “Batman,” if you still have the set.’ They didn’t want to start from scratch and build them because the set was $800,000. So, it was too late, and nothing came of it.”
NBC’s unfortunate delay destroyed the series’ only remaining chance for a fourth season. How the series would have fared on the new network is unknown. It might have been restored to its original two part/two night format and lasted a few more years, or it might have just gotten worse and died a death of neglect at the end of the fourth year. There are endless possibilities.

Producer William Dozier, “Well, we had a good three-year run. That’s not bad for what was essentially a novelty show. You’ve got to be realistic about such series. They can’t last too long. In fact, I was surprised that it went a third season. Although the show still led its time slot in the ratings, adults had tired of it, and the audience had become kids who are just as happy watching the old shows; they don’t care if it’s a repeat. So why go on spending $487,000 for new ones?"

Adam West, "I had to take it seriously. I wanted to do it well enough that Batman buffs will watch reruns and say, ‘Watch the bit he does here; isn’t that great?” I’ve never had more fun doing any role than Batman. It was a fortuitous, lucky marriage of a lot of talents, and, as a result, it became a classic. It’s going to be playing forever.”

Burt Ward: “I learned a great deal from Batman. It was an experience I will treasure forever. It gave me a fantastic opportunity. It has enabled me to meet and be welcomed by people throughout the world. Having seen me on television, they treat me as though I’m their friend, as though I’ve been in their home before.”

After the series was cancelled, there were other incarnations of Batman with Adam and Burt. They returned in a Saturday Morning cartoon called The New Adventures of Batman and Robin. It added Bat-Mite but little else. No familiar voices and the show was below par. The two returned for the Challenge of the Super Heroes and Challenge of the Superheroes Roast (both available on DVD from the Warner Archive - ed.), two shot on video attempts to made a live action version of the Superfriends. Besides Adam and Burt, Frank Gorshin came back as the Riddler, but only for the first part. The shows were horrible to say the least. Adam later took over the voice of Batman on the Superfriends cartoon (after the death of Olan Soule, the original voice). Adam and Burt reteamed again for the Return to the Batcave tv movie which contained their original studio screen test footage, it had little going for it.

As for the rest of the cast. Madge Blake died in 1969, Stafford Repp died in 1974, Producer Howie Horwitz died in 1976, Neil Hamilton died in 1985, Alan Napier died in 1988. William Dozier died in 1991. Very few of the guest villains, production crew and assorted henchmen are still alive. Its been 45 years since it premiered but the reruns still keep the memory alive.

Shortly after the series was cancelled, 20th Century Fox, which lost so much money filming Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor years before, sold off most of its studio back lot, (It was turned into the Century City housing development). Most of the producers moved out of Fox and half went ot Paramount and the rest went to Warner Brothers. Charle Fitzsimons went on to work with William D'Angelo on Love American Style and the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series. William Dozier retired from producing and took up occasional acting (just to keep the wonderful medical benefits given by the SAG).
Stanley Ralph Ross worked with D'Angelo on Wonder Woman then went on to producer and write the Monster Squad. The 1976 Saturday morning series tried to capture the flavor of Batman, but fell flat. It featured Buck Kartalian (a catwoman henchman) as the Wolfman, Mike Lane (Black Widow 's Daddy Long Legs) as Frankenstein and Henry Polic II (later of the Webster tv series) as Dracula. Fred Grandy later Gopher of the Love Boat, worked in a wax museum and when he turned on his crime computer (hidden in the chamber of horrors) the wax statues of the monsters came to life and together they set out to solve crimes created a new bunch of arch criminals. Stan Ross was able to reuse and recycle old Batman plots and jokes (including the Ronald Ray Gun). The giant clam, guest stars Julie Newmar, Joey Tata, Dick Bakalyan, Sid Haig, Billy Curtis, Paul Smith (artemus Knab) Barry Dennen. New verisions of Mr Freeze, Falseface, King Tut, (all with different names but the characters were the same). Back in 1976 with other Saturday sitcom kid shows by the Krofft Brothers, I enjoyed this show, however, it was finally released a few years ago on dvd. I was really looking forward to seeing it again, as it never went into reruns. I barely remembered anything, except the episode with Lost in Space's Jonathan Harris as the evil Astrologer. I found the show to be a lame parody of Batman and an overindulgence of Stanley Ralph Ross's ego. He had complete run of the show and it just didn't work. The dvds are inexpensive, so if you want to see what Batman could have turned into check it out.

As for me, this look back on the series has been fun, as I hope it has been for you. Looking at the series on a daily basis enabled me to watch the series slide and deteriorate right before my eyes, something I really didn't pay direct attention to when I wrote the Batbook. Now I see the show in a different light and I hope you do to.

To Be Continued Next Week! Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel! NOT!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 120

By Joel Eisner

After three years the producers were able to get Zsa Zsa Gabor onto the program. She was under consideration for Zelda the Great, she was scheduled for Marsha Queen of Diamonds, but was unable to do it. Now when Mae West was unable to take on Minerva, Zsa Zsa got her chance. They never should have bothered. While not a bad episode, it just wasn't worth ending the series with this episode.

Mae West the comedic bombshell of the 1930's, was now 75 years old and would have been just too much a cartoon version of her former self. Zsa Zsa was much younger but the part was just too vague to be considered an arch villain. Some have suggested that Carolyn Jones return as Marsha in this episode. It might have helped but it was just another one of Charles Hoffman formula/hatchet jobs.

Producers Howie Horwitz and William Dozier made on screen appearances as themselves partly to save on paying for more guest stars and partly to give a send off to the series.

We have a number of returning henchmen in this episode, Al Ferrara last seen as Trap Door to the Black Widow. Boyd Santell, last seen as Sethos in the Spell of Tut (this time he played a security guard) and Jacques Bergerac returns as French Freddie the Fence. Tough guy actor William Smith was Adonis. Mark Bailey who spent most of his career playing guards and army officers (he had a recurring part as a German Officer on Garrison's Gorillas) was Apollo. As far as Aphrodite, this was Yvonne Arnett's only acting role. whether she was someone's girlfriend or just another Fox starlet, this was it for her.

The only other guest cast member was light comedy actor George Neise, who played Mr Shubert, who appeared in numerous sitcoms and worked with Three Stooges.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, “I loved the character; she was a real wicked woman. The wardrobe was all gaudy and silver and nothing can be more exciting than that. She had a beauty parlor and she had these hair dryers on the people’s heads. These hair dryers got all of the spy stories out of the people’s brains and I could find out what they were thinking. One person for example was a jewelry salesman and I could find out the combination to his safe. I opened that safe and diamonds kept on falling all over me. I loved it.”

By this point in time the show had reached rock bottom and even Adam West had had enough.

Adam West: “I became extremely frustrated and unhappy, and wanted out. There was nothing I could do to convince the producers or the studio to make improvements. I was just a hired hand. Eventually I lost all interest because I felt the series was being neglected. They weren’t spending the money they should have and we weren’t getting the scripts we deserved. I didn’t want any part of that kind of situation. But I still hated to leave the character because Batman had been good to me.”

What would have happend if the show had gone to a fourth season is unknown. But there almost was a fourth season. Check out my epilogue for more.

Episode 120: Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires

Season 3 Episode 120
Original Airdate: 3/14/68
Special Guest Villainess: Zsa Zsa Gabor as Minerva
Guest Stars: Jacques Bergerac, William Smith
Written by: Charles Hoffman
Directed by: Oscar Rudolph

Minerva, Queen of the Mineral Spa, has been using her devilish Deep Secret Extractor to learn where millionaires hide their booty. Minerva's latest victim: millionaire Bruce Wayne. Mahvelous, dahling!

PE: The producers have a laugh at themselves this episode as they're cast as millionaires at the spa. I say that with tongue in cheek because we all know it was to save a few bucks.

JS: I'm wondering if they did that to pocket any remaining budget before they turned out the lights once and for all.

PE: Bruce Wayne comes out of one of Minerva's rooms with a big smile on his face so, let's not be coy, we both know what was really going on in that spa. Bruce tells Minerva that after every visit to her spa, he feels like a new man. She answers him back with "I feel like a new man too, Bruce!" That line might have been funny if uttered by an actress you could understand but mangled by Gabor's thick Hungarian accent, it sounds like she actually says "I fell like a newmanitou, Broosh." Then Bergerac shows up and suddenly we could use subtitles.

JS: Bruce obviously had a good enough time that he wasn't worried about them stealing his watch.

PE: Minerva's two henchmen achieved success long before they became simple henchmen. Atlas played outfield for the Dodgers in the 1960s (and was playing for them while he moonlighted on this show) and Adonis was actually Conan the Barbarian's dad. Bill Dough-zier searched high and low for new talent.

JS: So I have to ask. Was Aphrodite's role minimized out of deference to Zsa Zsa? I feel like we were denied a potential Bat-babe.

PE: Minerva's obviously not been in America long as she doesn't find it odd that Bruce Wayne talks to his watch. I guess she figures all these millionaires are nuts, dahling.

JS: I think the fact that she's a little nutty herself helps.

PE: Robin gasps at Minerva's insistence that the Caped Crusaders take it all off before their massage: "If we disrobe... we'd reveal our secret true identities." Ward accents the last bit with a hilarious nod towards his Robin-jewels.

JS: What I found odd was that they didn't just bring towels, they went full Toga.

PE: My "newly-discovered love for Adam West's comedic abilities" moment comes when Minerva's goons are leading the towel-clad Dynamic Duo towards a spa room. Batman jovially exclaims that he's looking forward to a eggplant jelly vitamin scalp massage and caresses the top of his headgear:
Atlas: Minerva thought we'd pop you into the Persimmon Pressurizer first.
Robin: Persimmon Pressurizer? Holy astringent plum-like fruit!
Batman: Only astringent until ripe, Robin!
JS: I guess we should start planning for The Last Precinct-A Day. I have to believe that watching a Stephen J. Cannell sitcom starring Adam West will straighten you out.

PE: What's with the goofy smiles between West and Ward just before they open the Pressurizer door? It looks, to me, like an on-set crack-up that got left in. Very funny!

JS: How many times in this series have they been trapped together in a too-small container? Fortunately it always makes for a good screencap.

PE: It took us 120 episodes but, yep, we finally get to see Alfred without pants.

JS: This will be a day long remembered.

JS: More importantly, we get one last romantic interlude between Alfred and Batgirl. I tell ya, it was a missed opportunity not giving the two of them a spin-off show...

PE: In his indispensable Bat-bible, Joel Eisner says that originally the Minerva role was written for Mae West but she was off doing the equally campy Myra Breckinridge. I'm surprised this wasn't originally intended as a return for Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones) as the plot would fit that villainess to a T. I can only imagine how different this episode would be if you could understand all the deadly threats coming from the mouth of Minerva/Marsha.

JS: Did you notice, in classic Commissioner Gordon fashion, he walks out with the criminal babe on his arm? Don't you think he would have tempered that a bit this season, with daughter Barbara always hanging around?

PE: Not as horrible an episode as I'd been led to believe, just not very good. According to The Official Batman Batbook, the producers knew this would be the last episode. So why not have a nice exit for our boys (and girl)? Instead, there's just a bit of unfunny banter about Batgirl always disappearing and the curtains fall. Not much fanfare for a show that was, at one time, a pop phenomenon.

PE Rating:

JS Rating:

Next up... We wrap up Season 3 and the entire series! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 119

By Joel Eisner

Dr. Cassandra and Cabala were an attempt to merge the hippies with the older generation. Sonny and Cher they are not. Ida Lupino and her husband Howard Duff were an odd combination for this episode. Lupino a member of the British Lupino acting family, was the female lead in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes opposite Basil Rathbone, later one of the first female tv directors (she worked on shows such as Thriller and Gilligan's Island). Duff was the star of the then cancelled Felony Squad. I liked this episode, it was so off beat, that the pair seemed like something out of a 60's version of a LSD trip done like a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode.

This was also the cheapest episode of the series. No henchmen, invisible crooks and six arch criminals played by stand ins. As I pointed out before, the Catwoman standin was Julie's not Eartha's .There were some things thatalways got to me, why were the villains all housed in a special arch villains wing, when they never were before. Why are they wearing their street clothes. Why was King Tut in jail, since his memory returned after each episode and he went back to teaching. He never went to jail. Why was Catwoman housed with the male villains. Why was the electric switch that released all the villains on the wall in Warden Crichton's office and not outside the wing where it would be more useful. I mean why would the Warden need a switch to release all the arch criminals at once.

This was David Lewis's last appearance as the Warden, so they gave him a new Prison Captain played by Bill Zuckert. (the sheriff from the Spectre of the Gun episode of Star Trek).

G. David Schine, the former assistant to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy during the blacklisting trials of the 50s, portrays the jewelry store floorwalker under his given name.

Stanley Ralph Ross, “The producers ran over budget on this episode, and they could not afford to take the two days necessary to block and shoot the fight scenes. So, I wrote this episode in such a way that the fight was in the dark; therefore, the episode was shot in less time.

I wanted to call Cassandra’s weapon a Ronald Ray-Gun. This was the only time they really censored me. The weapon took the third dimension out of them and made them into cardboard cutouts. At the time Ronald Reagan was our governor of California. So, instead I used Alvino Rey who was an old-time band leader from the ‘40s. Ross later used the Ronald Ray Gun on the Monster Squad TV series.

Cassandra was named after a little girl who lived next door to me and was always asking to be put into a ‘Batman’ story.”

Next In the final episode of the series Zsa Zsa Gabor finally plays a villain. Plus the return of Jacques Bergerac as Freddie the Fence. Plus Producers William Dozier and Howie Horwitz play themselves.

Episode 119: The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra

Season 3 Episode 119
Original Airdate: 3/7/68
Special Guest Villainess: Ida Lupino as Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft
Extra Special Guest Villain: Howard Duff as Cabala
Guest Stars: David Lewis, David Zuckett
Written by: Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by: Sam Strangis

Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft (of the notorious Spellcraft family) has discovered a spell that can render her and her husband, Cabala, invisible. Their dastardly plans include releasing six arch-felons from the State Prison and raining hell down upon Gotham!

PE: I thought we were in for a good time when we find out that Gotham City Bank is "the bank so conservative that it pays no interest at all."

JS: Was that a nod to those viewers who had given up paying interest in the show?

PE: I could have gone on the rest of my life not having my view of Howard Duff as a real he-man destroyed. I remember Howard fondly from reruns of Felony Squad as a rough, gruff police sergeant who took no crap off perps. Here he's a skirt-chasing, earring-sporting, henpecked hippie dippie who spouts "Groovy" and "Marv," two words that, I'm sure had never emanated from his mouth before. Duff was married to Lupino at the time this episode was filmed but they had been separated for two years (they would finally divorce in 1984). You'd never be able to tell there was anything but marital bliss between the two on screen, if Duff's continual advances on Lupino are to be believed. Lupino, of course, was one of Hollywood's first respected female directors. You can read more about her on the Thriller-a-Day blog as she directed nine episodes, including the classic La Strega.

JS: He certainly threw himself into the role. I liked his line about husbands and wives are supposed to bump into one another once in awhile. I imagine a few parents did a double-take on that one.

PE: At least Barbara got herself a new raincoat. It's still matronly but at least it ain't slicker yellow.

JS: Do you think they had exhausted the season's budget by this point? I can't imagine those 'invisible effects' cost as much as having to have actors present (then the question becomes 'did they actually have actors present?'-PE).

PE: The budget had hit such a low that Cassandra wasn't even afforded henchmen. That's a first. And Cassandra is forced to deal with The Terrific Trio with a bare bones weapon: a colored flashlight. They could have at least sprung for a Christmas tree color wheel. Ouch! I'll bet Lupino was wishing she'd gotten in when the gettin' was good.

JS: One prop they didn't skimp on was the mini-Batphone! It's not Bat-creeper, but a cool gadget right out of the utility belt.

PE: I got half of my LOL-Adam West for the episode when he asked if a gun wasn't below Dr. Cassandra's level and finished it off with a deliciously slow "Noooo.... style!" Only problem is that our veteran director, Sam Strangis, must have been nodding off as he only catches West mouthing the "Noooo..." before we cut to Cassandra and Cabala. Mr. Strangis, you had "noooo.... style!" If I was a TV producer, I would have signed up West for a comedy show when the Batman run was over.

JS: I enjoyed the flattening sequence, right down to the vibrating Batgirl. But I had a problem with them being mailed to Alfred. Pete, you're a postman. Do you think they knew the address of the Batcave? And if you're sending flattened bodies through the mail, wouldn't there be some forms to fill out? To whom would Gordon send them, and did Alfred have the appropriate fake ID to sign for them (Forget it, John, it's Gothamtown-PE)?

PE: It's certainly lucky Bats had that Three-Dimensional Bat-Restorer on hand in the Bat-cave or the series may have ended on its 119th episode.

JS: Once again the dynamic duo demonstrates the value of proactivity. Who else would create a Three-Dimensional Bat-Restorer before they had ever been flattened. Of course, they might have chosen to invest that time and money into the anti-flattening pill... but at least they had that ready for their next go-round.

PE: By this time, Dozier was too cheap to bring in the old villains for the cameos at the prison escape but I thought the powers-that-be did a good job of finding extras who at least resembled the arch-criminals for that couple of seconds we see them all. For the record, those present and accounted for are Egghead, the Joker, King Tut, The Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman. I wonder if Frank Gorshin was paid any royalties for the use of his laugh or Burgess Meredith his whack-whack (yeah, right!).

JS: I was impressed enough to stop and re-watch that sequence. Now I knew there was no way they'd pay to bring out the big guns for cameos, but I can imagine being a kid watching this and believing that all my favorites were present and accounted for.

PE: I had to chuckle when I noticed during the climactic invisible battle, most of the crap was being thrown at Burt Ward. Even into Season 3, he had a lot of friends in the crew. And that fight in the dark is pure genius. Twenty more bucks saved on lighting! Score!

JS: I disagree with you there. I thought it was brilliant to have them beaten down by 'invisible' villains, but the lights going out took that fun away.

PE: Our "celebrity" cameo is from G. David Schine, who had quite a colorful past. He was one of Joe McCarthy's main goons in the 1950s (and made the cover of TIME Magazine as such), dated Piper Laurie, was accused of having a homosexual relationship with fellow McCarthy goon Roy Cohn (not that there's anything wrong with that), and discovered Osmond Brothers knock-off The DeFranco Family (who were dorky enough to have guest starred on Batman if the show had lasted another ten years). He's very clearly a terrible actor so this was a series on which he could shine.

JS: It's also worth mentioning that after 119 episodes, O'Hara realized that there was a voice at the other end of the Batphone. Way to go, Chief!

PE: Out of context LOL-line of the show:
Cabala: Beat it, baby! We'll flail it together! 
JS: For a first-time villain in the final episodes of the series, this could have been far worse. We'll see how we do with Zsa Zsa.

PE: Let me leave you with a bit of dialogue. Bats has just sprayed Batbabe with Bat-go-to-sleep-spray so she won't be able to identify where the Bat-cave is.
Robin: You know something, Batman?
Batman: What's that, Robin?
Robin: She looks very pretty when she's asleep.
Batman (with a big grin): I thought you might eventually notice that. That single statement indicates to me... the first oncoming thrust of manhood, old chum!
And they say this show was for kids?

PE Rating:

JS Rating:

Next up... The End is truly here, with Minerva! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 118

By Joel Eisner

The final appearance of Cesar Romero as the Joker has him using the plans for a flying saucer he got from his recent cellmate (a mad scientist who is also a notorious pickpocket) and using Beryllium stored at a Wayne Research Lab, and Alfred (whom he believes is a mad scientist, despite having had his ups and downs at Alfred's hands last season) builds a flying saucer. Add having one of his henchmen dress up as a martian and some of his cohorts spread rumors about a Martian invasion, he plans to take over the world from outer space.

Another one of Charles Hoffman's wacko stories. the saucer (which Alfred builds in a matter of hours) is a combination of a cheap prop (similar to the one used on Wild Wild West) and stock flying saucer footage from the original version of Invaders From Mars. The Joker's hideout is an abandoned lauching pad factory where he also plans to shoot Batgirl into outerspace strapped to a giant bottle rocket.

The one surprising moment comes when the Martian henchman plants a time bomb which literally destroys the Batcave and almost Batman and Robin. What happened to the automatic bomb detector from the Bookworm episode?

The flying saucer’s interior seems to change in size throughout the entire episode. During the footage at the end of the previous episode, we are shown the Joker, his girlfriend and three henchmen seated in the only five seats on board. Yet, during the actual episode, there is room for two additional seats for Alfred and Batgirl. But at the end of the episode three additional henchmen are seen exiting the saucer to take part in the Bat-Fight. Where did they come from?

By this time it appears no one cared about logic so anything is possible (next episode people turn invisible). Cesar appears to had been having fun, maybe he knew it was his last turn as the Joker and just let it go.

Joker's girlfriend Corinne Calvert, was a French actress in her mid forties who had seen better days and later left show business to become a hypnotherapist. she died in 2001 at the age of 76.

Dick Bakalyan returned after playing henchmen to Louie the Lilac for what is his best performance on the series as the wacky Martian.

Dick Bakalyan, “Originally, an actor named Marc Cavell was supposed to have played the Martian. It was fun to do that—Verdigris and the flying saucer—and anytime you work with Cesar is a pleasure. It was not work doing these shows. We just went and played and had a good time.”

Marc Cavell was Fangs, one of the Riddler's river rat gang members.

Fritz Feld (formally artist Oliver Muzzy from Pop Goes the Joker) is Professor Greenleaf and Grandma Walton Ellen Corby played his sister Mrs. Green. Both were cohorts of the Joker and helped spread the Martian rumors.

Besides the explosion in the Batcave, this episode had another milestone, the second black henchman. actor Jeff Burton who was best known as Astronaut Dodge from the original Planet of the Apes movie (the one that is killed and stuffed in the museum) played Shamrock, Joker's token henchman. Burton had small roles over the years and died in 1988 at the age of 62. Lloyd Haynes was the first black henchman in last season's King Tut's Coup.

Bit Player Tony Gardner played the other henchman. The three mystery henchmen who popped out of the saucer were uncredited stuntmen.

The episode is not bad if you look at it as a parody of 1950's low budget sci fi movies but as Batman episodes go, they could have ended the series when the Batcave blew up.

Next, Ida Lupino (one of tv's first women directors) and estranged husband Howard Duff team up in one of the series cheapest episodes. Dr Cassandra and Cabala.

Episode 118: The Joker's Flying Saucer

Season 3 Episode 118
Original Airdate: 2/29/68
Special Guest Star: Cesar Romero as The Joker
Guest Stars: Richard Bakalyan, Corinne Calvert
Written by: Charles Hoffman
Directed by: Sam Strangis

Synopsis: The Joker intends to build a flying saucer in order to terrorize Gotham. He's sent some of his henchmen out to stir up panic. To craft his craft, he must steal a mother lode of Beryllium from the Wayne Foundation.

PE: Ed Wood lives! Yvonne Craig screams! The nail is driven firmly and loudly into the coffin!

JS: Was Barbara screaming due to the fact that footage from a sci-fi classic was repurposed for this embarrassing space mess?

PE: Was she screaming because there was a hairy green Martian in her library, or because said Martian had just knocked a row of her nicely stacked volumes to the floor? 

JS: Is this screeching little mouse really the alter-ego of our tough-as-nails Batbabe? 

PE: She never screamed at the mice in the Pied Piper episode.

JS: And no one stopped to consider that just maybe the Gotham City Public Library won't be the first stop on a space invader's intergalactic tour...

PE: LOL-dialogue:
Batman: Since there is no intelligent life on Mars as we know it, there can be no intelligible Mars-ish language... it is the duty of every good citizen of Gotham City to report meeting a man from Mars in a public park. Gotham City Penal Code section 32, subsection 14.
JS: They've got that in the penal code, and yet right and left, super-villains are allowed to walk free for kidnapping, assault, and various other infractions that must have slipped under the radar of Gotham's forefathers.

PE: The Dynamic Duo had me in stitches while grilling Mrs. Green (Ellen Corby). They kept bending over and looking very closely at the old lady. I kept waiting for Bats to have a smell of her.

JS: Gotta love Ellen Corby. I like to think her role here is a crossover from the one she played in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

PE: Sounds like another really complicated and yet dopey plot hatched by The Joker: he's going to steal some incredibly rare metal (not Nilanium, but Beryllium), build an operational flying saucer, fly in from Outer Space, and scare Gotham City into paying what he wants.

JS: Fortunately, the latest gadget in the Batcave has access to the scripts, so the dynamic duo were on to the plot in no time. Let's assume that in one of the many budget-saving offscreen developments (such as Alfred and Batgirl being captured!), it warned them about the bomb in the Batmobile. And it was quite an explosion, when you consider it knocked not one but two phones off the hook.

PE: Bakalyan (as Verdegris, the faux Martian) seems to think he's doing Shakespeare, gesticulating wildly and chewing the scenery.

JS: Granted, but at least it gave him a chance to do it in make-up, this time around. When he first showed up at the Joker's lair, I did a double-take because I thought he was Al Lewis!

PE: I could be wrong but that spaceship looks a heck of a lot bigger on the inside than it looks from the out. And those three extra henchmen that get out of the ship when it lands must have been in the john while the UFO was in the air!

JS: What do you want for $1.98? I'm sure I saw an ad for that in the back of a comic book...

PE: 19 appearances on Batman and Cesar Romero gets his send-off with this crud? After the the last three episodes, I really was hoping this series would go out on some high notes but I fear the quality is in the rear view mirror, Bat-fans.

JS: And if that weren't bad enough, look what they do with Batgirl. They almost completely removed her when editing the fight footage—we're treated to a single WHACK! as she smacks the Joker with leftover plywood used in making the saucer, and nary a single Batgirl-kick. The only thing they managed to squeeze in was her obligatory bondage scene, as she's strapped to the rocket. That also gave us one of the Joker's best lines:
Joker: I've thrilled many a woman, Batgirl, but I've never sent one completely into orbit before!

PE Rating:

JS Rating:

Next up... Dr. Cassandra! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 117

By Joel Eisner

By far the best King Tut of the Season. I know there are many of you who prefer the previous episode but as I pointed out this was part two of the same story. It was cut into two separate episodes and unlike Egghead and Olga, it was retooled and shot at different times with a different suporting cast. But it was originally a two part story (this was according to Stan Ross), One of major components to the story was the Bat-Dummies. When Tut reaches the Batcave, he finds the Bat-Dummy Closet, which contains the Bat-Dummy that was used against him in the previous episode. He then grabs it with a sigh of recognition, he joyfully beats it up, and then stomps on it.

I always prefered this episode because of the entire sequence in the Batcave and the revealing of Tut's real name, which I will get to in shortly.

Joey Tata, last seen as Penguin GOON, returns as Tut's chief henchman complete with beard and sunglasses.

Joey Tata,“The sets were wonderful. That whole set was fantastic. They had a whole thing on a railroad car. We were in it, and the camera was dollying with us. One of the things they left out because they didn’t think it was right, was when we were all toasting each other, and Victor lifts the glass and goes to drink. His beard gets in the glass, and after he finishes he lowers the glass, the beard is dripping down. ‘He went, ‘Arrgh!’’, like a pirate’. We thought it was just wonderful, but they cut it out; they didn’t like it.”

Victor's new Queen played by former Playmate Victoria Vetri, who at the time was about 24, the last of the younger females molls. Vetri appeared in numerous tv shows in the 1960's and in films like Rosemary's Baby and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. She also appeared (uncredited as the human form of Robert Lansing's cat Isis), in the Assignment Earth episode of Star Trek. Most recently (as of Sept 2011) she was sentenced to 9 years in prison for shooting husband number four in the back after a drunken party. She is now 66.

Jock Mahoney returns but not as Leo Catwoman's henchman but it in the small part of H.L.Hunter, the mining Engineer. Comedian Henny Youngman has a nice bit of banter with Victor as the real estate salesman, Manny the Mesopotamian, and Jerry Lewis regular (and housekeeper for the Fly) Kathleen Freeman has little to do as Rosetta Stone (part of her scenes were cut for time when the episodes were split up).

Towards the end of the episode, Tut knowing Batman's true identity runs despite his bulk, up the mine shaft in the hopes of spreading the news to the world. Tut eventually is hit on the head by a falling rock from the mine shaft he reverts back to his former self as a Professor of Egyptology at Yale University. He real name was never revealing until this episode.

King Tut’s real name is Professor William Omaha Mackelroy, which is a Bat joke unto itself. Writer Stanly Ralph Ross loved to include private jokes in his episodes, such as names of his friends and relatives, his boyhood home address, etc. Well, this time, he named King Tut’s alter ego after the producer’s pet dog. You see, “William:” Dozier was born in “Omaha” Nebraska and had a pet poodle at the time named, you guessed it, “Mackelroy.”

Next: The final appearance of the Joker. Cesar Romero returns to Gotham to take over the world from stock footage of Klaatu (aka Sandman) Michael Rennie's spaceship from the original Day the Earth Stood Still.