Friday, December 9, 2011

The Batscholar on Episodes 115 and 116

By Joel Eisner

Shame returns and this time he's brought his fiancee and her mother along for the ride. Add two unique henchmen, a giant Indian who speaks in smokes signals from his cigar and a Mexican bandit named Fred with a totally British accent. Plus the usual added stuntmen extra henchmen that always show up during a battle and then disappear for the rest of the episode or until needed again.

Cliff Robertson proved he could handle the comedy even better this time than his last outing. Having his wife Dina Merrill along probably helped (they were married less than a year when this was filmed), the two worked so well together. Add in that marvelous comic actress Hermione Badderley (best known for her role as one of the two maids in Mary Poppins and Maude's maid Mrs. Naugatuck), plus the two main henchmen, Fred the bandit played by Barry Dennen) Chief Standing Pat played by Victor Lundin (last seen as Octopus in Fine Finny Fiends). These two episodes proved the show still had some life left in it, even without the cliffhanger ending.

Cliff Robertson “I remember that the episodes that I did were the greatest fun—the most fun that I ever had on a show. The director gave me all kinds of latitude to work with the character. When they asked me to do the second show, because they liked the first one so much, I asked them if they would hire my wife, Dina, and they did, casting her as Calamity Jan.”

“I recall taking my daughter to see Adam West. She was then five years old and, mind you, I was only starring in movies at the time, which didn’t make much of an impression on her. But when she met Adam, she said, ‘Daddy, I didn’t know you knew such important people.’”

Hermione Badderley was 61 when she played Frontier Fanny, she had been in movies back in England since 1928;. She had also played Bob Cratchit's wife in the classic Alistair Sim version of Scrooge in 1951. She later joined Catwoman Julie Newmar and Egghead Vincent Price on an episode of The Bionic Woman. I had the chance to spend some time with her about a year before her death in 1986 at the age of 79.

Hermione Baddeley “I liked Cliff very, very much. I am certain there was something terribly funny that did happen, when we first met, I know it started us off and we were giggling through the whole thing like absurd children. We really enjoyed ourselves. Cliff was so enchanting and I hadn’t seen his beautiful acting and I have loved him as an actor ever since. It was great fun the whole thing and his wife was just enchanting. The Mexican bandit with the British accent was a real funny one. We were sort of laughing at ourselves all the time. You don’t always enjoy yourself quite as much as we did in that. I got hit on the head, it might have been the draft going right up and I had the wrong kind of underwear on but I know that Cliff and I were absolutely doubled up, but didn’t want to spoil the thing by laughing, so we had to look away and keep away from each other. But I thought Batman was brilliant, he was so nice too. Adam at the time of Batman used to have rather serious talks with me. I don’t know how he had the time, but he was very anxious to be a serious actor again.”

Barry Dennen was marvelous as Fred, he later turned up as the villain Mephisto on the Stanley Ralph Ross's Monster Squad tv show. His major claim to fame was as Pontius Pilate in the stage and film version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

This was his first tv role. He has since moved on to providing voices for cartoon series and many popular video games including CSI and Star Trek.

Barry Dennen “I don’t really remember how I got this job I probably just auditioned for it I was very young because it was before I went to England . This was one of the first jobs I ever had in Hollywood. For some reason, they wanted a Mexican-looking guy who could speak with an English accent. Deanna Merrill and Cliff Robertson were married at the time. I also got, along really well with Hermione Baddeley and she was kind enough to invite me to her home on Coldwater Canyon. Hermione was a remarkable actress who did some superb work both in serious and comedy roles. Burt Ward seemed to be a troubled individual. I don’t know why but he was very aloof and wouldn’t even to speak to the guest stars on the show. Fame had probably gone to his head. He would appear on the set at the last: minute, do the shot, then disappear. On the other hand Adam West was a very nice man and in fact our paths crossed again many years later when we were both auditioning for a TV commercial. The Batman series was really tough on the actors. It‘s the kind of stuff that drives actors crazy because it’s very difficult to follow; none of the lead actors ever did much after that.”

Also guesting in this episode were Jerry Mathers formally the Beaver of Leave it to Beaver and Arnold Stang aka the voice of Top Cat. The tank used in this episode was left over from the Penguin/Marsha episode although repainted from gold to red.

The final battle with Shame and his gang took place in a run down part of Gotham City near the Amusement Park. It was a reference to Stanley Ralph Ross's boyhood neighborhood, on West 20th St and Surf Ave, right in the heart of Brooklyn's Coney Island Amusement Park.

Next, King Tut rises again for the last time and leaves us with one if not the best episode of the third season. Formally two parts that were not only split but rewritten as two separate episodes (unlife Egghead/Olga) and filmed separately as well, but there direct links between the two. And the long awaited announcement of King Tut's real name and the significance behind it.


  1. This review/commentary is right: this show is a delight! Even with a few limbo sets it feels much more like a great first or second season show. It is nice that there were a least a few good Batgirl episodes.

  2. While in Gordon's office, Batman talks very seriously about "making the streets safe for little children to play on". At first, I thought that was too corny to believe... UNTIL, I realized, he was referring to HIMSELF! This was (as far as I recall), the 3rd & final reference to Batman's origin, the murder of Bruce's parents. (The 1st in the pilot during the conversation about the Wayne Foundation, the 2nd in season 2 when Bruce is undercover trying to con the Joker at the comic-book publisher's office.) Stanley Ralph Ross was a genius. He was one of the only writers on the show who could combine drama with REAL COMEDY. What set his work apart from most of the others was, too many of the later shows were just stupid. His were genuinely FUNNY. Funny can excuse a lot of sins!

    Also note, the final fight between Batman & Shame was one of the most brutal in the entire series. Batman beat the living crap out of the guy! It's obvious why. He doesn't like people who use GUNS!