Tuesday, September 27, 2011

27 & 28: The Curse of Tut/The Pharaoh's In a Rut

Season 1 Episodes 27 & 28
Original Air Dates: 4/13/66 & 4/14/66
Special Guest Villain: Victor Buono as King Tut
Guest stars: Ziva Rodann, Don "Red" Barry
Written by: Robert C. Dennis & Earl Barrett
Directed by: Charles R. Rondeau

A gold sphinx appearing in Gotham Central Park on a nice day may seem odd but when it begins to issue threats towards the population of Gotham, Batman knows it can be only one man behind the incident: King Tut! Once a prominent Yale Egyptology professor, a conk on the head at a student riot has given the corpulent teacher the notion that Gotham is ancient Egypt and he is their ruler.

PE: We're back to nonsensical plotlines. A statue in Central Park. A plot to kidnap Bruce Wayne. A ransom of a million dollars. At each turn I'm wondering what the rotund fiend is up to. Is there a master plan or did the writers turn in their script a little at a time, not noting what had come before?

JS: I want to know what's with having an entire harem for set dressing, but only showcasing the hot dog eating and horn blowing Nefertiti (Rodann)?

PE: At various junctures in this arc, the henchmen wear masks when they don't seem to need them. In the intro, the two drivers wear elaborate Egyptian masks while driving, only to doff them once they get out of the truck. A faux cop arrives at Wayne Manor wearing a false face. Was he afraid Alfred would know he wasn't one of Gotham's finest?

JS: I forgive them that, for what was one of the highlights of this episode for me: the Bruce Wayne dummy. Perhaps it's time for Aunt Harriet to get glasses, as that Bruce Wayne would have looked more at home in a coffin.

PE: So Gordon calls Wayne Manor, speaks to Alfred and then Bruce Wayne. Not two minutes later, he calls on the batphone and speaks to Alfred and then Batman and yet the man can't recognize the similarities? At least he's not running the CSI division of Gotham Police.

JS: I found it amusing how quickly Bruce dismissed the Commissioner before hanging up on him!

PE: A huge crowd of at least a dozen Gothamites seem hell-bent on spending every minute of their life in front of that statue in the park. And where's the press?

JS: The press must have been just off-screen.

PE: Alfred does seem quite shaken by the kidnapping of his boss. He says to master  Robin "Oh, it's a terrible thing!"  and then picks his duster back up.

PE: That's quite a cliffhanger we get at the end of Part One. I was disappointed though when the gurney goes down the side of the mountain and doesn't burst into flames.

JS: I too was waiting for the big explosion at the end of Bruce Wayne's Wild Ride.

PE: Bruce Wayne's a millionaire socialite and yet he lets his Aunt Harriet wander around in the clothes of a bag lady. Someone burn that dreadful red coat of hers! And Bruce is a great boss as well. Dangerous hoodlums will be coming to the door and he sends Alfred to answer. The butler's lucky this is William Dozier's Gotham, not Christopher Nolan's. 

JS: As the henchmen are quick to point out, he's not just a millionaire. He's a 'rich' millionaire.

PE: You gotta laugh (I did) when Batman and Robin were playing "hideout" on the side of the glass case in the living room of Wayne Manor. It must have done the trick though as both Harriet and the faux cop look right at them but don't see a thing!

JS: After Robin drags away the Bruce-dummy, Batman does a dive into the couch. I tell you, the man does everything with panache. Unfortunately, I think he's going to have to replace that couch, too.

PE: We've discussed the Bat-Tracker in the Batcave before but I'm still trying to get a handle on how it works. When they're tracking the kidnapped Batman, Robin tells Alfred "Look, it's working perfectly!" All I see is three green dots flashing on and off. Which one is Batman and what are the other two dots? And why does the signal go dead when Batman gets conked on the head. Is it a microchip in his brain and he has to remain conscious to be tracked?

JS: Just when you think you've seen it all, we get a Bat-Dance Party sequence.

PE: This one's a tough one. It's dumb as a couchful of Dancing With the Stars fans but there are enough goofy moments to mark it a keeper: that intro where we're introduced to the normal Gotham Park crowd including what appears to be a man enjoying an afternoon with his mother; the "pebble torture" sequence (sheer maniacal brilliance!!); the unwelcome return of the Batusi (or some form of it, at least); and the question that should have all of us scratching our heads - how the hell are we supposed to believe that King Tut fit in the front seat of the Batmobile?

JS: Buono doesn't get a lot of opportunities to shine in this particular episode, and I have fonder memories of the character from my childhood, so I'm hoping that in the case of King Tut, the best is yet to come.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

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


  1. I like the way Tut goes 'back to normal' between crimes, like Man-Bat and Lizard in comics. Puts his over-the-top nuttiness in perspective.

    Nice grabs of the Bat Boots. I remember Adam West on Merv Griffin, saying they were so comfortable, he had them made up in black and brown, for everyday wear. Hope they had the pointy tops.

  2. This nutsy episode is something of a parody of a parody, since the protagonist is really a mild-mannered professor who only thinks he's the reincarnation of King Tut whenever he's bonked on the beanie. This means those bored flunkies in his orbit are basically humoring him with all that "regal jazz," justifying Ziva Rodann's hot-dog munching routine. Playing the BATMAN music on a record seems to underscore this sense of deliberate unreality; like King Tut himself, the entire episode is an outlandish put-on. Still, Buono's a genius in his own peculiar way, and it's a shame that he died so young (paralleling similar performer Laird Cregar's demise, although it was a crash diet that did Cregar in). One thing's for sure: the blimp-like, colorfully verbose Mr. B was born to play a BATMAN guest villain!

  3. For me, this is the episode that turned the series' corner away from Semple's somewhat darker stories into S2's broader farce. As Gary notes, we're now pardodizing parody. Since Vic Buono is holding the reins, however, I'll forgive anything. If anything his performance in this episode is more restrained than what will soon be coming down the pike. At any rate here the show found what would become its true comic groove.

    Is this the first super villain we've encountered that had no comic-book precedent but was created especially for the series?

    Given John's comment about AW's panache, I hope our fearless leaders will someday explore the intricate similarities and differences between Batman and Shatman.

  4. Clifton!
    Thanks for all your comments on this blog. We really appreciate it. There are volumes of critical discussion on The Shat over at our two previous blogs, A Thriller a Day and We are Controlling the Transmission. Talent on that order cannot be contained within one blog.

  5. Is someone daring to suggest that the World's Greatest Living Actor has anything in common with the Bat buffoon???

  6. Peter: Many thanks. I'm having a whale of a time on your fine blog. I deeply ingested all your insightful comments about The Shat on your other blogs, which I faithfully read. I was simply too intimidated by your erudition to join in those conversations.

  7. >> Is someone daring to suggest that the World's Greatest Living Actor has anything in common with the Bat buffoon???

    I want to see those long-suppressed tapes of The Shat auditioning for The Bat and Adam West nailing the nuances of Captain Kirk. Never mind the Zapruder film, this is the footage that will change the world as we know it.