Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 61 & 62

By Joel Eisner

This episode is based on the original comic book story that appeared in the August/September 1946 issue of Batman comics.

This episode was the first episode filmed for the second season but did not air until four months into the season (Penguin opened the first season, of regular episodes and closed it as well. It is possible they decided not to use the Penguin so soon again and right after the movie premiere) Why they kept it on the shelf for months is unknown. Footage from the episode, in particular the machinegun at the pool sequence was used in the promo trailer for the 2nd season, so it wasn't a production delay.

The episode is quit funny complete with pies in the face, a pie that gives electric shocks and a giant pie with Alfred inside. The scene at the pool with Chief O'Hara inside a giant trunk, featuring a ridiculous reverse the footage effect of the trunk popping out of the pool and leaving the trunk safely by the poolside, makes you wonder if the show was already spoofing itself with slapstick bits of comedy.

Of Penguin's gang, of which there are only three, Vito Scotti is the most recognizable. Better known to fans of the Addams Family as Sam Piccasso, Morticia's painting teacher, and from his four appearances on Gilligan's Island (twice as the Japanese sailor and twice as Dr Balinkoff), plays the waiter. Lane Bradford was a tv western actor who plays the chef. and Grace Gaynor, a stage and tv actress as Chickadee, who was married to the late Jock (John) Gaynor who would produce the 1979 Buck Rogers tv series and also appear as one of Catwoman's henchmen in a later episode. Jock appeared frequently on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as several of the uncredited monsters.

After the first season and the movie, the cast and the guest cast developed a higher opinion of themselves and the show according to Grace Gaynor: “Burt Ward was such an obnoxious kid. He was impossible, he was young, it was his first shot and he was just so full of himself. Some kids are very appreciative of where they are and others just born to be. He was just one of those. He was kind of laughable but you have to excuse him because he was in his early twenties at the time and he suddenly finds himself as Robin! He was such a perfect Robin because he couldn’t act, so he was perfect.”

“Burgess was a very professional man, very protective of his shots; he didn’t like anyone else to have any kind of shtick going, which surprised me, because hardly anybody would be in competition with him. He was very protective of himself as an actor and as a character, but a nice enough man.”

“Vito Scotti was a lovely man. Actually, I had relatives of relatives who were friends of Vito’s, some kind of distant family connection, not by blood. He was a really nice guy and generous actor. Lane Bradford was also very nice.”
“The whole experience in my memory was a good one. It was a fun character; it was fun to be in that costume acting silly. It came off really well. I remember that as the character, I wanted to chew gum, and play it really New York, and they wouldn’t let me. The director came over and told me to drop the gum. I don’t know where it really came from, but my instinct tells me it was Burgess. He never told me that. Actually, I didn’t have gum; I was making believe I had gum!”

Besides Vito Scotti having Addams Family ties (Carolyn Jones and John Astin were both villains), Ted Cassidy aka Lurch makes a cameo appearace in character playing the harpsicord during the window pop out scene. The only one from the show who did not make an appearance was Jackie Coogan. He could have turned up as Fester complete with lightbulb to help out during one of those blackout episodes.

Among the remaining guest cast is Voltaire Perkins, as Judge Moot. Perkins was famous to tv audiences at the Judge on the Divorce Court tv series. He also appeared in several lowbudge sci films like How to Make a Monster and Frankenstein's Daughter. Violet Carlson a former vaudevillian made the first of appearances, the rest would be as the old lady in the three season Egghead episodes. David Lewis returned as the clueless Warden Crichton, he later found fame as one of the stars of General Hospital. But the most interesting was writer Stanley Ralph Ross as Ballpoint Baxter. Ross who acted occasionally wanted to make an appearance on the show, Ross recalled “I said to producer Howie Horwitz, ‘I want to be in the show.’ He said, ‘OK, I will give you a part, but if you think you are funny, see how funny you can be with no lines.’”

Next Catwoman and Chad & Jeremy.

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