Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Batscholar on Episode 114

By Joel Eisner

The final Penguin episode of both the season and the series, has Penguin contaminate the money of Gotham City with Lygerian Sleeping Sickness so that the citizens of Gotham will dump their money into the street where he and his gang can scoop it up with giant vacuum cleaners. When Bruce Wayne informs the world that Penguin's money is contaiminated and should not accept it, Penguin releases 500 Lygerian Fruit Flies upon Gotham in the hopes of putting the entire population to sleep, thus allowing him to loot the city of its gold and jewelry. First Penguin and his men inject themselves with the only antidote (a double dose) and then attempt to steal everything in sight. Finding our heroes plus Gordon and O'Hara asleep in the streets, he tries to make off with their belongings. But instead finds himself in a trap, and is soon apprehended (the cold weather killed the flies before they could do any damage) and soon falls asleep from the overdose of antidote.

While the plot is ridiculous, how could a few flies put the entire population of the city to sleep. How could Bruce Wayne stop everyone in the world from taking Penguin's money. All Penguin had to do was to wash the money and kill the bacteria, or even go out of town to another city and launder the money there. Why wouldn't the citizens wash the money themselves or at least return it to the bank to be burned (and replaced). As the show winds down to the final few episodes, the intelligence level of the stories go with it. The show is now the joke and not campy parody of situations it once was. The cast seems to realize this and appear to be having more fun in the final episodes than earlier in the season.

Burgess appeared to be both happy and sad that this was the end of the Penguin for him. In fact, he was able to sing again (while he was sweeping up the money), not quite the Penguin for mayor ditto but it worked.

Burgess Meredith “The villainous Penguin; It still pursues me. It was a deliberately overblown approach. It may have done me more harm than good, but it made an impact. I thought it had a Dickensian quality — or a spoof of one. It was fun to act. I was only one of many villains, as you know. I had an elaborate makeup — a huge nose and a great, extended stomach. It was as complete a disguise as you could get — but people recognized me in it. The interesting thing about the Penguin was that I made only a few episodes; maybe nine or ten. and the one feature film.”“It’s amazing how many people equate me with that one brief role. When the new Batman feature came it ignited reruns of the series. It never stops. When I pass kids on the street they still quack at me! "

"The Penguin stuck to me because the character was so vivid. When Eva Le Gallienne was presented with an award and I was one of the speakers, I told her the first part she had given me was that of the Duck in Alice in Wonderland, in which I had to strap roller skates on my knees, and I said I wanted to thank her because it defined my career: I went from a Duck to a Penguin!."

As for the gang Belgian beauty (then 42) Monique Van Vooren appeared as Miss Clean, she had a limited career in films but she is set to return to the screen in 2012 in the Oliver Stone film Graystone (Stone's son is directing, but Stone himself is the star of the film) She is now 86.

Charles Dierkop (Dustbag) went on to costar on the “Police Woman” series. Newell Oestreich last seen as one of Penguin's goons in Hizzoner the Penguin returned as Pushbroom. He died in 2004 at the age of 80. Also in the cast was Abel Fernandez formally from the Untouchables tv shows (Agent Youngblood) played a thug. John Beradino a former major league baseball player turned actor parodied his role on General Hospital (soon to be the home of Warden Crichton David Lewis, who barely remembered working on the entire Batman series and only vaguely recalled working with Shelley Winters), played the doctor. John Vivyan as the bank manager appeared on the Adventures of Superman, and had the recurring role of Lepke on the Lawless Years tv series. He was best known as the title character of the Mr Lucky tv series, his costar was Wild Wild West's Ross Martin.

Of the three Penguin episodes from the third season, this one is my favorite. The Ethel Merman team up is almost unwatchable, and Enter Batgirl is more another Batgirl pilot than a Penguin episode. He is there to move the show along and to create tension but it is too disjoint for me, we go back and forth between Batgirl intro stuff, the development of a relationship with Alfred and her secret identity and Penguin's bizzare scheme to marry Barbara to obtain immunity from prosecution. This episode is far from the best Penguin, nothing can take the place of Hizzoner the Penguin but for third season it wasn't bad. The plot was stupid, but I enjoy watching Burgess run with it.

Next Cliff Robertson returns as Shame and brings his new bride Dina Merrill (they married in between 2nd and 3rd season) as his new girlfriend, but she brings her mother with her. The last of the non two part stories that proved that Stanley Ralph Ross could still write given the right subject and the right villain. These episodes rank just below the two King Tut episodes but they are among the best of the third season.


  1. I really hate the fact a scene was written where Batgirl was gassed in order to go to commercial. Couldn't it had be written where she at least got one 'kick' in before being put to sleep? It illustrates this version of Batgirl could not handle crooks on her own.
    A often repeated theme during the show's 3rd season.

  2. Agreed. One balletic kick would have knocked the goons sideways before The Penguin then gassed her to sleep.

  3. Holy blooper, Batman! When Batman dials Commissioner Gordon from the bank manager's phone Gordon picks up the call on the Batphone! Since when can anyone who knows the number dial the Batphone in Commissioner Gordon's office?