Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Episode 113: Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club

Season 3 Episode 113
Original Airdate: 1/18/68
Special Guest Villainess: Barbara Rush as Nora Clavicle
Guest Stars: June Wilkinson, Inga Neilson
Written by: Stanford Sherman
Directed by: Oscar Rudolph

Synopsis: Because his wife has gone on strike and refused to iron his shirts, Mayor Linseed is forced to fire Commissioner Gordon and his police force and replace them with Nora Clavicle and her band of militant women's libbers. But equal rights aren't really what's on the agenda for Nora. She's taken out a ten million dollar insurance policy on Gotham City and intends to destroy the burg to collect her bounty.

PE: I expected our voiceover man to come on: "Domestic squabbles in Gotham City. What perilous danger awaits the Dynamic Duo?" Then we cut to Gordon telling O'Hara he has to get back to headquarters to call Batman before the disagreement between Mayor Linseed and his wife escalates to food fighting. Then we pan to Bruce, piping up: "Commissioner, I just remembered Dick and I are late for our Titmice Calling Competition. I'm Chairman of the Tits. Forgive me." Cut to Dick and Bruce in the alley out back calling Alfred to have him program the Batmobile to meet them on Main Street and Elm. Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh-Dum, Batman. But, no, it didn't go as expected. What's with that insanely loud Looney Tunes soundtrack over the scene?

JS: Clavicle may have a point about women running Gotham. Could it be any worse than under the Linseed/Gordon/O'Hara regime? Hell, they've got super villains running through town every week.

PE: Barbara Rush is still as hot as she looked the last time we met up with her, as the murderous Leonora on the classic Outer Limits episode, "The Forms of Things Unknown." Say what you will about William Dough-zier's disappearing billfold (and I will), he sure could hire the sexy babes. It's too bad, however, that they chose to dress Nora in Barbara Gordon's matronly street clothes rather than a one-piece bathing suit. For those without access to Google (and I assure you I'm anatomy-savvy so didn't have to use any kind of search engine besides my brain), the clavicle is a bone in your shoulder, specifically it is the long bone of short length between the scapula and the sternum. It extends to your pectoral girdle. Since Nora is a warrior for woman's rights, I would have thought the name Nora Rib would have been more appropriate. What I find strange is that she's fighting for equal rights and respect for women and yet she's got two babes dressed in gold saran wrap as bodyguards.

JS: I guess Nora was too far ahead of her time. The women of Gotham City clearly weren't prepared for the responsibility that comes with equal rights. They were too busy having their stereotypical discussions.

PE: Laughably, Mayor Linseed has to turn his job over to Nora because his wife refuses to cook, or clean, or warsh his shirts. The poor guy hasn't had a decent meal in months, nor worn a clean shirt in over a week. Were we guys ever this useless or is this more fantasy in Bat-land?

JS: Based on the last hundred episodes, I'm thinking they were frequently this useless.

PE: LOL-dialogue after Batman gets off the Bat-phone with his new boss, Commissioner Clitoris Clavicle:
Batman: There's something curious about this affair.
Alfred: Very curious indeed, sir.
Robin (gesticulating madly): Well, we're dressed for investigating... Let's investigate!
Batman: There's nothing to investigate yet, Robin. However we could take a ride around Gotham City just in case.
Alfred: Well, good luck, sir. We men are counting on you, you know.
JS: Yes, I got a chuckle out of 'dressed for investigating.'

PE: This episode could have gone into interesting territory but Stanford Sherman, I'm sure, had a deadline and a tee time to meet. What if Batgirl was sympathetic to Nora's plight and presented Batman with an ultimatum: either she gets to go into the tussles first now and then or she's going solo. No more shapely behind for the Caped Crusaders to ogle while pounding henchmen. No more hands around the hips while swinging Batbabe into her roundhouse kick.

JS: Clearly in Nora's pro-women world, there's no room for crime-fighting females.

PE: I've got no problem with the fact that the Gotham police force has been replaced by eighteen year-old girl scouts. I'm assuming the rolling pins and talk about recipes between the "officers" is Sherman's personal commentary on women's lib. I'd usually be offended by such insulting stereotypes but when they come equipped with legs like that it just rolls right off my shoulders.

JS: I'm glad you were able to put away your personal beliefs long enough to enjoy this episode.

PE: Gordon and O'Hara complain about standing around in an unemployment line:
Gordon: I loathe standing in lines, Chief O'Hara
O'Hara: Well, at least it's only once a week. Besides, what else can we do?
Gordon: Get other jobs.
O'Hara (shrugs): But we've been policemen all of our lives. We don't know how to do anything else!
JS: Of course they don't really know much about being policeman, either.

PE: The paucity of deadly gizmos continues. Here, the Terrific Trio are tied into a laughable human knot. The only amusing bit here is when Batman starts wiggling his ears to undo the knot, Robin grunts and Batgirl has a satisfied look on her face. All during that scene, I wondered just where Burt Ward's left hand really was. And Nora's big scheme is a little lazy as well. Give me the grand designs and giant E-Z Bake Ovens of The Riddler or Catwoman over insurance policies and human knots any day.

JS: I didn't recall any part of this episode until Batman whipped out his flute, and it all came rushing back to me.

PE: When Batman tells Batgirl and Robin to play their little flutes for all they're worth, they listen up. Batgirl dances through the streets, pirouetting and Robin skips and sways as though he's onstage during a George Michael concert. This leads to a laughable finale where we see the mice follow the pied pipers to the docks and into the water. What will make you guffaw is not the neat row of wind-up mice but the horrendous in-door sets of the dock. I'm assuming that someone forgot to tell director Rudolph that it's day time in the shot and yet there's no sun. We get what appears to be some children's playhouses and a black background and sky. Were things really that bad by this time they couldn't afford to shoot one simple exterior scene?

PE Rating:

JS Rating:

Next up... The Penguin! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!


  1. I'm a longtime lurker, big fan of this project, first-time commenter, and Batman fan from age 6 when it premiered.

    A few months back I saw the Nora Clavicle episode for the first time in years and was shocked by it---it's a remarkably misogynistic piece of television, even accounting for the attitudes of 1968, Batman's history of being campy, and the show's late-in-life flailing around. It indulges nearly every toxic stereotype about women in a ham-fisted fashion that makes it quite offensive---even accounting for the attitudes of 1968, etc.

    It would make an interesting text for a social history course, though.

  2. After the atrocity that was Nora Clavicle, none
    of the remaining episodes can even compare!

  3. I agree that the episode is exceptionally misogynistic and a very confused effort. Nonetheless, it still plays better than a number of other third season episodes, including the one that aired just before it.

  4. I'm not so sure this isn't just another parody rather than a misogynistic statement. It's a lousy show though. That I'm sure of.

  5. Good point, Pete. BATMAN was in the questionable business of parodying musty old cliches. All things considered, making fun of cartoonish, dated female bromides (absurd vanity, fear of mice, etc.) really isn't that much different than goofing on equally-dated male stereotypes (turning Batman into a Boy Scout superhero, the laughable, unassailable purity of the police, etc.). We should also remember that the existence of Batgirl shows that Dozier and company had no problem with a female taking on a man's world -- and given her bat-themed costume, Barbara certainly isn't afraid of the little rodents in her midst, even if those fainting 'policewomen' are (again, a classic cliche this script simply couldn't pass up, given the dopey satiric route it was traveling). Listen, we all know that social attitudes were quite different in the 1960s. Probably the most chilling moment along these lines is when perfect mom Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart) warmly explains to daughter Penny (Angela Cartwright) that men are simply more intelligent than women by nature (in the LOST IN SPACE pilot). Okay, so even as a lowbrow parody BATMAN had some politically-incorrect embarrassment here, as did every show of its era. But it also had groundbreaking heroine Batgirl kicking butt and representing womanhood with relative dignity (and in her sexy/sexist body stocking, that wasn't easy!).

  6. I haven't the competence to contribute to such high-minded conversation. I haven't the strength even to watch this episode to its ending. BATMAN is the anti-THRILLER: Instead of a series that lurched until finding its footing, BATS became lamer with each halting step. I am amazed by Peter and John's perseverance in seeing their project to its bitter end.

  7. Clifton!

    I've had to have a peek ahead in anticipation of a vacation. I was very surprised at what I saw. Very much like Thriller, I had been warned that the last batch of Batmans were all dogs. That's not the case, at least in my opinion. There are two coming up on the horizon that rank as the best of the season and among the best the show had to offer during its entire run. I'm only giving you this peek behind the curtain because I want you to hang in there and not give up hope. Can you do that for me, old chum?

  8. Sadly, I haven't had time to keep up with the rigorous viewing schedule, and I think that makes me a little more tolerant of some of these stinker episodes. I have been following along and enjoying the blog and comments, though. After reading what you guys had to say about this one, I had to put aside grading and take some time to check it out.

    Truth be told, I really hated Batgirl when I was younger. I always thought she was a big dork, but of the S3 episodes I've seen, I think Batgirl's character has been a refreshing addition, despite the number of days it took to get that screechy, annoying Batgirl theme song out of my head. Whose baby are you? Egads!

    I agree with Gary and Peter with regard to this episode. It could probably be argued that the attitudes toward women back in the day were misogynistic, but overall I think this episode was not so much displaying a hatred for women as it was attempting to poke fun at the women's movement, albeit unsuccessfully. Maybe this would be a good place to embed Batgirl's PSA on equal pay for women, though, for posterity's sake.

    Peter, I'm surprised you failed to point out that it wasn't the lack of hot meals or clean shirts that forced Mayor Linseed to make Nora the Commissioner, but most likely because he wasn't getting any bedroom action. Obviously this episode was poking fun at men a little bit, too.

  9. Christine-
    Have ypu seen Mrs. Linseed? Take it from this ogling pig, it was the shirts and the steak!

  10. Clifton-

    " That single statement indicates to me... the first oncoming thrust of manhood, old chum!"

  11. I was hoping someone would mention the Batgirl PSA. I found it on YouTube, but had never forgotten it anyway.

  12. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about Barbara Rush's B movie career:

  13. Nora Clavicle isn't really out for women's rights, I believe. Nora is out for Nora. She uses women's lib and the replacement of men with women as a ruse, fully aware the women will not take action in the face of mice.