Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Episodes 98 & 99: The Sport of Penguins/A Horse of Another Color

Season 3 Episodes 98 & 99
Original Air Date: 10/5/67 & 10/12/67
Special Guest Villain: Burgess Meredith as The Penguin
Extra Special Guest Villainess: Ethel Merman as Lola Lasagne
Guest stars: Horace McMahon
Written by: Charles Hoffman 
Directed by: Sam Strangis

The Penguin is after a rare book on parasols located at The Gotham Library. Luckily, Barbara Gordon, ex-fiance of The Penguin and alias of Batgirl, happens to work at the library. Meanwhile, Pengy seems to be making a bid at horse racing as well, in cahoots with the beautiful Lola Lasagna (Merman).

PE: This is a great example of the type of plotless arc that wanders from nonsense to nonsense. We go from stolen parasols to stolen folios to horses and racing. How can you possibly tie this all together? You can't and they didn't. It's like watching a French film without the sub-titles (or maybe with the sub-titles).

JS: And why mess with a proven formula? I would have been fine with another Penguin episode following his failed attempt to marry Barbara Gordon... but Lady Lasagne... preposterous.

PE: What did a good-looking guy like Ernie Borgnine see in Ethel Merman? I think I heard somewhere that some couples, after years of marriage start looking similar but in this case it was only a matter of weeks since he had the good sense to dump her after only 32 days of wedded blitz. Who knows, if the marriage had lasted longer, Borgnine might not have gone on to classics such as The Wild Bunch, Willard, The Poseidon Adventure, and All Dogs Go to Heaven 2.  I've got a feeling Ernie's being referenced here when Lola Lasagna (Merman) says she was married to Luigi Lasagna for only three weeks and he didn't die "as any adoring young wife would reasonably expect" but rather divorced her and left her only a horse. Left her looking like a horse actually.

JS: Nice use of the Bat Shield with tong slot to remove the umbrella, Batman. In the future you might want to keep your colleagues behind the shield. 

PE: According to Joel Eisner's indispensable The Official Batman Bat-Book, when the show went from twice-weekly to weekly, the producers opted for the one episode format sans the cliffhanger because they were afraid the public wouldn't be able to remember how they were left hanging the week before. I'll give them that, but then why do we have four two-parters and, inexplicably, a three-parter this season? Were they left-over scripts re-tooled to include Batgirl or was there a method to the madness? Here, we get an extremely dopey wrap-up and summary to Act I rather than a cliffhanger. Wouldn't feeble-minded viewers have forgotten this very forgettable climax as well by the next week?

JS: I thought it was quite compelling. Batman answers the Batphone—who could it be! Tune in, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

PE: Barbara Gordon doesn't exactly treat her ex-fiance, The Penguin, with respect at the library. In fact, it's almost as if she doesn't remember the love they shared only three weeks before. In fact, it seems that Barb's memory isn't as sharp as her cone-bras since, (SPOILER ALERT) at the climax of Act II, for some goofball reason, King Tut is seen loitering around the water fountain at the library while Babs and her pop, Commissioner Gordon are rehashing our story. The Commish fills his naive daughter in on Tut's rap-sheet. "You mean, a real life arch-criminal has turned up at our library?" she exclaims with a huge grin on her face. More disrespect for The Penguin, who'd been standing in the very same spot 47 minutes earlier.

JS: I think she's using the opportunity to slam the Penguin.

PE: Here we go again with Batman holding his hand to his face and talking quietly, as if directing his comments to just one person. Trouble is, there's only Barbara and Robin in the room and he's talking to both of them at the time. 

JS: A.L. Fred? One more sign that Hoffman was phoning this one in.

PE: Penguin's book shop, minus the bookshelves, looks exactly like Riddler's Steam Room and Siren's Grotto. And isn't that the set for The Dating Game that Bruce Wayne and Dennis the Menace's pop are sitting on?  Another couple of bucks saved! 

JS: Penguin picks up on the fact that the jockey looks exactly like Bruce Wayne's ward, Dick Grayson. But he somehow doesn't see any similarity to Robin. 

PE: I'm glad the Bat-Computer is back up and running, giving the Caped Crusaders a definition of a parasol, very evidently a crime weapon.

JS: What about Bab's setup. She's got an Emergency Library Prowler Signal in her bedroom! 

PE: So now Alfred is a spy for Batgirl? The second the boys hop into the Batmobile and break ten or twelve traffic laws, the butler's on the phone spilling the beans to Barbara Gordon. Eventually, the Dynamic Duo should be able to put two and two together, when they're wondering how Batbabe shows up constantly where the action is, and realize they've got a bespectacled rat in the Batcave.

JS: Are you kidding? Thank goodness that Alfred called in Batgirl. Without her involvement, this two-parter might have reached the bottom of the barrel. 

PE: Here's my moment to be a chauvinist pig: I really dig Barbara Gordon's strut on the way to the "Batgirl Vault." She's got those hips shakin' like Shakira. The cone bras she wears are making me constantly hit the rewind. She works at a library so I know I should respect her for her brain but... did I mention her cone bras?

JS: Yes, she's quite the renaissance lady, wearing the most stylish fashions around the house.

PE: Ethel Merman is a fish out of water here. She doesn't look like she's having any fun at all and it shows, mostly standing around in her dowdy clothes with her hands hanging like limp spaghetti at her sides, seemingly ready to belt out a show tune at any given moment. It's not Ethel's fault but every time she wails a line of dialogue, I flashback on her cameo in Airplane!

JS: She managed to drag The Penguin down with her, which should count for something...

PE: The fight scenes look clumsy now that there are three heroes. The choreography seems to have been thrown out the window. At times, Batman is standing off  to the side, watching the "action."

JS: I love how at one point, the henchmen have to help Batgirl tie themselves up.

PE: If I was Batman, I'd just answer Robin with "Enough with the "let's follow Batgirl and find out who she really is!" Seriously, is Burt Ward condemned to repeat the same line at the same time in every episode from here on out?

JS: Didn't you get a look at Batgirl? I thought you'd understand Dick's interest.

PE: Bruce Wayne, Head of Board of Library Trustees. That's all I have to say.

JS: Remember, Peter. Expletives will get you nowhere.

PE: Wind-up Penguin toy on the desk at the library the evil villain recently burgled. Nah, it should be safe. Go ahead and wind it up. 

JS: Didn't Penguin think that giving a gift of a penguin might be considered suspicious?

PE: I'll leave you with Batman's description of Batgirl:
"Like a cloud! Like lightning! ... Whoever she is, wherever she goes, whatever she's after, I think we'll be seeing more of her!

PE Rating: 

JS Rating:

Next up... King Tut! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!


  1. LOVE the blog big time!

    But, please, make friends with commas and decent punctuation.

  2. Fellas: I've been away from home. I've returned to your much missed blog. Your standards of excellence remain impeccable. The series descends deeper into the crapper. The comely Miss Craig remains a thing of beauty, a joy forever. The show is now virtually unwatchable.

  3. You mean we haven't hit bottom yet? It already feels like it.

    Whenever I think of Ethel Merman what comes to mind is...


  4. A cherished blooper from eons ago: "and now the robust voice of Ethel Murmur!"