Thursday, November 10, 2011

87 & 88: King Tut's Coup/Batman's Waterloo

Season 2 Episodes 87 & 88
Original Air Dates: 3/8/67 & 3/9/67
Special Guest Villain: Victor Buono as King Tut
Guest stars: Lee Meriwether, Grace Lee Whitney
Written by: Stanley Ralph Ross from a story by Leo & Pauline Townsend 
Directed by: James B. Clark

Synopsis: King Tut has returned, and this time has set his sights on Lisa Carson, daughter of millionaire John E. Carson, who he believes is his beloved Cleopatra. It's up to Batman to save Bruce Wayne's potential bride from being betrothed to the crazy college professor!

PE: LOL-scene starts off this episode when the two "students" get a conking on the head and become Tut subjects, they go down to their knees and chant "Hail, Hail..." When Tut gets his cranium split open, he blurts out "...the gang's all here!" Buono's a cut-up al through the shows. When he calls John E. Carson (get it?) to tell him his daughter is being held for ransom to the tune of $8,300,487.12, the father (a "multi-multi-millionaire") wants to know why such an uneven amount. Tut tells him he needs it for the mortgage on the pyramids and looks at us, gesturing at the phone like "what's with this dolt?" Priceless!


JS: Let me start off by saying this is hands down my favorite King Tut episode, and one of my favorite episodes overall. Who would have thought!

PE: Well, it's a return to fun (without outright stupidity or boredom), that's for sure. I had to laugh when Commissioner Gordon looked right at me and said "Absolutely incredible! You'd think the man could read my mind!" I just hope he didn't hear me when I yelled back at the set "That's impossible! You don't have a mind!"

JS: I initially wasn't sure if Buono was turned into King Tut or W.C. Fields after being conked on the head this time out, but in either case, it ended up working for me.


PE: Our window cameo, Susie Knickerbocker, for the three of you who really care, was a newspaper columnist best known for her appearances on the game show, What's My Line? That saved you five minutes of google searching. Think nothing of it.

JS: After Alfred let's Bruce know there's a call from the Commissioner in his study, right in front of Aunt Harriet, no less, he is dressed down by his boss. We viewers all knew that the call really came in for Bruce and not Batman, and there was in fact no security breach. At least not until, standing over the phone sitting off the hook on the desk, Alfred explains that the call came in for Bruce Wayne and not Batman. Oops!


PE: You neglect to mention Bruce's cameo as Caligula. I love when Gordo says he was hoping the robbery of the sarcophagus was a publicity stunt. Looking deadly dull serious, with olive leafs adorning his head and probably no boxers on under that toga, Bruce spits out "My committee would never engage in such a stunt."

JS: Nice of Batman to dumb down his vocabulary for Chief O'Hara. 


PE: It only took him 87 episodes to figure out.

JS: We're treated to babes-o-plenty in this episode! First up is the lovely Grace Lee Whitney, who Peter (and Outer Limits fans) will remember from the otherwise forgettable "Controlled Experiment." As Tut's moll Neila, she's more than just set dressing (a nice change of pace!). She actually longs for the affections of the big lug.


JS: Next up, theatrical Catwoman herself, Lee Meriwether, as millionaire heiress Lisa Carson. What's great about her performance is that you can imagine that Lisa was in fact Catwoman, and gave up her criminal ways to pursue a legitimate life with Bruce Wayne. Just picture that warm milk she offers Bruce at the end of their date being served up in a saucer.


JS: As if that were not enough, even Dick gets some table scraps in the way of a cute date to the costumed ball. Anyone know who she is (no—not Madge Blake)?


PE: I won't be able to finish this episode commentary, I'm sorry. I can't seem to get past the scene of Lee Meriwether taking that throne, dressed in... well, she's dressed in too much. As Tut says most eloquently: "Will you look at her. Every inch a queen." Actually, I had the exact same thought about Tut himself.


JS: The epic cliffhanger of Batman being submerged underwater while trapped in a sarcophagus is somewhat lessened by the fact that it's being done in an aboveground backyard pool. 


PE: A nice touch would have been some rubber ducks floating in the pool.

JS: Alfred really does a full-court press for the sidekick role this time out, punching into his palm, spouting Holy Bat Exclamations, and once again saving the day, leading to a very tender exchange with a near-death Batman.


PE: Lloyd Haynes (Lord Chancellor) went on to big-time TV fame for a few years as teacher Pete Dixon on Room 222. God, I loved that show! I say after we finish the Dynasty-a-Day blog next year, we tackle Room 222. Karen Valentine used to populate my young dreams. I never had a teacher that looked like her. Oh sure, there was my Seventh Grade English teacher, Ms. F-----g. She was hot, but no Karen Valentine. And how 'bout Tim O'Kelly (Royal Jester)? Talk about tough breaks. He gets the plum role of "Danno" in the pilot of Hawaii-Five-0 but when the show gets picked up, they replace him with pantywaist James MacArthur. O'Kelly's career died soon after. Eagle-eyed genre fans will immediately remember O'Kelly as the disturbed sniper in Peter Bogdanovich's classic Targets (1968). Going from a highly-rated TV series like Batman to a low-budgeter directed by a nobody director must have seemed like a step down for the actor but history has been kind to Targets. It's arguably Boris Karloff's best film (for you Universal horror film guys that like to pipe up, notice I said "arguably") and remains timely over forty years later.

JS: One babe mentioned but not shown in this episode was Commissioner Gordon's daughter Barbara. I guess they must have known by this point that her debut in Season 3 was fast approaching. In what would otherwise be a completely superfluous exchange, we get a great zinger from the caped crusader:
Batman: I rather doubt that your daughter Barbara is going to get conked on the head and turn into a long-dead Egyptian ruler, Commissioner.
PE: We haven't mentioned camera angles or lighting much while doing this blog since the early part of the first season but, for some reason, several shots jumped out at me. There's the scene of Batman concocting the foam rubber with the test tubes, Alfred hovering over him like, well, like some 90-year old Aunt looking for someone to bother. It's filmed from behind the row of test tubes and has a nice dark tint to it (oops, maybe that's my set?). Similarly, when Bats is atop the roof looking for Lisa Carson, you can almost believe he's a "dark knight."


JS: The episode ends on the note that I feel should have been the final shot of the entire series. Bruce, looking the viewers right in the eye, and explaining there's more to life than crime-fighting as he disappears into his beautiful girlfriend's apartment. Brilliant! Cut! Print!


PE: You imagine too much. He's probably there to check out her stamp collection. He's not Britt Reed, you know. Although I wished the camera had followed him in. I'd like to see what a glass of milk and cookies looks like.




PE Rating: 







JS Rating: 





Next up... The Black Widow! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!

13 comments:

  1. We agree on one! My other favorite moment besides the ones you named is Tut's adapted speech from Julius Caesar at the cliffhanger.

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  3. Saw this recently, and thought it'd be great if Lisa Carson had made a more overt reference to the earlier BATMAN film.. "Milk? Well, Bruce, I'm not Catwoman, you know!"

    I know that kinda thing is done everywhere NOW, but...

    Al Bigley

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  4. What, no mention of Whitney's role as sometime STAR TREK character Yeoman Janice Rand?

    Pete: First THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, now ROOM 222--man, I really AM reliving my childhood here! And I join in the love for TARGETS, one of the few Bogdanovich films I actually liked (yes, it beats even his pseudonymous VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN).

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  5. I seem to remember one especially hilarious, tongue-twisting, never-ending line (something about "...boiling the Boy Wonder royally...") delivered at least partially off-screen by Tut as something of a throwaway, which made it even funnier. And, right, just who is that little costumed cutie all served up for a very lucky Dick Grayson ("Holy Jennifer Love Hewitt ahead-of-time!")? I'm assuming this is "Penny," as portrayed by Terri Messina, based on the cast listing. And, ironically, Barbara Gordon ultimately DOES get conked on the head in a King Tut adventure, but reawakens as a dazed Batgirl, not a reincarnated Egyptian windbag.

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  6. Hey Gary -

    I thought the mystery gal might be Terri Messina as well, but she's credited in both episodes, which led me to believe "Penny" was the other gal hanging around Tut's place.

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  7. Interesting. Dick's cute date has at least one line, as I recall (which means she's more than just an extra), and she sure looks like a Penny. Time to re-watch that scene and listen for a name-call...

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  8. Jim Clark came to television directing after editing features. He had to have been well acquainted with Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief" (1955). There are a lot of camera quotations of that great comedy in these episodes: the pan-down of the costumed police to their scruffy brogans; AW's impersonation of Cary Grant at the hotel door of his leading lady; Lee Meriwether's golden Cleo bustier, which mimics Edith Head's costume for Grace Kelly in that movie's final act. As Hitch quipped to his comely star: "Grace, there's hills in them thar gold!"

    When BM does comedy well, it shines. This is a great example. Good script—tongue-in-cheek, not silly—good direction, unusually good casting. All this and Buono, too. Four Bats and a Vo-de-o-do.

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  9. I'm with you (and Matthew Bradley) about Lloyd Haines and Room 222. A site devoted to it would be nice.
    Though I don't agree about Grace Lee Whitney being the ONLY redeeming thing about "Controlled Experiment," since I like that episode all-around.

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  10. There's a Tut episode where Commissioner Gordon has a completely serious (not tongue-in-cheek) line about mental health research, and the general public's apathy about it (something like that). Since I haven't seen most of them in a long while, can someone tell me which one it is?

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  11. Surprised you didn't mention Grace Lee Whitney's well known role as Janice Rand on "Star Trek". (Lee Merriweather did a Star Trek back in the day as well)

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  12. One moment I loved in this from an acting standpoint was when John E. Carson starts telling Batman that Bruce Wayne is kind of a jerk, but he'd make a profitable son-in-law. Adam West does a really nice job of refraining from telling the guy off; and it sets up his initial stand-offishness with Lisa at the end of the show.

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  13. This was the first mention of Barbara Gordon in the series, even mentioning her pending graduation -- perhaps setting up her arrival for season three?

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