Thursday, September 29, 2011

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!


  1. The one line from the series I'll never forget: "You owe your life to dental hygiene." Does it make me floss more often? No.

    This outing hasn't a story to speak of, and what story there is makes no sense, but it has some memorable moments that are fun to watch. It gets old pro Neil Hamilton out of that office and gives Our Man Frank a chance to play the Little Tramp (while playing with another little tramp). The build-up to Tex Riddler in Act IV is a let-down. Imagine if only Gorshin had played the cowboy as Kirk Douglas.

    What current TV producer would green-light this episode's premise? Who remembers Mack Sennett or Francis X. Bushman, Chaplin or Harold Lloyd, von Stroheim (sic) or "The Perils of Pauline"?

    It matters not. Sherry Jackson. There are no words.

  2. Commissioner Gordon's wide-eyed kid in a candy store act while visiting the Batcave was well delivered, but left me with the impression that he has a crush on Batman. I agree that the enthusiastic wave good-bye pictured above was quite "lovey-dovey."

    "...render her senseless with a whiff of Bat gas." (snicker, tee-hee) Can't help feeling a little juvenile when I hear a line like that.

    Was anyone else a little creeped out by Aunt Harriet's reaction to getting kisses from her nephew and BW?

    I also didn't feel like the Riddler had so much going on in this episode, though I did enjoy his Chaplin impression, too. I think the Ring of Wax/Give em the Axe has been his best this season.

  3. I totally agree that this was quite a weak episode of the Riddler. That's not to say it's bad at all! It just doesn't really feel like the Riddler. His worst episode was definitely Ring Around The Riddler... but all of his episodes from season 1 (excluding this one, sorry!) are among my favorite episodes of all time. I guess you could say I love the Riddler!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But anyways, this episode is great, but I expect much, much better after seeing The Ring of Wax. I have yet to see an episode greater than that!

  4. Francis X Bushman was a Silent screen Star {AS had been Neil Hamilton}
    Ironically this was one of his last screen preformances; likewise he did not act in either The Great Train Robbery or in the Keystone cops!

  5. Francis X. Bushman's career dated all the way back to 1911, completing only a small role on VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA before his death at 83 just four months after this broadcast.