Monday, September 26, 2011

25 & 26: The Joker Trumps an Ace/Batman Sets The Pace

Season 1 Episodes 25 & 26
Original Air Dates: 4/6/66, 4/7/66
Special Guest Villain: Cesar Romero as The Joker
Guest stars: Jane Wald, Dan Seymour
Written by:Francis and Marian Cockrell
Directed by: Richard C. Sarafian

The gold golf club-carrying Maharajah of Nimpah is in Gotham, which brings the Joker back to town for a little kidnapping and ransom action.

JS: Another boring day in stately Wayne Manor, where our not-so-dynamic duo have resigned themselves to assembling a puzzle upside-down. And poor Aunt Harriet missed her cue, as the boys were already out of the room to answer the batphone by the time she showed up!

PE: Is the air conditioning on max at the Manor? Bruce Wayne seems to be dressing for the Ice Capades.

JS: I sure miss the non-PC golden age of television, when you could show crooks resorting to a fork lift to move a big fat Maharajah.

PE: I do like the fact that Batman shows golfer etiquette by not driving on the fairway...even if it means the Maharajah will be kidnapped. I'm sure this is Bruce Wayne's favorite course.

JS: Cesar Romero makes his singing debut with this third appearance as the Clown Prince of Crime, in an unfortunately lackluster adventure.

PE: Got's to agree with, John. Not only is there a paucity of action but the hook of the Joker's jokes is a little too close to that of the Riddler. Tell me the difference between some of these "riddles" and "jokes". I do love the little song The Joker sings (and he sings just for us):
Circle now and intertwine, 
neatly wrap these guests of mine. 
No more will they jeer and scoff, 
I'll cut their circulation off. 
If they do not see the joke, 
pull the ropes and let them choke.
It's got a ring to it.

JS: I have to give the writers credit for setting up Jill (Wald), the latest moll to fall for the Caped Crusader, as the would-be savior from the episode's cliffhanger, making the actual escape all the more interesting. Thank goodness someone installed the zipline on the chimney top.

PE: Ever the gentleman, Batman scolds Robin for doubting The Joker's word when the clown prince trots the Dynamic Duo off to their doom. This leads to one of the most forgettable cliffhangers of the series. Batman and Robin are literally just standing and talking to themselves as our voice comes on and tells us about the predicament the boys are in. Coulda fooled me.

JS: I had all but given up on this episode when it was saved from oblivion by a trip to the novelty shoppe. From Dick shoving the chattering teeth in Bruce's face to Bruce's structural examination of the googly-eye glasses—this was the high point of the episode to me.

PE: But hey, at least The Joker didn't steal the Batmobile!

Robin doing his best Outer Limits Mutant impersonation.

JS: Sure, Robin had to wait outside the bar in the premiere due to his age, but this is the first time Batman played the 'dynamic senority' card...

PE: My favorite scene of the episode! I love the Larry David smirk on Batman's face as he steps on the Boy Wonder's pride and squishes him under his toes. 

JS: How did no one notice the bank manager pocketing $10,000? And right under the noses of the dynamic duo, the police chief and commissioner! He places equal stacks of bills into the briefcase as he counts out $450K, $460K, $470K, $480K, $500K.

JS: Do you think Batman was giving a clue that he knew what was going on when he made the joke about there being only one 'T' in Batman? Or do you think it's one more instance of prejudice against that fat Maharajah?

PE: Shhhh, John. We don't use the word "fat" around here. 

JS: Looks like The Joker hooked up with False Face before. Now that's a team-up I would have liked to have seen.

PE: Bruce Wayne and Alfred seem puzzled that the Batphone should ring so quickly after the case had been wrapped up. Do you think there's a grace period that the three or four other super-villains in Gotham adhere to out of respect for Batman?  I was half expecting Commisioner Gordon to say "It's our old friend, The Joker, Batman. He's been paroled and he's stolen $100,000 in monopoly money from FAO Schwartz."

JS: As if to make up for her late arrival in the prologue, we get another Aunt Harriet appearance in an otherwise inexplicable second Batphone call in the epilogue. Hopefully Gary can explain what was going on at the time that necessitated a gag about Batman running for governor in California.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... King Tut! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!


  1. I enjoyed this story a little more than you, I think. It is one of the few that bothers to build to a real surprise ending of some kind, and even a fairly-clued one, at that. (Apart from the one moment when the Joker is sitting in the back of the magic shop in full Maharajah gear.) I also found the cliffhanger well-handled, as the escape was fun and cute without falling back on the started utility belts. Sarafian was a very highly sought-after director at the time, and I like the way he controls the potentially crowded or confusing scenes. The story is more visual and less reliant on dialogue than most in the series.

    The Joker's little song, played straight to the camera was an interesting one-time experiment. I wonder if it was intended as a regular feature. I see your point about the overlap between Joker and Riddler, but that was often true. They are, for example, almost indistinguishable in the movie. The actors play them very differently, but their stories and criminal interests are usually interchangeable.

    In 1966, by the way, California was having major trouble and the governor's race brought out a number of candidates promising to "clean things up," including the eventual winner, Ronald Reagan. The joke, I think, is that it would take Batman to govern California.

  2. That should have read "dratted utility belts."

  3. An okay episode; I'm with LJS as far as the cliffhanger's concerned... it was a reasonably clever way for our heroes to make their escape. Gentleman Batman thanking Joker for placing him in a deathtrap instead of killing him directly was a little hard to take, and Joker's little song was frequently cut from syndicated showings (for time), sparing the Duo some extreme humiliation -- although those lyrics are pretty amusing. Okay, so I was a Brooklyn boy in '66 who had never been to California (much as I wanted to go to Disneyland). But yeah, it was Ronald Reagan vs. Pat Brown for governor back then, with Reagan prevailing. The Caped Crusader was also approached as a presidential candidate (by both parties!) in Season Two's "Hizzonner the Penguin...", I seem to remember. Ludicrous as all this seems, DC's superheroes had a history of political dabbling in the awful comic book stories of the day... I recall Superman running for mayor, in full costume, wearing a top hat! Lord, no wonder Dozier decided on a campy approach for the BATMAN TV series... one look at those idiotic DC covers and his mind was probably made up.

  4. No one has yet mentioned the use of the Bat-shield early in the "Ace" episode. I love how clumsily Robin puts it ostensibly back in his utility belt by pulling out his cape then dropping on the floor, the sound of which seems not to have been removed in post.