Friday, September 30, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 33 & 34

By Joel Eisner

The final episode of the season is also one of the weakest of the season and Penguin's as well. This time a fishy theme, Penguin aka Knott A Fish, kidnaps Alfred, so he can brainwash him and use him to learn the location of the Millionaire's Dinner, so he can steal millions of dollars meant for charity.

When Alfred discovers a handbill advertising cut rate caviar, he decides to pay a visit to Penguin's phony fish market. He usually orders his caviar through the Iranian Embassy, but he decides to avoid the middle man and buy it himself. Alan Napier recalled the circumstances concerning this episode,

“I remember one time when Alfred was walking down the street to buy caviar for the millionaires’ party. On the fish shop set was this big barrel of caviar covered with an umbrella. I was supposed to be tasting the caviar when the umbrella closed in on me, forcing my face into the barrel. That was most unpleasant, because the “caviar” was really black currant jam.” Well, you didn't think they would spend money on real caviar.

The episode does feature the infamous Penguin box in which he brainwashes Alfred to the sound of a Penguin quacking toy, merchansing missed out on this item. Later, we also find the Vacuum Tank, which sucks the air out of the room by use of a reverse bellows. Thanks to an emergency tank of Bat Oxygen, our heroes survive.

Penguin's henchmen are a strange bunch of characters, Octopus played by Victor Lundin, would later return to aid Shame as Chief Standing Pat who only spoke in smoke signals. Lundin admitted he disliked this episode, he was directed to act strange by the director, which included waving his arms all about during the fight, I guess to duplicate an octopus. Lundin was no stranger to Adam West, he and Paul Mantee (a later Batman inpersonater in a Catwoman episode) all starred together in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. He was also no stranger to sea life as he later portrayed the Lobster Man on an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also appeared as one of the first Klingons in the Errand of Mercy episode of Star Trek.

Julie Gregg as Finella did a lot of episodic tv before doing Batman (she later appeared uncredited as Miss Canary Islands in the Green Ice Mr Freeze episode). She alternated between Broadway and tv. She also appeared in the first two Godfather films as Sandra Corleone. She last appeared in 1994 film entitled Dead On.

Louis Elias who played Swordfish was a stuntman who appeared a number of times on Star Trek, in real life he was actor James Stacy's brother.

The most interesting of the henchman was Shark played by Dal Jenkins. A character actor who dropped out of sight in the 1980's. Not much is really known about him. However, I stumbled upon some interesting trivia about him. I was attending a big sci-fi convention in Columbus Georgia many years ago. I met a fellow there who was a local actor.

They had filmed a horror film called the Kiss of the Tarantula in Columbus and he played the minister. We started talking about the film, which played in NY constantly. When he learned I wrote the Batbook, he told me about a local Columbus boy named Dal Jenkins. I said I knew he played Shark in this episode. He told me the next time I watched the episode to check out Jenkins' eyes. I said I noticed his odd looking eyes. they made him look like a shark. I figured they gave Lundin a bald cap to make him look like an octopus, they gave Jenkins eye makeup. He told me that Jenkins was born that way. He had eyelids that only closed half way. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Costumer Designer Jan Kemp remembered that “Buzz Meredith was a charming man. I always admired him, but to work with him was wonderful. The Penguin was relatively easy to produce. Using an old-fashioned cutaway suit as the basis, I designed body pads to give him a portly look and found a fake fur fabric that resembled penguin feathers to make the vest and gloves. Burgess decided to walk with a waddle to imitate the penguin look, while the little quack sound was to actually disguise the fact that the cigarettes he used in the long holder were irritating his throat. Burgess was a non-smoker. We had to glue the monocle into his eye socket with spirit gum, and eventually had to dye his hair when a wig proved too much trouble.”

Next time The Batman Movie.


  1. Julie Gregg did NOT appear in "Green Ice". However, she does have an unbilled cameo in the "Batman" movie because she is the "French nightclub singer" singing the number "Plasir d'Amour" when Bruce Wayne and Kitka arrive at the nightclub. Julie in fact is wearing the same gown she wears in the final scene of the episode when she's at Wayne Manor. Julie was a very accomplished singer, winning a Tony nomination for her role in the Broadway musical "Happy Time" which became a career changer for her. Before her Broadway success, all her guest shots were in sitcoms in small, thankless roles, whereas after that, she did only dramas.

  2. I'm surprised DJS hasn't mentioned this, because it's such a notorious episode - according to The Outer limits Companion, Lou Elias also played the body (or was it the voice?) of Eck in "Behold! Eck."

  3. The decompression tank was the first (I believe) in a long line of really STUPID, cpntrived death-traps. It's one thing to improvise, but when you have baddies who spend that much money on what must be expensive murder equipment, you have to think they're in the wrong business.

  4. I have to smile when I see the part where our heroes are in the vacuum room,
    the henchmen are pumping away on the bellows, and Julie Gregg is bent over looking at the air gauge. In that scene, the camera alignment for the shot (it had to be deliberate) was such that it looked like the henchmen were "pumping" away on a bent-over Julie, if you know what I mean. I wouldn't expect the youngsters in the viewing audience to 'get' it, but I suspect some of the older viewers did.