Monday, October 31, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 69 & 70

By Joel Eisner

David Wayne returns as the Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter in a role he wanted nothing to do with. As I pointed out in his first appearance, Wayne didn't want to come back to the show. He said, "It was too tough to get me to do a second one. They held a gun to my head to do it. They had already written a script for the Mad Hatter, and I said I wouldn’t do it. So they used all the strength of the studio in order to force me to do it. Finally, I just gave in. I just thought it was cheap and, beneath me, really, as a performer. But strangely enough, most of the fan mail I get is from people who knew and loved BATMAN and new kids who still see it.”

Both Mad Hatter scripts were written by story editor Charles Hoffman, but like the first one it was a based on a comic book story, this one appeared in April 1956 Batman comic book. Wayne, despite his resistance to the show, returned and gave a similar performance complete with his fey accent and mannerisms. His three tailed Pasha gave him the opportunity to once again change clothes (like his Octave Marbot) in the previous episode. Wayne must have been a terrific actor to have hidden his distaste from his performance, because he once again seemed to be enjoying himself.

As for the episode itself, there are some flaws that don't make any real sense, such as the Bat-Skeletons. Batman dresses up a pair of skeletons found lying around the nuclear plant in spare Bat costumes but doesn't anybody notice, that they are only half dressed. They are only wearing the boots, shorts capes and masks, where are the tights and tunics?

Also if the now pink Bat Cowl is so highly radioactive that they have to use a pair of tongs to pick it up, why is Batman still wearing it for such a long time before taking it off. And why did the radioactive spray turn the cowl pink but the surrounding part of the cape remained the same color.

Not having read or seen the original comic book, how much was just lifted for use on the show. This is including the fight on the water tower. It looked like an experiment in how to conduct a stunt fight in a tight place.

One funny scene might have been added if Alan Napier had his way “I had an idea, which they wouldn’t do, but I think it would have been very funny: that I am cleaning Robin’s Bat-Pole and slip, and I come down wearing Robin’s costume, which was too small for me.”

We learn in this episode that Alfred makes all the Batcostumes and that his cousin Egbert's (from the previous Joker episode) wife Maudie is the cleaning woman who works at the nuclear power plant and was the one who discovered the skeletons. Of course, if you remember Egbert let Alfred take his place at the nightwatchman at the water works to see his favorite stripper perform, and that Alfred and Egbert know the strippers personally. So, unless Egbert got married in the time between this episode and the Joker episode, he was stepping out on his wife. (Alfred of course, as he pointed out in a previous episode has never married).

Of the gang members, actress Jean Hale had even less to do than Diane McBain in the previous episode. Hale, a frequent guest on tv shows throughout the 60's, 70's and 80's. is also the ex wife of actor Dabney Coleman.

Lennie Bremen as Benny was another in the series of large sized acting/stuntmen. Like Robert Miller Discoll and Jack Perkins, Bremen
usually portrayed bartenders, truck drivers or workmen. He actually worked with David Wayne years before in the American remake of the German thriller M which made a star of Peter Lorre, in this case Wayne played the part of the child murderer and Bremen a local thug.

Leonid Kinskey playing the nutty Professor Overbeck, was the bartender in the classic film Casablanca.

Heather Young soon to be a regular cast member on Land of the Giants using her real name of Heather Peterson portrayed the American phone operator.

Next The Joker and Penguin team up for some Zodiac Crimes.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that Egbert married the stripper, Maudie, who moonlighted as cleaning woman as the Casablanca Radioactivity Center.