Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Episode 104: Surf's Up! Joker's Under!

Season 3 Episode 104
Original Air Date: 11/16/67
Special Guest Villain: Cesar Romero as The Joker
Guest stars: Skip Ward, Sivi Aberg
Written by: Charles Hoffman
Directed by: Oscar Rudolph

Synopsis: The Joker steals Surfer Skip Parker's moves, which he thinks will be more than enough to beat Batman in a surfing competition. In case you were wondering—yes, there is a shark, and for all sakes and purposes, it is jumped.

PE: Now we're talkin'! Yvonne Craig in a hot one-piece makes this watchable for at least a couple reasons. It's not a coincidence that Johnny Green and The Green Men are singin' their swingin' hit "Just a Little Bit Harder." In fact, there's a lot of nice flesh on display here.

JS: Ay, caramba! I thought there were several things to like in this one, but the high points were definitely offset by the lowest of the lows.

PE: In the land of Batman, coincidence is king. There's a surf board in the Wayne study and Dick Grayson has his millionaire beach wear on just as Batman gets a call that a surf board star has been kidnapped. Burt Ward looks so natural, in that green shirt and Hawaiian pattern baggies, on the beach that it's hard to believe he wasn't featured more prominently in his comeback role as Mr. Bun in Beach Babes from Beyond (1993).

JS: How sad is it that the bag they use to kidnap our old pal John Mitchum (as Hot Dog Harrigan this time out) isn't even a bag. When the Joker's henchmen pull it over his head only to realize it was open on the opposite end, Mitchum had to help pull it back up.

PE: If re-visiting this show on this blog has taught me one thing, it's expect the unexpected. I think I could have gone another fifty years without seeing Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara in shorts, straw hats, and forty cent sunglasses. And just who out there in casting thought an out of shape 35 year-old Skip Ward (with belly hanging out of his shirt in some scenes) was the perfect beach stud? According to Joel Eisner, Ward was William Dozier's first choice to play The Green Hornet! I'm in agreement that the Hornet TV show wasn't a smashing success nor a high point in television quality, but this guy as The Green Hornet instead of Van Williams? And Tony Randall as Kato, maybe?

JS: Here's where you and I disagree. The Commish and O'Hara going undercover is an exercise in endearing silliness. I loved it. Compare that to the stupidity of showing the dynamic duo turned into surfboards. That scene really took me out of the episode. And keep in mind that I would have settled for normal sized surfboards with Batman and Robin's heads extending from them.

PE: I think if William Dough-zier had searched a bit longer, he could have found a worse band than Johnny Green and The Green Men (weren't The Association available?). Inexplicably, an off-shoot of this band still plays high school hops and the finer bars in Toledo. Their website claims they appeared on 27 episodes of Batman, but I can only remember covering my ears to their unique sound this once. 

JS: Don't knock The Association. Better a one-hit wonder than a none-hit wonder.

PE: We certainly have come a long way (down) since the fun Batusi night club scene of the premiere episode. Here we're given 8 or 9 extras attempting to dance to the worst sounding beach music ever recorded (I've gotta believe some of this can be found on Rhino's Worst Music of All Time discs). I say "attempting" as they're not doing much more than imitating an epileptic seizure. The laughs are hardy though when Robin takes one look around and disgustedly mutters "We shoulda wore our baggies." 

JS: Wrong again. The 'worst sounding beach music' award goes to the music played under the surfing competition. This was the best they could come up with?

PE: LOL-dialogue of the episode comes when Batman and Robin enter the aforementioned crab shack and approach the cleverly-camouflaged Commish and Chief:
Batman: May we join you?
Gordon: Drop anchor. (pointing at O'Hara) This is Duke.
Batman (with a painful smile on his face) What else is new?
Gordon: Barbara  had to go back to the library but she told me to keep an eye on the girl behind the counter.
Batman: You mean the one talking to her hot dog?
JS: Again, for my money, tongue (or hot-dog, as the case may be) in cheek humor is perfectly reasonable. 

PE: Joker's character has certainly changed from a master criminal who stole priceless jewels and thunk up nefarious ways to kill Batbrain and The Boy Blunder to the clown (pun intended) out to steal a beach jock's ability to surf. The machinery used to heist the prowess is certainly some of the finest used in the series, a gauge with a couple of dials hooked up to the head with a piece of felt. Hot dang! More dough saved! Speaking of money-saving, Dough-zier saves another $11.50 this show by disposing of such unnecessary props as backgrounds and fake glass in the window the Dynamic Duo break through.

JS: I'm shocked that you failed to mention Bruce Wayne's 3247th honorary role as head of the Gotham Surfing Point Association.

PE: Hard to decide who's the Bat-babe this episode: Craig or the exquisite Sivi Aberg, 3rd runner-up in the 1964 Miss Universe pageant, who delivers all her lines, if I'm not mistaken, with her incredibly cut abs. 

JS: I think Sivi (who had previously appeared as one of Liberace's molls) edges Yvonne out in this particular episode. But what a nice change of pace for her to have some real competition for a change.

PE: I have a feeling, judging by the Batman and Joker in the surf scene, that Dozier was still reading the current Batman and Detective Comics every month. Those who say this show mocks the hero never read stories like "Batman Junior and Robin Senior" (where the Duo's roles are reversed), "The Rainbow Batman" (Bats decides he needs to wear a different colored cowl every night), or the self-explanatory "Creature from the Green Lagoon." It wasn't until artist Neal Adams rescued the titles from this bilge in 1970 that Batman acquired the dark reputation he's famous for today. I'm not arguing  the quality of the TV series here, just the myth that this show ruined the character. He was broke already.

PE Review:

JS Review:

Next up... Lords and Ladies! Same Bat time, same Bat URL!


  1. Maybe I am an incurable optimist (or an easy dupe), but I think of this one as the series satirizing itself a bit. And it's no easy task to satirize a spoof. The Joker's plan is SO weird and nonsensical, the gadgets SO bizarre, Gordon and O'Hara SO square and dim, that it feels almost like an in-joke. They even threw an old-style cliffhanger into the middle to complete the parody, and an especially crazy one at that. This isn't one of the just plain good season three shows, but it does seem to be in a special category.

  2. I first saw these episodes as a young Bat-fan in the early 70s, as afternoon reruns. However, after a long absence from the show, I caught the above episode in early 1986, while at art school in Florida.

    ALL the "beach" fashions were back in style then! The "baggies("jams")," the crazy wrap-around specs! the shirt prints!

    Kinda freaky!

    Al Bigley

  3. Though not having read it in over forty years, I remember "The Rainbow Batman." Compared with this episode, that story looks like Les Miserables.

    Yvonne. Sivi. That's it and that's all.

  4. I know what Al Bigley means about surfing styles in ' 86. That, and about the biggest ever Monkees revival.

  5. I saw it just last night and I definitely agree with LJS. It might be hard to "satirize a spoof," but I think they managed it.

  6. At the end of Surf's Up! Joker's Under!, Batman and Robin are still in their superhero outfits and wear leis as they dance with the girls.

  7. "Dozier was still reading the current Batman and Detective Comics every month"


    "Batman Junior and Robin Senior" -- DETECTIVE #218 (Apr'55)
    "The Rainbow Batman" -- DETECTIVE #241 (Mar'57)
    (okay, reprinted in BATMAN #182 / Jul'66)
    "Creature from the Green Lagoon" -- DETECTIVE #252 (Feb'58)
    (reprinted in BATMAN ANNUAL #6 / Winter'63)

    These were the Jack Schiff "sci-fi" era, not the Julie Schwartz "new look" era, which started in 1964. Schwartz was reportedly HORRIFIED when he heard about the style the tv show was planning to take, after he'd worked so hard trying to save the book from cancelation.

  8. what beach was used as the location for "Surf's Up, Joker's Down"? Is it in Southern California? It has cement stairs going straight into the sand and the parking lot where the Joker-mobile drives by, has a very unique shape/design, not like anything I saw in the late 60's or 70's. It looks a little like Malibu and a little like Redondo. Any ideas?