Friday, October 28, 2011

Episodes 67 & 68: The Sandman Cometh/The Catwoman Goeth

Season 2 Episodes 67 & 68
Original Air Dates: 12/28/66 & 12/29/66
Special Guest Villain: Michael Rennie as The Sandman
Extra Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as Catwoman 
Guest stars: Spring Byington, Jeanie Moore
Written by: Ellis St. Joseph & Charles Hoffman
Directed by: george waGGner

The Catwoman is back and she's joined forces with infamous international villain, The Sandman, who's disguised himself as sleep expert, Dr. Somnambula and gotten in good with Noodle-billionairess J. Pauline Spaghetti. The plot is to win the trust of the old lady and then rob her of her billions. The Sandman, however, has a little something extra up his sleeve and The Catwoman won't like it! Batman and Robin must find a way to stop both criminals before Spaghetti ends up Mrs. Somnambula.

PE: "My record's been clean for months," says the most beautiful criminal ever to walk the earth, "I'm not even on parole." Seems to me, only a couple weeks in TV time has elapsed since Catwoman almost got her lips on Batman and was carted off to jail. If this show's time were to elapse as it does in "real life." Batman would be Alfred's age by now. 

JS: After more than a season, they finally acknowledge that the damn Batphone can be heard ringing throughout Wayne Manor. 

PE: LOL-scene of the episode. Policewoman Mooney goes missing and Catwoman is suspected. The Commissioner runs for the Batphone, only to find out that Bats is away on business and cannot be reached. He sighs and tells the Chief that sometimes even the Caped Crusader should enjoy some private time. "Yes," agrees O'Hara, Without missing a beat, the Chief's eyes light up: "How about the Bat-signal?" Gordon just about knocks O'Hara over heading for the roof, "A splendid idea!." So much for that privacy.

JS: I don't even want to know about Bruce Wayne's overnight camp for wayward boys... but what caused the ringing in Robin's head that necessitated the self abuse?

PE: Is it me or do Gordon and O'Hara watch a lot of afternoon TV? They always seem to be watching the tube just before something big happens. 

JS: More importantly, Gordon knows when the important news has played out, as he gets up out of his chair and wanders over to it so he can turn it off right as whatever he's watching ends.

PE: I know there's not much else to do around the office but, seriously, why have Bonnie around. Gordon could just as easily answer the phone. Now that I think of it, we haven't heard from Bonnie in a while. Budgetary cuts at Gotham City Hall?

JS: Though we haven't seen her, Bonnie was mentioned very recently. So she's not out of work yet. Speaking of calls, how about when Gordon finally reaches Batman, and wastes his time by saying, "I'm not going to waste your time..."

PE: So now the Bat-Computer's answering in riddles? Batman feeds it a question and out pops purple spaghetti. "I've got it! The computer's trying to tell us that J. Pauline Spaghetti's in trouble!" What happened to the little white cards he used to get? Does Alfred now have to stock the machine with all manner of paraphernalia? What a shopping list! "Let's see, Penguin's being paroled this week. I'll have to shove in some anchovies. Oh, this could get messy!"

JS: What's funny is that you could come up with something perfectly appropriate for each of the villains...

PE: I think an opportunity was missed when that fur coat that Rennie is wearing wasn't given to Maurice Evans last episode instead. That coat, that make-up. Oh, simply divine. Rennie looks like he was swallowed whole. That's when he looks awake. In his scene with J. Pauline in bed (if you haven't seen the episode, just trust me on this), he seems to be looking above her head while talking to her. Is that where the cue cards were?  Rennie's a fine actor, everyone knows that. All you have to do is point to his best-known role as Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still. That was a good flick and a job well done for the actor but this little kid remembers him more for his role as the creepy Noah-like alien in the two-parter "The Keeper" on Lost in Space, which aired earlier in 1966. 

JS: You'd think he was originally scheduled to co-star with Mr. Freeze. Once he lost the pimp-coat, his doctor's outfit looked distinguished for a super-villain. 

PE: "There's something about this place that's a little strange," says Batman about that display room. I'll say. It's like no display room I've ever seen. Is it open to the public? Ostensibly, a display room has displays, no? This one had a single bed, a stack of really bad mattresses (they came apart in the big pillow fight the Dynamic Duo had with The Sandman's henchmen), and something that resembled a Warhol painting of two pillows. 

JS: How much do you think they charge for a bed Julie Newmar slept in?

PE: Batman really catches a lucky break with that "deadly" stitching machine. Every time we return from a cut away, the needle's back to the beginning stitch. He could be trapped there all day and be in no danger whatsoever.

JS: This issue looks like it fell victim to the stitching machine. Episode template standbys like the visit to The Commissioner's office? Not shown. Robin's rescue from the maze? Nope, nowhere to be seen. Instead, we get characters describing those scenes. The result is a bit choppy.

PE: Holy Recycling! Eagle-eyed Bat-cave watchers will notice that The Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City is now The Batmobile Tracking Map. That Alfred thinks of everything! 

JS: Remember the day when you could just have an illuminated map of Gotham that served all the purposes of a map?

PE: James Brolin's gotten a promotion from dopey armored car driver to dumb Gotham street cop. Ten bucks says in Season 3 he's the new Chief of Police.

JS: Call me crazy, but Brolin's rookie officer taking Bats to task for his minor infractions was the highlight of the episode to me. And since his issues were legitimate, Batman pretty much had to shut up and take it.

PE: Proof that the Boy Wonder is just a kid at heart. He knows the fence in the maze is electrified and yet he just can't help himself. 

JS: But he appears to losing his smarts. When Batman is looking for suspects, he keeps naming people that have been dead for hundreds of years.

PE: Gordon tells Batman he's sent all of  Gotham's finest to guard J. Pauline and yet, in the next scene, we see Chief O'Hara and two of his clods asleep. Will Gordon never learn?

JS: My favorite exchange in the episode is when we find out the villains are hiding out in Rundown Factory Area, an area surrounded by rundown factories, as Batman is nice enough to clarify for us.

PE: J. Pauline Spaghetti married four guys, all with the last name of Spaghetti? Odd.

JS: Let's talk about J.P. Spaghetti for a second. Billionaire noodle queen. Were all her husbands the Spaghetti brothers? Was she actually a Spaghetti sister working her way through the family tree? I'm sure there's some logical explanation for them all having identical initials.

PE: I can picture Burt Ward at acting school, asking his teacher what he should do in a scene when the other actor has the line. "Just make a fist and grab it with your other hand and look like you have to make water really really bad." Further on in the course, Ward asks: "What about when I want to punctuate a point I'm making?" The teacher sighs, his patience at an end: "Why, point your finger and grit your teeth like something's been stuck up your rear, my boy." 

JS: Choppy editing and Spaghetti silliness aside, I didn't think this was that bad. Michael Rennie delivered what I've come to expect from him, as did the lovely and reliable Miss Newmar. She can throw my switch anytime.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... The Mad Hatter! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!


  1. Can someone explain to me the wardrobe decision for the guest villain: a full-length mink coat over intern whites? What am I missing?

    While any show that gives us Miss Julie snuggled in bed cannot be written off as total loss, this show saddens me because of so much wasted talent: Newmar, Michael Rennie, Spring Byington, and (having read Joel's backstory), Ellis St. Joseph. Maybe the working actors took it in stride as a lark and another week's work, but St. Joseph must have wept at the result.

  2. I think the full-length mink was evidence that Dozier was a huge Rudy Vallee fan -- with his prior allusion to the one-time megaphone swooner/crooner. Perhaps by dressing Rennie up in one of Zsa Zsa's leftovers he could tempt both Rudy and the Hungarian one into his batcave?

  3. "Heigh Ho" to that. Dah-ling.

  4. ok, what happened to the other of his henchmen, in the factory battle he poops out with four including , his (Nap and Snooze) where di the others two go

  5. At the island retreat, Sandman whistles for more help, yet only his two regular goons are there. Perhaps another casualty of the rewrite. Michael Rennie was as beloved a genre fixture as Roddy McDowall, and though the character was watered down to make room for Catwoman, the result was better than I expected. Robert Morley would have been a complete farce, I'm afraid.