Thursday, September 15, 2011

11 & 12: A Riddle A Day Keeps The Riddler Away/When The Rat's Away The Mice Will Play

Season 1 Episodes 11 & 12
Original Air Dates: 2/16/66, 2/17/66
Special Guest Villain: Frank Gorshin as The Riddler
Guest stars: Susan Silo, Reginald Denny
Written by: Fred De Gorter
Directed by: Tom Gries

Synopsis: The Riddler's back in town, working with the River Rats Gang—breaking up a beauty pageant and kidnapping visiting King Boris to set a trap for the dynamic duo. Once he's got them in his clutches, he's determined to do away with them, once and for all.

PE: Commissioner Gordon's crack police squad is all present and ready for duty. There must not have been any ice cream carts illegally parked in Gotham that day.

JS: Was Batman taking advantage of his backstage access at the Miss Galaxy pageant?

PE: "When is a person like a piece of wood?" I was thinking -- when he's bored.

JS: While I can understand their tearing out of the Batcave on the way to Gotham, wouldn't you think they'd be a little more careful about screeching in? There's an atomic pile in there, fer chrissakes!

PE: When Batman and Robin come tearing out of the backstage door, Batman looks around the parking lot like he's lost his car. "Oh, there it is, right in front of me!" 

JS: All those Batmobiles must look alike.

PE: Batman leads the king right to the trap door (which is hardly hidden). Whose side is he on?

JS: Ah, remember the days when computer screens scrolled by... and did you notice how Batman always has to say what he's searching for while tickling the keys on the Bat Computer?

PE: Tickling? It looks like some kind of crazed foreplay to me.

JS: If you were crawling up the wall, would you stop midway to have a conversation?

PE: How about when Robin lets go of the rope to point at Batman and tell him he's right?! 

JS: My favorite Bat Line:
Batman: Stop fiddling with that atomic pile and get down here!
JS: Clearly spinning at 1,000 rotations per second is not good for your legs...

PE: I can't wait for the DVD release. I'm sure the producers will go in and tinker with the  special effects a la George Lucas. Dummies are a lot more lifelike these days.

JS: Forget the whole take the glasses off Clark Kent argument... how could someone go from talking to Batman to talking to Bruce Wayne and not even pick up the similarities. I do have to give Commissioner Gordon credit for not being fooled by the completely different sounding Batman who came in and left through the office window. 

PE: You mean Fatman? My gosh, everyone looks like Adam West when they put on that cowl. Doesn't Alfred get into the game sometime later in the run?
JS: Gries provides some of the most dynamic direction we've seen thus far. There are a number of interesting lighting choices, extreme close-ups, and camera moves (that didn't involve simulating an explosion). 

PE: This may have not be an original thought but it occurs to me that Gorshin was channeling Kirk Douglas for his role of The Riddler. Douglas was part of Gorshin's repartoire in the 60s.Then Michael Douglas channels Gorshin's The Riddler for Wall Street!

JS: Channeling anyone or not, Gorshin knocks another one out of the park. I particularly liked his whispered goodbyes to Batman and Robin as he sent them to their peril. Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan of his latest moll, Mousey (Silo), and wasn't surprised to see that her career primarily consisted of applying that screech of hers to a variety of voice-over projects.

PE: I, however, really dug Mousey's "Three faces of kink" routine: first the Judy Garland get-up in our intro at the airport, then with the black rubber coat, and finally the Angus Young schoolgirl disguise. If I'd been the Riddler, this is the kind of chick I'd have had in my gang.

JS: Our underutilized Bat Babe of the week was Miss Galaxy winner Joy Herman (41-22-36), perhaps most famous for her car-washing talents from Cool Hand Luke

PE: I'm sure all of her assets were used to the best of their abilities and director Gries was able to draw out the performance of a lifetime from Ms. Herman.

PE: I felt so sorry for Aunt Harriet at the climax of the episode when she announces that she's heading off for the museum, unaware that it's been closed indefinitely for repairs. And those two rapscallions snickering away.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... The Mad Hatter! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!


  1. JS: "Tickling? It looks like some kind of crazed foreplay to me." All his best wishes were still with Miss Galaxy.

    "Gries provides some of the most dynamic direction we've seen thus far." It's too bad that he didn't direct more of them. Especially when we get to S 2, the direction would have perked up the watery storylines. Instead, Oscar Rudolph will compete to make them even duller, and will triumph.

    "Our underutilized Bat Babe of the week was Miss Galaxy winner Joy Herman (41-22-36) … " How do you guys track down such stimulating, uh, tidbits?

    "… how could someone go from talking to Batman to talking to Bruce Wayne and not even pick up the similarities." Forget it, Jack. It's Gotham.

  2. Gries' direction: The closest we'll ever get to a film noir-style BATMAN episode. My guess is that this more interesting visual approach was deemed too sophisticated or even distracting by Dozier and his minions. The straight-on 'cartoon' look that characterized the series would return with a vengeance almost immediately, and never go away. As mentioned earlier, the spinning dummies really don't register as a "look how phony, just like a cheap movie" self-parody gag (if that's what was actually intended), and Gorshin is his usual great self, reminding us that he was one the key reasons we got hooked on the show to begin with.

  3. I thought the Riddler was even more fantastic here than in the first 2 episodes. When Mousey claims she's never met royalty before, I love the indignant way Riddler removes his mask and rises up while declaring himself Prince of Puzzlers, Count of Conundrums and King of Crime. It's also priceless the way he kisses his hands while claiming he's sheer genius.

    The lighting, close-ups and odd camera angles in this episode were a visual treat, and well suited to showing off the Riddler's animated behavior. Loved it! 4 Bat Signals for me.

  4. I'm in agreement with the batateers here and not the bat-pert. The story may not have had the complete ridiculousness that made for a fantastic 1/2 hour journey, but it did have some very interesting twists and turns -- i liked how Griese utilized that noir-esque camera shot, first with the Riddler and then shooting up through Schmidlapp's, er Boris' nostrils -- egads, as much as i admired Denny's beard it looked as though we were staring into a new entrance to the batcave! Mousey was nicely played, and the faux-Batman made his first appearance. And commissioner Gordon not looking like a clueless lox -- now that's acting!

  5. I'm glad I'm not the lonly one who noticed the direction of this one. It's as though the director was trying to channel Alfred Hitchcock. And note at least half the story takes place at night. Can you imagine how much BETTER the entire series could have been if this sort of thing were done regularly?

    Also agree on Riddler's monomania-- as before, he's really NUTS. And that makes him more dangerous than any of those other posers. I thought the death-trap this time was particularly viscious-- and believable. They hadn't gotten to all those completely contrived sort of death-traps where someone must have had large-scale machinery built specifically for the purpose of killing someone. This stuff works much better when it's just on-hand.

    Also agree on "Mousey". Somewhere between "cute" and "weird".

    This actually gets MY vote for the BEST Riddler story in the run.

  6. I also vote it as best Riddler. Gorshin's cackle as he leaves the Duo to die, at the end of the first part, sent shivers thru me as a kid and, still resonates, today.

  7. What about that riddle Riddler gave that begins, "it is the beginning of eternity...?" It's never solved, not brought up again, and has no bearing on the case at hand. The answer, by hthe way, is "the letter E".