The Batman 66 Episode Guide 1×13: The Thirteenth Hat
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, the Mad Hatter is out for revenge on a Baker's Dozen of Gotham Citizens... Including Batman!
Batman 1x13: The Thirteenth Hat
Script: Charles Hoffman
Director: Norman Foster
Original Air Date: February 23, 1966
Special Guest Villain: David Wayne as The Mad Hatter
After two months of settling in and refining the formula that was already pretty solid to begin with, things have definitely fallen into place by the time that we get to this week's episode. Like the previous week's Riddler adventure, this is the shows' second story that wasn't based on the comics --- although oddly enough, Season 2's "The Contaminated Cowl" was. I get the two stories confused, probably because "The Contaminated Cowl" is based on the Silver Age Mad Hatter's first appearance in Detective Comics #230, while this story, his first appearance on the show, is a revenge story that, like Mr. Freeze's a few weeks ago, implies that he's a character that we should already know.
Our story opens one sunny morning in the kitchen of a Gotham City baker, which is suddenly invaded by Jervis Tetch, better known as the Mad Hater, and two impeccably dressed henchmen, who abscond with both the chef's hat and the chef himself. The scene then repeats itself at a sporting goods store, where the proprietor is wearing an honest-to-God deerstalker for some reason...
...and then again at a shop, where a third hat and owner are abducted.
At the scene of each crime, the Mad Hatter uses his Super-Instant Mesmerizer, a ray projected from a set of eyes that pop up from his ever-present top hat, to subdue his victims before stuffing them in his van and returning to his lair:
Surprisingly, even the members of the Gotham City Police Department, which has been responsible for solving exactly zero (0) crimes in the thirteen weeks that I have been writing this guide, have noticed the sudden wave of kidnappings, and they've even deduced the culprit thanks to the clue about how the hats were taken along with the people --- although I'm not sure how, considering that there don't appear to be any witnesses present at the crimes, and even if there were, "Hello, police? Someone stole my boss's hat, and also they kidnapped my boss at the same time," is a very strange way of reporting that crime.
It's enough to make Commissioner Gordon utter the amazing line, "It was a sad day indeed when the word parole was coined!" And man, that is a pretty harsh view of the criminal justice system, even in a city that seems plagued by thematic recidivists.
O'Hara reminds Gordon that the last time they had to deal with the Mad Hatter, it was Batman who put him away by testifying in court as the key witness, which is a) a nice bit of foreshadowing for how the rest of the episode is going to play out, and b) a scene that I desperately wish they would've actually filmed. Thus, the call is made, and after excusing themselves from Aunt Harriet by telling her they're going bird-watching --- something of a departure from the usual excuse of fishing that I would've maybe saved for a Penguin episode --- Batman and Robin are on the case.
After their usual briefing in Gordon's office, during which the Caped Crusader provides a bit of a bleeding-heart counterpoint to Gordon by saying it's his "fervent hope that warped minds such as his can be rehabilitated once and for all," the scene shifts to the Hatter's hideout, which is easily the single creepiest set in the history of the show:
It's here that we find out just what the Mad Hatter is up to: a sinister scheme for revenge against the twelve jurors who convicted him, kidnapping them and stealing their hats to put them on his astonishingly creepy homemade jury box full of dead-eyed mannequins, a feature that is somehow even creepier than the other room, which houses a machine made of a conveyor belt, spikes, a vat of acid and actual swords, which he intends to use for murders. But while taking out the jurors is certainly something the Mad Hatter is relishing, they're just the bait for his masterstroke: the thirteenth hat, Batman's cowl!
Meanwhile, the Dynamic Duo are questioning a hat-check girl named Babette (Sandra Wells) who sounds like she has a slight cold, probably because it's the middle of February and she is wearing skirt so short that it's almost just a large, frilly belt:
Babette has witnessed the abduction of the chief of the Gotham City Fire Department, although again, both she and Batman phrase it as a hat robbery with the kidnapping as something of an afterthought.
Once Babette has given her slightly stuffed-up testimony, Batman and Robin get a call from Gordon letting them know that the Hatter has been spotted at the haberdashery of one Madame Magda, who, unbeknownst to the crime-fighters, also employs Lisa, the Hatter's love-struck sidekick. Unfortunately, they're too late --- they're able to make off with Madame Magda in tow long before the heroes arrive, leaving Lisa, the inside man, to misdirect them.
Lisa slips the heroes a business card for one Octave Marbot, a local sculptor who just happens to be making a statue of Batman that, in what has to be one of the single worst ideas anyone has ever had, has been commissioned by Warden Crichton to be installed in the Gotham State Penitentiary. The idea, according to Batman, is that it will "inspire the convicts in his rehabilitation program," but I have my doubts that reminding Gotham's crooks of the person who punched them in the face and sent them to jail is going to foster anything other than a desire for revenge. Bless Crichton for trying, though, I guess.
To sort out the clue, Batman and Robin head to the Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City, plotting out the Mad Hatter's crimes to see if there's a pattern to them:
I'm not actually sure why they go through all the trouble rather than just heading over to Marbot's studio --- which, to be fair, is a trap, but they don't know that --- but I assume that to a man with a Giant Lighted Lucite Map, every problem looks like... something that should be solved with a Giant Lighted Lucite Map.
Sure enough, when they're plotted on the map, the pattern of the Mad Hatter's crimes forms the outline of a top hat, which is both amazing and rather convenient even by this show's standards. The last point: Marbot's studio, so the heroes are off to check it out.
Far be it from me to second-guess the Batman, but maybe if they hadn't made the 28-mile round trip to the Batcave and back and just gone over to the studio in the first place, maybe they could've intercepted Tetch before he zapped Marbot with his Instant Mesmerizer:
But as Carl Yastrzemski said, "If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we'd all have a hell of a Christmas."
Thus, Batman and Robin arrive to find the Mad Hatter himself disguised as Marbot, leading to a truly amazing scene of David Wayne employing a French accent so far over-the-top that it makes Peter Sellers look like Jean Reno. It is a truly beautiful thing, especially when, two minutes into the conversation, in the middle of a sentence, he suddenly busts out, "I am Octave Marbot, a simple sculptor!"
Astonishingly, it seems to be enough to convince Batman and Robin that he's on the level, and when "Marbot" claims that he's having trouble with the head of the statue and asks Batman to remove his cowl so that he can make a mold of it, Batman agrees. Or does he?! It seems that the real Marbot finished the statue's head long ago, and that --- yes, that --- is what gave the Hatter away. Batman stomps out of the side room to confront the villain, and we get a quick fight scene, and with it, the Bat-Sound Effect Onomatopoeia Matrix:
Kind of an interesting choice to use "ZLOTT" and "ZLOPP" in the same fight.
After the henchmen are taken care of, the Hatter tries to use the Instant Mesmerizer on Batman, but for the Caped Crusader, victory is in the preparation. He foils that attempt neatly with a bat-shaped mirror --- er, Anti-Mesmerizing Bat-Reflector --- from his utility belt, but the ricocheting beams catch the Boy Wonder, taking him out of the fight and distracting Batman long enough for the Hatter to shove him under a spout of Super Fast Hardening Plaster, coating him and instantly hardening on the spot.
All the Hatter has to do now is wait for Batman to suffocate, and then he can chip away the plaster and remove the cowl at his leisure. Not quite the deathtrap of the hat-making machine, but effective nonetheless --- and given the agonizing wait for the next night's episode, definitely deadly! But be here next week, readers --- the worst is yet to come!
Index of Episode 1x13:
- Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City
- Anti-Mesmerizing Bat-Reflector
- "Holy ricochet!"
- Super Fast Hardening Plaster, suffocation