Monday, November 14, 2011

91 & 92: Pop Goes the Joker/Flop Goes the Joker

Season 2 Episodes 91 & 92
Original Air Dates: 3/22/67 & 3/23/67
Special Guest Villain: Cesar Romero as The Joker
Guest stars: Diana Ivarson, Fritz Feld
Written by: Stanford Sherman 
Directed by: George WaGGner

Synopsis: The Joker's latest plot involves his becoming a celebrated artist, opening an art school catering to millionaires and their brethren, and then extorting cash from them. It may have worked like a charm if he didn't agree to take on Bruce Wayne as one of his students!

JS: I'm sorry, Alfred is far too bright to mention to a gallery owner that he's shopping for his millionaire boss.

PE: I could almost hear echoes of "Batdance" in that gallery scene. No doubt Burton was paying homage.

JS: If not a direct inspiration, it certain was a nice tip of the hat to this episode when Jack Nicholson's Joker and his crew infiltrated the art gallery in the 1989 film.

JS: I should have known that Alfred's painting of the Batpoles would become a key plot point later. In that respect, the script was much smarter than I had come to expect this season.

PE: Holy Chafing, Batman. That paint doesn't look like it's conducive to pole-sliding.

JS: I could be wrong, but it sure sounded like Commissioner Gordon promoted Bruce Wayne to billionaire status in this episode. 

PE: Batman's drive to the art gallery takes him right past some of California's most beautiful coastline. Quite a long drive to the Gotham Gallery. Once Bats gets there, he's accosted and painted on by The Joker! If I'd tuned in late and saw that expanding waistline with the besmirched uniform, I'd have assumed it was a messy lunch for The Caped Crusader. When Joker signs Batman's emblem, it's just a squiggle but once he gets to Commissioner Gordon's office, it's very clearly a 'J'! Holy continuity errors, Batman!

JS: Another bit of interesting back story was slipped in—we now learn that Gotham is The Joker's home town.

PE: I love when Robin's reading The Gotham Art News and excitedly tells Batman: "There's an interesting notice in The Gotham Art News!" Bats takes the zine from his protege, looks at it for about one second and hands it back to him with a bored "Hmmm, yes, that is interesting." He didn't sound as if it was interesting.

JS: Ah, remember the swingin' 60s, when they used to start and stop art contests with a gunshot! Considering her range, I'm almost shocked that Diana Ivarson's career high-point was Batman.

PE: You obviously haven't seen Macho Callahan where Diana played the pivotal role of Girl #2 (just to show you I'm paying attention, Diane Ladd played Girl #1). I was hoping at some point there would be some need for Ms. Ivarson to sit for  Female Anatomy sketches. Unfortunately, she had lines to utter instead. She does look hot with a welder's helmet on though. 

JS: So, do you think Sherman has an opinion on Modern Art?

PE: I was actually having a similar reaction to Nelson Riddle's music this episode. The wah-da-dum-dum-da-dum during the Paint-Off scene had the same reaction in me as when the delightful pre-teen boys next door tie up their mother in the back yard and light her on fire.

JS: I thought the scene in which The Joker critiques each of his student's work was one of Romero's finest moments.

PE: The cliffhangers and the equipment used in them are degrading most exponentially. This arc we get Robin on some kind of mobile with spinning knives. Wow, those days of the Dynamic Duo buttered and laid out on the roof under a magnifying glass are looking better now. I do like the big furry tennis balls.

JS: It's not like Bruce Wayne to engage in fisticuffs, but he fortunately explains later that he wasn't too good, so no one would suspect him as being Batman.

PE: Baby Jane explains to Robin that Joker hasn't broken any laws and so can't be arrested. This, despite his attempted murder of the Boy Wonder and assault on multi-billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne. What university do these blondes go to for their law studies?

JS: Batman's got quite a line this time out:
Batman: Tell Chief O'Hara that Robin and I have something in our pockets other than our hands!
PE: My favorite bit of dialogue comes after Gordo and O'Hara  call Batman to find out why he's taking so long to put The Joker behind bars. Batman gives the Gotham Goof-Ups his reasons and Gordo seems satisfied: "The Chief and I won't move from this office until we hear from you." Really? Time for The Riddler to hit the Gotham National Bank, I guess. The real law's sittin' on its hands today.

JS: Alfred's pursuit of the second banana role continues, as he duels The Joker in the Stately Wayne Manor living room! Go Alfred! (I was actually shocked to see The Joker holding a gun to Baby Jane's head!-PE)

PE: Eagle-eyed genre fans will have to look quick for Jody Gilbert as millionaire socialite/frustrated artist Mrs. Putney. I remembered her immediately as one of Henrietta Stiles' buddies in Willard.

JS: Let's face it, having The Joker stumble across the Batpoles was quite a shocking moment. And while they prevented him from reaching the Batcave, I must admit I was disappointed that they did not address the fact that The Joker is now aware of a secret location in Wayne Manor. How long before that nugget circulating around Arkham removes all doubt as to the Bruce Wayne/Batman rumors?

PE: Considering continuity is an important facet of this show (witness the three months in Gotham Prison given to Catwoman time and again), I have no doubt that the next episode will either begin with a scene of The Joker and his henchmen with pick axes behind Wayne Manor or The Clown Prince of Crime falling into a state of amnesia ala Norman Osborn. Whoops, I was wrong. The Joker goes surfing. Forget I ever mentioned continuity.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... Mr. Freeze! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!


  1. Of course she looks hot with a welder's helmet on--welding is a sweaty business! (Sorry, you set yourself up for that one...)

  2. My favorite Joker story, and one of my favorites of the entire series. A very funny script and execution, but also, as you point out, a plot that makes some sense (for Batman). Many funny moments, but I love the undisguised contempt Bruce shows for The Joker, and the fact that The Joker obviously hates him. He may not know that Bruce is secretly Batman, but he clearly has an unconscious feeling about it. As an Alfred fan, I am delighted with the climax. "Yes, madam, but he's a very poor fencer." Who is cooler than Alfred?

    Alas, after this story, I find myself more aligned with the naysayers. There are a few enjoyable third-season outings (the King Tut shows, the one-part Penguin shows, and to a lesser extent, the Egghead/Olga shows), but starting with the last Mr. Freeze show, the good stories are the exception. I know most of you have been of that view since Bookworm, but I now must sadly add my voice to the chorus.

  3. For style, grace, and silent body language, I give this episode's top acting award to the monkey.

  4. LJS beat me to it. This is one of my favorites too. The potential to have some fun with the world of modern art first surfaced with the Clock King story, but here they pull out all the stops. It was hilarious to observe that no famous artist has any talent, critics will praise anything a famous artist creates, and art dealers simply see the end result as “product.” And, there was genuine excitement when The Joker ran into Bruce Wayne's den and found the Batpole switch. Despite the general superiority of the first season, it's surprising that we had to wait until the second season for The Penguin and The Joker to get their best scripts.

    Diana Ivarson impressed with a lively performance. When I looked her up on the IMDb I was surprised to find she had such a brief screen career. I expected to see a long list of appearances on numerous 60s TV shows, but there were only five entries.

    Glenn :)

  5. I stumbled across this site while looking up Diana Ivarson myself. Poster Glenn duly notes the obvious art-world jokes, but what struck me was the names of some of the artists in the contest: Jackson Potluck, and Vincent van Gauche (who specialized in the "neo-gamine" school). Smart writing for such an intentionally goofy show.

  6. Is there any logical reason why the description of this episode on my EPG is 'Robin reckons he's a hamburger'?

  7. I don't know about Batgirl or the villainesses, but Diane Ivarson makes just about the most entertaining "damsel in distress" character the show ever had.

  8. By a mile, my favorite JOKER story. The following season, THE MONKEES also did an episode set in an art gallery.

    I loved Bruce Wayne's extensive involvement, the personal emnity between him & Joker, the way Bruce dove right into a fight (in civilian attire). Then there's that death-trap. Didn't care for it as a kid, these days, I think it's one of the sickest, most diabolical things ever seen on the show.

    But nothing tops the swordfight between Joker and ALFRED! The more I watch the show over the years, the more I really love Alan Napier's version of the character. The show wouldn't have been the same without him.

  9. Fortunatly quick thinking Alfred pushs the button that sends the batpole cusion going up...and Down...Joker is so terrified that he never realizes he is sliding down to the batcave! The only other villians that come closest to realizing Batman/Bruce Wayne are Egghead-using deductive reasoning and King Tutt {Twice} but Egghead doesnt beleive his own reasoning and King Tut suffers amenisa