Monday, October 24, 2011

Episodes 59 & 60: Come Back, Shame/It's How You Play the Game

Season 2 Episodes 59 & 60
Original Air Dates: 11/30/66 & 12/1/66
Special Guest Villain: Cliff Robertson as Shame
Guest stars: John Mitchum, Joan Staley
Written by: Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by: Oscar Rudolph

Old West gunslinger Shame has returned to Gotham, leaving a trail of dissected vehicles in his path. Go-Karts, hot rods, race cars fall before his vehicular hunger but he's not finished. His next object of desire is Bruce Wayne's private vehicle, which supposedly can do 0 to 298 in a minute flat. Now, that's fast! Can Batman and Robin dodge hails of bullets, ornery henchmen, and stampeding cattle to save the day?

PE: So now Gordon's throwing in the towel and calling Batman on everything: missing Go-Karts and hot rods. As Gordon notes: "We can't solve every crime! Sometimes we need help!" Next up: jaywalking, unpaid parking tickets, and zone infractions.

JS: I feel as if we were robbed of another great Alfred/ Aunt Harriet moment, as they sit down to play with Bruce and Dick's slot car set...

PE: I'm disappointed that Dick Grayson has to play with scale model stock cars when I'm sure Bruce must own a race track somewhere in Gotham. The millionaire tells his youthful ward, after Dick whines that he can never beat his mentor on the race track, "It's not if you win or lose, Dick, It's how you play the game." I'm not sure, judging by the fact that Dick can't keep his car on the track, he knows how to play the game.

JS: In this episode! See Bruce Wayne wrestle a cow (and I'm not talking about John Mitchum)!

PE: Bat-dialogue:
Robin: Why would anyone just steal bits and pieces of cars rather than an entire auto? 
Batman (in best Shatnerian fashion) That... is the question!
JS: Shame is such a trick shot, when he starts shooting up everything in sight in his hideout, things start flying before he even shoots them!

PE: At least we know now where Batman dumped that little kid from the elevator. Annoying six year-old Andy grew up to be the grating Robin in The Poseidon Adventure (1972). 

JS: Once, maybe twice, and the kid's Shane routine would have been tolerable. But after awhile, I was hoping someone, anyone, would skin a smoke-wagon and put him down.

PE: I was under the impression that Batman was smoking a roach.

JS: Holy Reefer Madness, Pete! You sound like Chief O'Hara with your anti-Bat implications. That's just one of Shame's platinum painted bullets that Batman is... um, biting.

PE: Hey, youngster, it was the swingin' sixties you know. I believe we know now why Alfred's always bringing the Dynamic Duo a tray of munchies.

PE: Rip Snorting is played by our old friend John Mitchum, veteran of the classic Thriller episode "The Cheaters," and soon to be Dirty Harry's partner Frank "Fatso" Di Giorgio. 

JS: He's definitely further along the 'too much linguine' road than he was in Thriller, but another welcome guest star to be sure.

PE: Every episode I get more and more proof that, as a millionaire, this guy's not that impressive. Here we see his chauffeured ride, a car that's been advertised as capable of speeds up to 298 MPH! It looks like it might do 29.8 but not much more.

JS: Don't forget—he could afford the Alf-cycle, which makes its latest appearance in this episode as well.

PE: Lamest escape from a cliffhanger yet. 

JS: You didn't like Batman's flamenco dance routine to save Robin from the running of the bulls? How about when Robin rides one of the henchmen like a bucking bronco (I was sure that was an outtake of Burt Ward with his agent-PE)?

PE: Batman admonishes little Andy for hanging out with Shame and his gang but thinks nothing of asking where the imp's parents are and what he's doing wandering around an abandoned movie lot. "Let's go, Robin," says Bats excitedly after setting Andy straight, "we've set another youth on the road to a bright tomorrow!" How about setting him on the road to his house? And how the heck did the Dynamic Duo guess the kid's name was Andy? The Bat-Kid-Name-Computer?

JS: It was a nice change of pace to get to see the dynamic duo doing their thing on a western backlot. Oscar Rudolph seemed at home with the genre, despite not having an abundance of western credits on his resume.

Batfight at the KO Corral
PE: Evidently, the phone bill must have been getting out of hand as that bat-diamond we were introduced to last episode was moved closer to the main bat-phone. 

JS: Batman may not be the altruistic hero he wants us to believe he is. Don't you think society would appreciate his instant cure-all, Bat-cillin? 

PE: Batman's doing all he can to bring to justice a car robber but has no problem turning a blind eye to a Nazi prison camp commandant holding up in Gotham. 

JS: So are we to understand that World War II was still underway in the 60s DC Universe? Where's Sgt. Rock when you need him...

PE: Best Bat-dialogue of the episode (tough to choose):
Batman: Where would a bunch like that hold up? 
Robin: You got me. 
Batman: I think he went back to Westernland. 
Robin: But he knows that we know about his hideout there. 
Batman: Correct! However... knowing that, he'd think that we think that he would not return there, therefore he did and so will we! 
Robin: Bat-logic!
(Then, in the next scene, we see Shame and his men watching as the Batmobile approaches their hideout in Westernland)
Messy James: But boss, how did you know? 
Shame: I knew he'd think I'd think he'd think I'd think he'd come back here.
JS: My favorite line was when Batman cautioned Shame about using vague threats. Someone needs to explain to the Caped Crusader that a gunslinger telling you he's going to, "fill you full of lead," ain't exactly vague. 

PE: It's goooood! If I can't have my Knight Dark, then let's have him entertaining at least. These are two of the snappiest and smartest written episodes we've seen. Lots of laughs and winks (Shame's dopey gang, Messy James, Rip Snorting, and Oakie Annie; the little old lady from Pasadena; Andy and his continual "Shame, come back Shame!"). Robertson's obviously having a great time but he's not cruising, this is a real performance from a guy who'd win an Oscar two years later (for Charly). Let's hope his third season appearance (also written by Ross) is this goooood!

JS: I'd be remiss if I did not call out Bat-Babe Joan Staley (Playboy's Miss November, 1958), who I initially did not recognize in this, because I think of her as the lovely brunette, Alma Parker, in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken opposite Don Knotts.

PE: I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you if you could photo-shop out that towel.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

 Next up... The Penguin! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!


  1. Would you feel better about the cliffhanger escape if it were written by a little kid? According to Ross, he had written himself into a corner with this one (he said the cliffhanger traps and escapes were always hardest for him to write) and his son came up with the idea of both the vibrations shaking Batman loose and the bullfighting thing. We may not care for it, but Ross liked it enough to buy the kid a bike. (Which, hopefully, took the sting out of the kid getting rejected later when he auditioned to play Andy.)

  2. Always thought Joan Staley was a hottie.

  3. "Where's Sgt. Rock when you need him..." A loaded question in more ways than one!

  4. Though the story makes little sense, whipsawing from car to cattle rustling, the humor makes this among the best SRR scripts. I think it lurches back into Carol Burnett away from Chuck Jones; with Col. Klink popping from the window we're now firmly in Laugh-In Land. Like "An Egg Grows," these episodes shine with beloved character actors. Cliff Robertson was hardly the most emotive actor (the anti-Shat), so a role of swaggering stupidity suited him. This is the genre parody they were reaching for with the Archer, but missed. This time they got it right.

    Incidentally, fellows, you got the Part II title wrong: "It's How You Play the Game." I knew that you'd know that I'd know how to catch that one.

  5. "Incidentally, fellows, you got the Part II title wrong: 'It's How You Play the Game.' I knew that you'd know that I'd know how to catch that one."

    I have seen it listed as "It's the Way You Play the Game" in some places, but Clifton is correct about the episode title, as it appears on screen after credits. Usually it takes John & Peter less than 24 hours to have you believing you were seeing things and that you didn't really catch them in a mistake, but we know that they know that we know that they're trying to see if we're paying attention. But do they know that we are?

    I'm not a big fan of westerns, but this hokey episode was fun to watch, even if it was all over the place. I am troubled that B & R are out buying lingerie for Aunt Harriet. They're not being very careful about protecting their secret identities again, are they? I know Shame and his gang aren't too quick witted, but surely they must wonder why the Dynamic Duo are out buying a size 38 full slip. Goodness knows what else was on Aunt Harriet's list that day.

  6. Well, since it's on the internet (and not in print) it's not really a mistake, is it?! Seriously, we're glad that there are proofreaders out there amongst you. I know you know that I know what I'm talking about here. You know?

  7. mis•take
    something, esp. a word, figure, or fact, that is not correct; an inaccuracy

    Yes, internet counts, sir.

    However, I am no proofreader that will nitpick every misplaced punctuation, typo or misspelling you guys make. I get paid to do that sort of thing, so if you're going to call me a proofreader, then I'll expect some sort of monetary compensation. I've got a red pen in my utility belt, and I'm willing to use it with abandon.

    When it comes to episode titles, dates, or other important facts, however, then I am not alone in thinking it is my duty as concerned Citizen blog reader to point out any inaccuracies in order to help maintain the high standards we have all come to expect from the J & P blogs.

    So, this means I am just a total geek. Great.

    PS-Thanks for fixing it. : )

  8. "And how the heck did the Dynamic Duo guess the kid's name was Andy?"
    Maybe they picked up the knack from Lt. Mins in The Inheritors -
    "How do you know I'm a lieutenant, Johnny?"
    "How do you know I'm Johnny?"

  9. I didn't like this one when it was first-run. It just seemed TOO stupid to me. Decades later, I got to like it a lot more... on the basis of, it's SO DAMNED FUNNY. Stanley Ralph Ross sure could do funny. While George Sanders' episode seemed to walk in from some actual drama (almost), this one veers more into "NIGHT COURT" level humor.

    ...and the sequel, even MORE so!!!

  10. More on Joan Staley's career right here:

  11. Hey, what is the little boy's name? I don't see it in the credits. Now the boy looks like the same boy who played Balok in the "Star Trek" episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". Please send answer to

    1. His name is Eric Shea. You might also remember him from the Poseidon Adventure. He did not play Balok in Star Trek, that was Clint Howard.

  12. You might remember the voice of Eric Shea more than the face, as he was Linus in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. He was the one who did the speech about Christ our savior.

  13. Eric Shea did provide Linus's voice in some Charlie Brown specials, but it was his older brother Christopher Shea who brought tidings of great joy in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

    The brothers looked and sounded remarkably alike, and I'm convinced that's why Eric was cast as Andy in this bat-episode: In the 1966 Fall TV season, when "Come Back Shame" originally aired, ABC debuted a series called "Shane," based on the old Alan Ladd western, starring David Carradine. Like the Shane movie, the series featured a gunslinger in love with a little boy's mom. The boy in the series was played by Chris Shea, and the opening credits featured him calling "Shane! Shane!"

    Having Eric Shea as Andy, calling "Shame! Shame!" simply had to be an intentional echo of that. So Stanley Ralph Ross's kid shouldn't feel bad about losing the role.