By Joshie Jaxon
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, Batman! Adam West before he was Mayor West. Gorshin, Meredith, Romero, Newmar, Kitt, Meriwether. I loved the way these people portrayed some of Batman’s greatest villains. I loved the movie as a kid, and still enjoy it as an adult, but that’s a subject for a later post. I have vague memories of the Batman tv show, but I know I’ve seen it before. There are a few distinct scenes that stand out. It must have been reruns on what was then Nick at Night. Either way, camp value, and bulge appreciation have only increased with time. Don’t know what I mean? You will. Let the geeks begin!
Gotham City World’s Fair. Moldavian exhibit. Prime minister’s friendship luncheon. Before we unveil the exhibit, there is a small ceremony. Two turban-clad men bring out a cake with what one can only assume is a Moldavian shaking hands with Uncle Sam. As he cuts the cake, it explodes. People scream and run, as the cops look for something to shoot. Not much has changed in fifty years. Anyhow, a small parachute falls to the ground. The officer opens it and reads the riddle contained within; why is an orange like a bell? Gotham City Police Headquarters. Commissioner Gordon asks his officers if they know what this means. Chief O’Hara says, the Riddler. Yes, the prince of puzzlers. They like royalizing the villains. I know the Joker is the clown prince of crime, but that’s another episode. Gordon asks the officers if they can handle it, and they all look at the red phone, under glass, I presume to keep it fresh. While we’re at it, the police pretty much just told their boss that they’re useless, and to call in outside assistance. How are they still employed?
Anyhow, Gordon removes the glass, and presses the only button on the phone. In Wayne Manor, Alfred answers, “I’ll call him, sir”. Telling us that the police know that Batman has someone to answer his phone for him. We’re forty years away from the iBat, I suppose. At any rate, in his living room, Bruce Wayne is having what appears to be a board meeting. Alfred approaches, and tells him that it’s the bat phone. Bruce tells the group that he’s just been reminded that he’s promised to take his ward, Dick Grayson, fishing. He walks out of the meeting, presumably to go fishing. I get that he’s a millionaire, but that is so unprofessional. I know we’re discussing the Gay Geek Gabbiness of Batman, but I was just reminded that I promised to take my nephews to Build A Bear. Excuse me. See? That wouldn’t fly. Granted, the future of the company isn’t as important as spending alone time with one’s young companion. Maybe the staff think he’s diddling Dick, and they accept that as an idiosyncrasy of their playboy boss. Speaking of Dick, he and Aunt Harriet are coming down the stairs. Bruce offers fishing, and Dick gets excited. He knows what the code word means. Worth mentioning, he’s holding a toy plane. How old is Robin in this universe?
Bruce answers the phone, and Gordon tells him he’ll never guess who’s on the loose. His arch enemy, the Riddler. How soon can you get to headquarters? Be there in a flash. Bruce lifts the head of the bust on the desk, and Dick turns the knob to open the secret entrance. Behind the bookcase we see the Batpoles, used to access the Batcave. We know this because it’s written on the wall. Who is that for? Bruce and Dick know which pole is theirs, Giggity. They know where they lead. We the audience are smart enough to figure out who’s who. Seriously, who is the labeling for? For that matter, does Aunt Harriet ever question the red phone with only one button? It’s maddening, I tell you, maddening, and we’re only to the opening credits.
Batman and Robin land at the bottom of the poles. Wait, how’d they chance costumes while sliding? Does the pole stop at the outfit room, then they slide down to the main cave? Does Bruce stand there waiting as Dick fixes his hair, so they can slide down together? So many questions. Too many questions. Appropriate with all these questions that our special guest villain is the Riddler, Frank Gorshin. That’s how he was billed. I wanna be a special guest villain. Anyhow, the dynamic duo get in the Batmobile. Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed. Wait, the Batmobile is atomic? Ah, the 60’s. They leave the cave and begin the 14 mile drive to town. Upon arrival, they park right in front of police headquarters. In this iteration, Batman isn’t a vigilante, he’s an asset, and welcomed by the police. Batman repeats the orange riddle, and Robin says they both must be peeled. Chief O’Hara says they’re idiots and should’ve figured that out. Robin says it should be a clue to the real crime. Batman says the Riddler is like an artichoke, and you have to pull leaves to get to the heart. Gordon reminds them of the exploding cake. Batman says it was merely a ruse, to get him called in. Gordon says that he’s the Riddler’s deadly nemesis. Deadly? Hardly. Batman refuses to take a life. Robin says that the crime is no fun unless the Riddler can outwit them. Batman says it’s artistic the way he- that’s it! The Peale Art Gallery! That’s what the riddler was pointing to. Gordon orders his men into action. Knowing their incompetence, Batman says no. Besides, it could be a trap.
Peale Art Gallery. Batman and Robin pull up, and prepare to enter, when the red Batphone in the car goes off. Batman speaking. Then we hear it. The maniacal, hysterical, gleeful laugh of Gorshin’s Riddler. Riddle me this, there are three men in a boat with four cigarettes and no matches, how do they manage to smoke? Robin wants to know what he’s up to. Batman says they’ll ask. He goes to his utility belt to get the bat-a-rang. It’s in the compartment of the same name. Point of order, Ash Ketchum knows what Pokemon is in what ball without looking, or labeling, because he knows what slot they’re in on his belt. Batman, I ask you, who is the labeling for? Who?? They climb the side of the building as Robin complains that he can’t get the riddle. Batman thinks maybe his mind is on the cute teenager who waved at him. Jealous, Bruce?
They look in the window, and see the Riddler pointing a gun at the man behind the desk. Category is, special guest villain eleganza. Riddler is serving up black bowler hat and button down, matching green tie, pants and jacket, all adorned with question marks. Girl is looking fierce! Batman puts the bat-a-rang away, and gets the bat insta-welder to get the bars off the window. Um, I’m pretty sure that’s breaking and entering. Robin prepares to throw the bars to the ground, but after a warning from Batman, as well as the placement of a suction cup bat hook that magically sticks to stucco, they set the bars aside and break through the window, not once checking to see if it was unlatched.
Batman tells Riddler to freeze, but he runs. A flash grenade causes him to fall over in the hall. As a duly deputized agent of the law, he places Riddler under arrest. How do police deputize someone who’s name they don’t know? Oh well. Riddler smiles as Robin goes for the bat cuffs. Out of nowhere, photographers take pictures of Batman trying to cuff the Riddler. Riddler tells him he tried to warn them. The curator tells Batman that the cross belongs to the Riddler, and was on loan for a show. But he saw him take it at gunpoint. The Riddler points the gun at Batman, and pulls the trigger. It sets off a flame. Robin realizes the answer to the riddle. They throw a cigarette overboard, and make the boat a cigarette lighter. The Ridder reminds the duo of the cameras and says, what is something no one wants to have, but no man wants to lose? Answer? A lawsuit! Correct, boy wonder. Riddler summons a henchman to serve them. He says this makes his life, and he’ll see them in court. Exit the Riddler, laughing his ass off from the joygasm.
Wayne Manor. News broadcast, that the one million dollar lawsuit, for assault, slander, and false arrest, may stick. Plus, Batman would have to reveal his real identity in court. If that happens, he wouldn’t be able to fight crime in Gotham. Alright, but why? Couldn’t the police just hire Bruce outright? Their logic is flawed. Bruce says it isn’t about the money, it’s about his identity. Everything he’s trained for after his parents were murdered, gone. Again, get hired on officially. It’s not that hard. Gordon’s men were able to do it, and they’re self-proclaimed idiots. Alfred says they’ll think of something. Cause if Harriet finds out what Master Dick has been doing on these supposed fishing trips… He trails off. Dick reminds Bruce of what the Riddler said when they got served. When they finish with that, look for two more. Great Scott! Could there be hidden writing on the document? As someone who’s worked in legal, there’s always fine print in a document. To the Batcave!
They’re in their costumes. Perhaps there’s a rule about only seeing Batman and Robin in the cave, not Bruce and Dick. At any rate, they find the hidden riddles. First, when is the time of a clock like the whistle of a train? When it’s two to two! Toot toot toot! Oh, Robin. Second, what has neither flesh, bone, nor nail, yet has four fingers and a thumb? A glove of course! Holy smartass answer, Batman! Could it be an address? Yes, 222 Glover Ave. I hope we’re not too late. As we get a rear view of the Batmobile, it has a Gotham license plate. I’m guessing the car is registered under “Batman”, but does the reminder get mailed to Wayne Manor, or is there a PO Batbox somewhere?
Meanwhile, in the hidden lair of the Molehill Mob, a groovy chick is rocking out. She dips a spoon into the giant tub of caviar, which you shouldn’t do. Metal reacts with the fish eggs and changes the taste. It should be bone. Family guy taught me that. Mobster tells Molly to lay off, it’s full of calories, and she’ll blow up. Ah, 60’s sexism. She doesn’t care, she’s hungry. He cares. If she gets fat, she won’t fit in manholes, then what use will she be? Yikes. No man hole action for you, pig. Riddler enters and tells them to stop bickering. This time he’s sporting his green unitard, purple belt, gloves, and mask. I love a coordinated villain. Why he needs a belt, I’ll never know. He orders them down the tunnels. Batman has had time to solve the clues. Just because he has, doesn’t mean he did.
222 Glover, What a Way to Go Go. It’s the new discotheque. As the duo prepares to exit the Batmobile, the bouncer says the boy is underage. Batman says it’s the law. Funny, breaking the bars of Peale and entering was against the law too. So’s diddling a minor. Pick and choose I suppose. Robin takes the Batmobile and sets up the Bat scanner; a devise that allows him to see inside the club, but not from a vantage point on Batman, no, just all over in the club. Batman enters, and we see people dancing. The cigarette girl offers to check his cape. Groupies. Molly and mobster watch as Batman approaches the bar. He orders a fresh orange juice. Molly asks if he’s looking for a friend. She’s got a problem. Why is a quarrel like a bargain? Answer, it takes two to make it. Like a dance. Shall we? You’re not man enough for him, sweetie. Batman downs his juice in one swallow. Even I know he’s been roofied at this point. Stupid Bat-twat. He goes with her to the dance floor. He is vengeance! He is the night! He is doing the Batusi! That is, until the drugs kick in, and he goes down right there on the dance floor. What is this, Babylon?
Outside, the voyeur wonder saw the whole thing happen. He prepares to go inside, but first, he moves a plate over the label for the anti-theft device, so that it reads “Start Button” instead. Again, who are the labels for?? Riddler emerges from a trap door, and tranques Robin. Riddler checks his pulse, then gets into the driver’s seat. After a moment of glee that his plan is working, Riddler pushes the alleged start button. Alarms and fireworks go off. People are watching all of this happen, and just stand there, by the way. Riddler orders his henchmen to grab the boy. He then throws a grenade into the Batmobile to blow it up. Too bad it has anti-fire measures, and more lives than a cat. Villains escape, as Batman stumbles out of the club. He has to go after Robin! The cops arrive, and ask Batman for his keys. He’s in no condition to drive. Look! Up in the sky! It’s the Batsignal! He’s in no condition for that either. He bangs the steering wheel, wondering about Robin.
Riddler’s lair. Robin is placed on a table and strapped down, as a vice is placed near his head. Molly offers the Riddler a scalpel. Holy bulge Batman! Riddler is very happy to have Robin in his clutches. Like, really happy. That or Frank is just packing the goods. Dunno what it is about a nice unitard, but, oh, sorry, the show. Yes, the vice is being tightened on Robin’s head. Time for the caped crusader to take his final bow. Will this be the ghastly end of the dynamic duo? Find out tomorrow! Same bat time! Same bat channel!
All the episodes were two parters, and looking at the menu on the DVD, they made them rhyme. We won’t know what Riddler does to Robin until the next installment. Will Robin discover he kinda likes being tied up? Will Batman be jealous, even though he wasn’t giving Robin what he needed? Will Riddler ever come up with a Riddle that Gordon and the police can solve? Perhaps. Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing!