The 1966 Batman television show was one of the most successful and influential adaptations of comic books to mass media of all time. Over the course of three seasons and 120 episodes, the series became a cultural force with its unique combination of tongue-in-cheek humor, thrilling superhero adventure and celebrity guest stars, and shaped the way the public would view the Caped Crusader for the next five decades. Now, in the midst of a well-deserved renaissance of the show, ComicsAlliance is proud to present The Batman ’66 Episode Guide, an in-depth examination of every single adventure, arch-criminal and deathtrap cliffhanger of the series.

This week, it's the final episode of the first season --- and the Episode Guide --- as the Penguin strikes at Gotham's richest millionaires!

 

 

Episode 1x34: Batman Makes The Scenes

Script: Sheldon Stark
Director: Tom Gries
Original Air Date: May 5, 1966
Special Guest Villain: Burgess Meredith as The Penguin

 

With this episode, the first season of Batman comes to an end, and it's going out on a high note, both creatively and commercially. To say that the first season was a smashing success would be an understatement --- it was downright phenomenal, garnering high ratings while airing two nights a week and making an impression so strong that news stories about comics fifty years later are still headlined with "Biff! Pow!" and other assorted sound effects lifted directly from the show's onomatopoetic fight scenes.

It's easy to see why, too. Looking back over these 17 adventures, it's astonishing how much of the show was there from day one. There's definitely a period of settling in --- the first episode has Jill St. John taking a header into a nuclear reactor, after all, and Mr. Freeze gleefully shattering a policeman is something that sticks out among the campy comedy --- but at this point, the show is fully formed. With a few minor exceptions, the characters are all there, and after experimenting with adapting stories from the comics (something they'd only return to a couple of times in Seasons 2 and 3), the formula has fallen into place so rigidly that it was clearly time to get weird with it.

And get weird they do.

 

 

When we last left our heroes, they were in dire peril, although it's the sort of dire peril that shows just how silly they were willing to get at this point. Compare it to the first episode: In "Hi Diddle Riddle," we ended with Batman drugged and humiliated and Robin strapped to an operating table while the Riddler menaced him with a tray of scalpels. Here, they're tied up in a room full of balloons while two clearly labeled goons work furiously at a pump to create an indoor vacuum that'll suffocate them, all while the beautiful Finella watches in a position that could best be described as "presenting."

If anyone who is unfamiliar with it asks what Batman 66 was all about, just show them that. It pretty much covers it.

Fortunately, Batman is (of course) prepared for being trapped in a vacuum, and after the Penguin rushes off to establish his alibi, Batman relies on the Bat-Knife and emergency tank of Bat-Oxygen in his utility belt to survive the ordeal. Not sure why his lungs didn't flatten but as we all know, the internal organs of a seasoned crime-fighter are reinforced with the power of righteousness.

After a quick trip back to Gordon's office for an explanation and some choice #OHaraFace...

 

 

...our heroes decide to put an extremely complex plan into action, one that involves both Batman and his alter-ego, Millionaire Philanthropist Bruce Wayne!

The whole plot revolves around the idea that Alfred has been brainwashed by the Penguin to report the whereabouts of the Multimillionaires' Award Dinner, that Alfred doesn't know it, that Batman and Robin do know it, and that the Penguin doesn't know they know it. If that sounds complicated, it's because it is, and it involves Batman and Bruce Wayne (who, I remind you, are the same person) passing messages back and forth to each other through Commissioner Gordon, all while B-Dubs is rocking the ballerest outfit of the decade:

 

 

Rockin' them earth tones, y'all!

The main idea here is that Batman, Bruce and the Commissioner all "leak" the information that the Award Dinner is happening aboard "the flagship of the Wayne Steamship Company, the SS Gotham Neptune" (the real location) and that they'll also leak the location of a fake location as a trap:

 

 

The fake location is leaked through the usual underworld channels, but the real location of the dinner --- and the knowledge that the Wayne Manor setup is a trap --- is all revealed just by talking about it in front of Alfred. And when the faithful butler gets a call from the Penguin that activates his post-hypnotic suggestion, he spills the entire plot.

Armed with this knowledge, the Penguin sets about his sinister scheme, and the first step involves abducting Miss Natural Resources, and replacing her with Finella in a purloined sash.

 

 

You may recall from last week's column that the process of the Multimillionaires' Award Dinner was some straight up Eyes Wide Shut stuff. The first step involved the bathing beauties, each of whom was adorned with a sash bearing the name of a worthy cause, parading in front of Gotham's Elite and presumably making a very seductive case for why they should give money to, say the buxom brunette embodiment of Urban Renewal or the leggy blonde stand-in for the concept of Civil Rights.

If you thought that was a little weird, just wait'll you see how they actually give the money.

See, I figured they would just present the winning woman with an oversized check as part of a ceremony. This is not what happens. What happens is that during dinner, the philanthropic bombshell pops out of a cake and is then showered by a dozen one-percenters making it rain with twelve million dollars in cash.

 

 

BATMAN: By the way, have you ever popped out of a cake before?

FINELLA: No, but I've been practicing!

 

Unfortunately for the multimillionaires and Batman --- "standing in" for his "good friend" Bruce Wayne --- Miss Natural Resources has a very unnatural resource hidden in her cake: An umbrella that doubles as a gas gun that knocks out everyone in the room and leaves them right for the Penguin to make off with the whole evening's bankroll.

For her part, Finella is remorseful, realizing that her role in the scheme is hardly the beauty contest victory that she's been wanting all this time:

 

PENGUIN: My little tadpole, you did win it, when you popped out of that giant popover! And we won this!

FINELLA: No! I cheated! And you cheated! And that's for charity, not for cheats! Oh, who's going to save our natural resources now?!

 

And on cue, Batman and Robin, having inured themselves with "Anti-Penguin Gas Pills" arrives to put a violent end to this ill-conceived heist:

 

Click for full size

 

And thus do we close out Season One with "FLRBBBBB!," the best sound effect of all time. I don't know how hard you have to hit someone to make it sound like that, but I'm going to assume that it is pretty, pretty hard.

With the plot foiled, the Multimillionaires are free once again to donate their money to a worthy cause in their own... unique fashion. Finella gets a happy ending, too, with her assistance in capturing the Penguin and genuine remorse leading to forgiveness and a new fur coat.

 

 

And with that, Season One comes to a close, and with it, at least for now, the ComicsAlliance Batman '66 Episode Guide. After this, of course, the success of the show would lead the creators to spend the summer working on the movie (which I previously covered alongside David Uzumeri), then going directly into the massive second season, which clocks in at a full 60 episodes --- including the crime against God and Man that is John Astin's appearance as the Riddler.

And so to lovers of adventure, lovers of pure escapism, lovers of unadulterated entertainment, lovers of the ridiculous and the bizarre, we say goodbye to Batman and Robin. If you've got any thoughts about the first season, the guide, or the show in general, please feel free to leave them below!

 

Index of Episode 1x34

Bat-Gadgets:

  • Emergency Bat-Oxygen Tank
  • Bat-Knife
  • Gotham City Plans And Views File
  • Anti-Penguin Gas Pills

Exclamations:

  • "Holy oxygen!"
  • "Holy rudder!"