Thursday, November 3, 2011

76, 77 & 78: Penguin is a Girl's Best Friend/Penguin Sets a Trend/Penguin's Disastrous End

Season 2 Episodes 76, 77 & 78
Original Air Dates: 1/26/67, 2/1/67, 2/2/67
Special Guest Villain: Burgess Meredith as The Penguin
Extra Special Guest Villainess: Carolyn Jones as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds
Guest stars: Estelle Winwood, Alan Reed
Written by: Stanford Sherman
Directed by: James B. Clark

Synopsis: The Pengiun has returned to Gotham City to film a movie. He tricks Batman into starring opposite financier Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, and as we soon find out has motives beyond making a Hollywood blockbuster.

PE: This is the second time (that I recall) that we see that long shot of the Batmobile racing down the empty highway, skyscrapers in the background. I almost feel like, once the Batmobile flies out of the shot, the director should pull back and we'd either see shambling zombies or the rest of Los Angeles in decay.

JS: The dynamic duo break up a crime that's not really a crime. Isn't it just like Batman to claim he knew exactly what was going on after making a fool of himself?

PE: I never would have noticed that full camera crew sitting right in front of me either. Obviously, the Caped Crusaders have not taken my advice and seen that optometrist about their bad peripheral vision. Now, he's feeding the Commissioner and company a line of b.s. about wanting to know what the Penguin was up to. A likely story.

JS: The Penguin is making a historical spectacle set in ancient Rome... sounds like the perfect vehicle for the dynamic duo. Sounds a lot like Caligula to me... and Batman, too. As he explains, "Decency is everybody's business."

PE: Since it's a Roman spectacle, complete with bank robberies and cowled swordsmen, It'll be the most obtuse, abstract, and ideological masterpiece since Bergman's The Seventh Seal (remade by Disney a decade later as Cindy and The Seven Seals of Santa Barbara). The critics will love it.

JS: Penguin's otherwise brilliant plot had one significant flaw. If he had thought to hire Catwoman for the female lead, history has shown that the caped crusader would have fallen for her charms without the need for any special potions. Instead, we get the, um, chemistry of Batman and Marsha.

PE: Looks to me like both of them just finished off a side of beef and a twelve-pack. Marsha as a screen sex symbol? She's definitely past her sell-date. And who was her hairdresser? As for the Caped Crusader, Fatman is more like it.

JS: So who was the monster kid on the crew? A few episodes back we got the world's coolest Robin-eating clam monster, and here we get Mortimer, ten years before his starring role as the dianoga in the Star Wars trash compactor scene (don't go looking for him now, he's long since been replaced by an inferior digital dianoga).

PE: Obviously, Wah Chang had a garage sale that week. 

JS: Batman and Robin are able to fend off Roman Gladiators, only to fall victim to that greater foe—having a dreaded stage light shined in their eyes. 

PE: Giant catapult: $25,000. Bat-Remote Control Operator: $67,500. Watching Batman and Robin flying through the Gotham sky: Priceless. I was impressed that Batman was able to figure out the trajectory of the catapult to 12th and Mulberry and move their ride to that location. Of course, there's the remote chance he's off a smidgen and they splatter all over the Batmobile.

JS: Robin is so impressed with Batman's acting that he suggests he could run for Senator—or Governor!

PE: The governor's mansion in California is notorious for housing lousy actors. Why not Batman?

JS: One of the blunders in this episode was the all-too-slapstick military buffoons in the 'Hexagon' scenes, though it was fun to see what Fred Flintstone (voice of Alan Reed) really looked like.

PE: He looks like Fred Flintstone with shoes on. The main offense of that looooong scene is not that it's critical of our military, it's just not funny. Major Beasley was played by Bob Hastings, who had previously made his name on buffoonery as Lt. Carpenter in McHale's Navy. Some fascinating Bat-trivia about Hastings' later career is that he went on to voice Commissioner Gordon in several Batman cartoon series and films, including the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995).

JS: Lest you think I can't appreciate a certain dose of Bat-silliness, I really enjoyed seeing the boys in medieval armor, particularly driving the Batmobile!

PE: As I recall, you agreed to watch and review 120 episodes of this show, so you better "appreciate a certain dose of Bat-silliness." I love that the Dynamic Dodos leave their visors down while driving. Nothing in Gotham comes in black and white. Even their hydraulic scrap crushers are green, red, and blue. More LOL-madness: after the hydraulic crusher does its worst, the operator is astonished to see Batman and the Boy Wonder pop the top on the giant square of mashed metal. Bats is holding an acetylene torch in his hand and explains to the gaping man that he was able to reach his Batmobile tire pump and use it to escape.

JS: Again, we must ask the question. If Penguin found engineers that could craft a tank out of gold bars in a few day's time, just think of the cash he could rake in as a legitimate government contractor!

PE: You shore ask a lot of silly questions, John. I got one: if you were a guard at the Sub-Treasury and a middle-aged woman dressed in colored kleenex popped out of a wicker basket, would you suddenly forget your duty? I confess my rifle would go from straight to drooping as well at the sight. I'd rather see Estelle Winwood in various stages of undress. 

JS: When he drives a squad car into the path of the oncoming tank, I thought for a second we had seen the last of Chief O'Hara (or at the very least, that he'd be a lot slimmer). Fortunately, dumb luck keeps coming his way.

PE Rating: 

JS Rating: 

Next up... The Riddler! Same Bat Time, Same Bat URL!


  1. For John and Peter's sake, can I bring myself to sit through this trilogy again? I … just…don't…know.

  2. Good direction by James B. Clark. The various set pieces (like the suits of armor scene and the tour of the studio with Penguin and Marsha) are fun and visually different from the usual scenes in the series.

  3. Another fun post!

    By the way, it's Alan Reed (born Edward Bergman) who appeared in the story; Alan Reed, Jr. (who also got into acting) is his son.

  4. Past her "sell date" or no, Carolyn Jones' Marsha is still a fox. Married to Aaron Spelling at the time these episodes were taped (they would later divorce), after several years out of the limelight, she was making a major comeback on the daytime soap "Capitol" in the early '80's, when she died of cancer, aged only about 53.

    1. I agree completely. Peter's remarks shockingly mean-spirited and just plain untrue. While she may have lacked chemistry with Adam West, that's no fault of Carolyn Jones who was still quite beautiful.

  5. The only episode I'll watch of this disappointing three-parter is the first part. Why? Because it had FIGHT SCENES. I remember watching this as a kid and wound up so upset that a three-part episode involving the Penguin had just two fight scenes (the armored car scene in the beginning and the great battle in the museum), and both were in the first part. I don't count the scene in part two where Pengy rolls barrels at Batman and Robin in their armor but that wasn't much of an exchange.

    Lack of "wow" factor? Parts two and three failed miserably due to lack of the "POW!" factor.

  6. Alan Reed can be seen as a homosexual gangster in the 1953 Mike Hammer film, "I, THE JURY". He cries when his boyfriend is murdered, then tries to hire Hammer to do in whoever was responsible.


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