Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 51 & 52

By Joel Eisner

By far the best Penguin episode of the series. Dozier thought Burgess should have been nominated for the Emmy award for his performance in this episode.

One of the best lines of the episode, is when Penguin tells the people of Gotham City, that when you see Batman he is surrounded by the criminal element, but Penguin is always in the company of the police. Of course he doesn't point out that Batman has been capturing the criminals and Penguin is surrounded by the Police, in order to put him behind bars. But it is a unique observation.

As corny as the entire plot is, it was trying to show that the people will vote for a popular candidate like Penguin, despite his criminal history instead of the borning Mayor Linseed (a parody of then NY mayor Lindsey) or as Penguin calls him Hayseed. It shows polls and pollsters can be wrong, despite the results. It was a wonderful parody of the political world.

Alan Napier told me that he "loved Penguin. My favorite moment was when Penguin was running for mayor of Gotham City, and we had this scene of wild girls and stuff. Then it cuts, and the narration says, ‘Meanwhile, Batman is addressing the issues.’ Then you see Batman talking to a hall, and then the camera turns around and you see three people.”

It was a funny scene, and to follow it up, when he thinks he is winning Penguin calls Batman and Gordon to tell them that he is playing on installing the Riddler as the new Police Commissioner and the Joker as the Chief of Police. Although, I think Joker who had contempt for Riddler in the movie, would prefer to be the new Police Commisioner, and be Riddler's boss.

The episode was loaded with cameo guest stars. Joe Besser (seen here with Penguin and the girls) , who had just come off a regular role on the Joey Bishop show, had a 30 second appearance in the show. Also in the cast were a number of game show hosts, Alan Ludden (Password), Dennis James (PDQ and Price is Right Nightime), Jack Bailey (Queen for a Day).

Don Wilson, Jack Benny's sidekick and announcer was also among the newscasters in the episode. Little Egypt, the belly dancer, was a direct decendant of the original Little Egypt that appeared at the World's Fair in I believe 1890. Western sidekick Fuzzy Knight was a Blind News Dealer. Comedian Benny Rubin who worked with everyone from Abbot and Costello to the Three Stooges, and provided the voice for Joe Jitisu in the old Dick Tracy cartoons, shows up as a bystander when Batman won't kiss a baby.

Paul Revere and the Raiders marked the first appearance by a rock group on a sitcom. I love the Vote for Penguin song, and it gave Burgess a chance to sing.

Actor Joey Tata who was the lead GOON remembered, “When we were doing ‘Batman,’ I remember we brought some people over to the set, and everybody was all excited to see the stage and the cave. Everyone was getting tickled pink looking at those people getting excited about being on the ‘Batman’ set. Then somebody said to me, ‘Aren’t you excited?’ I said, ‘No, this is what we do. It’s our job.’ Two seconds later, some old guy says to me, ‘You know, the last time I worked on this lot. .‘ I said, ‘When?’ He says, ‘King Kong.’ I said, ‘What?!’ He says, ‘That is where the gate was that Kong came through. Right outside the stage of ‘Batman’ was the old fourth acres where we worked.’ When he said King Kong, I acted just like the people who were looking at the ‘Batman’ set, right where the Batcave was, at Desilu, which was originally R.K.O.”

Among the henchman was Victor Paul, Burt Wards's stunt double who recalled when “Batman was fighting a bunch of guys in derbies. I said instead of bringing in six guys, bring in five. I’ve never been photographed without a mask on so I’ll put on one of these black outfits with a black turtleneck and a derby and I’ll do a fight. Bing! I got nailed from Batman. My friend Hubie Kerns (Adam West’s stuntman) nailed me right in the schnoz. It rocked me, laid me back. The producer was standing there. He said, ‘That’s it! Victor, you never again fight in a scene unless you’re doing Robin. I can’t afford to get you hurt and then you can’t work.’ The only guy that hits me is my own partner.”

During the filming of this episode, singer Frank Sinatra paid a visit to the set, but contrarily never did appear on the series.

There are plot holes, such as the acid proof costumes, When Batman jumps into the acid he covers his face with is cape, but he could not have protected his skin from the acid, let alone, from getting into his costume. it was not sealed.

By far a fun fast moving episode that still holds up very well.

Next: Awful Otto Preminger (as he was known on the set) as the new Mr Freeze.


  1. Do you know anything more about Stanford Sherman? After this outstanding entry, he became a frequent contributor to the series, and particularly the voice of The Penguin. Only the Lola Lasagne story was written by another writer. And yet, in spite of his fine scripts for Batman, I can't find out what he went on to do in the future.

  2. Very little is known about him, besides Batman, he wrote for the Man from Uncle and Rat Patrol. He wrote a few movies including the Clint Eastwood film Any Which Way You Can, and the sci films Ice Pirates, The Man Who Wasn't There and Krull. He disappeared after that. When I wrote the Batbook in 1985, I called his agent and they left messages for him. but he never called back. They believed he was off sailing on his boat. Stanley Ralph Ross, remembered that Sherman had this small sailboat that he liked to sail. They only other thing I found about him was that at one time he studied to be a Rabbi.

  3. Thanks for the info. It's a shame he didn't do more television writing, as I think he had a very high average on Batman.

  4. "Paul Revere and the Raiders marked the first appearance by a rock group on a sitcom." Far be it from to call into question this statement from the knowledgeable Batscholar, but I seem to recall Chad & Jeremy appearing on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Standells on The Munsters. These appearances surely must have preempted the Paul Revere and the Raiders guest shot on Batman.

  5. As for animation, surely The Beau Brummels on THE FLINTSTONES might qualify, renamed The Beau Brummelstones of course.

  6. I couldn't spot Chet Huntley anywhere, perhaps he was only satirized by Allen Ludden.