Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Episode 97: The Wail of the Siren

Season 3 Episode 97
Original Air Date: 9/28/67
Special Guest Villainess: Joan Collins as The Siren
Guest stars: Mike Mazurki, Cliff Osmond
Written by: Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by: George WaGGner

Synopsis: The Siren uses her call to get Bruce Wayne to sign over his millions to her, and it's up to the youngsters—Robin and Batgirl—to save the day!

PE: Even though it's not indicated as such, this is really Part 2 of Ring Around the Riddler, which climaxed with the cliffhanger of The Siren bedeviling Commissioner Gordon. 

JS: Yeah, I don't recall either of these shows from my years watching it in syndication. I think I would have been lost with the underplayed cliffhanger.

PE: It's funny that Barbara Gordon was mentioned by her father two or three times tops during the first two seasons. Now that Batgirl is around, I guess we, as forgetful viewers, need to be reminded who she is. Gordon drops her name constantly. The Siren wants to meet Batman and Gordo belches out: "How about at my daughter's apartment!"

JS: Perhaps you forget that she was off at school and now she's back home. Don't you think Gordon would have been parading Barbara through police headquarters if she was around? I was more put off by narcissist Bruce Wayne answering the phone with, "Yes, this is millionaire Bruce Wayne.

PE: That incidental music is just annoying and distracting now. Witness the discussion between Dick and Bruce about superior officers while that Go-Go beat is pert near drowning out their pithy dialogue. 

JS: Barbara is quite the catch. She's technically savvy (they don't even have an answering machine in the Batcave OR Wayne Manor), and she's got a great sense of humor (just watch as she makes fun of O'Hara's accent).

PE: LOL-dialogue. Barbara Gordon offers the Dynamic Teetotalers a soft drink to which Batman replies: "No thank you, Miss Gordon, we may find it too relaxing."

JS: What exactly is too relaxed? Is that when the caped crusader takes off the Bat-pants and sits in front of the TV drinking beer while watching the Gotham City Sirens play the Opal City Starmen?

PE: The sets continue to decline with each passing episode. The grotto props themselves don't look all that bad. It's the sea of black that surrounds them that drags the visual down. Worst of all is the rooftop scene where our finale battle takes place, all in front of a beautiful blank purple sky. 

JS: I was too distracted by the choreography to notice the sets (or absence thereof). Barbara was smiling so much, I began to think someone swapped the fight choreographer with a dance choreographer. 

PE: We learn in this episode that the Bat-computer can only answer questions about criminals. How about a Bat-Law-and-Order Computer? Sounds like something Alfred could whip up on a day off.

JS: I don't think Batman understands technology. The Batcomputer is probably a re-purposed fortune telling machine. 

PE: The Siren hypnotizes the Commissioner and sends him on a mission: to find Batman's secret identity. When Gordon pops out of the Batmobile trunk into the Bat-cave and puts two and two together, I fully expected him to slap himself in the head and say "Of course, how could I have been so stupid? The evidence was right in front of me the whole time. Now I need to find out who Batgirl is!"

JS: You knew Gordon was in a daze as soon as he started to spout the obvious that he never could have consciously arrived upon. Of course one has to ask, with all of their electronic toys, would it kill them to have a Stowaway Sensor in the Batmobile?

PE: I think it goes without saying that I couldn't care less about the plot of this one as long as they kept getting back to the divine Ms. Collins. Joan is probably known to the average TV-viewer as Alexis Carrington Colby, a character she played on Dynasty for nine seasons but, for me, she'll always be Joanne Clayton, the murderous wife terrorized by a demented Santa on Christmas Eve in the opening act of Tales from the Crypt (1972). Required viewing. Joan got a lot more exposure in the late 1970s with the soft-core porn one-two punch of The Stud (1978) and The Bitch (1979). More required viewing.

JS: I think she wins the award for shortest skirt in Gotham City.

PE: Best prop of the episode: In the Wayne Foundation, there's a painting of a wall-safe and behind it is.. a wall safe! I saw that and wondered why Bruce didn't put a painting of the Bat-poles in his study instead of a faux bookcase. 

JS: Only a Gotham City criminal wouldn't think to look behind the painting of a safe.

PE: Contrary to popular belief, Cliff Osmond, who plays henchman Andante, was not middle brother of the famous singing troupe but rather a well-traveled TV and movie character actor, with a resume that reads like a What's What of TV history. He's got one of those faces you immediately recognize without immediately remembering where! Same goes with his partner, Allegro, played by Mike Mazurki. These two might have had a game of one-upmanship while hanging around the set, waiting for Joan and Yvonne to have their hair done. Cliff: "I was on Have Gun-Will Travel!" Mike: "Oh yeah, well, I was on Have Gun three times!" Cliff: "I was a Captain in Invasion of the Bee Girls. Top that!"  Mike: "I was the foreman of The House of Death in The Egyptian!" That game could have gone on for days.

JS: Robin gets to take another shot at Bruce Wayne in this episode. That's always fun to see.

PE: When The Siren used her high octave on Batgirl and "Batboy" to no avail, I was hanging on every word Batgirl said: "Girls are impervious to your... entrancing voice." For just a split second, I remembered all the rumors about Batman and Robin (and, of course, those all-male camping slumber parties) and thought... But then Robin had to pipe in about his Bat-earplugs and the fantasy disappeared again. And the Boy Wonder puts the exclamation on that point by telling Batgirl they'll be taking the stairs to the roof to save Bruce Wayne. "The stairs?" questions Batbabe. "Yes, you're in good shape!" Atta boy! While the Bat's away, the Robin will play.

JS: Yeah, that was the understatement of the series. Looks like Dick might finally be growing up. That said, I thought it was funny that they were framed in the shot outside the elevator like they were kids—their heads barely reached the middle of the screen!

PE: As a public service, we'll reprint below the "lyrics" to Batgirl's theme song:

(chorus)Batgirl, Batgirl!Batgirl, Batgirl! 
Where do you come from, where do you go?What is your scene, baby, we just gotta know. 
(repeat chorus) 
Are you a chick who fell in from Outer Space?Or are you real with a tender warm embrace? 
Yeah! Whose baby are you, Batgirl? Batgirl!Yeah, Whose baby are you, Batgirl? Batgirl! 
(repeat chorus until it's boring)
JS: It sounded like a song cut from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—I kept waiting for Oompah-Loompah's to show up. LJS sure was right about those lyrics. Just repeating, "Batgirl? Batgirl!" would have been quite an improvement.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating:

Next up... The PenguinSame Bat time, same Bat URL!


  1. Joan CRAWFORD as the Siren? Do Batman and Robin wind up on wire hangers, slowly lowered into a vat of boiling Pepsi?

  2. I've always considered this episode to be the true finale of the BATMAN TV series, in that Robin finally fulfills the potential of a full-fledged, relatively no-nonsense crime-fighter, taking charge with some aplomb when his senior partner is out of action. Remembering back, the subtext of "Hi Diddle Riddle" was the "passing of the baton" (or Bat-on) from an adult, somewhat old-fashioned do-gooder to his youthful partner...who, as we recall, was sharper and faster than his mentor in everything but the final clue-solving -- here's where Batman's adult experience as a detective paid off. But I submit that the subtext of this series as a whole was how the next generation was going to be taking over soon... not with bitterness, as what was happening with the "generation gap" in America at the time, but with fathomless respect and, yes, love. When Dick says things like, "Gosh Bruce, when you put it that way, I see you're right!", it's at least partially because he honestly cares about his gradually aging partner's feelings. The next generation is ALWAYS faster, better-educated, more edgy... and in this episode, Robin is honestly tested; we actually see the difference between his kind of crime-fighting and the dated, overly civil, entirely too trusting approach to baddie-catching that Batman employs. Amazingly, Robin is quick-thinking, resourceful, effortlessly in command (Batgirl pretty much follows his lead) and, most importantly, viciously hard-edged in dealing with his adversary. He's perfectly willing to let Siren fall to her death if she doesn't cooperate, something gentlemanly Batman would never do. Hard as it is to believe, Robin has actually become cool in this episode! He's grown-up at last, and we like him a helluva lot more now that he's stepped out of his mentor's shadow and is establishing his own, somewhat more realistic approach to crime-busting.

    BRUCE: Well, well... We've come a long way from that incident at the Moldavian pavilion.

    DICK: We sure have, Bruce.

    BRUCE: So. Need any help with that mathematics assignment? College isn't like high school, old chum.

    DICK: Not a problem, I aced the... I mean, well, sure Bruce, of course! There are some aspects of advanced trig that I'll never understand!

    BRUCE (with a warm smile): Let's have a look...

    FADE-OUT. THE END. At least, I'd like to think of it this way...

  3. Joan Collins as the Siren is, IMO, the hottest Bat-babe ever, in a narrow victory over Newmar.

    As for Yvonne, I know this blog would disagree, but she ain't even in my top 10. Eye of the beholder.

  4. Joan Collins and that silver micromini -- I'd sell out to the forces of evil if she'd have me.

  5. The wall safe gag was the epitome of camp comedy, and the perfect example of what the TV series was all about.

    I think of Yvonne as a cute girl, and of Julie Newmar and Joan Collins as sexy women, so there's really no comparison.

  6. I'd swear I saw a movie once where a painting was hidden behind a painting...