Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 11 & 12

by Joel Eisner

The return of the Riddler was by far his weakest episode of the first season. It wasn't until his next episode did he have a gang of his own. In the first episode he hired the Mole Hill Mob and for this one he scraped the bottom of the barrel with the River Rat Gang. The three grown men in hooded sweatsuits living in a sewer and eating cheese like rodents. Along with them is the current moll, Mousey. Riddler plans to use the visiting King Boris to pull off an extortion plot, to destroy Gotham's version of the Statute of Liberty aka Queen of Freedom. King Boris played by Reginald Denny (soon to play his last role as Commodore Schmidlapp in the Batman movie) proved a descent foil for the Riddler. But the episode is deadly dull. The episode lacks any sort of suspense, the henchmen are a joke especially at the end of the episode where they are knocked out during the final battle. This could be the basis for the bizzare Mouse men sketch Monty Python created a few years later.

Susan Silo as Mousey, who has since created a profitable voiceover business for herself, tries to bring some life to the show, by showing her range from playing the little innocent girl to the teenage juvenile delinquent. The show is too dark to be funny. Even the cliffhanger is filmed in a dark shadowy setting. Just not a very colorful episode.

Also in the cast is another Superman veteran, Tris Coffin, who appeared a number times on the old series and was also Captain Reid, the brother of the Lone Ranger on the Clayton Moore tv series. Reid was the greatgrandfather of Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet. Marvin Miller, the tv announcer who gives the tour of the museum inside the statue, besides being the star of the Millionaire tv series, as Michael Anthony, the secretary to an unseen rich guy, each week he would give a check for one millionaire to some unsuspecting guest star to see what they do with it, he was also a popular cartoon voice actor, and the original voice of Aquaman on the 1967 Filmation cartoon series. I almost forgot to mention that Miller was also the voice of Robby the Robot in the film Forbidden Planet (he later revived the role in the film Gremlins).

John Archer, a guest at the Mushroom club was the lead in the George Pal film Destination Moon as well as the father of actress Anne Archer. Of the River Rats, Roy Jenson was another Trek guest star (he was Cloud William, the leader of the Yangs in Omega Glory. He also according to Susan Silo, doubled for Adam West as Batman in this episode.

" I remember Roy Jenson, who was a stuntman and also an actor. I remember when we had to go to lunch; they had wrapped him in that awful kind of the cocoon webbing stuff. We went to lunch but they left him in the webbing, because they didn’t want to waste time to web him again. I felt so bad for him. I came back and brought food for him and kept him company. It was a great fun project and there was nothing like it at that time.”

“I had not seen the Batman show prior to filming, but we all had a ball doing it because it was high camp. It was farce, but we had no idea what kind of hit it would be. It was an amazing phenomenon. I was very young at the time and they kind of played on that youngness. If you remember, the scene where played the little girl who gives the exploding flowers to Reginald Denny. For those days, it was pretty prurient, that was like a guy’s fantasy and pretty risky for those years. I remember that Reginald Denny was a very, very dapper man, kind of like Leo G. Carroll, who was very sweet and kept to themselves. They were from another era. (Denny went back to silent films), so, for you to have big dialogue with them it was just not appropriate”“I didn’t have much to do with Burt, he was cute and he was fun. I loved Adam! Adam was a prankster; he just made everything a lot of fun.

I loved Frankie, Frankie took everything seriously, to him it was Shakespeare and he was Hamlet. None of us could camp it up but in rehearsals Adam was always very funny. We did everything on the 20th Century lot and I believe the giant turbines used to as a trap for Batman and Robin were in the guts, in the basement of some building. I remember going underground and it was right on the lot.

There is a major goof in the episode, during the recap scene at the beginning of the second part of this episode, we are supposed to be shown a sketch of the Riddler’s hideout at the waterworks, but instead we are shown the sketch of Dawn Robbins’s penthouse apartment, which appeared in “Fine Feathered Finks.” Apparently, whoever was in charge of the recap scene was not paying careful attention to details. Some of these episodes were so rushed; it’s quite possible no one had time to review the show for goofs of this nature.

Actor Tim Herbert who played Whiskers returned to portray the only villain never broadcast on the network or anywhere. He portrayed the evil Killer Moth in the original Batgirl test pilot. The costume was ridiculous (he wore a pillbox hat with two wire antennas) and carried a cocoon gun in a briefcase. The film has been on the collectors market for years (along with Dozier's busted Dick Tracy pilot with Victor Buono as Mr Memory, and the five minute test footage for Dozier's Wonder Woman pilot). Frequent henchman Joey Tata, returned as one of the Mothmen. Killer Moth faired better in the comics (especially his costume).

Riddler's next episode Ring of Wax, is my favorite Riddler show. It had a straight forward plot from beginning to end.

Next Batman's oddest and campest villains of the first season, David Wayne as Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter.


  1. Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, Joel. My choices for best Riddler eps of Season One: 1) The pilot (no question), 2) this show, which has texture, visual style, legitimate sense of danger, and a memorable cliffhanger, 3) "Ring of Wax...", which is entertaining and fun, but lollipop-colorful in the tradition of a lesser villain entry, and finally 4) "Death in Slow Motion...", which boasts Sherry Jackson's legs AND the adorable actress in a Little Bo-Peep outfit (which almost elevates "Slow Motion" to #1 status). I suppose one man's Bat is another man's dead duck!

  2. Surprised nobody's mentioned how much announcer Marvin Miller sounds like Robby the Robot ;).

  3. I'm with Gary, too. If not at the same level as the pilot, I don't find this episode disappointing at all. Much of that has to do with Gries's direction, which is indeed noirish. (If Dozier and Semple were aiming at both kids and their parents, then for heaven's sake why not hire capable directors who'd make the show more visually interesting? Even kids intuit that, if they do not recognize and cannot articulate it.) And Our Man "Frankie" is simply a gem. It matters not whether this is episode is "Hamlet" or "The Merry Wives of Windsor." Gorshin always gave it everything he had, and that is such a treat.

  4. Gorshin seems to be trying to channel his inner Laughton at his ribaldest at times. When he's punning to the camera, i'm a fan. Can't wait to see what our 3 hosts dish on the Mad Hatter!

  5. Susan Silo was also featured in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Coming Home" as the bar girl who gets the ex-convict drunk and rolls him for his cash on his first night of freedom after twenty years in the slammer.

  6. "Even kids intuit that, if they do not recognize and cannot articulate it."


    I kloved the series from the beginning. But when the MOVIE came out... I sensed... SOMETHING was wrong. I didn't know what,. But something.

    And then Season 2 started, and it got worse. And within a few weeks, I started watching the whole LOST IN SPACE episode on Wednesday nights instead of missing the first half of it so I could watch all of BATMAN.

    This is what happens when you have a HIT on your hands... and you STOP giving a damn. (Or, possibly, when you really WANT the show to be bad, so it will fail, and you can stop having to do it.)

  7. I'm also agreeing with Gary's order of Riddler Season One eps.for the most part. I'd flip the first two but, it's VERY close to call. "Death in Slo Mo" is the weakest Riddler ep of the 1st season. Taking a Joker comic book story and adapting to Riddler, just didn't quite work.
    The worst is Riddler and his gang, dressed like a copy of Shame's gang, WITH PISTOLS POINTED AT THE DYNAMIC DUO, and still get defeated (by forsaking the hardware, and going down via a Bat-brawl).