What’s The Story?

Every year, twelve of Gotham’s multi-millionaires gather for a secret beauty contest-cum-charity donation, where multiple women parade in swimwear advocating for charities, and then the millionaires vote on a winner, who bursts out of a cake and gets twelve million dollars in cash thrown at her, for the charity.

Bruce Wayne is the organiser of this org…of this entirely respectable event, and so the Penguin kidnaps Alfred and brainwashes him, in order to make him discover the event’s secret location and tip the Penguin off. However, Batman notices Alfred has a nervous tic any time the subject of the event comes up, and so knows the Penguin will be attacking. Batman wins.

The Goodies

Batman
Is organising a party for the 0.01%, if the caviar expense is anything to go by – he wants twelve pounds of Iranian caviar (presumably Beluga, now illegal in the US as it’s an endangered species). Iranian Ossetra caviar goes for about $120 per ounce (in 2015 prices), so in today’s prices that’s about $22,000 worth of fish-smelling salt bubbles.

It’s also revealed that his great-grandfather was the founder of the Skull & Bones, so perhaps we should be grateful that Batman’s multi-millionaire friends are *only* eating caviar by the pound while throwing obscene amounts of money at near-naked women…

Believes that the Gotham City police department is “the finest in the land”, for some reason.

Persuades the jail to let the Penguin’s moll, Finella, who had posed as one of the swimwear models, out of jail for the night at the end of the episode, so she can go to another of his debau…charity events.

Robin
Is learning Latin at school. Thinks the Penguin’s pseudonym, “Knott A. Fish”, is almost subliminal. Epithets used: “Holy Wayne Manor!”, “Holy fog!”, “Holy clockwork!”, “Holy rudder!”, “Holy jitterbugs!”

Alfred

This is essentially an Alfred story in which Batman guest-stars, and what we learn, mostly, is that short of brainwashing Alfred will be enormously loyal to his master. We also learn that he can pull a variety of interesting faces, that he’s careless enough that he’ll accidentally drop a fish-hook into a canapé, and that he likes singing “Rule Britannia”.

The Baddies

The Penguin
“That waddling pirate of plunder!” “That pusillanimous poltroon of a Penguin”

The Penguin is rather underused here, in what is by far the weakest of his stories this season, and so we learn very little about him.

The Penguin’s Fine Finny Fiends

Three goons named Octopus, Sword Fish, and Shark. Octopus’ strange, fish-like, eyes are actually not a make-up effect, as they might appear, but the real eyes of actor Dallas Jenkins (not the same Dallas Jenkins who makes Christian films).

Finella

The Penguin’s latest moll, she is an aspiring beauty queen who has joined the Penguin’s gang because he’s promised her she will win a beauty contest, but she later repents and helps Batman defeat him. Has a habit of doing very low bends while wearing a very skimpy swimsuit.

The Gadgets
The Penguin’s “Penguin Box” can brainwash someone in a matter of minutes. The Penguin also has a vacuum room from which air can be pumped with handily-labelled Gigantic Reversing Bellows.

Batman, meanwhile, has bat-oxygen and a batknife in his utility belt, and a supply of anti-Penguin-gas pills. The Batcave contains a Memory Batbank which can be used to display photos.

Gotham City

Has 146 miles of waterfront, which seems excessive. (New York’s, however, is 578 miles, so maybe not).

What’s New?

Nothing. This is very much a by-the-numbers story, and not a particularly good one.

Review

And so we come to the end of Batman season one, and since this episode is not particularly ripe for analysis (everything interesting to say is right upfront – the stuff about gender and class is lampshaded too much to even be worth pointing out), we might as well look back at the series.

Surprisingly, it’s been quite unlike the series as it’s remembered in the public imagination. Yes, it’s certainly campy fun, but it’s also easy to see how small children could take it seriously as an adventure story – there’s a very thin line between the more “serious” episodes of this season and the “comedy” episodes of Star Trek, for example, let alone stuff like Lost in Space.

Many of the things that people remember – “Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel”, or the celebrity cameos when wall-climbing – have only made one or two appearances, and the series seems slowly to have been finding a style which will only really become a formula in the second season.

But at the same time, there’s a reason people refer to the show as Batman ’66, not Batman ’67. The bits that people remember are the formula things that were hammered home week after week, to the audience’s eventual disgust (Batman went from immense popularity to cancellation almost unimaginably fast), but the reason it was so successful in the first place, the reason anyone was watching it to get those things hammered into them, is in season one.

Neal Hefti’s theme tune, Adam West’s deadpan performance, the plots that early on were culled from the most memorable of thirty years of children’s comics, the astonishing quality of the special guest villains, and most of all the tone and formula set by Lorenzo Semple, Jr – who seems to have been the only one of the writers to get the balance perfectly right – all of this combined to create a TV series that was as fresh, inventive, and clever as anything on the air in the US at the time.

The series was off-air for a few months after this episode, but during the summer break, Batman would return to the big screen…and he’d face the worst threat he’d ever faced yet!

Personnel

Cast
Adam West: Batman
Burt Ward: Robin
Burgess Meredith: The Penguin
Alan Napier: Alfred
Neil Hamilton: Commissioner Gordon
William Dozier: Narrator

Crew

William Dozier: Executive Producer/Creator
Sheldon Stark:Writer
Tom Gries: Director

As I’m now a full-time writer, these should be happening again. However regular or irregular they are, though, the people who back my Patreon will always get them three posts ahead. Why not be one of them?

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