Tuesday, November 15, 2011

93 & 94: Ice spy/The Duo Defy

Season 2 Episodes 93 & 94:

Original Air Dates: 3/29/67 & 3/30/67
Special Guest Villain: Eli Wallach as Mr. Freeze
Guest stars: Leslie Parrish, Elisha Cook
Written by: Charles Hoffman 
Directed by: Oscar Rudolph

Synopsis: Mr. Freeze, operating from his newly created secret iceberg hideout, kidnaps Professor Isaacson (Cook) to get his secret instant-ice formula so he can freeze all of Gotham (and the world). 

PE: According to the UMTDB (Useless Movie Trivia Data Base), the iceberg is home of little penguin Nestor in Happy Feet, the final resting place of the monster in Frankenstein: The True Story, and the plot device that finally separated Leo and Kate when Billy Zane couldn't.

JS: Elisha Cook as a Professor? I thought he only played drunks and vagrants.

PE: Not the Elisha we're used to, fer sure. I thought we were on The Love Boat for a moment!  But John, you do our readers a disservice only mentioning Elisha Cook Jr., who was fine in such films as The Haunted Palace, Day of the Outlaw, Voodoo Island, and, of course, Blacula but, sadly, became the only past-his-prime American actor never to actually set sail aboard The Love Boat! That Captain's table is awash with Hollywood history. Why, there's Leslie Parrish, so vivacious as Zema, deadly moon girl in Missile to the Moon! Who could forget her big-screen comeback in the 1975  cult thriller, The Giant Spider Invasion? Here she's world skating star Glacia Glaze (imagine someone named Glacia growing up to be an ice skater!), hungry for knowledge and hanging on every word the good Professor utters. Directly to Ms. Glaze's left is our skipper, Captain Carlisle, performed so adequately by John Archer, whose first film was 1938's oater, Flaming Frontiers, with western superstar Johnny Mack Brown. Hold on to your hats for this coincidence: Johnny Mack Brown, in his sunset years starred in an episode of Perry Mason and so did Adam West. They didn't appear in the same episode but, still, doesn't that make it a small world? There are a lot of other extras at that table but, unfortunately, I couldn't find any info on them at the UMTDB (I guess the fact that I don't know any of their names might have something to do with that) so let's just assume they were in a lot of really cool movies, okay?

JS: Bonnie's clearly not the secretary I thought she was, just letting a sea lion into Commissioner Gordon's office. Unless of course she thought that was Chief O'Hara...

PE: Nah, too cute to be O'Hara and there's a glint of intelligence in those pretty black eyes (the seal, that is). The seal's smart enough to keep his mouth shut most of the time.
JS: This episode also features the best Bruce Wayne/Batman interaction yet, as O'Hara and Gordon coordinate a call between the two men. West was at the top of his form as he attempted Hawksian overlapping dialog with himself, as Burt Ward looks on in awe.

PE: Let's see Christian Bale pull that scene off. West's so forceful with his props I thought he might give himself a concussion. Where was his stunt man? Ward wouldn't have tried this. Just to get a feel for how hard this kind of thing was to do, I watched ten minutes of this episode, then popped in Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage  for ten minutes, then ten of Batman, and so on. My brain is exhausted.

JS: If the dynamic duo knew where they could find Mr. Freeze, why bother going through with the elaborate setup? So they could bring fake money to Mr. Freeze and explain to him that it's fake money? Wouldn't it have been easier for them to just walk into his freezing and vaporizing chamber without causing such a ruckus? Oops—sorry. Got carried away for a second.

PE: What's with all this extra screen time for Harriet? We even see her as the inadvertent intrepid sleuth in this episode, as she stumbles on Ms. Glacia's compact communicator. Is she being groomed for bigger things should Napier want that extra money for donning the Bat-suit so often? With the polar outfit she had on, I expected her to get out there and skate on the ice.

JS: I could almost hear the voice of William Dozier commenting, "Commissioner Gordon? Playing peek-a-boo?"

PE: Watching the wall-walk this episode made me think that the filming of these segments must have played hell on Ward's and West's backs. They don't look comfortable bent over in that position (especially Ward who seems to be nudged in the tush constantly in these scenes), effectively aping a quarterback but walking at the same time.

JS: Barbara Gordon gets her second mention, reminding us that we'll see her in the next episode with the start of Season 3!

PE: I have to ask this so bear with me: I understand in some alternate reality that Bat-thermals may keep the Dynamic Duo's tights and outer-underwear from freezing when they're zapped by Mr. Freeze's ice ray gun, but why wouldn't their exposed skin freeze? Oops, sorry. Got carried away for a second.

JS: We get our first glimpse of Commissioner Gordon outside of his normal suit and tie in this episode. I love when he tells O'Hara, dressed in a parka, to 'come on, nannook!," but even moreso, his own look of working on the dock (I think Gordo looks ghetto in his hoodie, yo..=PE)

PE: Looks like Elisha Cook, Jr. is drawing on  all those drunk roles after all. Look at him faking the D.T.'s and licking the little green table.
JS: Of all the things I was prepared to see Batman pull out of his utility belt, a fish was not on my list.

PE: I think the writers of the Bat-teleplays looked forward the most to writing O'Hara's lines. Could they have had unconscious resentment towards those charged to serve and protect? Gordon madly paces his floor, spouting out G-rated expletives, stops and asks O'Hara if he has any idea what the President just saw on his teleprompter while he was about to give a speech. Looking  like the bat that just ate the cat, O'Hara proudly gushes: "His speech?!" Gordon corrects him by telling him that, no, it was a message from Mr. Freeze. "Bless me suspender buttons!" our favorite chief exclaims.

JS: Eli Wallach wins the crown for best Mr. Freeze, not that he had much in the way of competition. Leslie Parrish is back after her role as actress Dawn Robbins way back in episode 4 (The Pengun's a Jinx).

PE: Oh yeah, he's surprisingly good. It's not surprising he's good. He played two of the most beloved villains in western history, Clavera, the Mexican super-bandito in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Tuco, Clint Eastwood's partner/enemy in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966). I always considered Otto Preminger the definitive Mr. Freeze, but clearly he's the hands-down winner of the Ice Sweepstakes. Since Eli's not chewing much scenery here, I'm assuming his assistant never got those Batman videos for Wallach to study while he was in Italy with Sergio. And that's for the best. He brings some of the lingering effects of playing a mean bastard like Tuco to this role. The only thing that annoyed me about the performance is that lousy accent. It's there, I assume, for continuity's sake. Ironic, isn't that?

JS: Aunt Harriet has a play room added to Stately Wayne Manor without Bruce and Dick knowing. Ah, keen-eyed detectives, that dynamic duo! What I really want to know is, which producer's kid reaped the rewards of the art department's building of the largest household slot-car race track in the history of Gotham City?

PE Rating: 

JS Rating:

Next up... Our Season 2 Recap. Then, on Thursday, Joel Eisner provides a Season 3 Primer. And on Friday... Batgirl! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!


  1. Mr. Freeze wore out his welcome very fast, and I think this a poor pair of shows. Peter and John are a lot more generous with bat-signals than I'd be. Nevertheless, on re-watching these episodes I was pleasantly reminded of how much I enjoy all the actors: Wallach, Parrish, Cook, Wynant. None was what I would call a major star, but all gave us entertainment. I have a lot of affection for these "old friends," and I miss them.

  2. Mr. Black is not being very charitable here, nor accurate, if I do say so. I wouldn't say Eli Wallach was not a major star. Well, certainly compared to Cook, Parrish and Wynant he was. They're not even in the same league with him, thus not to be spoken in the same breath as him when comparing their star status!