Friday, September 30, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 33 & 34

By Joel Eisner

The final episode of the season is also one of the weakest of the season and Penguin's as well. This time a fishy theme, Penguin aka Knott A Fish, kidnaps Alfred, so he can brainwash him and use him to learn the location of the Millionaire's Dinner, so he can steal millions of dollars meant for charity.

When Alfred discovers a handbill advertising cut rate caviar, he decides to pay a visit to Penguin's phony fish market. He usually orders his caviar through the Iranian Embassy, but he decides to avoid the middle man and buy it himself. Alan Napier recalled the circumstances concerning this episode,

“I remember one time when Alfred was walking down the street to buy caviar for the millionaires’ party. On the fish shop set was this big barrel of caviar covered with an umbrella. I was supposed to be tasting the caviar when the umbrella closed in on me, forcing my face into the barrel. That was most unpleasant, because the “caviar” was really black currant jam.” Well, you didn't think they would spend money on real caviar.

The episode does feature the infamous Penguin box in which he brainwashes Alfred to the sound of a Penguin quacking toy, merchansing missed out on this item. Later, we also find the Vacuum Tank, which sucks the air out of the room by use of a reverse bellows. Thanks to an emergency tank of Bat Oxygen, our heroes survive.

Penguin's henchmen are a strange bunch of characters, Octopus played by Victor Lundin, would later return to aid Shame as Chief Standing Pat who only spoke in smoke signals. Lundin admitted he disliked this episode, he was directed to act strange by the director, which included waving his arms all about during the fight, I guess to duplicate an octopus. Lundin was no stranger to Adam West, he and Paul Mantee (a later Batman inpersonater in a Catwoman episode) all starred together in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. He was also no stranger to sea life as he later portrayed the Lobster Man on an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also appeared as one of the first Klingons in the Errand of Mercy episode of Star Trek.

Julie Gregg as Finella did a lot of episodic tv before doing Batman (she later appeared uncredited as Miss Canary Islands in the Green Ice Mr Freeze episode). She alternated between Broadway and tv. She also appeared in the first two Godfather films as Sandra Corleone. She last appeared in 1994 film entitled Dead On.

Louis Elias who played Swordfish was a stuntman who appeared a number of times on Star Trek, in real life he was actor James Stacy's brother.

The most interesting of the henchman was Shark played by Dal Jenkins. A character actor who dropped out of sight in the 1980's. Not much is really known about him. However, I stumbled upon some interesting trivia about him. I was attending a big sci-fi convention in Columbus Georgia many years ago. I met a fellow there who was a local actor.

They had filmed a horror film called the Kiss of the Tarantula in Columbus and he played the minister. We started talking about the film, which played in NY constantly. When he learned I wrote the Batbook, he told me about a local Columbus boy named Dal Jenkins. I said I knew he played Shark in this episode. He told me the next time I watched the episode to check out Jenkins' eyes. I said I noticed his odd looking eyes. they made him look like a shark. I figured they gave Lundin a bald cap to make him look like an octopus, they gave Jenkins eye makeup. He told me that Jenkins was born that way. He had eyelids that only closed half way. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Costumer Designer Jan Kemp remembered that “Buzz Meredith was a charming man. I always admired him, but to work with him was wonderful. The Penguin was relatively easy to produce. Using an old-fashioned cutaway suit as the basis, I designed body pads to give him a portly look and found a fake fur fabric that resembled penguin feathers to make the vest and gloves. Burgess decided to walk with a waddle to imitate the penguin look, while the little quack sound was to actually disguise the fact that the cigarettes he used in the long holder were irritating his throat. Burgess was a non-smoker. We had to glue the monocle into his eye socket with spirit gum, and eventually had to dye his hair when a wig proved too much trouble.”

Next time The Batman Movie.

33 & 34: Fine Finny Fiends/Batman Makes the Scene

Season 1 Episodes 33 &34
Original Air Dates: 5/4/66 & 5/5/66
Special Guest Villain: Burgess Meredith as The Penguin
Guest stars: Julie Gregg, Victor Lundin
Written by: Sheldon Stark
Directed by: Tom Gries

The Penguin has kidnapped Alfred, butler/chef of stately Wayne Manor in order to brainwash him. The finned fiend is attempting to glean information about the highly secret meeting of The Multimillionaires' Annual Award Dinner, wherein twelve millionaires gather for dinner, discuss politics and golf, give one million dollars each to charity, and play grab-ass with the dessert. The Penguin is determined to infiltrate the meeting via Alfred so that he can grab a little for himself.

PE: Up front, I have to say that I voted for women's rites, respect the weaker sex, and have a poster of Sarah Palin hanging over my bunkbed. I'm a real lover of women. Having said that, I must admit I'm surprised at the amount of skin on parade in this episode. Penguin's moll, Finella, wears an incredibly risque outfit during the cliffhanger that would have found a home nicely on Farrah Fawcett in Charlie's Angels, but on a kids' show? How is it I don't remember this episode from my childhood? My favorite scene of the show (which I wish we could imbed) is when Finella is bending over to look at the gauge and the two henchmen are huffing away at the bellows behind her. I ask again: How is it I don't remember this from my childhood?

JS: Perhaps you missed the point, Peter, each woman represented a charitable cause. So they were celebrating charitable causes. And preaching good manners, like Miss Civil Rights passing on the canap├ęs to maintain her figure.

PE: I'm a big Alfred fan but I gotta say he deserves getting kidnapped trying to save a buck or two buying "cut-rate caviar." The guy works for a multimillionaire, ferchrissakes! I hope Bruce Wayne wasn't cutting corners when he was building his nuclear reactor downstairs in the basement. And he should start feeding Master Robin. The poor kid is eating caviar off the brick wall.

JS: We also find that Alfred is not just the dual-purpose butler... he also is the resident chauffeur, ladies man, and (as seen in previous Penguin episodes) undercover brother. When all decked out in formal wear, they make quite the triumphant trio.

PE: That henchman who sprays Alfred in the fish store is a lousy shot. He sprays himself first!

JS: I've been quite satisfied with the henchmen we've seen to date—until this episode. It would appear that central casting ran out of quality henchmen, and we're saddled with the over-the-top-even-for-Batman performance by Victor Lundin as Octopus. Hopefully he was a better writer than actor... I'll have to dig up his Hawaii 5-0 episode "Return to Pearl Harbor."

PE: Why does Chief O'Hara keep calling ahead to "clear the parking lot exits for Batman"? He doesn't park in the lot!

JS: That's why the villains never find their way to the Batcave. They've got all the parking lot exits staked out, and don't notice them leave from right out front.

PE: If I was Batman, I wouldn't be worried about Alfred's new twitch. I'd be worried who the hell's going to be making dinner for the multimillionaires' bathing suit orgy when the butler/chef is dusting the batcave! 

JS: This was an interesting story in that without knowing it, The Penguin was so close to finding out the true identities of the dynamic duo. Unlike the Riddler episodes, all of which impressed me, this Penguin episode was a low point of Meredith's first season appearances.

PE: And, not to keep ragging on Bruce Wayne, but how will he explain taking off right in the middle of judging which swimsuit model has the biggest... love for charity? He and Dick suit up and hop in the Batmobile while all the rich dudes eat his cheap caviar and drink Aunt Harriet's spiked punch. And who wins the biggest breasts contest right to represent her favorite charity? Ms. Natural Resources! Holy double entendres, Batman!

JS: In this episode, we also get to spend some quality time with Bruce Wayne, debonair man about town.

PE: Just to show that not all millionaires are sexist pigs, I love how our heroes, Batman and Robin, cheer on their rich buddies as they throw money at Finella's favorite charities.

JS: Well, she must have captivated Penguin and the boys, too, as no one happened to notice Alfred's mention of Batman and 'Master' Robin. And for those keeping score at home, PAM! makes another fight appearance, along with what I believe is our first FLRBBBBB!

PE: So Batman had the combination to Penguin's safe?

JS: I thought it was a nice touch that in just about every scene she was in, Finella (Gregg) prances about like she's on stage, despite the fact that no one is looking.

PE: The law can be just as fond of the female form as a millionaire. Commissioner Gordon leaves his dowdy old wife at home (probably helping little Barbara with her homework) and escorts Finella (on a one-day pass from Arkham Prison) to Wayne Manor for yet another swanky party. Bruce Wayne pays the jailbird the ultimate compliment: "Someday, when you've paid your debt to society, you may be released, not for one day but forever!"

JS: I love how Aunt Harriet's big scene in the episode is chastising Alfred for having a swimsuit beauty on each arm, while being surrounded by millionaire suitors herself!

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... The Catwoman—NOT! Don't believe everything you hear, Bat-fans! Next up (for real)... our Season 1 recap! Batman: The Movie! And Joel Eisner's Season Two primer! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 31 & 32

By Joel Eisner

Gorshin's final appearance of the season was based on a 1965 comic entitled the Joker's Comedy Capers. As the episode turned out, it might have worked better as a Joker story. I personally don't think the Riddler would have had any interest in making silent films. All that pie throwing and sleeping cream, and spiked lemonade is really not a Riddler type of crime.

It did give Gorshin and his gang a chance to change clothes several times, but Riddler in the western gear at the end of the episode just was out of character. Gorshin did get more use out of his 3 piece suit in this episode and gave him time to impersonate Charlie Chaplin. But it just wasn't enough. Even Sherry Jackson's skimpy outfit (which would be reused by Heidi Jenson as one of the poor people of Gotham City in the Archer episode) couldn't save it.

Van Jones was played by former silent screen star Francis X. Bushman, this would be his next to last acting role. He last role came later that year on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea before dying at the age of 83 from complications from a fall. Bushman had a long career as an actor and director in silent films. He was quite wealthy, so even though he appeared in a lot of low budget productions in his later years, such as The Phantom Planet, Irwin Allen's Story of Mankind (recreating his silent film role as Moses) and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, he did it just to keep active. He in fact owned the property the famous Chinese Theater in Hollywood was built on.

Neil Hamilton a former silent screen star, who had a descent career in talkies, such as playing Jane's boyfriend in the first two Weismuller Tarzan films. was not so lucky. His career bottomed out and he wound up an alcoholic, almost broke, and considered suicide. He was going to jump off the Santa Monica Mountains. However, on his way there, he met a priest (Hamilton was a devote Roman Catholic) who turned his life around and a few days later, Hamilton got a job at Universal. His last job was a small role in the 1970 Jerry Lewis film Which Way to the Front (he had worked with Lewis years before on the film The Family Jewels). Hamilton who died in 1984 from severe asthma. Hamilton was quoted during the series as saying “I was trained to know every line like I know my own name, but to say it like it was being said for the first time. Acting is a means of earning a living to me. That’s all.” Hamilton was a distant cousin to Wicked Witch of the West actress Margaret Hamiton.

Bushman was some 16 years older than Hamilton but during the episode it almost seemed that there was some form of tension between the two. They were not rivals during silent films, and even before the temper tonic effects, they did not seem to get along.

The rest of the cast was made up of Theodore Marcuse, an interesting character actor, the son of a Jewish fur designer, was a classically trained Shakespearean actor, best known as Korab the alien magician in the Catspaw episode of Star Trek. Here he played Von Bloheim a parody of Erich Von Stroheim, has little to do here (as does the rest of the gang). Marcuse died in 1967 at the age of 47 , He died a car crash. He had been drinking.

Dick Bakalyan, who would return three more times to the series (once as an Egyptian standup comedian, who runs afoul of King Tut, and twice as henchmen to Louie the Lilac and the Joker (as the Martian). Here he is given little to do like the others.

Burt Brandon, rounded out the gang, little is known about him, besides this episode he guested on Girl from Uncle and That Girl. He was originally from Norway and born under the name of Alf Jacobsen. He died in 2004.

Sherry Jackson was best known as the oldest daughter on the Danny Thomas Show. Born in 1942, she was 24 when she appeared in this episode but by 1980 her acting career was over. She appeared on both Star Trek and Lost in Space, as an android and a seductive alien hillbilly witch respectively.

Gorshin would next appear as the Riddler in the feature film and not return to the series until third season. More on this when we get to the Astin Riddler episode.

Next The Penguin retuns in a fishy adventure as the final episode of the season.

31 & 32: Death in Slow Motion/The Riddler's False Notion

Season 1 Episodes 31 & 32
Original Air Dates: 4/27/66 & 4/28/66
Special Guest Villain: Frank Gorshin as The Riddler
Guest stars: Sherry Jackson
Written by: Dick Carr
Directed by: Charles R. Rondeau

The Riddler's back! This time the Prince of Puzzles is hired by a movie fan to direct a silent film starring the Dynamic Duo. The Riddler, being The Riddler, decides there should be plenty of danger and cliffhangers.

PE: What was with the kooky scene in our intro when Bruce and Dick run into each other as they're heading to the batpoles? Planned, or a blooper that pleased the director enough to keep in? I liked it. It added a bit of realism to the camp for a moment. These guys must run into each other constantly, the way they run from room to room. I'd have preferred to see Batman hit the cushion in Robin's outfit and vice versa! 

JS: The way that Bruce looked at Dick after the bump, it was pretty clear who would have been tossed down the shaft if push came to shove.

PE: Why does Dick Grayson say "Holy Triple Feature" when Bruce tells him it's The Riddler again? Speaking of the parole issue again, I'd love to see someone come up with a timeline for this series. Assuming that Gotham doesn't give three week sentences for terrorism, extortion, kidnapping, and attempted murder, I have to guess that these felons get five years in the slammer each time they're caught (They're constantly being paroled early because of "good behavior"). I've only seen one episode where the villain has actually broken out of jail. This is Riddler's fourth appearance which means  at least 15 years have elapsed since the first episode. Dick Grayson may even be shaving by now. You can yell "stop!" at any time.

JS: It's called rehabilitation, Peter. And I'm guessing a pretty lenient parole board.

PE: Criminal-Mart must have been out of the regular purple knock-out gas that week. Ths one's got a nice yellow shade. And Gotham City must love its film festivals. There must be at least a dozen people pouring out of those theater doors into the lobby after the film. This is probably the same dozen art lovers who were at the opera when The Penguin went straight and the same dozen who stared at King Tut's statue for hours on end. 

JS: When they get to the library, the giant book lands pretty squarely on Robin, knocking him down while just glancing off Batman. Fans of Burt Ward on the prop crew, perhaps?

PE: I was hoping to see a shot of Batman driving back to the Batcave with that huge book sticking out of the trunk of the Batmobile. Speaking of the Batcave, why don't any of these evil geniuses think to follow Batman back to his lair? How did they handle that in the comics?

JS: Did you notice that once they got to the Batcave, they had removed the big pages for closer inspection. Wouldn't it have been easier just to transcribe the riddles?

PE: We get yet another "magical camera." This one actually follows the Dynamic Duo into the Gotham Library while staying inside the van. 

JS: The lemonade party was a classic scene. We get O'Hara and Gordon bitching at one another and cat-fighting babes! 

PE: Best line of the show is delivered by a drugged Commissioner Gordon: "You're an ignorant oaf, Chief O'Hara!" The scene gives Neil Hamilton (Gordon) a chance to chew some scenery the way he did so beautifully in The Outer Limits.

JS: Too bad we didn't get to see our two regulars come to blows.

PE: Best line by Batman (delivered to Gordon): "Let that be a lesson. In the future, be careful from whom you accept free lemonade!"

JS: I think the antidote Batman gave Gordon went a little too far in the wrong direction. That wave as Batman drove off was a little too lovey-dovey.

PE: It appears, when The Riddler is filming Robin heading for the buzzsaw, that the Prince of Puzzles has a good eye for what's making money at the box office at the time and is about to enter into competition with Herschel Gordon Lewis.

JS: When Batman takes Gordon and Pauline back to the Batcave, Gordon is like a kid in a candy store. You almost sense that he'd give up his desk job for a chance to dress up and play with toys.

PE: A fascinating Batcave segment when Batman takes Commissioner Gordon back home to witness an interrogation. Jack Bauer never worried about witnesses. Why should Batman?

JS: I think he was more concerned about a sexual harassment suit.

PE: Classic scene: Batman tosses a batarang to Robin, falling from a building, and the Boy Wonder grabs it with his teeth! He hauls himself up the building with no problem. "You owe your life to dental hygiene," muses Batman.

JS: Do you think they had practiced this maneuver before? When Batman throws the Batrope and tells Robin to catch it in his teeth, I'm surprised his response wasn't, "Bite Me."

PE: Bat-babe (and she is definitely a Babe!) Sherry Jackson is best known for her role as Danny Thomas' eldest daughter on Make Room for Daddy from 1953-58, but after that run she appeared constantly on TV shows such as 77 Sunset Strip, Twilight Zone, Maverick, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, Rockford Files, and all the usual suspects.

JS: She had a whole-lotta leg going on in that original outfit we see her in! She's certainly one of the more memorable babes of the season, so it's only right to give her a bit of a showcase!

PE: Not the best Riddler episode but, hopefully, not the worst. Gorshin's not given much to do but stand around and order his henchmen around. This was the only episode that, buzzsaw notwithstanding, I didn't get the "insane" vibe from The Riddler. This could have been written for any of the other standbys.

JS: As the first season draws to a close, I have to admit I'm surprised by how much I've enjoyed all of the Riddler episodes. I thought for sure that you'd appreciate the fact that this had the silent movie theme running all the way through it. Getting to see Gorshin do Chaplin was a particular treat. And we got another appearance of my favorite mysterious Bat-shadow! But the one thing that drove me crazy in this episode came in the epilogue. How in the heck does Aunt Harriet not recognize Bruce and Dick as the dynamic duo? If only she had her eyes closed, you'd have to imagine she would have figured it was Bruce and Dick...

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... The Penguin! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 29 & 30

By Joel Eisner

A lot can be said about the Bookworm, but most of if goes to Roddy McDowall. He was a long time Fox contract player, going back to when he was a child actor in the 1940's. Whatever part he played he was still Roddy. He gave he is own personality to every character, sort of bemused, aloof, annoyed, intelligent and childlike. You can see this best not just in this episode but in his roles on Twilight Zone, Fantastic Journey, Planet of the Apes the films and TV series, and both Fright Night films.

The character while not conceived for him in particular, did fit him rather well, but between the hat with the built in lamp and his radio glasses, he was almost unrecognizable.

I had the chance to speak with him about Bookworm and this is what he recalled “It was a show that everyone wanted to do at that period. It was such fun. They were larger-than-life cartoon characters, which are very interesting to play. I loved being part of the whole series. The costume, though, was very hot to wear. It was a wonderful part. I think there was talk about doing three episodes, but I don’t know what happened, because there was only one segment. I don’t know whether they changed their minds about the Bookworm or whether I was doing other things.”

I found the following producer William Dozier's papers it was the original thank you note Roddy McDowall sent producer William Dozier after his appearance on Batman:

“Hey, it was one of the best times; I have ever had, working on that nutty show. I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to get back into my Bookworm costume and that is really saying something, as wearing the bloody thing is like being captured in a Sauna bath. Everybody was so wonderfully kind to me and I really cannot wait for the joy of the next experience with them all. I really am most grateful to you for rearranging the schedules so that I could play the part. I would not have missed it for the world.”

The costume made to look like old leather book bindings was actually made out of vinyl plastic, which is why everytime he moved he sounded liked he just sat down on his grandmother's plastic covered couch. To noisy to be real leather, and too expensive. I wonder what became of that costume. Since Roddy was rather skinny, I doubt anyone else could have taken over the role. The same way John Astin could not use Gorshin's full dress Riddler suit, as Gorshin was rather petite and Astin wasn't.

The reason Bookworm was unable to return was that Roddy was off doing other projects, including a rather bizzare version of the The Golem (shot in England), entitled It!. It sort of mixed elements of The Golem with Psycho. It had Roddy as museum worker who borrows rare jewelry to let the corpse of his dead mother wear as he moves her around his mansion and the original Golem story. Roddy finds the secret of the living statue (sort of a cross between a shriveled prune, a dead tree and a pencil, and uses it to take over the country. Roddy was his usual self but the film was lacking in many ways.

By the end of the first season (only two more stories to go and both recurring villains) Bookworm was the last of the new villains and based on the change in the series the following year, it would have interesting to see how they would have handled him.

Since Batman was still new to television, Dozier hired many different types of writers, later he would keep a few regulars to take over most of the writing.

Writer Rik Vollaerts remembered “It was very hard to make a presentation to the producers, because they didn’t really know what they were going to do. There were people involved that didn’t know what it meant when you said, ‘tongue- in-cheek.’ There were people there that didn’t know what the word camp meant. But there were a sufficient number of intelligent writers who saw what they had. You’ll find a lot of variations. You will find some that took themselves seriously and some that didn’t. The only thing that I did that was even partially different was to develop an intelligent super-criminal. I had a hell of a hard time trying to sell it because the number of people who read books in Hollywood is rather limited. “The series was interesting because it was funny. Even the comic books were never intended to be serious. “The only surprise I had in the series at all was the inability to do good special effects. By that I mean constructing artifacts that really do things.”

While Vollaerts was not happy with the special effects Art Director Serge Krizman was “We shot that episode at Warner Brothers at New York Square. I had to build this 18-foot-high, 12-foot- wide and three-foot-thick book and it had to open in half, like a real book. They had to walk inside and the book closed on them, the special effects department did excellent work on that. When you have two parts of a thirty-foot book open and close and not see the guide wires, it was engineered quite well.. The belfry well was forty feet high and had to be built from scratch. I couldn’t find a bronze bell that was eight-feet high; so it had to be made all out of plastics.”

Francine York, a former Vegas showgirl turned actress who would take on the role of an alien Amazon on the Lost in Space episode entitled the Colonists, portrayed Bookworm's aid, Miss Limpet. She was one of the few villians/aids to make it into the Batcave. but as Francine recalled, it wasn't easy. “One of the funniest things that happened during the show was when they took me into the Batcave and they had to give me gas. Well, every time they said ‘Let’s give her some Bat-Gas,’ the three of us broke up. It must have taken us about a half an hour to get that scene started. It was so funny; we couldn’t do it with a straight face.”

“One of the things that I contributed to the show was this large book that I used as a purse. In reality it was the box from a package of Swedish cookies that happened to look like a book. It was my idea to make it look like a purse. I brought it in and they loved it.”

“It’s too bad that they didn’t bring his character back. Roddy was so wonderful, I loved watching him work. I remember Roddy was being interviewed on some talk show and they asked him what did you like best about doing the show and he said, ‘My partner, Francine York who played Miss Limpet.’ We worked together so beautifully, especially in the scene where we stole the Batmobile, he kept complimenting me.”
There were a few interesting errors or mistakes in filming such as when the Bookworm attempted to hit Miss Limpet with a large book entitled ‘The Secret of Success…Self-Control.”. On closer examination you will find that the book is a poorly disguised phone book. No attempt was made to hide this fact when Bookworm is seen scanning the pages with his hands. You can clearly see the columns of names on the pages as he reads the book.

The other involves actor John Crawford, a frequent Fox player thanks to his friend and Fox casting director, later the resident director for the Buck Rogers tv series, Larry Stewart. Crawford later the Time Merchant on Lost in Space (and a guest star on the Superman show) portrayed the henchman named Printer's Devil. He is the one who shoots the fake Gordon at the beginning of the episode. It has been said that this has nothing to do with the rest of the episode. It doesn't at least not in the filmed version, but it makes sense in the original script.

During the final batfight in the alley behind the library, if you look closely, you will notice that Printer’s Devil is missing. He was last heard talking to the Bookworm (via Bookworm’s tricky receiver in his glasses) and he was also present when the gang was hustled into Gordon’s office after the fight. But during the fight he was noticeably missing. His omission was due to a last minute change in the script. As the show was originally written, Bookworm and his gang were to meet up with Batman and Robin in the alley behind the library, that is all but Printer’s Devil, who was supposed to just outside the alley atop the bookmobile with a rifle (like he was at the beginning of the show).

Prior to the fight, he was supposed to have gunned down Bookworm and the remaining members of the gang. Believing the villains have all been murdered by an unknown assailant, the Dynamic Duo turns their backs and head out of the alley in search of the sniper. It is then that Bookworm and his gang rises from the dead and attacks the dynamic duo. Like the opening scene on the bridge, Printer’s Devil was firing blank cartridges. Believing the scene was too gruesome, it was hastily rewritten to eliminate the shooting sequence, but in doing so, they forgot to restore Printer’s Devil to the alley for the final batfight.

Jerry Lewis was the first and only window pop out of the season. It was done to accommodate the number of stars who wanted to appear on the show but having little room, the window cameo was created. Lewis pushed to get on the show to sort of cross promote his variety series currently on ABC. Later Phyllis Diller and Milton Berle (prior to Louie the Lilac) did the same thing to promote their tv shows.

Next Gorshin returns one more time (before asking for a pay raise and not getting it) and Neil Hamilton meets up with rival silent screen matinee idol Francis X Bushman.

29 & 30: The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns

Season 1 Episodes 29 & 30
Original Air Dates: 4/20/66 & 4/21/66
Special Guest Villain: Roddy McDowall as The Bookworm
Guest stars: Francine York, John Crawford
Written by: Rik Vollaerts
Directed by: Larry Peerce

Commissioner Gordon is assassinated while at a public celebration. Or is he? Turns out the cop killing was a ruse perpetrated by the fiendish Bookworm, whose every crime is influenced by a literary event.

JS: Things start off with a bang, although I suspected something strange was afoot when Gordon was fraternizing with a swimsuit clad model at the bridge grand opening.

PE: Once again we're back into the arc that has no traceable storyline. Commissioner Gordon is shot and falls from a bridge, very dead. We then find out that it was actually a stuntman hired by Bookworm who takes the dive. Why? Well, you won't find out in this episode because it has no bearing on the rest of the story. And explain to me how Gordon walks in off the street into Police Headquarters without having heard of his own death.

JS: I was hoping we might get a glimpse of his daughter Barbara in the Commissioner's office, mourning the death of her father. Gotta give the old boy credit—Hamilton really tries to sell his death. What surprised me is they have a shot of, in a kids show, fer chrissakes, a body falling from the bridge into the water! 

PE: It's mentioned that Bookworm's costume is made of old book bindings. That looks nothing like book binding to me. Speaking of costumes, that's quite a pair of funnels Ms. York is wearing beneath her sweater and I give the ensemble a big... thumb up.

JS: The bombshell plants a bomb. Francine York is certainly a sight to see. Unfortunately, as molls go, she's got a relatively restrained role. Batman doesn't even elicit an eye roll in the course of their encounter.

PE: Robin is tied to the bell of a giant clock (Big Ben) in a memorable scene. Batman is given just a couple minutes to rescue Robin but he seems to stop and ponder the situation several times, wasting valuable time. And I'd say it's a bit of a stretch Batman adding 2 + 2 + 3 + 6 and dividing 3 to find out where Robin was being held.

JS: He might have been thinking with Robin out of the picture, he could pair up with Alfred.

PE: We learn this episode that Batman has a truck on call to pick up his used parachutes. It even reads "Batmobile Parachute Pickup Service" on the side of the van!

JS: Clearly in response to public outrage over the blatant parachute littering we've seen in other episodes (if you've forgotten, just imagine the shots in this episode without the blue tint to make them look like night).
PE: We get our first "window celebrity" and it's none other than Jerry Lewis, who was still a big thing at the time. He's in full "wacky Jerry" mode. During that climb, it appears that Batman may be playing quarterback to Robin's center.

JS: One of the hallmarks of Batman that I recall from growing up. I was actually surprised it took us 30 episodes to get our first window celeb. 

PE: Wouldn't Alfred know all of Batman's foes on sight? Yet he invites Bookworm right into Wayne Manor where the devilish bibliophile makes quick work of both Alfred and Aunt Harriet.  LOL-moment: Batman and Robin. downstairs in the Batcave while the action rolls on above them, find out from the Commissioner that bad deeds have been done in Wayne Manor. Did Alfred call the police rather than bother Master Bruce?

JS: After the last episode, I think Batman realized he needed to get a little distance between Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred and Batman and his red-phone answering service. 

PE: How did Bookworm get that massive cookbook out into the middle of the street? I'm glad he did because it's a great gag.

JS: Acme delivers.

PE: Alfred comes off a bit more than athletic when he vaults over the rail in the Batcave. Put a Batsuit on him (I think pretty soon they will!).

JS: That was an awesome scene, and a great reminder what a firecracker Alan Napier was.

PE: Bookworm steals the Batmobile (a novel idea) and heads to the Gotham library where he uses the Bat-ray to blow up the back entrance. Through the hole in the wall come the Dynamic Duo to save the day. Well, yeah, they saved the day but they could have saved the library thousands of dollars if they'd simply waited outside in the alley for the villain. I'm sure Bruce Wayne will donate the dough for fix-up.

JS:I think someone needs to explain to Batman that walking right into the villains trap is NOT the only way...

PE: While the story teeters and falls into the abyss, I'll still be giving it three bat-signals and you know why. It's all Roddy. Sadly underused (this would be his only appearance) and not given much to work with, the genre fave steals every scene he's in. He's creepy, oily, kooky, eccentric, and cowardly. Aside from Frank Gorshin, my favorite performance so far in the series. As for why Bookworm never had a return appearance, in Joel Eisner's Offical Batman Batbook, McDowell is quoted as saying "I think there was talk about doing three episodes, but I don't know what happened, because there was only one segment. I don't know whether they changed their minds about the Bookworm or whether I was doing other things." I'd assume the latter. Roddy would, years later, voice The Mad Hatter character on The New Batman Adventures  and Superman TV cartoons.

JS: When McDowell goes full Bat-crazy, I realized we were dealing with another villain on par with the top tier rogue's gallery. 

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... The Riddler! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!