Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 41 & 42

By Joel Eisner

Victor Buono returns as the King Tut to put all of Gotham City under his control by using the powerful drug Abu Raubu Simbu Tu, an ancient Egyptian will paralyzing drug made from distilled essence of scarab beetles. Using electricty Tut reanimates dozens of extinct beetles from their amber coffins. Unlike Egghead who tried to reanimate a fossil dinosaur egg during the third season, Tut succeeds but later falls victim to his own plot and falls to his knees at Batman's feet.

Once again Robert C Dennis and Eart Barret return to write for Tut. (Stanley Ralph Ross would take over with the next episode) Victor Buono, gives another one of his over the top performances and regardless how absurd the plot, manages to make it enjoyable. Buono was one of those performers who ad libbed to the point of improving the material way beyond the script and yet stayed in character.

The gang is made up of several well known character people. Peter Mamakos as the Royal Lapidary was another Adventure of Superman hold over. Michael Pataki as the dumb henchmen Amenophis Tewfik, was a frequent tv guest star and film director (Grave of the Vampire). Boyd Santell as Sethos had a limited tv career and disappeared. Sid Haig as the Royal Apothecary, has had a long career in films working for Roger Corman (Track of the Vampire, Galaxy of Terror), later he played the Darth Vader knockoff Dragos on the Saturday Morning show Jason of Star Command (a part originally offered to Ted Cassidy). He has last been seen in low budget horror films like House of 1000 Corpses and Devil's Rejects. He was best known at the time for his role in the film Spider Baby (made in 1962 but released in 1966). Which brings me to Tut's latest queen Cleo Patrick aka Marianna Hill (born Mariana Schwarzkopf, her cousin is General Schwarzkopf). had a limited career on tv Star Trek, Outer Limits, etc. before bacoming an acting teacher.

Some of the most odd things happen in this episode, the first of which is the Green Hornet and Kato popping out of the window. Batman and Robin both recognize them as heroes yet when they show up later in the season, they are now villains. go figure!

Surprisingly the network allowed extensive drug use in this episode. From Cleo's vitamin pills for the commisioner to the drugged lemonade given to Batman.

When Chief O'Hara is put under Tut's spell and takes a turn on the flagpole, Tut lapses into an Irish brogue (Buono was half Irish), it is one of the funnier scenes in the episode including the elevator sequence with Tut and Batman.

The most bizzare of the episode is Tut's pet crocodile's Obvious fakes intermixed with live action footage lifted from some old jungle film. As you can see from the photo, Robin's stuntman did most of the work. Burt just did the closeup work on the ledge. Buono is just a thrill to watch from the first season to the final scene when he reverts to normal in Gordon's office.

Buono and Tut reached a peak with the next episode, but this is still fun to watch.

Costume Designer Jan Kemp remembered that “Victor Buono was huge. You have no idea. He wore a size 8 1/2 hat. His chest size was something like 62. His waist was even bigger. We had to use yards and yards of material to make the costumes. The tailor shop was stocked so full of fabrics for this episode that the studio personnel started calling me Omar the Tent Maker. He was a wonderful guy to work with, very affable, very happy.”

Next Up Shelley Winters as Ma Parker, a role originally meant for Bette Davis.


  1. This likely is the only episode where a supercriminal employs a high volume of henchman, and they all have speaking parts. Think of it. Usually, if there are as many as five or six flunkies on an episode, usually one or two get lines (i.e., Mercury and Mars in the Joker/Penguin three-parter; the other four guys stay silent).

    I really liked their personalities, too: Sethos was the straight man; Amenophis Twofink was the silly one; the Royal Lapidary was the smart one; and the Royal Apothecary was the crazy pharmacist. Perhaps the writers had the Beatles in mind when creating this Fab Four of crime.

  2. Marianna HIll's most stand-out part is probably the town BITCH in "HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER", where she assaults "The Stranger", is then RAPED by him, then tries to shoot him while he's taking a bath because he didn't come back for more. "Isn't rape in broad daylight still a misdemeanor in this town??"

    It was decades before I connected she was the same one who played the conceited psychiatrist in the STAR TREK episode "Dagger of the Mind" (the one where James Gregory plays a really power-mad hospital supervisor).

  3. Another in-joke is Mad Dog's pressing his breakfast grapefruit into Legs's face, emulating James Cagney in The Public Enemy. The actress on the receiving end of Cagney's grapefruit, Mae Clarke, has a bat-cameo a couple of episodes later, in the first Egghead adventure.