Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

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Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Disciple »

Yes, because no one demanded it, I'm kicking off another review series (time permitting, anyways). What can I say? Our intrepid feline fatale probably has much bigger stock in the Batman franchise than Batgirl ever did; hell, I'd say that in some ways, she's even better-known than the Joker (after all, did he headline two separate comic titles, each running more than 80 issues?).

Now, ever since her debut in the pages of Batman #1, Catwoman's always teetered on the line between villainess and heroine, which no doubt explains why DC and readers thought her versatile enough to headline her own titles. In recent years especially, the trend has skewed more and more towards "antiheroine", a perfectly respectable place that I just happen to find really, really boring. Sorry, folks - I kinda like my sexy, sexy cat burglars rotten to the core.

Fortunately, we'll once again be starting with the character's most prominent (in my totally objective and unimpeachable opinion) incarnation: the one from the '66 Batman series. I can hardly think of any version of Catwoman more blood-chillingly evil than this one, which only makes for a perfect mix when combined with her sexy, sultry charms.

Watch this space for the first review, coming soon!
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Batman (1966) Season 1, Episode 19: The Purr-Fect Crime

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Batman (1966) Season 1, Episode 19: The Purr-Fect Crime
Original Airdate: March 16, 1966
Director: James Sheldon
Writers: Stanley Ralph Ross and Lee Orgel
Special Guest Villain: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Those of you who remember my previous round of Batgirl reviews, hold on to your hats: we're about to do a little time-travelin' back to Batman's first season, by general consensus its golden age. Here, the charm was still fresh, the cast and crew could actually take the plots seriously for more than five seconds at a time, and the larger budget means that we've got respectable-looking sets and special effects out the-

... welp, okay, that museum guard just got taken out by a stuffed cat doll. Never mind.

Our Mystery Villain (TM) walks up to the display and shows off her classic "cut-a-hole-in-the-glass-with-my-claws" move, which I think every subsequent incarnation of the character has used at least once. Her prize? A golden cat statuette. Yeah, yeah, not the most original of heists. At least the writers didn't shoehorn references to Bast or Cat's-Eyes in here.

Cut to next morning, at police headquarters, with our old friends Gordon and O'Hara and... Bonnie the receptionist? She actually had an actress once upon a time? Huh.

Anyways, Catwoman mails them the mandatory clue-to-my-next-heist with a little kitten, which is just plain adorable. That said, modern-day Catwoman would probably skin her alive for sending an innocent cat through the Hell that is the U.S. postal service, but let's not think of such unpleasant things.

It's so weird to see Gordon and O'Hara refer to Catwoman with the hushed fear that one usually expects from a discussion about the Joker. Note also that since we're in the first season, they view Batman as a last resort against supervillains instead of ringing him up every time someone jaywalks.

Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Dick are playing 3-D chess (what? You think The Big Bang Theory invented that? Bitch, the idea goes back at least 300 years). They get the call, Aunt Harriet's a nosy busybody, to the Batpoles, you know the drill.

Down at Police HQ, Batman and Robin promise to protect the golden cat's twin, which is being shown at a separate exhibition. Chief O'Hara actually offers the Dynamic Duo police protection, which is as laughable as it sounds, and Batman politely turns it down.

Okay, before I go any further, I guess I should do a little discussion of S1 Adam West and Burt Ward. After watching S3 all the way through, it's very clear that West and Ward are still a little green in their roles; West's famous pauses aren't as common, and Ward just sounds kind of annoying and not very emotional. It might just be the lack of jokes in the plot so far, but both of them also seem a lot more businesslike.

And as penance for saying that, we immediately get a pretty cute joke about Batman making Robin put on his seatbelt. Jesus, Bruce - you're already lying to the kid about how soon he'll get his driver's license (in what universe is "two seasons later" a short time?), but do you have to make him wear a pink belt buckle, too?

Eh, who cares. Off we go to the Gato & Chat fur warehouse for our real star. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the one... the only... Julie Newmar!

Now, like West and Ward, Newmar sounds a little rough and not all-there in the role, but her cool, Baroness-like presence and that smoking body and that tight, tight catsuit more than make up for it. A lot of critics have noted that there's something emasculating about the way Catwoman treats her henchmen here (she whips one of them for touching the cat statuette), but to be quite frank, I don't think most of the male villains were much better.

While her henchmen go off to do some more evil, Catwoman settles down with volume one of The History of Gotham City, which apparently saw fit to devote an entire chapter to a single pirate captain's stash of loot. By the way, while the introductory paragraph is obviously written to suit the episode, the rest of the text in the book seems to be pulled from stock newspaper articles used for shows like Star Trek; you can find out more here.

(Man, Newmar's evil laugh kicks ass. But there's still room for improvement.)

Down in the Batcave, our heroes engage in some radioactive Bat-science (presumably partly powered by the remains of Jill St. John). And of course, Robin immediately spoils the Unspoken Plan Guarantee by telling Alfred that they're going to spray the second cat statuette with a radioactive mist so they can track it in case Catwoman gets away with it.

Perks of Being Batman #117: You don't have to wait in line and the ticket guy will even let you go in without paying. Okay, well, he's evil and working for Catwoman, but it's the principle of the thing. Also: am I the only one who thinks Catwoman's leitmotif is kinda disturbing?

(That cat-phone is awesome, though.)

Fast-forward to the exhibition's after-hours, where Robin sadly doesn't prove to be any better against surprise cat attacks than that poor guard at the beginning of this episode. Also, "Holy cats! A cat!" is quite possibly the most inane line that ever poured out of Burt Ward's mouth. I love it.

Also, Newmar looks about 10X hotter when she comes out of that sarcophagus. The mask really does make all the difference.

To his credit, Adam West sounds genuinely furious when he sees Catwoman and the downed Robin. Our first piece of Cat-Bat exchange in this show is a delightfully tension-ridden one, flowing more or less seamlessly into the fight scene. The music isn't quite as catchy as we're all used to, and the trademark Biff-Wham-Pow's are superimposed on the screen instead of put into flashing cards, but the choreography is much better. And there's no extra henchmen coming the hell out of nowhere to pad out the fight, so that's always a plus.

(By the way, Bruce, I hope you can pay for all those priceless artifacts you guys broke during the fight.)

Naturally, Catwoman gets away with the statuette. Naturally, Batman and Robin are already on her tail. Naturally, Catwoman expects this, and sends one of her henchmen off to go brush her pussywillows, which isn't nearly as fun as it sounds.

B&R show up at the Gato & Chat warehouse a little while later, and Batman employs the Bat-Ray to blow the lock right off the door. The Bat-Ray is a pretty neat special effect by 1966 standards, but wouldn't it have been more convenient (and cooler) to just ram the Batmobile through?

(Also, that explosive in the lock didn't look strong enough to kill a fly. Don't be such a wimp, Robin.)

Whaddya know, I was right. The second they're inside, the door seals our intrepid heroes in. Newmar's a lot better at the evil taunting this time around, alternating between dulcet threats and wicked witch-like laughter. What does she have planned for B&R? None other than that most time-honored of cliches, the Advancing Spiked Walls of Doom.

But it seems that Catwoman has shopped for the Kinder, Gentler Spikes (TM), so all that's really hurt is B&R's pride. I have to admit, it's great fun seeing Catwoman and her goons crack up at the sight of Batman realizing that the spikes are rubber.

Trap #2 is no more lethal - just a bomb that produces smoke and taunting signs. I gotta say, this Catwoman is better at being Joker than the Joker, though of course, even Adam West's Batman doesn't really have a sense of humor when dealing with criminal scum. This of course sets Catwoman right off, and she beams Robin right up (literally, with a vacuum tube thingy) and gives Batman a genuine deathtrap: pick one of two doors, one of which has Catwoman and one of which has a ferocious Batman-eating tiger.

At first I thought Batman's choice was going to be the cliffhanger, but the showrunners decide to jack up the tension a little more and have Batman pick the door with the tiger before the episode ends. Holy Frosted Flakes! How's Batman gonna get out of this one alive?

Tune in next time... same Cat-Time, same Cat-Channel!

In short: all the little not-quite-iconic idiosyncrasies of Season 1 were a tad distracting, but certainly not enough to stain Ms. Newmar's almost-purrfect purrformance. This isn't one of those S3 three-jokes-a-second single-episode stories, and I think that works well to its benefit; I just can't see Newmar in something as nakedly satirical as the Kitt Catwoman episodes. Rather, this episode - and the one after it - is more or less a straight comic-book caper with a few touches of humor and sexual innuendo glued on at the edges, and it is, in my opinion, stronger for that.

Omega's Rating:

8-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Leo. Did you get the books?"
"Leo. Did you get the books?"
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Next time: Avast, me mateys! Be here as Catwoman tries ta track down the loot 'o the century, or walk the plank! Yaaargh!
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Batman (1966) Season 1, Episode 20: Better Luck Next Time

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Batman (1966) Season 1, Episode 20: Better Luck Next Time
Original Airdate: March 17, 1966
Director: James Sheldon
Writers: Stanley Ralph Ross and Lee Orgel
Special Guest Villain: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Hey, remember how in Season 3, the showrunners couldn't even be arsed to make one convincing-looking killer bee? Fortunately, Season 1 will have none of that bullcrap - it's got a real, live tiger ready to menace Batman! Holy Shere Khan!

(Well, fortunate for us. Not so fortunate for that poor stuntman in the Bat-suit. The tiger's presence and how much danger it really posed to the actors has been the subject of a lot of debate and revision over the years - you can get the gist of the story here.)

Geez, no wonder that tiger's so pissed. Catwoman named him Tinkerbell. The guy probably gets laughed at by all the other villains' pets. And since this isn't modern-day Batman, beating the thing into submission isn't really an option. 'course, Catwoman's a class act the whole time. "I hate the sight of blood", indeed...

Huh. So T.T.F.N. predates the Internet. I learned something today.

Anyways, Batman stuns the tiger by reversing the polarity on his Bat-communicator (or something) and runs like hell. Well, now he's out of the tiger's range, but he's still got Catwoman's devious catacombs to deal with. Sure, the right-hand solution works wonders, but using Bat-stickers to mark the way is just that much cooler.

I think I noted this before, but where Batman's relationship with her tends to be fraught with sexual tension and taunting, Robin seems to just have this seething hatred for Catwoman. I suppose he's still in the "girls have cooties" stage...

(That knockout gas-spraying cat-o'-nines is awesome, by the way. Fetish video producers take note.)

Geez, that is seriously messed up even by this Catwoman's standards. Putting a kid over a pit of (stock footage of) ravenous tigers, and sprinkling Maxime de Paree's Choice Catnip on him? She oughta consider getting a job as a KGB interrogator.

(Also, if anyone cares: Robin apparently weights 132 pounds, 10 ounces.)

Needless to say, Robin's not very pleased when he wakes up, but that's no excuse for this. Watch your language, young man!

After a bit more of the requisite evil gloating, Catwoman exits stage left and leaves her men to watch Robin get torn to bits by that vicious, vicious stock footage. Right then, Batman decides he's putzed around enough, and swoops in to save the day. Yaaaay!

The fight scene that follows is surprisingly vicious, with one of the henchmen trying to force Batman's head into the tiger pit and another one going after Robin with a burning stick. Inevitably, our heroes prevail, though Catwoman's top goon Leo still manages to escape. And since there wouldn't really be any plot left if they caught him too, B&R just decide to stay behind to... I dunno, tidy up the hideout? Well, at least the got the two golden cats back.

... Commish, please don't ever break the fourth wall again. It's creepy as hell.

Since we've got time to kill, we're stuck seeing Batman and Robin do a bunch of dull detective work on the cats down in the Batcave. There's a vaguely interesting tidbit about how the evil Captain Manx willed his fortune to Gotham's underprivileged children, but really, the best part about this is a behind-the-scenes anecdote from Burt Ward:

“When we did the first Catwoman show; it was late in the afternoon and we had been under the hot studio lights all day, and were sweating in our costumes. Adam was supposed to put two cats together to form a map. He put them together in the ‘69’ position. I started laughing, then he broke up, and we blew the take. My back was to the camera, so Adam could see tears of laughter rolling down my face. He said I looked like a raccoon in my mask. I told him he was cross-eyed in his cowl. The director, James Sheldon, rushed up to us in a panic. He said, ‘You guys are going to laugh me out of the business.’ “

Oh, and the cat statuettes are supposed to reveal a map to Captain Manx's secret booty when put together. Whatever, let's get back to Catwhominahominahomina...

Damn, I'm running out of words to praise Newmar with. It's a pity she spends most of her time in this two-parter in the shadows and low lighting, because... yowza.

Anyways, Batman and Robin use their Geiger Scope to find Catwoman (since the radiation on the statuettes should've rubbed off on her), while Catwoman tells Leo to fill the road to Captain Manx's cave with mines. Then they go right in and find a bunch of jewelry that I think the showrunners swiped off some poor kid's Barbie doll.

(That look on Newmar's face when Leo talks about splitting the loot... that is the quintessential Catwoman in any incarnation.)

Big finale time: Catwoman gives Leo a dose of KO gas to the face and runs off with all the booty, but Batman and Robin are hot on her heels! Marvel as the power of second-rate editing makes the whole cave system look like an endless labyrinth! Marvel, I say!

Cornered on a cliff, Catwoman decides to make the jump and winds up just barely grabbing onto the other side. Yeah, some "bottomless pit" that is, Batman - I can't even see Newmar's feet, and I still know she's standing there.

(Also, wouldn't Catwoman's claws come in handy right about now?)

Stand-up guy he is, Batman tries to throw Catwoman a Bat-rope, but Catwoman is a greedy little thing and just can't let go of the loot so she can grab the rope. And so, the inevitable happens, and our beautiful cat burglar plunges straight to the bottom. Y'know, as cheesy as the overacting here is, there's something legitimately chilling about that scream (apparently recycled from a monster in Lost in Space, but whatever).

And lo, Catwoman has the honor of (I think) being the second arch-villain on the show too badass to be taken alive (the first, naturally, being Gorshin's Riddler). In true comic-book fashion, her body is never found. Just her pet cat.

... which Bruce and Dick see fit to adopt, for some reason. This is actually a pretty cute touch that sadly isn't mentioned in any later episodes, but given that that cat apparently takes after its mistress' thieving habits, that's probably inevitable. Oh, and even with Alfred's help, Dick doesn't stand a chance against Bruce in 3-D chess.

(LOL-worthy line of the episode: "This cat comes from a broken home." Followed by the three men playing hot potato with it.)

A worthy second part, all in all, with Newmar in top form and an adequately thrilling storyline. The cave sequence is perhaps one of the most harrowing moments in the series, and the tiger pit should, I think, rank high on any Bat-fan's list of deathtraps. 'course, that tight, tight black catsuit is worth at least six points alone.

Omega's Rating:

8-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Vrrrrrrmmmm...
Vrrrrrrmmmm...
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Next time: Ms. Newmar will sadly be temporarily leaving us as we venture into the Campy Crusader's debut on the big screen, perhaps the series' most iconic moment. Will her substitute be up to the task? We'll see...
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Visitor »

As an example of cutting corners to save money, in the cave one of the foam stalactites shakes from the impact of Batman and Robin running around nearby. Still by season 3 they couldn't afford to do the elaborate sets used in this episode.
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Batman (1966): The Movie

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Batman (1966): The Movie
Original Release Date: July 30, 1966
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Writer: Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
Special Guest Villains: Lee Meriwether as the Catwoman, Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler
Welp, this is it, folks. The big one. What will instantly come to mind for many Americans if you mention the '66 Batman show, not least because for a time, it was the only piece of the franchise that was legally allowed on DVD. But more than that, it's got budget, it's got the four most iconic villains on the show, and it's got writers and actors who are actually determined to make something with humor and heart.

The opening sequence alone exemplifies that last part, with a dedication that, to me, ranks as one of the funniest jokes in this history of the show:

"ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We wish to express our gratitude to the enemies of crime and crusaders against crime throughout the world for their inspirational example. To them, and to lovers of adventure, lovers of pure escapism, lovers of unadulterated entertainment, lovers of the ridiculous and the bizarre—- To funlovers everywhere—- This picture is respectfully dedicated."

[Cue shot of a couple making out]

"If we have overlooked any sizable groups of lovers, we apologize. —-THE PRODUCERS"

The rest of the opening credits are a pretty damn stylish parody of film noir, with big, gaudy splashes of color against a black and grimy background (remember, after all, that one of the big draws to Batman '66 was how it capitalized on the boom in color TV). Once they're out of the way, we begin.

Surprisingly, given how this thing is about 2-3 times longer than a normal Bat-story, we're immediately thrown into the plot. No scene of Bruce and Dick relaxing at Wayne Manor, no phone calls from Commissioner Gordon - instead, William Dozier's iconic narration hurries us through the premise of the show and the Dynamic Duo's current mission (protecting the inventor of a revolutionary new invention out on the high seas) in a matter of seconds.

Then, it's time for the movie to flex its budget: say hello the shiny new Batcopter, kids, coming soon to a toy store near you! And be prepared to see lots more of it (by which I mean the exact same footage) all throughout Seasons 2 and 3!

Perks of Being Batman (and Robin) #203: Any scantily clad girls sunbathing on the roofs you pass by will instantly get to their feet and cheer you on. Now that's the ticket.

Geez, is that just what yachts looked like back in 1966? I've seen fishing trawlers with more class. Anyways, the yacht suddenly vanishes, Robin accidentally takes Batman too low, and the second Batman's legs hit the water, he gets a nasty case of Bittenbyasharkitis. Which means it's time for - you guessed it...

The Bat-Shark-Repellent.

(Also, dig the fact that Batman's also got specialized sprays for barracudas, manta rays, and whales. Apparently, Bruce Wayne is not very big on Saving the Whales.)

Incidentally, if we can for a moment disconnect from the fact that that shark isn't even convincing by 1966 standards, this is quite possibly the most badass Batman feat in all film. I'm not sure even Bale's Batman went through anything as horrific as having a shark clamping down on his leg for a minute and a half - if that were a real person and a real shark down there, that leg would have gone bye-bye by now.

Also badass: the Shark Repellent actually makes sharks explode. Now that, I would've liked to see in Arkham City.

Cut to a press conference, where Batman is surprisingly short with the reporters. I know Adam West's Batman was never all smiles and fluff, but this might be the closest he's ever come to the modern take. Of course, it all culminates in another strong gag, when Kitanya Irenya Tatanya Karenska Alisoff (of the Moscow Bugle) asks them to take off their masks. Cue the Dynamic Duo (as well as Gordon and O'Hara) falling all over themselves to explain how Batman and Robin are totally not unaccountable vigilantes.

(See Ms. Alisoff's smoldering, Bond Girl-like glances at Batman? They'll be important later.)

Anyways, once the media leaves, our heroes get down to business. Turns out the yacht Batman thought he was saving was a decoy, meant to lure him to his death all along. But who could be behind it?

Wait, the Penguin, the Joker, the Riddler, and the Catwoman are all loose? At the same time? How are the people not panicking already? What, are you waiting for King Tut and Bookworm to go join them?

But never mind that, it's time for the big Bat-Deduction. Possibly the first on the show, and certainly the finest:

"Pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder."
"You mean, where there's a fish, there could be a Penguin."
"But wait! It happened at sea! See? "C" for Catwoman!"
"Yet — that exploding shark was pulling my leg!"
"The Joker!"
"It all adds up to a sinister riddle... Riddle-er. Riddler?"

God, that still cracks me up no matter how many times I see it.

Meanwhile, that reporter from the Moscow Bugle (told ya she'd be important) drives down the meanest, roughest part of the docks so we can meet the real stars already. The tough at the top of the stairs immediately spoils what we probably all know by now: Catwoman is Ms. Alisoff, and she's not played by Julie Newmar this time around, on account of the latter's obligations with McKenna's Gold. Instead, we've got former Miss America and small-time actress Lee Meriwether filling in her boots.

(Also, dig how she insists that Catwoman is her real name. Now that's dedication.)

So how is she as Catwoman? Honestly - not bad. She's notably more vicious than Newmar, but maybe that's just because she has to bounce off of the three male arch-villains, all of whom look ready to tear each other's throats out. I have to say, Gorshin, Meredith, and Romero are all in top form here, with the former two trading vicious barbs while the latter gleefully jumps around without a care in the world.

... okay, so they're all scared stiff at the sight of Catwoman ordering her attack cat on them, but who wouldn't be?

The setup: these four are part of the "United Underworld", formed to get rid of Batman and Robin and take over the world once and for all. Catwoman snarkily notes that they're about as united as the United Nation... er, "United World Headquarters", which is great, but Meriwether's "purrfect" really needs some work.

While the "kill Batman" part of their grand plan has failed miserably, the "kidnap the inventor" part went perfectly; Commodore Schmidlapp is sitting right in their hideout, not even aware that he's on dry land. Interestingly enough, it's Joker that the other three enlist to play steward and keep the Commodore clueless. I've written at length about this elsewhere, but I'm always mystified at how Romero's giggly, almost grandfatherly take on the Joker is probably the nicest of the arch-villains; where Penguin and Riddler typically resort to straight intimidation, and Catwoman's seduction is a very aggressive thing, the Joker actually seems to like acting civil and harmless.

Oh, and that reveal of how they're "tricking" the Commodore? Pure win. Cushiest henchman job I've ever seen.

Meriwether finally gets decked out in the traditional Catwoman costume (sans mask), and... well, she's no Newmar, but maybe it's just her darker hair that's distracting. Meanwhile, Batman figures out the yacht he was trying to "save" was a hologram all along, projected by an illegal buoy at the scene of the crime. So it's back to the high seas, old chum, with our second awesome toy/stock footage provider: the Batboat!

Since they're the villains, the United Underworld gets a much cooler counterpart: Penguin's massive submarine (immortalized in the first Lego Batman game, natch). I'm becoming more and more convinced that Penguin's the most vital part of this whole business, at least in this scene; all the henchmen seem to be his, and he seems to be the only one who knows how to pilot a sub.

Oh, and scratch that comment about the Shark Repellent up there; turns out the villains had stuffed the shark with TNT before setting it loose, so the shark exploding was all them. Again, where's PETA when you need 'em?!

While B&R futz around looking for fingerprints on the buoy (... why? You pretty much already know who's behind this), our arch-villains stop fucking around and start launching torpedoes at them (I don't know why I love that four-way periscope so much, but I do). Nice use of continuity here, with the Penguin-Magnet making a welcome return and gluing the Caped Crusaders to that buoy.

But, Batman being Batman, he's got a super energy reverse polarizer thing to blow up those torpedoes in mid-launch. Naturally, Riddler immediately starts blaming Penguin, who just keeps on launching torpedoes. (Un)fortunately, Batman's reverse polarizer thingamajig runs out of batteries at that very moment, and we soon see a very big boom...

... which was just a porpoise flinging itself into the torpedo's path at the last second. Yes, apparently Adam West pulls double duty as Aquaman on Saturdays.

(I love how Riddler is just looking suspiciously while Joker and Penguin are all smiles. He knows Batman's not gonna die that easily.)

Batman goes and places a call to the Admiral of the U.S. Navy, who - believe it or not - is even more useless than Commodore Schmidlapp was, if not actually evil. The sarcasm is strong with this one, as Batman unceremoniously puts him down for selling a Navy submarine to some chap called "P.N. Guinn" without even checking his address. But wait! Seems the UU has one last trick up its sleeve: the ultra-modern Polaris Missile!

Yes, that's right. These guys are just going to straight-up nuke our heroes. Toldja they weren't fucking around.

No, wait, never mind. They're just using it to write the customary clue to B&R. Damn. I'd have liked to see Batman think his way out of that one.

Also, what the hell is "a riddle in the form of a joke"? I'm guessing that that's the filmmakers' subtle way of telling us that Riddler and Joker co-wrote those hints, and thus totally don't make each other redundant. At least one of them is an all-time classic: What weighs seven ounces and is very dangerous? A sparrow with a machine gun.

Overall, the hint apparently serves no purpose other than to rat out the fact that Catwoman is in the UU too (didn't B&R determine that already?), prompting yet another keeper from Commish Gordon: "THE SUM OF THE ANGLES OF THAT SINISTER RECTANGLE IS JUST TOO MONSTROUS."

About 30 minutes into the movie, we finally get the villains' objective: the Security Council of the United World Organizations (conveniently located right in Gotham City!). But still, there's that pesky "kill Batman" business to take care of first. It's here that Gorshin starts earning his paycheck; every line Riddler gives here is utterly mesmerizing, and his facial expressions and voice combine to create a genuinely unsettling picture. All told, the actual plan is pedestrian - the'll just combined their usual tricks into one super-sized deathtrap, with Catwoman taking some stupid millionaire as the bait for Batman - but I don't even care.

So it's back to the guise of "Miss Kitka" for Catwoman, and as soon as the word "millionaire" was brought up, I think you all figured out who was going to be the bait. Meriwether doubles down on the phony Soviet accent when she pays a visit to Wayne Manor, but her referring to the Riddler as a "bourgeoisie criminal cad who preys on the working class" is exactly what I hope the actual Soviet papers call the arch-villains.

Things start getting hot and heavy, and I suppose now would be a good time to remind everyone that Adam West was once seriously considered as the next James Bond. This is probably the closest we'll get to that alternate universe, though I have to wonder if Newmar would've brought even more chemistry to the table. Anyways, Kitka tells Bruce that she got a couple more threatening riddles, and leaves with a promise that they'll have dinner together. The new riddles are, of course, even more awesomely ridiculous.

Q: What has yellow skin and writes? A: A ballpoint banana!
Q: What kind of people are always in a hurry? A: The Russians!

Conclusion? Someone plans to arrange for Miss Kitka to trip on a banana peel and break her neck! It's genius!

Bruce, never one to let death threats get in the way of some pussy, says that he's going on the date anyways, and Robin & Alfred are to serve as backup if anyone tries anything. I just love that "what the hell?!" expression Burt Ward makes when Batman makes it very clear that he expects Alfred to be driving.

Kitka's and Bruce's date is overall pretty slow (save for the hilarious part where Penguin's henchmen serve as musicians at the restaurant), but before any ten-year-olds in the audience can start gagging, we cut over to Robin and Alfred (cunningly disguised with a mask of his own), who stop peeping in on Bruce's date (class acts, both of 'em) and instead tell Commissioner Gordon to turn on the Bat-Signal, hoping that the other arch-villains will think Batman & Robin are otherwise occupied.

To make a long story short, it works. Cue the jetpack umbrellas.

(Wait, if Penguin and Riddler hate each other, why are they sharing an umbrella? Is this some kind of love-hate thing?)

Up at Miss Kitka's penthouse suite... yow. Meriwether pulls off the Catwoman suit beautifully, but that robe is something else. Of course, Bruce then ruins the mood by quoting Poe of all people, but since this is a family movie, it's not like he was actually going to get any. And just to ensure that, all male arch-villains (plus three henchmen) crash the party.

(Jeez, Joker and Penguin look so weird when they've got domino masks on.)

All told, Bruce puts up a pretty decent fight for a guy outnumbered six-to-one, but sadly falls because that's what we need for the plot to continue (pity that the show's trademark ZAP-BAM-POW cards weren't used). Also - check out how Catwoman is making all those scratching motions on the sidelines, only to catch herself. Seems she can't wait to get out of character.

So the villains make off with Bruce, but fortunately, Alfred and Robin catch the tail end of it. Word gets out to the press quickly, and...

ATTRACTIVE GIRL FRIEND SEIZED IN BRAZEN SNATCH. There's no fucking way that wasn't intentional.

"If you harm that girl, I'll kill you all." Okay, Adam West confirmed for most hardcore Batman in film. It's not even a contest at this point. What makes it even funnier is how Catwoman is literally right in front of him as he says this.

Since Batman still hasn't shown up for some strange reason, the UU decides to feed Bruce's delusions a little more and have Catwoman get back in-character as Miss Kitka. Sure enough, Bruce tells his lady love that he's got a little gadget tied up his sleeve... which all turns out to be a ruse to get the villains to untie his arms, at which point he just goes James Bond on their asses. Y'know, this scene amazes me no matter how many times I watch it; Bruce just goes completely nuts on everyone within reach (except Catwoman, 'cause hitting ladies back in the '60s is a big no-no), and the lack of the ZAP-BAM-POW cards just makes it that much more brutal. Speaking of brutal, once of the henchmen gets knocked into the super-deathtrap, and gets launched to a pretty gruesome death.

(Also, I find that scene of Joker, Riddler, and Penguin uselessly shoving themselves against the door adorable.)

Bruce tops it all off with a nose-dive off the roof of the bad guys' hideout and into the sea, and pops back at Wayne Manor moments later with not a hair out of place.

All right - that's enough bullshitting around for one screenplay, so the movie finally tells us what Commodore Schmidlapp's wonderful invention is: an instant whiskey-maker that works by dehydrating anything its funnel is pointed at. This thing's one of my favorite toys on the show, if only because of how well it straddles the line between plausible (for a comic book movie) and utterly ridiculous. Penguin gets five henchmen specifically designated as Guinea Pigs (complete with GP T-shirts!), and puts the thing to work, and whaddya know - the thing works like a charm.

I imagine that kids in the audience might've been kind of disturbed at the sight of grown men being turned into piles of sand, even though Penguin assures us that it's temporary. He has Catwoman scoop up the poor fellows into a set of test tubes, with yet another gem of a line: "Every one of them has a mother."

(That said, Catwoman isn't the least bit careful here. Heck, I think there's more sand falling outside the tubes than in.)

Meanwhile, B&R return to the UU's old, abandoned headquarters, and we're treated to the classic Bat-climb (sadly, they don't really chat with any guest stars on the way - the closest we get is a drunk who pokes his head out and just goggles) followed by the other Iconic Moment in this movie. You know the one.

Damn, Robin. That's cold. Batman should've totally left the bomb in there and let the drunks die, huh? It's back to hero school for you, young man!

So seconds after that awesomely hilarious sequence, the Penguin pops up "disguised" as Commodore Schmidlapp. This is quite possibly the dumbest moment in the movie, but Meredith's sheer I-don't-give-a-fuck-ness during the whole scene makes it work for me (he doesn't even bother taking out his cigarette holder, for Christ's sake). Sure, you'd think that even back in the '60s they'd have a photo of the Commodore on file, but then, the movie would be over right here, and who'd want that?

And thus, our heroes take "Commodore Schmidlapp" back to the Batcave so they can prove that he is, in fact, not the Commodore. Were this a modern Batman movie, I'd suspect that Batman just wants to Jack Bauer the other villains' location out of Penguin, but he's surprisingly courteous with the feathered fink.

'course, as soon as Penguin wakes up in the Batcave, he heads for the sink to re-hydrate his men. The sight of Burgess Meredith pulling all that phallic equipment out of his pants is a mite uncomfortable to watch, and him saying "Coming, Batman. I'm coming at once."... I have no words.

Sadly, this movie takes place in an era predating OSHA, so Batman's sink apparently carries both tap water and radioactive water through a single valve. This leads us to the darkest scene in the movie, where all five of those poor Guinea Pigs are vaporized with a single tap. Unlike most instances of death on the show (and there were quite a few), B&R have an actual, somber discussion about the permanence of death, and even look halfway ready to take partial responsibility for it...

... until they realize that Penguin, the only bad guy in this scene who actually matters, is still hanging around. Batman is passive-aggressive as all hell as he "escorts" the good Commodore out, which I love. And of course, it's all part of yet another complicated ruse to trick Penguin into KO-gassing them and stealing the Batmobile (probably the first time he did this, though definitely not the last) so they can... tail him back to the other villains, I guess.

Back in the villains' sub, Riddler decides that he's bored, and goes off to shoot yet another clue missile. And here's something else you won't ever see in another Batman series: Joker (and Catwoman) trying to talk sense into Riddler. Granted, this is kinda hypocritical since all of them gleefully mail clues to Batman & the police elsewhere, but eh - chalk it up to the higher stakes.

(There's a seriously sweet scene in this part, where one of Penguin's men is pulling a "what-the-fuck" face at Catwoman's constant mewing. It's only about a second long, but it's perfect.)

And wouldn't you know it: Riddler comes closer to killing the Dynamic Duo by accident than all the others have on purpose. Sure, a conveniently placed foam rubber wholesalers convention saves B&R, but who could've seen that coming? Anyhoo, Riddler's final set of clues leads B&R to the United World Headquarters, right as the UU are breaking in.

Heh. Good to see that at least Joker has a bit of fondness for Penguin. Riddler, however, does not.

Y'know, we're not often reminded of it, but the arch-villains of '66 Gotham are a very dangerous lot. Penguin takes out a whole hallway of soldiers by himself, and he reunites with the other three without a hitch.

By the way - for those interested, the UW Security Council has nine members: the USA, the UK, Spain, France, Israel, West Germany, Nigeria, Japan, and the U.S.S.R. (ah, the Cold War...). The languages each ambassador is arguing in sound legit, but who knows? The Subtle Political Commentary (TM) gets dialed up to eleven as Joker slowly dehydrates them one-by-one, and they just keep on arguing.

Meanwhile, because Batman is a dick, he and Robin ran all the way over to the building instead of taking a taxi or something, which means that they're just in time to see the villains making off with the hostage dehydrated ambassadors. The UU waste no time in declaring a heavy ransom for the return of the ambassadors, which is ambitious but also kind of stupid. They could easily get twice that much by offering to keep the Security Council dehydrated forever!

Ouch. I seriously feel bad for Riddler here, the other three ganging up on him and all. I have to admit, despite his stellar performance in the show, Gorshin gets the least to do in the movie, hence why he seems to have been demoted to messenger boy. Naturally, batman and Robin are hot on their submarine's tail, and... Jesus, how many ICBMs do these guys have?

Given how many times B&R have "died" in this film alone, the UU seem stupidly optimistic that they've got him good this time, honest! To its credit, the film doesn't even bother with half a second of fake-out before depicting B&R alive and well.

You're not looking to sink that sub, huh, Batman? Coulda fooled me. Seriously, the scene where Robin keeps bombarding Penguin's sub with that Bat-Bazooka is surprisingly intense, with all the villains - especially Meriwether - turning in some great moments of genuine panic. In the end, it's Joker who has to save all of their butts by ordering the sub to surface.

(One question, though - does Batman just not care that this "strategy" has a very, VERY good chance of just shattering the glass vials the dehydrated ambassadors are stored in?)

And once the sub has surfaced, it's all over but the beatings. We finally get some decent ZAP-WHAM-POW action with the fight scene, which is otherwise well-choreographed but not as memorable as certain offerings from the show. Two highlights: Batman baiting Riddler into punching solid steel and Batman tossing Catwoman's pet cat on a life raft with a "Bon voyage, pussy."

Oh, and Catwoman proves quite possibly the most useful she's ever been (or ever will be) in a fight, tipping both Batman and Robin into the sea when they're not looking. 'course, they climb back out in a matter of seconds, before chasing her all the way down to the hold, where she conveniently trips and loses her mask.

"Holy heartbreak" indeed, Robin. That cold, defiant look on Meriwether's face just sells this moment like water in the middle of the Sahara.

... Adam, please stop staring at the camera like that. You're scaring us.

So it looks like the day is saved... but not quite, since Commodore Schmidlapp decides he needs to do a little more to earn his paycheck and accidentally trips into Batman, smashing the tubes with the dehydrated Security Council members inside! Holy international incident, what now?!

Well, nothing a little Bat-Science won't fix. With everyone from President Johnson on down watching, our Caped Crusaders put their brains (and billion-dollar research equipment) to the test and re-assemble each ambassador. Robin even suggests "improving" them a little in the process, which I guess is understandable, but still gross.

Our heroes finally managed to get the ambassadors rehydrated (really, was there any doubt?), but with a twist: now each of them is arguing in a different language! Oh, perhaps this will foster a new level of understanding and finally lead us to that much-yearned-for world peace!

... then again, it could just as well be an elaborate prequel to the events of Dr. Strangelove. 50-50, either way.

The (Living) End...?

I would hesitate to say that any piece of the '66 Batman franchise was ever truly perfect, but by God, this is probably the closest it ever came. A story that so expertly balances drama and farce, top-notch performances from nearly every one of the show's veterans, a well-used budget and plenty of fantastic toys... hell, I'll even say that Meriwether did better in the dual roles of Miss Kitka and Catwoman than even Newmar might have.

Might. I said might. Please put the pitchforks and torches down.

Still, I'd be lying if I said that the script didn't lag a little in places, and the inclusion of four arch-villains seems a bit superfluous. When you get down to it, this is chiefly a Penguin-Catwoman caper. You might be able to argue that either the Riddler or the Joker was needed for the few remaining duties, but having both is fanservice, plain and simple.

All that said: if you ever want to introduce a friend to the hilarious insanity that is Batman '66, there are few better places to start than with this movie.

Omega's Rating:

9-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Get him, you mollycoddles!"
"Get him, you mollycoddles!"
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Next time: Ms. Newmar returns, but the production values of Season 1 do not. Can her charms salvage the show's treacherous trek into Season 2? We'll find out...
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 3: Hot Off the Griddle

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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 3: Hot off the Griddle
Original Airdate: September 14, 1966
Director: Don Weis
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villain: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Perhaps to make up for her small amount of appearances in Season 1, Season 2 of Batman is absolutely choked with Catwoman appearances, every one of them featuring Julie Newmar reprising the role. If she didn't catch up to the Joker and the Penguin (who, between them, were the most frequently-appearing rogues in the show's run), well - she certainly came close. It almost made up for the fact that wage disputes meant Frank Gorshin's Riddler (barring a one-time return in Season 3) was now permanently off the table.

The beginning to Season 2's first Catwoman adventure is downright subtle by the show's usual standard; sure, there's that stupid slide-whistle sound, but it's an otherwise silent sequence of Catwoman and her gang stealing a department store catalog, a model catamaran, and three mittens. Of course, it doesn't last long, and Commissioner Tweedledumb and Chief Tweedledumber are soon making horrible puns before ringing up B&R.

Over at Stately Wayne Manor... gee, an eclipse! I'm sure that won't prove important to the plot later on!

(Note also how all four of the men refer to Catwoman as if she's supposed to be dead. This leads me to suspect that Ross had written the episode before the feature film was hammered out, as a direct follow-up to Season 1's Catwoman story.)

First the Princess of Plunder, and now the Marchioness of Misdemeanors. If there's any part of this show I unreservedly love, it's all the little titles and nicknames.

Anyways, B&R take some leaps in non-logic and conclude that they have to set a canary to catch a cat, which somehow translates into planting a fake story in the newspaper and hoping Catwoman is dumb enough to fall for it. Also, just sayin', Chief O'Hara: one day a pair of supervillains actually called Death and Taxes are going to come to town, and then you'll be sorry.

(Wait, a mere gossip columnist too theatrical for you, Batman? Now this I gotta see.)

I know this Jack O'Shea guy (with a phone booth as an "office") is supposed to be a parody of someone from the '40s or '50s, but damned if I can figure out who. Can anyone help?

(BTW - he's evil and working with Catwoman. What a shock.)

Only twelve men applied to be your goons, Catwoman? That sounds a little low, doncha think? Granted, she keeps kicking them in the face if they mouth off to her, but still... Also, that phone hidden in a stuffed leopard's head is awesome.

Also awesome: Catwoman's Cat Curriculum. I would seriously watch an entire show with just 60s-era Julie Newmar standing in front of a blackboard lecturing about the history of crime.

Poor, poor Alfred. Having to put his cooking in a doggy bag is probably killing every ounce of Britishness in him.

B&R are off to the Gotham Natural History Museum, where their ambush is predictably foiled. I have to say, the first Cat-Thug's over-the-top bawls are pretty funny (though points off for not saying "Cat-eat cat-world" instead), as is the look-behind-you joke.

Man, Newmar's definitely improved this time around. Seductive one moment, cold and fierce the next - there's a lot more Eartha Kitt in her than I'd remembered. And of course, while he says she's not a lady, Batman is still courteous enough to let her scamper off to safety before he and Robin start whaling on her goons.

Ah, there are the full-screen ZAP-WHAM-POW cards we've come to know and love. This entire fight scene features an unusually large amount of close-up shots, though that might just be because the set is so cramped. Also love the intercut scenes of Catwoman lazily watching the whole thing.

... and when B&R are finished, Catwoman makes it all pointless by nailing them with her Catatonic-tipped dart guns. I'm guessing that this means the entire thing was just a test to see how well her henchmen can take a beating, and while with any other villain I'd expect the henchmen to turn on their boss in a split-second, I can actually buy that Catwoman is hot enough for them to forgive her.

Since we're not at the cliffhanger, Catwoman forgoes the usual deathtraps and just tells her men to toss Batman and Robin out the window for some pavement pizza, twelve stories below. The deus ex machina that saves our heroes is actually pretty logical: beforehand, they'd told a helpful citizen to string up a fishing net a few stories below, in case Catwoman tossed her loot out the window. Sure, it doesn't explain why Catwoman and her gang didn't see it if they came up the same way, but small steps.

Okay, someone who was alive during the 1960s, please tell me: was "blew the duke" something people actually said?

Another title for Catwoman: Vile Countess of Venality. At this rate, she'll have more names than Dream of the Endless.

Oh, and it looks like Gotham PD actually gets to be slightly competent this episode. Heck, Chief O'Hara actually gets to be a little badass when he threatens to bitchslap the Cat-Thug they've brought in. This whole interrogation sequence doesn't have the metal table or the swinging light to make it truly memorable, but it's well-done enough.

Back at Stately Wayne Manohhhhhh good God. Make it stop. MAKE IT STOP! WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO HAVE AUNT HARRIET DANCING IN THIS EPISODE?! BRING ME HIS HEAD!!!!!1!

And here I thought we were going to have an Aunt Harriet-free episode. I was a fool. A foolish fool.

By the way, "The Catusi" is complete fail as a dance name, but "Benedict Arnold and the Traitors" is a totally boss name for a band. Also, why do I feel like "The Pink Sandbox" is supposed to be some kind of vague sexual in-joke?

In any case, Cat-Fries with Catsup? I'd definitely like to see the menu for the rest of that place. Oh, and spoiler alert: it's a front for Catwoman's latest lair. I just love how deadpan Adam and Burt are after the table literally turn on them.

Man, Catwoman is really in Bond Villain(ess) form today. Sorry, kitty, but Auric Goldfinger called and he wants his one-liner back.

And now Ross gets to have some more fun discussing Catwoman's love life. Apparently, she hates the Joker's green hair, and "the Penguin's too small for me." Jesus, was S&P asleep at the wheel?

So Catwoman throws B&R into a glorified sweatbox, which all turns out to be a convoluted way of tricking them into gassing themselves with Catatonia. Which brings us to our real deathtrap of the day:

Giant magnifying glasses. That symbol of sociopathic children everywhere. Pretty good choice on Ross's part, if I do say so myself.

Is the Dynamic Duo doomed to stew in their own juices? To become Bats on a Hot Tin Roof? Well, I think y'all already know the answer to that question...

Still, predictability aside, this was a pretty nice episode to showcase Newmar's return. Her Catwoman is a lot more well-defined - in both her cold seductiveness and her childish tantrums - and the number of sexy, sexy poses she strikes could fill up an entire gallery. I had quite a time deciding how to narrow down the screencaps to one, but rest assured that I did not make the choice lightly. The rest of the episode, a few blips aside, was workmanlike, about as much can be expected from Season 2.

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Chaaaarlie... switch it on!"
"Chaaaarlie... switch it on!"
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Next time: We haven't really got a sense of what Catwoman actually wants (well, besides a dead Batman) this episode, have we? Fear not, the answer to that question next time! Same Cat-Time, same Cat-Channel!
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 4: The Cat and the Fiddle

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 4: The Cat and the Fiddle
Original Airdate: September 15, 1966
Director: Don Weis
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villain: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Okay, episode, lemme tell you something: every time you show me Aunt goddamn Harriet dancing, you get another point off your final score. Got it?

Anyways, when we last left B&R, they were just about to be saved by a convenient eclipse. But as it turns out, that's only half the battle. The other half is pure Bat-Ingenuity, and the Dynamic Duo carefully steer their magnifying glasses to burn their ropes instead. Now that's slick.

Instead of immediately cutting to the next scene, our heroes take a brief moment to ponder why they always escape the clutches of the bad guys (and girls). "Because we're smarter than they are!" Robin supposes. Batman has a more... romantic take on it.

Neither of them are right, of course, but it's a goof effort.

Batfact: The Gotham State Building is the tallest building in all of Gotham City, standing a comfortable 102 stories.

Oh, and Batman insists on paying parking meters whenever there is one. Whotta guy.

Since we wasted last of the most episode solely on Catwoman trying to kill B&R, we've got to make up for it this episode by introducing Catwoman's marks: meet sulfur zillionaire Zubin Zucchini and reclusive millionaire Minerva Matthews! Catwoman KO's the latter with another neat new gadget - turns out her claws now spew Catatonic gas, too - and she dolls herself up as Ms. Matthews in a split-second.

(BTW, that's really Newmar in the old biddy's getup - see ToTheBatpoles.com for how this was arguably her finest moment as an actress on the show.)

... okay, I dunno who the armored car driver is played by, but apparently he's an extrasuperspecial guest star or something so we've got to give him camera time. I'll play along. For now. Also, seems Catwoman has a charitable side. Who knew?

Ah, the 1960s. When anyone could walk up to the elevator control panel and cut 'em.

Batman finally arrives at Gotham State Building, and bulletpoints Catwoman's plan for us: the heist is for two Stradivarius violins that Mr. Zucchini is selling to Ms. Matthews for half a million bucks. And it needs to be all the way up at the penthouse because the violins are so old that they would crack apart in any other atmosphere. Got it? Good.

"Look! Up there! Are they birds? Are they planes?" No, they're lawyers from Superman's estate, bucko. Oh, and just to really push the references home, there's a part where Batman pulls the elevator's doors open with his bare hands.

Up on the penthouse, there's a pretty well-done scene where Catwoman gets fed up with Mr. Zucchini and whips off her disguise... only for him to whip off his disguise. Yep, turns out that Robin was disguised as Mr. Zucchini all along. For all the good it does him, since Catwoman's thugs pin him down almost instantly.

Woo. A four-seat getaway rocket? I see she's bent to outdo the United Underworld for getaway vehicles. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Of course, Batman makes it up there just in time. Cue an incredibly hilarious and incredibly sad fight scene where the men are all duking it out and poor Catwoman just can't get the rocket to start (though she does wallop Robin a good couple times when he gets too close).

Eventually, Catwoman just gives up and climbs out on the window ledge, and it looks like we're due for a repeat to the last Catwoman story's ending... except no, this time Catwoman loses her nerve (turns out the violins were fakes anyhow), and lets Batman save her. I have to say, that lady's got some guts to stand 102 stories above the streets in heels that tall.

A welcome little surprise: circumstances conspire to make Batman fall out the window as well, and Robin ends up having to pull the two lovebirds up while they're hanging together. Catwoman takes the chance to propose to Batman who, of course, refuses. Justice is his only significant other.

Epilogue: woo-wee. According to Batman, the average jail term for supervillainy in Gotham is about 10 to 20 years (7-and-a-half with good behavior, according to Robin). Imma just gonna file that away and say that Catwoman (along with all the other arch-criminals) keep exploiting loopholes in the system to get out so early.

I guess a full-on kiss would've been too steamy for a family program, so we'll have to settle for Catwoman nuzzling Batman instead. I can deal with that.

All in all, while this two-parter had its share of good moments, it's pretty paltry competition for Catwoman's first outing. At least there was no more Aunt Harriet in this part, the opening recap aside. I'm really not sure how I feel about Ross's increased emphasis on the Bat/Cat romance, either, especially since it was what allegedly led to Newmar leaving the show for good.

Omega's Rating:

6-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Hisssssss...
Hisssssss...
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Next time: I really didn't want to do this to you, people, but for the sake of completion... Shelley Winters and the big house are next.
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 9: The Greatest Mother of Them All

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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 9: The Greatest Mother of Them All
Original Airdate: October 5, 1966
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Henry Slesar
Special Guest Villainess: Shelley Winters as Ma Parker
Let's be honest: there's probably one one reason most of you would be willing to watch this pair of episodes, and that reason happens to be in the second half. But, for coherency's sake (damn you, OCD), I've got no choice but to recap the whole damn thing. So here we go...

Well, at least the episode's got the courage to tell subtlety to fuck off right at the beginning. Our villainess kicks things off by robbing Gotham's Mother of the Year awards ceremony, and I have to say - the whole white-trash gimmick is a lot more charming than I thought it would be (granted, I'm the kind of nerd who unironically loves Max Allan Collins' Ma Gunn). We'll see how long it lasts.

Ma Parker is the proud mother of three boys and a girl, and like any good parent, she's a big ol' hypocrite. "Girls don't belong in crime", indeed...

Batfact: Ma Parker and her crew might be the villains on the show who aren't native to Gotham. According to Gordon and O'Hara, they've spent most of their career terrorizing every city in the USA except Gotham, which leads to a pretty funny joke where Chief O'Hara guesses at why. No, Chief, it's not the GCPD. You get one more try.

Meanwhile, Bruce and Aunt Harriet are tormenting Dick (okay, that came out kinda wrong) with Greek lessons, but the Boy Wonder is quickly saved by a call from the Batphone and a nudge from Alfred. To the Batpoles, boys!

Look, Commish, you can shill her all you want, but there ain't no way now how I'm believing that some old lady from out of nowhere will somehow be a tougher opponent than the freaking Joker. And look, see - the cops have got them caught already!

Adam West tries his hand at a Bond one-liner: "Let's help an old lady across the street... and into the penitentiary!" Hey, I said try, not succeed.

That said, I'm liking the Parker family more and more. Their dynamic, if not that original, is at least different from the average supervillain gang on this show. And hell, Ma gets extra points for being one of the few villains to not be shy about gunplay. Even if she and her boys are supposed to be the worst shots in the country.

(Also, why do all the guns in this scene sound like something out of Star Trek?)

B&R break into the Parkers' hideout, and we get the standard Bat-fight... only with country-fied music. It's awesome.

My word is Shelley Winters pouring it on thick. It was cute at first, but now it's just grating. And it's all a diversion anyways, to let her toss a smoke-bomb hairpin that lets her and her boys (sans one) get away.

... seriously, Batman? A zillion supervillains to call back to to make your point, and you pick the freaking Archer?

Ma Parker likes to rob places where there are rich people? You don't fucking say, World's Greatest Detective. If I didn't know better, I'd almost guess that Batman's "We're off to the movies!" is meant to be advertising for the theatrical movie.

The Woman in Red, eh? I hereby claim that as the title for my first mov... oh what the hell do you mean it's taken already?

Ma Parker and her boys get away again, but "accidentally" leave another one of the gang behind. I know I should hate these guys because I usually hate all loud, in-your-face characters, but they're just so damn cheerful.

(Also, were Lock Your Car bumper stickers really a thing back in the 1960s? Anyone?)

Over at a drugstore, where the pattern repeats itself and Ma's crew is now down to just her girl Legs. Man, this time they didn't even bother giving our two lethal ladies a believable getaway. But we do get this lovely exchange when B&R discuss Ma's daughter:

"Her legs sort of reminded me of Catwoman's."

"You're growing up, Robin. Remember: in crimefighting, always keep your sights... raised."

So, let's cut to the chase: Ma's long-term hideout is at the Old Folks Home, where she poses as an invalid while Legs acts as her nurse. The Dynamic Duo pop on over, and Ma whips out one of the most awesome gadgets I've seen on this show: a rocket-powered wheelchair. Holy Wernher von Braun indeed, Robin.

... oooh. That's gotta smart.

So congrats, Batman and Robin. You managed to catch a woman old enough to be your grandmother because she rammed her own wheelchair into a wall. Aren't you just so proud of yourselves?

Conclusion: another case snappily wraps itself up at the State Pen, and my word that 35-23-34 stitched right over Legs' chest can't be a coincidence. Bucha pervs in costume design.

Only half the Pen is filled with crooks that B&R have nabbed? Methinks you're downplaying those numbers a bit, Warden.

So Batman and Robin leave, and... what a twist! Turns out that Ma's been slowly slipping members of her gang into the Pen as guards, so now the whole joint is under her control. I dearly hope they weren't all her kids, since prisons usually have guards numbering into the dozens or the hundreds, and... well, you know what they say about children and cigars...

And what's this? An actually suspenseful cliffhanger? No cheesy deathtrap today, folks - just one of Ma's goons slipping a bomb in the Batmobile that will go off as soon as the car hits 60 mph. Will the Dynamic Duo survive? Oh, let us hope so...

I was honestly surprised by how much I liked this episode; while Ma Parker would probably be grating as a recurring villainess, she and her family are loads of fun for a bunch of one-time foes, even with all the weaker and slower spots in the story. It almost makes up for the fact that Catwoman's "appearance" in this episode is limited to a single mention...

But hey, Tisha Sterling as Legs Parker made up for it, right? Right?

Omega's Rating:

8 Country-Rolled Cigars.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"All right, boys, let's relieve these ladies of a few extra POUNDS!"
"All right, boys, let's relieve these ladies of a few extra POUNDS!"
Legs 01.jpg (155.1 KiB) Viewed 25696 times
Next time: All right, no more beating around the bush. Catwoman (along with more of the Parker family) coming up next!
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 10: Ma Parker
Original Airdate: October 6, 1966
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Henry Slesar
Special Guest Villainesses: Shelley Winters as Ma Parker and Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Totally pointless observation: I think this is the first pair of episodes without rhyming titles. No wonder so many people are peeved at 'em.

Anyways, how do our Dynamic Duo manage to foil Ma Parker's car bomb? They don't. Gotham's speed limits do. Thanks a lot, Ralph Nader.

Loud and obnoxious as she might be, I do have a healthy appreciation for how Ma sees every crook as her children, to the point of declaring every night at the Pen to be steak-and-potato night. That said, points off for the truly groanworthy "Pen is mightier than the sword" pun.

Meanwhile, B&R finally smell bullshit, and run back to the Pen to see if everything's all right. I have to say, I don't get why the warden is playing along with the cons'... con; does he have that little faith in Batman and Robin?

Anyway, our heroes get taken in by the facade, and leave without much incident. Which means it's time for Ma to call together all the other prisoners. Including...

Yes, ladies and germs. You've (probably) read it in the episode summaries, now see her for yourself. The one, the only, Catwoman! And no prison stripes for her (as cool as that might've been to see) - an arch villainess like her would be nothing without her catsuit.

(I have no idea how they got Newmar into this without even a token mention in the credits; prevailing theory seems to be that she was just standing around after shooting one of the Catwoman episodes, so they got a couple extra seconds out of her. Newmar herself has no memory of this episode.)

Huh. Seems like the Penguin and the Joker have gotten their rears tossed in Solitary, possibly due to their little adventure at the United World Organization. Does this mean, though, that Newmar!Catwoman and Meriwether!Catwoman are, in fact, two different people? Must investigate further.

(Also, Catwoman seems weirdly content to play second fiddle to the Parker family. Eh, maybe they've just doped her to the gills.)

"Long live Batman and Robin!" Okay, being able to shout that without irony cements your supervillain plan a gold star in my book.

Meanwhile, our heroes are pondering that most ominous of superhero tropes: the collar that went down too easy. And their fears are soon confirmed when the Parkers skip right out to rob an armored car, then get away by tossing part of the loot at the crowds watching. I love the classics.

... well, that was just plain pathetic. You're not even going to try following them down that Convenient Sewer Grate? The hell kinda superheroes are you guys?

But good news: the warden's finally grown a spine and tells Batman about the hostile takeover the first chance he gets. B&R drive down to the penitentiary, and in one of the most painfully failed jokes I've seen in this show so far, Batman talks one of the guards out of shooting him by telling him that it's only 48 more years until his next parole. Sorry, that doesn't really work for me as anything but the laziest of deus ex machinas.

And it doesn't do them any good, anyways, since they're immediately nabbed by the other guards. Boy, the Dynamic Duo is just all kinds of fail in this episode. At least Ma has the courtesy to feed them before sticking them in the deathtrap du jour.

... okay, the deathtrap is recycled straight out of "The Joker Goes to School"/"He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul", but you can't tell me it doesn't make more sense in a prison setting. Hell, maybe the Pen kept it in the impound until its "liberation" by the Parkers. Anyways, it's set to go off at midnight (fifteen minutes away), and Ma leaves Legs behind to guard our heroes. Yeah, I think you can all see where this is going...

What? No, Batman does not smooch her to the side of the angels. This is still a family show, people.

Okay, Batman rewiring the electric chair to send a signal to Alfred just kicks all kinds of ass. Come midnight, and... Alfred's apparently ordered the Gotham Power Company to shut off all electricity in the city. Wait, Wayne Manor has that kind of power? Good God, man!

Even more kickass: Batman and Robin springing their bonds in a split-second after the lights go out, with Bruce even taunting Ma Parker by holding up a match so she can see. Now that's just something straight out of Denny O'Neil, and I love it.

A disappointingly short fight scene follows, though I like how no one gives a shit about how Legs just runs away. And kudos to the writers, I guess, for subverting the whole "no power = every cell door opens" cliche.

Epilogue: the Parkers have been put on ice, and everything's gone back to normal. One last yawnworthy gag where it turns out that Ma's children ordered some flowers for her. Bleh.

All in all, it's a letdown compared to the first half, with Catwoman and the electric chair scene being virtually the only highlights. The Parker family was a lot more grating this time around, and I'm not particularly sorry that we won't ever be seeing them again.

Omega's Rating:

6 Purrloined Prizes.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Meeeeeeoowwwwww..."
"Meeeeeeoowwwwww..."
Catwoman 06.jpg (154.38 KiB) Viewed 25662 times
Next time: Okay, no more putzing around. Be prepared for a long, unbroken streak of Julie Newmar front and center from here on out, beginning with a story that showcases one of the horrible deathtraps on the show. 'til next time, Cat-fans!
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 29: The Cat's Meow

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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 29: The Cat's Meow
Original Airdate: December 14, 1966
Director: James B. Clark
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Morning at KGC-TV, and Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are already boring everyone on national television with more tales of their do-goodery. Their host excuses himself for a minute to shill for an umbrella company, and while this would ordinarily indicate the start to a Penguin caper, it seems that Catwoman's been expanding her m.o. lately...

Ah, with that voice-stealing thingamajig, our feline fatale finally makes the leap into the Joker's mad science. And just to cover all her bases, she's using Riddler-style riddles, too. This look like a job for Batman and Robin!

(I love how their only excuse is "Commissioner Gordon watches this show every morning". They're not even trying to justify bringing in B&R on every little mishap anymore.)

They make your jobs easier, huh? Then, pray tell, why isn't the taxpayers' money going to them, instead of you, Commish? Chief?

Y'know, what I was really surprised by was that Catwoman starts out this episode on parole. This is a setup stereotypical of the Penguin, but I don't think we've ever seen it with Newmar before; makes me kinda wonder if this wasn't meant to be a Penguin script after all. Anyways, the "reformed" Catwoman leads a band, which is a pretty blatant riff on Josie and the Pussycats, but hey - seeing her onstage in that skintight black alone would probably fill a stadium of 10,000.

(Note how her bandmates Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Moe are already dressed in the sterotypical henchmen getup. I can't decide whether that's idiotic or brilliant.)

The Chief, in a rare moment of insight, suggests that Catwoman might be behind the stolen voice. Unfortunately, the Commish's manhood overrules his nonexistent brains.

"And there is a reformed woman!" Is that what they're calling it now?

Catwoman might've been slapped with a 7.5-year sentence on her last outing, but if anything, she's acting even younger now. Granted, if I had the chance to put a swing in my supervillain hideout, I think I'd do it too.

Oh, and another historical note: this is the first time Catwoman's gotten herself a proper moll like all the big, bad male villains have. Eenie is a perfect no-nonsense foil to her boss, and no power on Earth will not convince me that they do not have hot sex every night. Just those tight gold pants... yowza.

"Sometimes I think you left your brain in San Francisco." Followed by an ice-cold smoldering gaze. I rest my case.

Anyhoo, Catwoman's target this time is a certain internationally renowned British pop sensation that couldn't be more '60s if they tried. I speak, of course, of the hit duo Chad and Jeremy. What, were you expecting some other group?

Catwoman gets C&J's planned residence (Stately Wayne Manor) out of Commissioner Gordon easy-peasy, and then steals his voice too just because. Oh, and she's got her own yarn ball hung up in her hideout - really, I'm impressed that it took Ross three arcs before he caved to that trope.

Now all Catwoman has to do is con her way into Wayne Manor. And she does it in the most insane way possible: an instant sweepstakes consisting of the riddle, "Who painted Whistler's Mother?" Dick gets press-ganged into answering it by Bruce, and gets himself a set of free dance lessons from Julie Newmar, which is, I admit, a fair prize.

Batfact: Wayne Manor has 14 bathrooms and 18 bedrooms. I assume that cleaning them gives Mr. Wayne tax deductions.

Oop, how inconvenient - turns out that Catwoman's allergic to dogwood. Given the face-recognizing prowess of the average good guy, I'm impressed that Dick could tell it was her without needing the cat ears.

(And Aunt Harriet passes out the moment she realizes that Catwoman's invaded the house. Julie, ILU.)

But since we're still in part one of the arc, Catwoman gets away without a hitch. Fast-forward to Gotham City Airport, where C&J are busy milking their biggest commercial for all it's worth. And so entranced are their fans that no-one even notices Catwoman and her gang. Well, except for the cop guarding the place, and he actually calls Catwoman a "responsible citizen"(!).

Oh, and that moment was entirely pointless, since Catwoman decides that there're too many cops there to be worth it, and skedaddles. Yaaay.

C&J's arrival at Wayne Manor has surprisingly little fuss to it (Bruce and Dick don't even come to greet them), but it does lead to what is probably the best joke in this episode:

"All right, Chad. You start smashing the cushions, and I'll go deal with the crockery in the kitchen."

Sure, it's ripped off from J.R.R. Tolkien, but there're plenty worse to steal from, and anything that looks like it's going to give Aunt Harriet a heart attack is fine by me. The whole exchange afterward about what they're really like is kinda eh, but I can deal with it.

Over to Catwoman's hideout, wherehominahominahominahomina... okay, Ross gets ten gold stars just for putting a scene of Catwoman air cycling in this episode. No, it's not relevant to the plot, but... just look at it!

Catwoman gets all lovey-dovey over Batman again, while Eenie rightfully points out that every cop in Gotham now knows her "reformation" is phony and Batman's probably charging their hideout right now. And sure as shootin', B&R have dropped by the Duncan Dance Studio for some investigatin'.

The inevitable fight scene is, quite frankly, not that exciting. The main highlights are Catwoman discussing whether she should fix Robin up with Eenie (thus leaving Batman to herself) and the very end, where the receptionist tries to crawl away and Batman silently orders him to lie on the pile with all the other unconscious thugs. And he obeys.

Now Catwoman's up the creek without a paddle... but not without her instant paralysis makeup. Moral of the story (according to Robin): never trust a woman.

My God, West lecturing Robin on his Bat-misogyny is one of the highlights of the series. Guy sounds like he's putting effort into acting half-conscious, too.

And here we are at the Two-Ton Echo Chamber. Don't let Catwoman's adorableness during this scene fool you; as far as I'm concerned, this is the most evil thing she's done on this show, or, indeed, in any other form of media. Here's how it works: the echo chamber will force Batman and Robin to hear any nearby sound multiplied ten million times, and Catwoman's set up a slowly dripping faucet just for that purpose. Her endgame: lobotomize the Dynamic Duo so she can keep Batman as a sex slave (and leave Robin for her henchgirl).

...

...

...

WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU WHEN THIS SCRIPT GOT GREENLIT, CENSORS?!?

This episode had a ton of strong moments, but overall... it somehow feels like less than the sum of its parts. Catwoman's new childish attitude isn't something I particularly care for, and the spotlight on Chad and Jeremy, I'm incredibly apathetic about. Still, anything with Newmar in that skintight black is worth at least one watch.

Omega's Rating:

7 Purrloined Prizes.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Why don't you steal Batman's voice, while you're at it?"
"Why don't you steal Batman's voice, while you're at it?"
Catwoman 07.jpg (163.57 KiB) Viewed 25615 times
Next time: HOW will our Dynamic Duo escape? WHAT does Catwoman have up her sleeve? AND will Chad and Jeremy EVER knock that other British pop group off their throne? Stay tuned, ladies and germs!
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 30: The Bat's Kow Tow

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 30: The Bat's Kow Tow
Original Airdate: December 15, 1966
Director: James B. Clark
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Welp, it looks like Mr. Desmond Doomsday isn't going to bother with the step-by-step recap anymore. Can't say I'm too broken up about that.

So it seems that among his ten million other talents, Batman is also a singer capable of producing an "F-sharp above High C", whatever the hell that is. It gets them out of that echo chamber handily enough, though, so who's complaining?

Oh, and it seems that the receptionist for Catwoman's phony dance studio was dumb enough to stick around. You deserve everything you get, mate.

We finally get Catwoman's endgame: crash the policemen's ball, where Chad and Jeremy are performing, and steal the British heartthrobs' voices. Wait, how the hell does that place have less policemen than the airport did?

Hoo. It looks like there're almost thirty people there to see Her Majesty's pop sensations. That said, I suppose the song they play - a real song, by the by - isn't too hard on the ears. But sadly, they're soon upstaged by Catwoman and the Kittens and oh my Lord those sunglasses could not be more sixties if they tried. Okay, so they're supposedly night-vision goggles, but still.

So, yeah. Catwoman's pilfered C&J's voices, and Batman and Robin arrive too late to stop them. Eenie puts out the lights, too, forcing our heroes to stay behind to calm down that crowd of "5000 teenagers" (really?). Adam West's cheery "hi, kids!" is kind of out-of-character even for this take on Batman, but what the hell - it's funny so I'll okay it.

Cut to next morning, where we learn that millions of teenagers around the globe are in mourning. But on the plus side, millions of parents are delighted. And sit down, Robin. You're about as much a typical red-blooded American teenager as Colonel Klink.

I gotta hand it to Catwoman - she's got a lot of guts just strolling onto national TV into the same room as Batman and Robin to deliver her ransom demand. And those never-before-seen sonic guns seem pretty nasty, too.

"Eight million pounds of what? Chicken feed?" Bitch, you're lucky Catwoman only fired on that wine bottle instead of you.

(BTW, eight million British Pounds in 1967 money translates to $22,400,000 in Yankee green, which translates to $156,693,517.98 in 2014 money. Jesus. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just groom a new pop sensation duo?)

Catwoman takes out her box (not like that) to prove that she's got C&J's voices, and continues to give negative fucks about holding up all of England. According to her, Chad and Jeremy alone pay so many income taxes that loss of revenue from them could collapse the entire British economy, and thus the world's. This is absolutely insane with no grounding in reality. I love it.

Oh, and Catwoman keeps sneezing powder bombs on her, just because. I love that too.

Nice bit of continuity here - the chap running the British Consulate is the same British ambassador we saw at the United World Organization in the movie (he finally gets a name: Lord Sterling). And of course, Her Majesty's government refuses to pay the ransom. Note the subtle commentary on how those old white dudes running Parliament probably hate C&J on principle anyways.

Heh. Dozens of these reviews and I've finally hit my first window cameo (there were really fewer of these things on the show than most people remember - 14 out of a total 120 episodes). ... I have no fucking clue who this Donald Ho guy is. Can anyone help?

'tis a sad, sad day for any police department when just knowing to turn on the recorder when a known felon phones you is enough to qualify you as Chief. Why couldn't Catwoman have stolen O'Hara's voice, too?

After a short, nonsensical conversation on why stealing everyone's voices would doom the world (how the hell would Catwoman even pull that off?), B&R discover Catwoman's latest hidey-hole through some more non-detective work: Mr. Oceanbring's salon for men. Man, Catwoman sure picks some cozy spots for her goons.

... so the antidote to the voice-stealing ray is apparently a perfume comprised of sweet basil, garlic salt, and goat's milk. Where the hell did you find this recipe, Storybrooke?

(Nice use of continuity, though - remembering that Batman saved your life once goes a long way.)

"We could make such beautiful music together." I'd be surprised, but after last episode's cliffhanger, this is child's play.

Fight scene, and... Jesus, Robin's a sadistic little twerp. Shoving a dude's head into a heated hair dryer is not something the courts look kindly upon. Oh, and check out that guy who keeps trying to save all the antiques. You were just setting yourself up for failure, dude.

We've still got a little time before the episode's up, which means a nice little part where Batman tries to take Catwoman solo. Catwoman gets the drop on our hero, but is sadly betrayed by her Womanly Feelings (TM) and gives herself up instead of killing him. And now you know why Joker, Riddler, and Penguin never invite her to their luncheons.

... Robin, you little shit. The first Bat/Cat kiss we could've gotten on TV, and you ruined it. Ah, well. At least Catwoman's got her sentence pared down to "several years".

Epilogue: Chad & Jeremy are performing their latest hit, Alfred looks like he's two seconds away from vomiting, yadda yadda yadda. Oh, and Commish Gordon has grandkids. Who knew?

Wait... wait...

*checks credits*

Judy "Dyna-Girl" Strangis was one of those screaming teenagers? Holy crap. I did NOT see that coming.

Well, Ms. Strangis' presence aside, this episode was about the same as the first part. Chad and Jeremy's music is largely inoffensive, and there are a lot of funny little bits, but I don't really like Ross pushing the Bat/Cat romance that blatantly, especially not when it robs Catwoman of her villain cred. The fight scenes were satisfactory, though, as were what few political in-jokes we got. And, of course, Newmar continues to steal every damn scene she's in.

Omega's Rating:

7 Purrloined Prizes.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Beg! Beg for your mortal existence."
"Beg! Beg for your mortal existence."
Catwoman 08.jpg (127.4 KiB) Viewed 25551 times
Next time: our Dynamic Duo contends with not only Catwoman, but the devilish duke of sleep known as... the Sandman! (No, not the Neil Gaiman version, as much as I would've loved to see that.) Stay tuned!
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Visitor »

Don Ho was a famous Hawaiian singer back in the 1960s and 1970s. He appeared on Charlie's Angels back when they were doing an episode in Hawaii.

Sam Strangis was production manager on several episodes, his sister, Judy, appeared twice, but this is the only one where she got credit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Strangis
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 33: The Sandman Cometh

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 33: The Sandman Cometh
Original Airdate: December 28, 1966
Director: george waGGner
Writers: Elliot St. Joseph and Charles Hoffman
Special Guest Villains: Michael Rennie as the Sandman and Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
As I mentioned last time, this episode doesn't really have a patch on Neil Gaiman, but if the stories behind its original script are true, it might very well still be the most fascinating and most highbrow thing ever put into Batman. Perhaps it was inevitable that the higher-ups would dumb the story town - who, after all, would expect their 1966 Bat-afternoon to turn into a tribute to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? - but I shake my head nonetheless.

(Hey, if Tim Burton could turn his Batman stories into loving tributes to German expressionism...)

Well, I see we're not wasting any time on preludes (and nocturnes) here: we begin with Catwoman and the Sandman already teamed up, Catwoman's record having been "clean for months". Oh, and what's this? Catwoman's got a whole harem of hot girls to do her dirty deeds now? Writers, you spoil us.

Holy plot twists, Batman! No, not the fact that our two arch-criminals are looking to turn on each other. The fact that one of Catwoman's gang was an undercover cop all along! Mark one up for Gordon and O'Hara for being so proactive, but mark one down for not training her to wait until she's outside Catwoman's hideout before using the phone.

(The thing that tips Catwoman off is pure '66: "Fresh catnip? At this time of night?")

I ask you, where else can you get a Batman who's not guaranteed to operate at night? Sadly, it seems that Bruce and Dick are camping out in the outskirts of Gotham... but never mind that, one quick flash of the Bat-Signal has them... still sticking around in the wilderness, because they've dragged a bunch of other stupid kids with them. Feh.

Morning in Gotham City, and Sandman's planted Catwoman in one of Morpheus Mattress's test beds for... reasons. Then one of his guys kidnaps her for... other reasons. The important thing is that B&R are back in town, and they waste no time in getting on the case.

... but they're too late anyhow. Seems that our "Sleeping Beauty" has "escaped", and she's busy crowing to every TV station about how awesome that mattress was. Using Julie Newmar in lingerie to sell your supervillain plan? I'd buy that.

But... "Your disguise was perfect"? Dude, Gordon and O'Hara saw through it.

Newmar shows off some more of that awesome, awesome body as she reels in this episode's mark: J. Pauline Spaghetti (an obvious parody of 1960s oil magnate J. Paul Getty). One phone call later, and she and Sandman are ahead a hundred grand. Now all they have to worry about is the Dumdum Duo...

"What would Sandman be after?" His helm? The Dreamstone? Nada's soul? Okay, I'll stop now. Promise.

Damn, Robin's got a pretty gruesome imagination. All Batman did was ask you to name some famous insomniacs, kid.

Oh my Lord the Batcomputer actually starts spitting out spaghetti instead of giving B&R a straight answer. You can practically feel the sass radiating off that thing.

Anyhoo, Sandman... er, "Dr. Somnambula" waltzes right into Ms. Spaghetti's penthouse, and promptly douses her with his insta-sleep-sand stethoscope (fun fact: it was originally going to be a cigar). And while she's under, he can make her give up all her deepest secrets! Le gasp!

This entire scene is pretty fun to watch: "Go to Sleep" playing while Michael Rennie is just making all these "It can't be this easy" faces. But all good things come to an end, and his henchmen run up to warn him that B&R are onto him. Good thing that stethoscope doubles as a camera.

B&R break in, but it sadly looks like we'll be getting no fight scene; Sandman's ordered his henchmen to hit the road, and Ms. Spaghetti is too smitten with him to press charges (especially since he left all her other valuables alone and only took pictures of her documents).

Oop - silly me, I spoke too soon. Springing out of a Murphy bed is a badass way to ambush the Dynamic Duo, and the Sandman's theme means that it's also part-pillow fight. You may or may not like all the feathers floating around the set as everyone whales on everyone else, but I find it a nice change of decor.

Inevitably, the Dynamic Duo get taken out by Sandman's gang, and while Sandman plans to hand a brainwashed Robin over to Catwoman (uh... why? She's never had the hots for the kid), Batman gets strapped to a giant quilting machine. Oh, the horrors! But keep watching, folks - the worst is yet to come!

So... this episode was overall inoffensive enough, but it doesn't hide its seams very well; Catwoman largely vanishes after the midway point, and she's clearly secondary to Sandman's plot. Still, the combination of Julie Newmar and Michael Rennie('s pimptastic fur coat) will probably guarantee that most of you won't be bored. And what the hell, the fight scene gets two thumbs up from me.

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Brrrrrrrring...
Brrrrrrrring...
Catwoman 09.jpg (141.9 KiB) Viewed 25457 times
Next time: More fun with the Larcenous Lord of Dreams and the Ferocious Feline Felon (but sadly, not Abel or Cain or the other Endless). Be there!
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 34: The Catwoman Goeth

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 34: The Catwoman Goeth
Original Airdate: December 29, 1966
Director: george waGGner
Writers: Elliot St. Joseph and Charles Hoffman
Special Guest Villains: Michael Rennie as the Sandman and Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
"For you, of course, some time has passed. For the Caped Crusader, mere seconds." The pray tell, Mr. Narrator, why does the quilting machine keep going back to the first stitch every time it cuts back to Batman?

All told, I don't think I've ever felt this ambivalent about a deathtrap escape. On the one hand, the fact that the machine itself undoes Batman's restraints without Bruce needing to lift a finger is pretty pathetic, but on the other, I do like the genuine effort on Adam West's face as he struggles to complete the escape.

Over to the Cat-Lair, where... geez, that cold, monotone "He's dead" might be the most chilling acting that Burt Ward has ever done on this show. Anyways, Catwoman has her henchgirls drag him off for his execution. Sweet lady.

"For such a highly respected criminal, there's something insidiously untrustworthy about Sandman." Uh, Catwoman, I'm pretty sure the latter is what results in the former.

Robin faces the same fate that the undercover policewoman in Catwoman's gang (remember her?) did: an Amazing Maze that might take him a year to weave through. And Catwoman sinks to a new low when she immediately whips out a gun (filled with catasonic acid, natch) to make him go inside.

I know next to nothing about Dr. Caligari, and even I know this is a perfect chance to pay tribute to it... mercilessly wasted by waGGner's unimaginative direction. Yes, it seems that the guy's creativity begins and ends at his name.

Batman would actually rather brave the Gotham Subway than let Gordon send him a squad car (apparently, Sandman's stolen the Batmobile). Whotta guy.

(Note: in the original script, we actually got to see him on the subway. He even gives up his seat to a "Negro lady"(!), which in and of itself was probably enough to get that part axed.)

Bat-Walked up the road? What the hell does that mean? And I hope nobody saw you, Bruce.

Future supervillains take note: stealing the Batmobile and not dumping it at the first opportunity is about the worst move you can make, because even Adam West Batman's got the thing loaded with tracking devices.

The missing Batmobile means that to get to Sandman's hideout, Batman must resort to his trusty servant's vehicle: the Alf-Cycle. This is what you get for not buying him an Alfmobile when you had the chance, Bruce.

... well, this is a legitimately interesting moment. "Batman gets a parking ticket" sounds like a pre-made punchline, but the fact that one of the cops is old and experienced enough to keep letting him off the hook (while the other guy is so new he doesn't even know who Robin is!) feels pretty prescient of The Dark Knight Returns. Or maybe that's just me having my comic geek hat on too tight.

Okay, Robin, I know the walls are electrified and everything, but have you taken a single step anywhere since we last saw you?

Wraparound footage aside, the moment where Robin finds Policewoman Mooney is a great touch, with both actors conveying their desperation as well as they can. I can easily buy than eight-year-olds back in 1966 would've believed that there is such a thing as a maze that only becomes inescapable if you make it to the center. And hell, Catwoman just sadistically lounging there (even opening up a window to taunt them) is the cherry on top.

Goddammit, O'Hara. You and your men had one job. Keep Ms. Spaghetti safe. Was that too much to ask?

Well, the good thing about these supervillain team-ups is that they inevitably supply their own downfalls. Case in point: Sandman ratting Catwoman out to Commissioner Gordon as soon as he's got his billions.

Oh my Lord is the Commish acting like an actual cop now? Well, this is a welcome surprise... and I truly doubt it could've come from anyone else but St. Joseph. It won't last, of course, so let us enjoy it while we can.

Alright, here's the deal: Sandman's sold out Catwoman and is eloping with Ms. Spaghetti (and all her oodles o' cash). So with Robin who-knows-where, Batman has to enlist Catwoman's help to stop him. Jeez, first she can't bring herself to kill him, and now this? I predict that by her next appearance she'll be donning a cape and beating up the Joker without Batman even asking her to.

Holy crap, I think this is the first time Adam West's actually managed anger on-screen. And Catwoman's just oozing evil with every word. Forget what I said last paragraph - this is Catwoman at her vilest. Even all of Batman's manly charms can't convince her to do much besides lead him down to the maze so he can find Robin (and Policewoman Mooney) herself.

Okay, this is getting way too rushed. I appreciate the newfound badassery for Gordon and O'Hara here, but it's a pretty transparent way to get Catwoman out of the plot as quickly as possible so we can get back to the real villain. We don't even see Batman enter the maze before Robin gets rescued, so I'm assuming that Batman applied the right-hand solution.

More recycled footage of the Batboat (coming to stores soon, kids!), and we're off to Spaghetti Island, home to the funniest joke in this episode by a mile. I don't know if it was St. Joseph or Hoffman who came up with this, but Ms. Spaghetti showing her soon-to-be husband how her four(!) previous husbands had all died in "accidents" at her first noodle factory is top-notch black comedy (and if I got my dates right, she probably didn't bother to turn off the machines after the human bodies fell in - let's just say that Sinclair's The Jungle was very, very much based on a true story). The "am-I-marrying-a-psychopath" faces that Michael Rennie makes here are glorious, especially when he realizes she's already got a fifth plaque laid out for him.

Of course, B&R pop up faster than you can say "I do", and we've got our fight scene du jour. I know I should be complaining about how the "spaghetti" at the factory look more like car wash curtains, but the rest of the fight is creative enough to make up for it, and Ms. Spaghetti gets extra points for so politely holding Sandman's coat for him.

And wouldn't ya know it - turns out that manly, intense violence is what rocks Ms. Spaghetti to sleep! Always the last thing you think of...

Epilogue: Aunt Harriet plans to build a hedge maze, and Bruce and Dick gently talk her out of it on a... passable joke. The end.

This was another one of Season 2's pleasant little surprises, and despite its often-rushed pacing, it's got a lot of unconventional (and delightful) elements that make me wish St. Joseph had stayed on the show past one story. True, Catwoman still has no real business being in this story, but I can't quite bring myself to care.

Omega's Rating:

8-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"This Catomizer contains deadly catasonic acid, Boy Wonder."
"This Catomizer contains deadly catasonic acid, Boy Wonder."
Catwoman 10.jpg (99.68 KiB) Viewed 25390 times
Next time: Catwoman's not done with the Boy Wonder yet. Not by a long shot. Be here tomorrow for the mother of all Bat-mind-control episodes, true believers!
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 40: That Darn Catwoman

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 40: That Darn Catwoman
Original Airdate: January 19, 1967
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Who the heck names a high school after arguably the most infamous traitor in U.S. history? And boy, it's a good thing that Robin isn't making his "support your police" speech to a college assembly, else they'd be using him as a punching bag by now.

Holy mood shift, Batman! I love how Catwoman just pops up the hell out of nowhere with a sidekick of her own (a rock singer, apparently) with her evil plan already in place. And holy crap I've never gotten a sense before of how massive Julie Newmar is. Seriously, Pussycat (Lesley Gore) barely comes up to her chin!

Fun fact: both Leslie Gore and Pussycat are supposed to be 20. Robin is young enough to still be in high school. Ergo, this seduction scene is just really, really creepy. But it's over pretty quickly - Pussycat scratches Robin with Catwoman's latest invention, cataphrenic, which turns anyone exposed to it evil. Holy Benedict Arnold!

Heh. It's not every day that Catwoman gives her goons a better hiding spot than she's got.

I originally meant to make a comment on how Catwoman of all people should be the least afraid of Chief O'Hara, but after their last encounter, I'd say she's justified. O'Hara's streak of (relative) competence even continues, as he immediately pegs Pussycat as the cause of Robin's attitude adjustment.

Over to Police Headquarters, where... "titian-haired wench"? Geez, there's no need for language like that, Batman.

And now over to Wayne Manor, where Aunt Harriet continues to be a nosy nogoodnik. Why aren't you allowed in Bruce's study? Frankly, I'm surprised you're allowed in his house. It does lead to another competent joke, though: "A masculine retreat... far from the threat of female encroachment."... right as Catwoman and her crew stroll right up to the place.

BTW, I imagine that Bat-fans back in January of 1967 shat a brick at the sight of Catwoman invading Wayne Manor like that. No doubt they'd have thought that the first thing Catwoman (being far smarter than her male peers) would do is get B&R's secret identities out of the brainwashed Robin.

Damn, Newmar's just in top villainess form as Robin ties up Alfred. I could watch that shot of her sitting down on that coffee table all day...

... no, wait, scratch that. Gimme that clip of her licking milk out of a saucer any day. That is begging for an out-of-context screencap.

So Catwoman's gang blow the wall safe open (and without getting a scratch on the actual safe, I see), and make off with a lot of loot - all "working capital", Catwoman assures us. Oh, and she plans to put Batman under with that fiendish drug, too. Egad!

Wait... what's the theme with Catwoman's gang this time? Marlow and Spade are some obvious references to P.I. fiction's biggest icons, but where does "Templar" fit in? And my, we're getting some big chunks of backstory for Pussycat. Wonder if Gore made them throw all that stuff about the "Milkshake-A-Go-Go" in...

"Either you're gonna be a singer, or you're gonna be an arch-criminal. You can't be both." I cannot even name the number of musicians from the U.S. alone who would prove you wrong, Catwoman.

Gore seems to have gotten a better deal of free advertising from the show than Chad & Jeremy ever did, performing her hit single "California Nights" in front of a clapping audience. Even Catwoman seems to give her (grudging approval).

Now, back to the plot: Catwoman still needs $800,000. And Batman.

(More useless Bat-trivia: Batman is apparently supposed to be the same height as Adam West (6'2").)

Catwoman has Commissioner Gordon ring up Batman, and delivers Standard Villain Threat #3: back off my latest crime spree or your [sidekick/girlfriend/puppy] dies. Batman strikes back by... expanding her vocabulary (if you know what I mean), and Catwoman quickly offers to make a deal with him.

Well, that's not something you see every day. Batman (and the Commish!) rightfully saying that Catwoman's offer is bullshit and hanging up. Sure, Batman's got a plan to rescue Robin anyhow, but still.

Over to the Cat-Lair (again) where Julie Newmar actually manages to put class into Catwoman eating a hot dog (it helps, of course, that she's using money as a napkin). We also get an inside look at how screwed-up Gotham City's legal code is: apparently, Catwoman's gonna get the same term whether she knocks over the Mint (her endgame, natch) or a hot dog stand. And for continuity freaks out there (hi): Catwoman's apparently been collared by Batman 12 times already, since she calls herself "a twelve-time loser".

Meanwhile, at the home of famed and miserly inventor Pat Pending... oh my God! Hanna-Barbera, you bunch of thieves!

Anyways, we suffer through a couple of lukewarm inventor jokes, before Catwoman strolls right in and steals the guy's dough. Now she's got all the money she needs to buy plans to the Mint! Oh, Batman, whyfore art thou?

This is getting surreal. Gordon and O'Hara solving a cryptic, nonsensical clue on their own? Next thing you know, Catwoman's gonna start keeping a pet dog. The clue in question refers to the Gedallian Embassy, where the prince of some obscure Middle Eastern country is getting weighed with fake money... for some reason.

(Is this a real thing they did back in the day? I've read too many pieces of fiction with this as a plot point to write it off as a coincidence.)

"Synchronize watches." "None of us have watches." It's a fifth-grade joke, but I smiled anyways.

Man, this solo-Batman fight scene is pretty lame compared to the one against Lord Ffogg's men in Season 3. Yes, you heard me - Season 3 did something better than Season 2 that doesn't involve Yvonne Craig.

The one-on-one between Batman and evil!Robin has a lot more highs, but also a lot more lows. I find it hard to believe that Batman hasn't at least roughed Robin up a little during training sessions, though. Seeing Robin break a chair over Bruce's head is pure gold, though.

Catwoman and her gang make a clean getaway in her Cat-illac, but Batman's hot on their tail! His destination: the Cat-Lair West, located in a wasteland shunned by God and mortal alike...

...

...

...

NEW GUERNSEY.

(And I just love all the come-right-in signs Catwoman's posted all over the place.)

Batman walks right in, and finds Robin tied to a chair. The optimistic fool thinks Robin was playing evil all along, which gives Catwoman's other goons all the time in the world to KO him with their cat-tle prods. And our poor Caped Crusader wakes up to one of Catwoman's more fiendish (but not really impressive-looking) deathtraps: a giant mousetrap!

Catwoman offers Batman one chance: join her or die. No points for guessing what Batman chooses.

And so, Robin begins slowly cutting the rope holding the mousetrap in place. WILL the Caped Crusader escape? Tune in tomorrow, folks... same Cat-Time... same Cat-Channel...!

Inna final analysis, it had its share of humor and drama, but I don't really feel this was one of Newmar or Stanley Ralph Ross's better shows. The idea behind Robin turning evil has a lot of potential that this episode just wasted without a second thought, and Pussycat, I feel, stole a bigger chunk of the spotlight than was warranted. Still, I can't bring myself to hate too much on any mind control-centric episode.

Omega's Rating:

7 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"So now he's just a pro-crime... as formerly he was anti!"
"So now he's just a pro-crime... as formerly he was anti!"
Catwoman 11.jpg (125.51 KiB) Viewed 25344 times
Next time: what miraculous Bat ex Machina will Batman use to restore Robin to his old, square self? Stay tuned!
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 40: That Darn Catwoman

Post by Dazzle1 »

Growing up that was one of my favorite episodes and it one that could easily be adapted to our genre, anyone for a threesome.

I think after 50 years Newmar is still does the best Catwoman she has the sex appeal that is missing from an Anne Hathaway or Halle Berry portrayal.
Omega Woman wrote:
Original Airdate: January 19, 1967
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Who the heck names a high school after arguably the most infamous traitor in U.S. history? And boy, it's a good thing that Robin isn't making his "support your police" speech to a college assembly, else they'd be using him as a punching bag by now.

Holy mood shift, Batman! I love how Catwoman just pops up the hell out of nowhere with a sidekick of her own (a rock singer, apparently) with her evil plan already in place. And holy crap I've never gotten a sense before of how massive Julie Newmar is. Seriously, Pussycat (Lesley Gore) barely comes up to her chin!

Fun fact: both Leslie Gore and Pussycat are supposed to be 20. Robin is young enough to still be in high school. Ergo, this seduction scene is just really, really creepy. But it's over pretty quickly - Pussycat scratches Robin with Catwoman's latest invention, cataphrenic, which turns anyone exposed to it evil. Holy Benedict Arnold!

Heh. It's not every day that Catwoman gives her goons a better hiding spot than she's got.

I originally meant to make a comment on how Catwoman of all people should be the least afraid of Chief O'Hara, but after their last encounter, I'd say she's justified. O'Hara's streak of (relative) competence even continues, as he immediately pegs Pussycat as the cause of Robin's attitude adjustment.

Over to Police Headquarters, where... "titian-haired wench"? Geez, there's no need for language like that, Batman.

And now over to Wayne Manor, where Aunt Harriet continues to be a nosy nogoodnik. Why aren't you allowed in Bruce's study? Frankly, I'm surprised you're allowed in his house. It does lead to another competent joke, though: "A masculine retreat... far from the threat of female encroachment."... right as Catwoman and her crew stroll right up to the place.

BTW, I imagine that Bat-fans back in January of 1967 shat a brick at the sight of Catwoman invading Wayne Manor like that. No doubt they'd have thought that the first thing Catwoman (being far smarter than her male peers) would do is get B&R's secret identities out of the brainwashed Robin.

Damn, Newmar's just in top villainess form as Robin ties up Alfred. I could watch that shot of her sitting down on that coffee table all day...

... no, wait, scratch that. Gimme that clip of her licking milk out of a saucer any day. That is begging for an out-of-context screencap.

So Catwoman's gang blow the wall safe open (and without getting a scratch on the actual safe, I see), and make off with a lot of loot - all "working capital", Catwoman assures us. Oh, and she plans to put Batman under with that fiendish drug, too. Egad!

Wait... what's the theme with Catwoman's gang this time? Marlow and Spade are some obvious references to P.I. fiction's biggest icons, but where does "Templar" fit in? And my, we're getting some big chunks of backstory for Pussycat. Wonder if Gore made them throw all that stuff about the "Milkshake-A-Go-Go" in...

"Either you're gonna be a singer, or you're gonna be an arch-criminal. You can't be both." I cannot even name the number of musicians from the U.S. alone who would prove you wrong, Catwoman.

Gore seems to have gotten a better deal of free advertising from the show than Chad & Jeremy ever did, performing her hit single "California Nights" in front of a clapping audience. Even Catwoman seems to give her (grudging approval).

Now, back to the plot: Catwoman still needs $800,000. And Batman.

(More useless Bat-trivia: Batman is apparently supposed to be the same height as Adam West (6'2").)

Catwoman has Commissioner Gordon ring up Batman, and delivers Standard Villain Threat #3: back off my latest crime spree or your [sidekick/girlfriend/puppy] dies. Batman strikes back by... expanding her vocabulary (if you know what I mean), and Catwoman quickly offers to make a deal with him.

Well, that's not something you see every day. Batman (and the Commish!) rightfully saying that Catwoman's offer is bullshit and hanging up. Sure, Batman's got a plan to rescue Robin anyhow, but still.

Over to the Cat-Lair (again) where Julie Newmar actually manages to put class into Catwoman eating a hot dog (it helps, of course, that she's using money as a napkin). We also get an inside look at how screwed-up Gotham City's legal code is: apparently, Catwoman's gonna get the same term whether she knocks over the Mint (her endgame, natch) or a hot dog stand. And for continuity freaks out there (hi): Catwoman's apparently been collared by Batman 12 times already, since she calls herself "a twelve-time loser".

Meanwhile, at the home of famed and miserly inventor Pat Pending... oh my God! Hanna-Barbera, you bunch of thieves!

Anyways, we suffer through a couple of lukewarm inventor jokes, before Catwoman strolls right in and steals the guy's dough. Now she's got all the money she needs to buy plans to the Mint! Oh, Batman, whyfore art thou?

This is getting surreal. Gordon and O'Hara solving a cryptic, nonsensical clue on their own? Next thing you know, Catwoman's gonna start keeping a pet dog. The clue in question refers to the Gedallian Embassy, where the prince of some obscure Middle Eastern country is getting weighed with fake money... for some reason.

(Is this a real thing they did back in the day? I've read too many pieces of fiction with this as a plot point to write it off as a coincidence.)

"Synchronize watches." "None of us have watches." It's a fifth-grade joke, but I smiled anyways.

Man, this solo-Batman fight scene is pretty lame compared to the one against Lord Ffogg's men in Season 3. Yes, you heard me - Season 3 did something better than Season 2 that doesn't involve Yvonne Craig.

The one-on-one between Batman and evil!Robin has a lot more highs, but also a lot more lows. I find it hard to believe that Batman hasn't at least roughed Robin up a little during training sessions, though. Seeing Robin break a chair over Bruce's head is pure gold, though.

Catwoman and her gang make a clean getaway in her Cat-illac, but Batman's hot on their tail! His destination: the Cat-Lair West, located in a wasteland shunned by God and mortal alike...

...

...

...

NEW GUERNSEY.

(And I just love all the come-right-in signs Catwoman's posted all over the place.)

Batman walks right in, and finds Robin tied to a chair. The optimistic fool thinks Robin was playing evil all along, which gives Catwoman's other goons all the time in the world to KO him with their cat-tle prods. And our poor Caped Crusader wakes up to one of Catwoman's more fiendish (but not really impressive-looking) deathtraps: a giant mousetrap!

Catwoman offers Batman one chance: join her or die. No points for guessing what Batman chooses.

And so, Robin begins slowly cutting the rope holding the mousetrap in place. WILL the Caped Crusader escape? Tune in tomorrow, folks... same Cat-Time... same Cat-Channel...!

Inna final analysis, it had its share of humor and drama, but I don't really feel this was one of Newmar or Stanley Ralph Ross's better shows. The idea behind Robin turning evil has a lot of potential that this episode just wasted without a second thought, and Pussycat, I feel, stole a bigger chunk of the spotlight than was warranted. Still, I can't bring myself to hate too much on any mind control-centric episode.

Omega's Rating:

7 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Catwoman 11.jpg
Next time: what miraculous Bat ex Machina will Batman use to restore Robin to his old, square self? Stay tuned!
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Visitor »

Templar is Simon Templar, the Saint, by Leslie Charteris. Played on television by Roger Moore. He robbed mostly from the crooks and sometimes helped the police. He earned a pardon for saving the King of England's life pre WW II.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Templar

One of my favorites was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_T ... The_Saint) where in the first story, the Saint faces The Inland Revenue. Much like the Joker in the comics, after a life of crime he has to pay taxes after getting legitimate income.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by tallyho »

Visitor wrote:Templar is Simon Templar, the Saint, by Leslie Charteris. Played on television by Roger Moore. He robbed mostly from the crooks and sometimes helped the police.
And Ian Ogilvy played him in a 70s revamp for a few seasons.
How strange are the ways of the gods ...........and how cruel.

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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Disciple »

Visitor wrote:Templar is Simon Templar, the Saint, by Leslie Charteris. Played on television by Roger Moore. He robbed mostly from the crooks and sometimes helped the police. He earned a pardon for saving the King of England's life pre WW II.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Templar

One of my favorites was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_T ... The_Saint) where in the first story, the Saint faces The Inland Revenue. Much like the Joker in the comics, after a life of crime he has to pay taxes after getting legitimate income.
Hum. Thanks for that. Looks like I've got something else to add to my "to read/watch" queue...
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 41: Scat! Darn Catwoman

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 41: Scat! Darn Catwoman
Original Airdate: January 25, 1967
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
I might have said this before, but here it is again: the most genuine tension you'll get out of the deathtraps on this show are usually found at the beginning of the "resolution" episodes, where the narration is at a minimum and there's no dialogue to remind you that this is all just play-acting. The best example of this (that I've seen so far) is at the beginning of "He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul", but failing that, this episode's beginning is pretty dramatic too.

... especially when Batman agrees to join Catwoman. At least his reason for it is selfless: his own life means nothing, but he doesn't want a murder rap hanging over Robin's head.

Holy attention to detail! Dedication to Bat-fans will realize, of course, that this shot of Catwoman straddling Batman was reproduced for the diorama in Mattel's '66 Catwoman figure. Now that's praiseworthy.

... okay, fucking really? You're not even trying to hide the deus ex machina solutions now? Catwoman's seconds away from poisoning Batman with her good-evil wonderdrug, and she just lets Batman put some strange, unidentified pill in his mouth?

Blargh. Okay, Adam West's "evil" act is even more hilarious than Burt Ward's, and the sight of Batman and Catwoman sitting side-by-side in the Batmobile is cute, but... still, really?

I was expecting a slightly more dramatic reaction from the cops upon learning that Batman's gone evil, but this is good enough. And what the hey, the police are usually a lot more effective when they have to fight against Batman. The Commish puts out a Dead or Alive bulletin on Catwoman, Batman, Robin, and Pussycat, and... what, so Spade, Marlow, and Templar are just chopped liver?

We move on to another my favorite touches: the Old Criminal's Home, where the retired gangsters of yesteryear dwell. Sure, Catwoman's just here to get the plans to the Mint, but the old guy's "back in my day" spiel is a dead classic, and I think it's a cute touch that everyone in there is too old to recognize either Batman or Catwoman.

Meanwhile, Gordon's getting the usual battery of Concerned Callers - the Mayor, the Governor, the President - before Someone (wink, wink) leaves an anonymous tip leading to Catwoman's hideout. We then cut back to some more free advertising for Lesley Gore, followed by Robin being a grabby little punk, followed by... aww, yeah. Gordon and O'Hara collaring the two of them solo.

(See what I mean about the sliding scale of police competence and Batman opposition?)

More great dialogue: "What's a Batcave?" Followed by Batman Bat-Sleep'ing Catwoman like a boss. Those of you who like bad girls getting the KO's, go nuts.

(And I suppose it's to Ross's credit that he doesn't let the "is Batman EVIL now?" farce go on longer than he could've let it...)

Over at Police HQ, it seems that Gordon and O'Hara are in a bit of a fix. They're in a family show, so they can't go Jack Bauer on Pussycat (much as Chief O'Hara wants to), but they can trace the Batphone's line. Man, these guys are on fire today.

But sadly, so is Batman. In a completely logical twist, it turns out that the GCPD weren't even the first ones to try tracing the Batphone, so the Batcave has diversionary lines just for the occasion. They lead the police right to... the home of Prof. Pat Pending. Bruce, you dick. All the non-logic that Gordon and O'Hara whip out to explain why he has to be Batman is glorious.

(Also, Catwoman now has the honor of entering the Batcave as well. And she shares her steamiest scene with Batman yet. Yay.)

Batman & Catwoman leave just in time for Alfred to find a convenient bottle of Bat-Pills on the desk, and with that plot thread wrapped up, we're off to the Mint. And geez, now Catwoman's getting cockblocked (pussyblocked?) by her own men. "Your timing's incredible!", indeed...

Silentmite, eh? Lamest. Explosion. Ever.

Now for the big non-reveal: Robin's cured, Batman was good all along, fight scene, yadda yadda yadda. And of course Catwoman gets away since we've still got a couple minutes to fill.

Sadly, since B&R are heroic again, Gordon and O'Hara have returned to their old incompetent selves. What, you couldn't even try to stop Catwoman from stealing the Batmobile?

Okay, so the Keystone Kops get in one more good scene: "Are you insured?" "Give him the keys, O'Hara!"

Batman's got a remote control for all the Batmobile's parts, because of course he does. And quit injecting your multiculturalism into our children's minds, Batman. Here in America, we speak American!

... all told, this is kind of pathetic for a climax, thought I do appreciate that Ross might've at least been trying to give us a more rousing finale than usual. And hey, we get a solid minute of footage of Julie Newmar running in that tight black catsuit out of it, so I'm game.

Eventually, inevitably, Batman corners Catwoman on the edge of the roof. It's a hundred feet down, and the only thing there is the West River. This leads to one of the all-time great Bat/Cat interactions in the series, conveniently collected in .gif form.

Batman concludes that Catwoman's not ready to reform, but tries to take her hand anyways. And wouldn't you know it - she just happens to slip and fall straight into the water.

West breaking out the Bat-Hankie is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. I love it.

Epilogue: geez, with all the reactions going 'round, I'm really suspecting that Ross meant for this to be the last (or at least the last-aired) Catwoman episode, but nothing I've found online corroborates that. Batman, Robin, Gordon, and O'Hara all give their best mix of pity, grief, and relief, though some a lot better than others.

And who knows? That big Cat-Lair up in the sky... might not be occupied forever.

The movie aside, I think it's safe to say that this two-parter was definitely the most ambitious of the Catwoman shows, though how much it succeeded is a matter of debate. The Robin-(and Batman)-turns-evil thing was a great hook, but not that original, and it wasn't explored as deeply as I would've liked. Catwoman's own plot was strangely convoluted, and felt a bit weak as well (she couldn't rob a couple of geriatric gangsters at the Old Criminal's Home), while Lesley Gore... well, it was a favor to her uncle, producer Howie Horwitz, so I suppose we can't bag on her inorganic presence too much. Neil Hamilton and Stafford Repp, however, exhibit some of their best acting here, as do West and Newmar. Worth at least one watch, I'd say.

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Just a little Bat-Sleep, Catwoman."
"Just a little Bat-Sleep, Catwoman."
Catwoman 12.jpg (158.85 KiB) Viewed 25211 times
Next time: the beginning of the end of Newmar's reign as Catwoman is at hand! And who better to deliver it than that eternal enemy of crime... college.
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 49: Catwoman Goes to College

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 49: Catwoman Goes to College
Original Airdate: February 22, 1967
Director: Robert Sparr
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
Man, after a long, hard week, getting my regular dose of Julie Newmar is like manna from Heaven. Sure, this is her big swan song from the show (sources continue to differ on why she left; some say obligations with other shows, others say that she was getting sick of Ross's scripts), but Catwoman still nails that presence from the very first scene in the State Pen. Just look at that stance.

(Catwoman's prisoner number: 39-24-37. Hmm...)

Yes, Catwoman getting paroled has been done already, but when you look at how many times the Penguin's "gone straight" on this show, her "reformation" looks downright original in comparison. Besides, at least Warden Crichton seems to have learned this time, and assigned her a parole officer: Millionaire Bruce Wayne!

All told, shacking up with a handsome zillionaire for life sounds like a pretty good incentive to stay reformed to me, but maybe that's why I'm not a supervillain. Catwoman actually seems pretty disinterested in Bruce, stating that her real aim is... going back to college.

Because heaven forbid that we get to see Catwoman sitting in (or teaching!) a class first, we skip right to the criming: three fortysomethings dressed as college students steal a statue of Batman from Gotham City University for... some reason. Also, one of them conveniently drops his beanie (did college students really wear those things back then)? This will be important later.

Man, even Commissioner Gordon thinks it's minor, but Batman and Robin are off to Police HQ like a shot as soon as they hear about it. Bruce, you little narcissist.

Semi-impressive work from the Commish: when asked, he immediately rattles off how many freshmen are attending GCU this year, and exactly how many of them wear that size beanie. Batman finds a single hair in the thing, so it's off to the Batcave for some detective work!

Meanwhile, Catwoman confirmed for best boss ever. Who the hell else would let her henchmen hang out in the basement of a sorority house?

Okay, we finally get an explanation for why her men stole the statue: apparently it's got a perfect replica of Batman's costume. And her goon Cornell can do pitch-perfect voice imitations. I think y'all can put two and two from there.

(Yes, Catwoman's men are all named after Ivy League colleges. It's a cute touch.)

Oop, looks like Catwoman's gotta get to class (lucky that necklace doubles as a watch) and... okay, the part where the disguised Cornell "arrests" Catwoman is perfect. Cheap and childish, but perfect. I also love how the three men actually seem to have a schedule for who gets to cut class.

The whole classroom scene had me in stitches the first time I saw it, and after a year or so, nothing's changed. Where do I start? The fact that Catwoman not only has her mask on but has her feet propped up like a Bad Girl (TM)? The fact that B&R deduce waaaay too many things about the perpetrator from a single hair? Or the fact that Penn shrinks in his seat with every (completely accurate) deduction they make?

Our heroes, to their credit, immediately try to jump Penn when he runs away. Sadly, Catwoman's remote-control Cat-Radio sets off the bell, so they're blocked by a human tidal wave of leaving students. C'est la vie.

(And that shit-eating grin Catwoman gives at the sight is just perfect.)

"It would be the first time you weren't trying to arrest me... and I wasn't trying to murder you." Batman's dating life in a nutshell, folks.

Now here's a sight that would tickle any Bat/Cat shipper: the two of them sharing a milkshake while delivering the cheesiest lines possible at each other.

So there's only room for two crimefighters in this town, eh, Batman? Wonder what Catwoman thought when Batgirl showed up the next season...

Anyways, Cornell's Batman impression pays off (offscreen), and the police are now after Batman for knocking over a supermarket. The cop arresting Batman is another out-of-towner - Captain Courageous, played by [important guest star whose name I can't be arsed to look up right now].

Wait, this clown doesn't know who Batman is but immediately pegs Catwoman as "a fifty-time loser"? I call bullshit. Fortunately, Bruce has got the awesomeness of the Law Firm of Alfred and Alfred on his side, so the other guy doesn't have a prayer.

Sure, Batman could just ring up Gordon and O'Hara and have the charges tossed out in five minutes, but what fun would that be? (Besides, they've kinda got their hands full with Catwoman leading a mass student loiter at "Chimes Square" that night). Much more Batmanny to call in Alfred and disguise yourself as him and him as you.

(Incidentally, I unreservedly LOVE Alfred's "Serge Tort" getup. Alan Napier pulls off a tie and bowler like no one else can.)

"You do very clever impressions of a motorboat, Captain." Probably the most badass words Neil Hamilton has ever uttered on this show.

Wow, way to show your concern for Alfred's being in the jug, Bruce. Also: hey, remember how he was supposed to be Catwoman's parole officer? Neither do I. At least Bruce is man enough to admit he "hasn't done a very good job" when Commissioner Gordon rings him up.

I guess I should be trying to stick up for Captain Courageous, given the sheer amount of fucks Gordon doesn't give about the justice system here, but screw him. Go Gordon!

Woo. Four whole heist possibilities for Catwoman and her gang. Of course, the narrative just cuts to the chase and shows us that she's after the Batagonian Cat's-Eye Opals that will be in Gotham soon. And with Batman in jail and the police occupied by the loiter-in, no one will be able to stop her! NO ONE! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

The student protest rolls around, and my is Catwoman giving Penguin some stiff competition in the "no politics, issues confuse people" department. Of course, Batman shows up about five seconds later and sends all the students home because that's how he rolls. Hey, you can't spell Batman without the Man.

(And check out the look on Catwoman's face when she talks about Batman's escape skills. Yow.)

'nother window cameo from a guy I can't be bothered to look up. The "Gotham has no weirdos" jokes here are a little too on-the-nose, though the closing shot is pretty funny. Time for the fight scene!

... well, that was pretty dull. Not many props on a rooftop to clobber the bad guys with, that's the problem.

But then Newmar reminds us (again) whose show this really is with a fine dose of crocodile tears. And of course, B&R fall for it like a couple of chumps and get KO'ed instantly by her knockout spray.

"Fools. Don't they know that tears are a woman's most effective weapon?" Amen, lady.

The deathtrap this time around isn't Catwoman's best, but it's decent - a giant coffee-cup billboard that some company left lying around, complete with giant pitcher. Which she's filled with sulfuric acid. While I like the lighting effects that the constantly-blinking lights on the billboard make on Catwoman's face, I think they could've been a lot clearer with how Batman and Robin are being restrained by the thing. I mean, are their feet nailed to the bottom of the cup?

... also, why are there still students down there? Hasn't Batman sent them home already?

Eh, whatever. There were a ton of standout moments in this episode, but - like before - also a ton of slow ones and jokes that don't quite hit the mark. Still, Julie Newmar makes it worth at least one watch, and I actually think she's more vicious here than she's ever been before (the way she says "All-burn" at the very end, combined with her expression, seriously made me wince).

Omega's Rating:

7 Purrloined Prizes.

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Oh! Nobody loves me!"
"Oh! Nobody loves me!"
Catwoman 13.jpg (103.89 KiB) Viewed 25005 times
Next time: Thrills, chills, and spills as Ms. Newmar (but not Catwoman) bows off the show for good. Be there, won't you?
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 50: Batman Displays His Knowledge

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 2, Episode 50: Batman Displays His Knowledge
Original Airdate: February 23, 1967
Director: Robert Sparr
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villainess: Julie Newmar as the Catwoman
The escape's not terribly exciting by the standards of previous Catwoman episodes. Batman lets a little bit of the acid burn through his ropes, then batarangs the "off" switch on the whole setup. Robin questions their miraculous escape yet again. Yawn.

Still, "Things like that only happen in the movies, Robin. This is real life." is a pretty great line if I do say so myself.

And since those dumbass students still haven't left, B&R have to stay behind to clear them out, which gives Catwoman and her boys all the time in the world to rob those priceless cat's-eye opals. I hope you're proud of yourselves.

Shut up, Batman. Was being tied up in a giant coffee cup and facing down a gush of sulfuric acid all part of your plan, too?

We dither a little more over the cowardice and superstitiousness of criminals (and crimefighters) before moving on to Catwoman's fence. Who runs a fencing academy. It's funny. Laugh, damn you!

The weirdness of French Freddy using his helmet as a colander aside, this scene is fairly well-shot. There's no stupid jokes here, and the conversation between Catwoman and Freddy actually seems to have genuine tension. Of course, it's largely pointless to the plot since Freddy refuses to touch the opals, but it's better than nothing.

Over at Gordon's office, it's time for some more waaacky secret-identity hijinks when the Commish calls Bruce Wayne while Batman has to remain in the room. Fortunately, Alfred is here with a handy-dandy piece of tech that might well have made its way into Stephen Hawking's wheelchair decades later.

With that crisis averted, our heroes are off to beat some info out of French Freddy. Yaaaay.

(Also, Batman apparently debuted with Robin in this continuity. That's not something you see... well, ever.)

Oh, and Batman's a master fencer, too. Either that, or Freddy's just really crappy. I wonder if this was at least subconscious inspiration for the famed desert duel with Ra's al-Ghul about half a decade later...

Poor, poor Catwoman. Went to all that trouble to steal the opals and no one in town wants 'em. But salvation is (apparently) at hand: French Freddy is willing to take them off her hands and turn them in to the police, then split the $3 million reward.

(By the way: points for the beret on Freddy's "civilian" outfit, but he needs an accordion - or at least a baguette - for the full effect.)

Wow. Catwoman's whole plot in this episode was just one long train of fail. Batman had instructed the gem exchange to put fake opals out from the very beginning, so that robbery was all for nothing. Jeez, even I'm feeling sorry for her now.

The bad guy's all but beaten, but we've still got eight minutes of episode to go, so what now...? Catwoman sends one of her men to bring Batman a note, telling him that she's ready to give herself up. But only to him. Alone.

(Whoever named a suburban real estate development after Sherlock Holmes: I love you and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.)

Oh, I see. There's a real sense that this is the last Newmar!Catwoman episode after all, so Ross is looking to push the Cat/Bat flirting as far as it can go. Not just a scene or two, but a full-blown date - or the closest these two could ever come to dating - in a big, abandoned house, far away from spoilsport cops and sidekicks.

I'm... really not feeling it.

Look, I love Newmar's Catwoman, but this whole episode's done more to declaw her than any other, so this scene comes off as less "skilled seductress and seasoned crimefighter in a deadly, sexy tango" and more "little girl in a tight black costume tries to impress her crush". West sells this scene more than anything else, playing Batman as an overgrown kid who just doesn't know how to react to come-ons from sexy, sexy ladies.

"We're two adult human beings..." Uh, no you're not. Not as Ross has written you, anyway.

Ahhh. For some reason, I'd thought that Catwoman only had one "We'll just kill Robin" line in the series. Turns out she had two. In a realistic touch, Batman's got a lot less patience for her this time around - "You're attractive, but you're not that attractive!", indeed. It's also at the core of this great column Chris Sims wrote on the possibility of '66 villains reforming (spoiler: it's impossible), which holds an especially dear place in my heart since I was the one who asked him the prompt question.

'hem.

Inevitably, it turns out to be another fiendish trap - Catwoman's put on poisoned perfume that should do Batman in any... second... now...

... unless Batman's wearing Bat-Plugs in his nose. Drat and double drat.

Cue another fight scene, though it is pretty funny to see that neither one of the parties here really kept their word. Also, Adam West's slump when Robin starts blathering about how he's too smart for those icky girls got a chuckle out of me.

Poor, poor Catwoman. Hanged by a scheme that was doomed from the start, and then foiled by missing car keys. And made to say a pretty lame line to conclude her capture on top of it all.

Epilogue: I can't believe that West and Newmar aren't directly talking to the audience here.

"I'm sorry it had to end this way, Catwoman."

"Not half as sorry as I am, Mr. Wayne."

Warden Crichton is in tears, his faith in his liberal penological (stop giggling!) practices destroyed. This leads to what might be Catwoman's only moment of genuine selflessness in the series, where she tells the warden to keep his chin up. As much as Bat-fans of every generations tend to forget it, the supervillains are only a small section of the criminals in Gotham City. Who's to say that the less colorful crooks can't be reformed?

And so, with one last swish of those unmatchable hips and one last declaration of her love (lust?) for Batman, Ms. Newmar strolls out of camera, out of Mr. Wayne's sight.

Forever.

While I do get a little misty-eyed at the knowledge that this is Newmar's exit from the series, that doesn't really make up for all the weak bits and missed opportunities in this two-parter. There's a slew of good ideas here - a supervillain attending college, Bruce Wayne having to be their parole officer - that are touched on so little you'd wonder why they were there in the first place. And I'm sorry, but the romance is a little too sappy, and the declawing of Catwoman feels almost... spiteful.

Omega's Rating:

5 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Well, I'll have him killed! Painlessly!"
"Well, I'll have him killed! Painlessly!"
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Next time: Well, Ms. Newmar might be out of the picture now, but Catwoman isn't. Not yet. Stay tuned.
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

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Supposedly Ross was planning to continue the Batman/Catwoman romance leading up to a wedding in the third season, but Newmar didn't return. So all those scenes were part of a greater story line that wouldn't work when Kitt took over and some 1960s viewers would have objected to an interracial marriage.
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Batman (1966) Season 3, Episode 14: Catwoman's Dressed to Kill

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 3, Episode 14: Catwoman's Dressed to Kill
Original Airdate: December 14, 1967
Director: Sam Strangis
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villain: Eartha Kitt as the Catwoman
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

Man, five seconds into the episode and I'm already finding things to snark about. Who the hell still opens businesses with names like "Maison du Chat" (French for "Sign of the Cat") in Gotham? Do Gordon and O'Hara seriously have nothing better to do than attend a luncheon for Gotham's best-dressed women? And since Batgirl seems to be the only costumed hero in Gotham with two X-chromosomes, is there really a point to a "Best-Dressed Crimefightress in Gotham" category?

... and who the frick-frack names an award "The Batty"?!

(Okay, never mind about that one complaint, since the cops are apparently here to accept the award on Batgirl's behalf, but still...)

The luncheon is predictably crashed by Catwoman, who most of Julie Newmar's devoted fans will likely know as That Other Woman. Now, Eartha Kitt was an interesting and talented person by any standard (if nothing else, she was 50% of the reason why The Emperor's New Groove is in my Top 5 Disney movies, and she had one hell of a set of pipes), but her take on Catwoman is... eh...

See, while it's pretty inarguable that the '66 version of Catwoman was probably the most evil version of the character in any media, I feel that Kitt doesn't play it with any of Newmar's subtlety. She's irritable, snippy, and motor-mouthed all the way through, and while that might seem intimidating at first, it gets kind of old very, very quickly.

Okay, back to the plot. In standard catty fashion, Catwoman is furious that she hasn't even been mentioned at the luncheon (I'll be generous and extrapolate that she's mad they didn't include a "Best Dressed Villainess" category - which might've had some actual competition!), and takes her horrible revenge by tossing a bomb thingamajig that ruins the hairstyles of every woman there. I'd make a joke here, but who knows? Some of those styles might've literally cost hundreds of dollars and hours of time.

Also, one thing Kitt definitely has in her corner (aside from the punny name): that is an awesome, almost Disney-worthy evil laugh.

Over on the other side of town, Bruce and Dick are clothes shopping (apparently, it's Dick's first prom) when Bruce's Bat-alarm pen goes off. Better hope EON Films doesn't sue, bro. Oh, and for extra "modesty", he insists that he and Dick change in the limo and then run three miles to the police station. Personally, I think he's just getting back at Dick for all the time the little horndog got to spend with Lady Peasoup's girls last episode.

"Set a thief to catch a thief" = "Set Batgirl to catch Catwoman"? Barbara, I think you need a refresher course in Analogies 101. Not that it matters anyways, since Batman apparently took an extra-strength Bat-chauvinism pill this morning. "Leave the crimefighting to the men", indeed...

We then get our first look at Catwoman's hideout, and in a hilarious (and cost-saving) touch, the "Abandoned" sign over the doors actually opens with the doors. Inside, we get a peek at the latest top-of-the-line $29.99 fashions, all while Catwoman rants about her real goal: The Golden Fleece of Belgravia.

(Belgravia, incidentally, is a real place. In London. For one reason or another, Professor Moriarty and his pals seem to like hanging out there.)

Like a good little supervillain, Catwoman immediately sends a telegram gloating about her plan to the cops. Gordon, O'Hara, and Batman immediately agree to not breathe a word about it to Batgirl. But then, of course, Barbara walks in... and cue Gordon going "Well, you're not Batgirl..."

(This joke might very well be the funniest I've seen all season - the content doesn't seem anything special, but the execution, with perfectly-timed jump cuts, pushes it ahead of the pack.)

Barbara finally - finally - gets suited up as Batgirl, all while Catwoman keeps on dicking around with the fashion world. Batman and Robin crash in on her latest caper, and the two actually trade semi-romantic innuendo for a while (not to Newmar levels, but contrary to what critics say, the showrunners didn't snip out the whole Bat/Cat stuff when Kitt stepped into the catsuit). Then, of course, Catwoman's goons take down B&R with that deadliest of all weapons: a NET!

Naturally, Batgirl shows up just in time to save the Dynamic Duo, and the way Adam West goes "We can fight our OWN battles!" is all kinds of adorable. This leads us into another great piece of comedy (my word, Ross is just on fire this episode), where B&R are left helpless when Catwoman escapes into that Land Where No (Decent) Man Has Gone Before: the ladies' dressing room. Oh, sure, Batgirl charges right in, but she gets taken out mighty fast by Catwoman's Knockout no. 5 perfume - it's a disappointingly quick KO, but it's a premonition of the delights to come.

Instead of just telling all the (fully-dressed) women in there to, y'know, vacate, B&R decide to charge in with their eyes closed (also: anyone who was alive back then, was R.L. Stevenson's Kidnapped more well-known in the '60s? Seems a bit obscure of a reference for Robin). There's about a minute of them stumbling around like drunk fools before the women (who are surprisingly not barely holding back giggles) let them know that they're all fully clothed. Good God, that exasperated "Couldn't you have told us sooner?" look on West's and Ward's faces is priceless.

"Do you think she'll... kill Batgirl?" "Or worse, Robin. Or worse." Youuuu mean that Catwoman will fuck her first? Please say yes.

After the commercial break, we get... yes! More Batgirl bondage! And this time, in bonds that look like they can actually hold her! I'm actually not too big on ropes to begin with, but the semi-hogtie Catwoman has going on here is a nicely humiliating touch. And then... can it be...? A-yup, they go the full nine yards and gag her, too.

Oh my, and it looks like she's going for the gold this time. Rope, gag, and that ever-classic deathtrap, the slowwwwwly approaching buzz saw... er, pattern cutter! Screw the "Best Dressed" award, Catwoman gets all the "Best Villain" awards in the world, far as I'm concerned.

(That said, she gets points off for not really thinking the rest of her plan through. Distracting Batman from the Belgravian Embassy so you can steal the Fleece is fine and all, but Batman doesn't work alone, and I'm pretty sure he's sent Robin on solo cases before.)

Clearly worried that we're having too much fun, the episode then gets us back to the Batcave, where B&R mouth off about Catwoman's plans some more. Turns out that Batman is scheduled to meet with the Queen of Belgravia today, so Batman "deduces" that Catwoman must be after the Belgravian Golden Fleece. Tedious as this part is, it does lead to yet another knockout punch line, when Batman discusses the possibility of war with Belgravia:

Robin: Gee, Batman. Belgravia's such a small country. We'd beat them in a few hours!

Batman: Yes, and then we'd have to support them for years.

Over at Catwoman's hideout, that glorious, glorious deathtrap has Batgirl in its clutches, and it's not about to let go. Catwoman gets extra style points, too, for giving the soon-to-be-sliced BG a rose to hold. Really, the only thing that could make this better is if the pattern cutter were approaching Batgirl from the... other end.

Catwoman goes to drop the requisite taunting phone call to the rest of the good guys, and even though it's not terribly seductive, Catwoman does sound like the most gleefully evil villain on the show since Gorshin's Riddler. But not to worry - Batman has a brilliant counterstrategy: send Alfred to rescue Batgirl!

(Normally, I'd make a crack about how Batman apparently thinks Alfred could do a better job than a solo Robin, but since Alfred seems to be the most competent good guy on the show, I'd say it's high time.)

At two minutes to three, Catwoman makes it to the Belgravian Embassy, and takes down the Queen and her two bodyguards solo with her Inhaler of Doom. But never mind that - the pattern cutter is getting within two feet of Batgirl's head! One and a half feet... One foot!

But wait! It's Alfred to the rescuhahahahahahahahahaha! Wait, wait I literally can't breathe-

So... in another one of his brilliant insights, Batman ordered Alfred to rescue Batgirl in disguise, fearing that she'd recognize Alfred as Bruce Wayne's butler. And Alfred... decided to disguise himself as a hippie. A hippie janitor. Dear Lord, it has to be seen to be believed, and Alan Napier's attempt at an American accent had me in stitches.

Oh, and he saves Batgirl. Yeah, big surprise, considering that Catwoman didn't even leave anyone behind to guard the place. At least he gets in one wonderfully dark line about how a successful murder would've meant a bigger mess for him to mop up. Oh, and apparently, Batgirl's inherited her old man's capacity for facial recognition.

So... now that Catwoman's gotten her paws on the Golden Fleece, why she doesn't skedaddle is anyone's guess. But no, she decides to disguise herself as the Queen so she can... kick Gordon's and O'Hara's asses, I guess? Geez, is that considered an accomplishment for anyone?

Anyways, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl all show up, fight scene ensues, yadda yadda yadda. You know, considering that all of Catwoman's henchmen here are "disguised" in suits and ties instead of their usual tabby-cat uniforms, I like to think that half the people the good guys are beating up are innocent bystanders from the embassy who just wandered in at the wrong time.

Batgirl does let out a strange giggle as the fight wraps up - I believe the only time in the series that Yvonne Craig laughs out loud - which I guess does make the scene a little more distinctive.

Epilogue: the Queen has given a medal to each of our three heroes, plus two more for O'Hara and Gordon because she had some leftover gold and ribbon lying around, I guess. Ross tries for one last - much less successful - gag here with O'Hara continuously interrupting Gordon, but really, the only funny bit is when Neil Hamilton puts his hands on his hips in that class "Go to your room" pose.

Oh, and next episode's villains? Egghead and Olga. Again. In the adventure that should have been their first appearance, but wasn't. Yaaay.

Upon rewatch, this episode was even funnier than I remember it being, with some nice BG-in-peril scenes, and - most importantly - a lean runtime to make sure that nothing quite overstayed its welcome. Eartha Kitt's turn as Catwoman isn't a substitute for Newmar's, but on its own merits, it's pretty nice. Strong recommend.

Omega's Rating:

8 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"In the adooorable fur."
"In the adooorable fur."
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Next time: The beginning of the end of Ms. Kitt's turn as Catwoman, plus the ever-reliable Cesar Romero! Can Cat and Clown get along better than Bird and Clown did back in Season 2? Stay tuned to find out!
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Batman (1966) Season 3, Episode 16: The Funny Feline Felonies

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Batman (1966) Season 3, Episode 16: The Funny Feline Felonies
Original Airdate: December 28, 1967
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villains: Cesar Romero as the Joker and Eartha Kitt as the Catwoman
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

Interesting fact that you only need to be a medium-sized comic book nerd to know about: the Joker and Catwoman debuted in the exact same comic (Batman #1), albeit in different stories. In this sense, they're essentially the elder statesmen of Batman's rogues gallery, a status cemented by the fact that they were also the first Bat-villains to share a story (in Batman #2 - yeah, writers back then had even fewer qualms about overusing characters that proved to be a hit). The '66 incarnations of Felonious Funnyman and the Princess of Plunder had technically teamed up once already, in the 1966 feature film, but since Catwoman spent most of her time in that movie going undercover as a Soviet journalist, there was little, if any, opportunity to examine her chemistry with the Joker. Let's see if this story can fix that.

So we begin at the state prison, where we see a rare instance of an arch-criminal actually being lawfully released. It seems that in addition to his zillion other titles, Bruce Wayne is also chairman of the parole board, which is actually an element that several modern Batman writers have adapted back into the comics. What they haven't adapted, fortunately, is the gaping idiocy it would take to pardon a dude who was going to turn you into a human surfboard about six episodes ago.

A lot of people have argued that Batman takes an inherently conservative stance on law-and-order, and it would be hard for me to argue against that here. Warden Crichton of the Gotham Pen was a regular source of ridicule on the show, mostly because his "liberal" penal ideologies would inevitably result in supervillains continuing to plague Gotham, but strange enough is the fact that Bruce/Batman would choose to go along with it so easily. If you're interested, noted Batmanologist Chris Sims did a brief discussion of this (about halfway down the page).

Okay, that's enough politics for one review. Joker's getting released, and there's nothing any of us can do about it. Oh, and apparently, Romero's Joker isn't meant to have bleached skin (either that, or they just cheaped out on the detail): his prison suit is a little short in the arm, and you can see Romero's tanned skin between the sleeve and the glove.

Roughly five seconds after he leaves jail, Joker gets his sorry ass "kidnapped" by Catwoman and her abomination of a car (even her pet cat seems to hate it!). Joker puts on the worst innocent act I've seen since the last season of Sherlock, then hops right in, and we're off to the races!

(And a rare moment of insight from Commissioner Gordon: "Seems I'm always the last to know anything!")

So the Cat and the Clown have set up shop in the Sleazy Hotel (no, really - that's its actual name), which is conveniently across the street from Police HQ. And since time's a wasting, Catwoman gets right to sending her first clue to the Dynamic Dimwits. Via sniper rifle.

The following scene could have been tense and unnerving (Chief O'Hara even gets out his gun for once!), but in the true spirit of the Adam West show, all the tension is deflated by the Dynamic Duo's ridiculous "Bat-Crawl". The real cherry on top is when Barbara comes in, sees everyone on the floor, and goes "Did somebody lose a contact lens?"

A couple dull minutes of detective work, and... yes! Surprise Batgirl appearance, bitch! And she's gotten a little sassier this time around, too. Hell, she even steals a piece of evidence away under Robin's nose (Batman, being older and wiser, saw her but decided to let her keep it). Least this time, she lets B&R see her leave.

Over to the Joker/Catwoman co-hideout, where the showrunners are doing their best to make the whole thing look like an equal partnership. The decor has creepy clown dolls interspersed with golden cat idols, and the henchmen (all two of them) are split between Catwoman's tabby-stripes attire and Joker's beret-and-vest uniform. They're both named after the Joker's motif, though.

(It's interesting to note that one of the goons says working for the Joker has always been his "boyhood dream". How long has the Joker been operating, in this 'verse?)

Anyways, we finally get to the actual plan: follow a three-hundred-year-old treasure map to an old store of gunpowder that will let the villains blow a hole in the federal depository and make out like bandits. Okay, I have to admit it: even by this show's standards, this is a pretty weak plan. Never mind the fact that gunpowder that old would probably be useless, it's just not a very exciting MacGuffin. And maybe it's just my modern sensibilities speaking, but something seems wrong when Joker is the one pointing out that your plan is needlessly convoluted.

(On the plus side, it is pretty neat foreshadowing of Kitt's role as Yzma about thirty years later, so... small mercies?)

Catwoman rattles off the poem that ancient treasure maps are required by law to be written in, and there's a cute moment where Joker criticizes the author's meter. Oh, and it seems that just to give the good guys an extra leg-up, Catwoman deliberately left a scrap of paper from the treasure map behind in the hotel room. The same scrap of paper that Batgirl snuck out. Ohhhh boy.

So BG does a little detective work of her own, and the scrap of paper she has somehow leads her to a... young music tycoon called Little Louie. Oookay...

This is mostly a chance for Ross to get in some more Subtle Social Commentary (TM) about the '60s music industry, and admittedly, it is a little funny to see how over-the-top Little Louie is (oh, and his hippie beard and wig are both faker than my last term paper). The "fight" between his karate skills and Joker's and Catwoman's thugs is a hugely silly affair that digs pretty brutally at the chop-socky pictures of the time: according to Catwoman, karate isn't effective unless the practitioner is doing lots of yelling, so the henchmen just hang back until Little Louie has screamed himself hoarse.

... at which point the thugs dogpile him and steal his nightshirt. Presumably muttering "no homo" under their breath the whole time.

But never fear! B&R show up to... wreak $11,000 worth of damage on Little Louie's pad in trying to apprehend the villains (Jesus, couldn't you have waited until they were outside before ambushing them?). For extra fun, Joker and Catwoman were actually trying to avoid making a mess, hence why they let Louie tire himself out.

So now the jig is up, and... oh, no, wait. We've got a second part to go, so B&R double down on the stupid and not only buy Joker's BS about being an innocent victim, but agree to shake his hand. And wouldn't you know it, Joker picked today to wear his lethal joy-buzzers.

The bad guys all escape, and... I'm assuming minutes later, Batgirl shows up to bail the Dynamic Dimwits' asses out with her Batgirl Antidote Pills (on that note: three beats a minute? How the hell are B&R still alive?). Apparently, the reason she was so late (despite getting the clue first) was because of traffic. Seems legit.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering: the nightshirt was one of the clues to the gunpowder's location, and the other is an old cradle. For some reason, the showrunners packed that theft of the cradle and the heroes' too-late arrival into the last minute of the episode, so for the cliffhanger, we get a lame-ass shot of Joker and Catwoman waiting juuuust outside, waiting for an ambush. Yawn.

I think it's pretty safe to say that this episode was Ross' weakest so far. Most of the satire fell flat, the pacing is awkward, and Joker spends most of the episode acting like Catwoman's sidekick. Romero and Kitt really don't have much in the way of chemistry, so lucky for us, we'll get to suffer through another episode with the two of them tomorrow.

Omega's Rating:

5 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Get in this car, or I'll blow whatever little brains you have out!"
"Get in this car, or I'll blow whatever little brains you have out!"
Catwoman 16.jpg (137.73 KiB) Viewed 24835 times
Next time: Courtroom chaos abounds, as we see villains getting put on trial for their crimes for the first time in this show! Also, yet another iconic BG peril moment! Be there!
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Batman (1966) Season 3, Episode 17: The Joke's On Catwoman

Post by Disciple »

Batman (1966) Season 3, Episode 17: The Joke's On Catwoman
Original Airdate: January 4, 1968
Director: Oscar Rudolph
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Special Guest Villains: Cesar Romero as the Joker and Eartha Kitt as the Catwoman
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

Well, at least this episode knows to get its star attraction out nice and early. About two seconds after B&R leave, Batgirl finds her Batgirl-Cycle conveniently missing a spark plug, and all the bad guys immediately dogpile her. We get around ten seconds of delicious, delicious footage of Batgirl getting manhandled, before she gets stuck in the latest in cost-effective deathtraps: fishing wi... I mean, heat-activated Cat's Whiskers! Notice how no-one even suggests unmasking BG.

(I don't know if this was intentional, but Cesar Romero makes a bunch of "I wish I were anywhere but here right now" faces while Catwoman is explaining how the Cat's Whiskers work. That's just plain sad.)

After the credits roll, we get treated to some more delightful scenes of Yvonne Craig working that luscious body. Fortunately, it seems that the bad guys were stupid enough to use the Cat's Whiskers right next to a sprinkler system, and a couple of awkward maneuvers later, BG is back to her old butt-kicking self. Aaaaand now I have a weird desire to see Batgirl enter a wet T-shirt contest. 'scuse me.

... Bruce, you dick. Alfred probably put his heart into that snack. The least you could do is let Robin have some!

(Yes, it's a cheap, childish little moment of comedy, but it's effective nonetheless. Burt Ward's sad little face when Batman refuses the sandwiches is priceless.)

Oh, and it's only now that Catwoman and Joker's hideout gets a name: the Grimalkin Novelty Company. I don't even wanna know how long it took them to find a place in the address book that caters to both their themes. Anyhoo, the treasure hunt gets started, and apparently, the nightshirt they stole off of Little Louie last episode functions as a map. Better hope the thing isn't also carrying smallpox residue.

I'm told that the main reason Kitt was hired for the Catwoman role was because she spoke fluent French, and fair's fair, the part where she translates the clue leading to the gunpowder sounds entirely natural and grammatically correct (disclaimer: I speak no French whatsoever). Catwoman the character might need a French dictionary, but I suspect that Kitt herself might have actually written the clue, or at least gave Ross pointers.

For a change, it's the heroes who get off-screen teleportation privilege. That two or three minutes of exposition up there gave them enough time to park right outside the novelty company, but conveniently enough, Batman decides that multiple cases of aggravated assault, robbery, and attempted murder isn't big enough to bring in the villains on. So we're going with the old tail-the-villains-to-their-destination plot again. Yippee. At least there's a steamy little moment where Batman suggests that to save time, he, Robin, and Batgirl will have to squish into the Batmobile together.

(And seriously? Joker and Catwoman don't spot the heroes when they're literally two feet away? Jeez, are there no optometrists in Gotham?)

Meanwhile, Catwoman and Joker follow their map to the Phony Island Lighthouse wherahahahahahahaha... oh dear God that is a pathetic set. Look, I think that the hate on Season 3's minimalist sets is largely overblown, but one thing I can't stand is an indoor set pretending to be outdoors. The so-called "lighthouse" set looks like it's from a second-grade production of The Lion King.

And because we're still going to be short on running time otherwise, Ross shoehorns in the painful additions of the lighthouse keeper and his wife. Frankly, none of their inane dialogue is worth recapping, and in the spirit of getting this over with as quickly as possible, I'm gonna go ahead and tell you that the villains find the gunpowder about five seconds after entering the lighthouse. It's not even buried or anything.

(Oh, and extra continuity gap: Joker acts surprised to see the heroes still alive, because that joy-buzzer scene from last episode was supposed to be the cliffhanger, and he assumes Batman & Robin to both be dead. But with the Cat Whiskers scene, the whole exchange is made into nonsense. Tsk.)

Then Joker takes an extra ten levels in dumbass, and tosses a match onto the whole pile. Everyone goes kablooey. The en... oh, no, wait. Batman's not that merciful, so he coated the room in Anti-Blast Bat-Powder just in time. So everyone has a good laugh, the bad guys get carted off to jail, and we're finally fini...

... hold on...

... why are there still twelve minutes left?!

Oh. Okay. So they're going to focus on what happens to the crooks after they get arrested, for once. Okay, I'm game. Maybe it'll turn out to be the equivalent of Law & Order: Gotham. Only funnier.

(Fun fact: the villains' attorney, Lucky Pierre, is played by JFK's one-time press secretary. Guy seems to have a photo of Nixon on his desk, for whatever reason - this episode was written and aired before Nixon's presidency.)

As expected, Joker & Catwoman don't have a hope of beating the rap. According to Lucky Pierre, the only way they're getting off is if they bribe every man, woman, and child in Gotham City, because no honest jury on Earth would fail to convict them. Just to make things extra impossible, the D.A. is letting Batman prosecute.

(Unbiased attorneys? What's that?)

I have to say that, given the placing of the commercial break, this is almost like a reverse Batman adventure. It's the villains who are on the ropes, and if we wish to get any conflict out of this at all, it's them we have to root for. But then, the bad guys are usually always more popular than the good guys, so I guess the showrunners have finally decided to just admit that up front.

Trial starts, the jury's been assembled, and Batman wastes no time in charging our new heroes with robbery, attempted murder, assault & battery, mayhem (which is a real crime and surprisingly violent at that), and -gasp- overtime parking! I gotta say, West is in his element here, the stick-in-the-mud to end all stick-in-the-muds.

Cue a passably funny montage of witnesses, consisting of all the innocent citizens that Joker and Catwoman screwed over during these two episodes. Pierre waives cross-examination on every one. Nail-biting stuff here, folks. Oh, and the previous bits of this story apparently took place on July 22-23.

Wait a sec... fourteen separate witnesses testified against Joker and Catwoman? We've got the guy they stole the nightshirt from, the guy they stole the crib from, the lighthouse keeper and his wife... hell, even throwing in Robin, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, and Chief O'Hara, we're still short six! Batman needs to check his Bat-Math.

Trial draws to a close, Pierre waives everything else except the "Not Guilty" plea, and...

Yes, Batgirl, this case has set a record, alright. Record for most corrupt jury in the history of the Universe.

So, yeah: the jury turns out to be composed entirely of old henchmen (they must be some loyal guys, seeing as how every job they've ever taken has probably ended in failure and beatings from B&R), who waste no time in letting Joker & Catwoman off. It would be a cute touch if all the fellows in the jury box consisted of actors who'd actually played previous henchmen, but that's probably asking for too much, and I'm too lazy to go check.

Both Batman and the judge rightfully call the whole thing a sham, at which point Catwoman stops fucking around and commands the foreman to just shoot everyone (ahh, the days before metal detectors in courtrooms...). But a quick batarang gets rid of that gun in a hot second, so it's time for our fight scene of the day!

Despite the huge number of players, this fight isn't really that exciting. Sure, it's nice to see the bailiff actually be useful and keep the "jury" from joining in, but Catwoman is taken out disappointingly early by Batgirl (and held tight by Gordon & O'Hara for the rest of the fight). The only other real highlight is seeing the judge clonk Joker over the head.

Bad guys get arrested (again), and Batman makes an extra-corny speech about how he hopes they can be reformed one day, presumably just to make them suffer more. Court dismissed.

(What, you're not taking in Pierre, too? He had to have been in on this!)

Epilogue, and my word is Burt Ward wasting a lot of breath trying to convince us that that all the new people they met this episode were interesting. What is this, Pokemon? A couple of obnoxious references to Pierre's actor's background in politics, too. Let's just move on... the next villain's going to be...

Oh.

Oh no.

Another appearance from Louie the Fucking Lilac? Oh dear God, what did we do to deserve this?!

It looks like we're going to go from the frying pan and straight into the fire, but that's still not going to stop me from declaring this episode (and its preceding sibling) to be Ross's weakest yet. I mean... what happened? Most of the humor is stupid and overly long (and the courtroom scene did not hold up as well as I'd remembered), the villains' plot is just pathetic, and the whole thing is one big wash. If it weren't for the Batgirl-Cat Whiskers scene at the beginning, I'd probably have declared this whole thing one big waste of time.

My Lord, did Eartha Kitt not deserve this as her last episode on the show.

Omega's Rating:

4-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Hello, Pierrre? This is Catwoman. C-A-T-W-O-M-A-N."
"Hello, Pierrre? This is Catwoman. C-A-T-W-O-M-A-N."
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Next time: We bid a second (and probably last) fond farewell to this strange, wonderful little show - but the adventures of '66 Catwoman are not quite done yet...
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 2 times in total.
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Epilogue: And So Does Catwoman Get Away, To Live and Steal Another Day...

Post by Disciple »

Epilogue: And So Does Catwoman Get Away, To Live and Steal Another Day...
Unlike Batgirl, the life and times of '66 Catwoman saw no real revival until the Batman '66 digital comic. Oh, there were the occasional pop-culture references and such (I recall a particularly cute one from The Simpsons' 400th anniversary episode), but no PSAs or anything to the effect where Newmar, Meriwether, or Kitt got back in the catsuit (no, not even Return to the Batcave really makes it on that count). Thus, the closest I can offer to bonus material are these images - two screenshots of Kitt from the "lead-in" segments of "The Bloody Tower" and "The Ogg Couple" (episodes which otherwise had nothing to do with Catwoman), and one of the Newmar stand-in they used on "The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra" (thus cementing Newmar, I suppose, as the One True Catwoman).
Catwoman (Extra).jpg
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Then, of course, there's the credits appearances. The black-masked... thing in the animated opening doesn't look like any version of Catwoman I've ever seen (except maybe that brief moment in the Golden Age where she wore a full cat's-head mask), but I can't quite imagine who else she (he?) is supposed to be.
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Catwoman Credits 01.jpg
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God bless all three of these fine ladies, and God bless the late Ms. Kitt, in particular. But still not much restitution for all you faithful readers...

To (hopefully) make up for this deficiency, I offer the following link to a very charming fellow.

Chris Sims of Comicsalliance is one of the most entertaining comic book geeks on the Internet, and served no small part in inspiring my review series in the first place. He's a rare breed indeed - one of those Batman fans who rabidly defends (almost) every incarnation of Batman, even the Schumacher one. Especially the Schumacher one. And always with facts and theories that really get a man thinking, even if you don't necessarily agree.

As of late, Mr. Sims has been hosting a weekly column where he comprehensively analyzes every episode of the Adam West show, one-by-one. If you ever want to see what a wage-earning professional's Batman (1966) reviews look like... well, today's your lucky day.

(This guide is, of course, incomplete as of this writing. I'll be returning periodically to add more links to it.)

* The 1966 movie, parts 1 and 2 (predates all the other reviews, since the movie's release on DVD far predates the series'; done with co-reviewer David Uzumeri).
* The Purr-Fect Crime.
* Better Luck Next Time.

Next time: a more formal introduction - hopefully - to Batman '66 the comic waits in the wings, but before that, I hope to kick off a new review series featuring a certain Amazing Amazon Princess...
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Mr. X »

I remember Lee Meriweather played Catwoman in one of the actual episodes and not just in that movie. But I'm watching the whole blue ray set and haven't seen her.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Disciple »

Mr. X wrote:I remember Lee Meriweather played Catwoman in one of the actual episodes and not just in that movie. But I'm watching the whole blue ray set and haven't seen her.
You are almost correct, Sir.

Meriwether returned in one of the episodes, but it wasn't as Catwoman. She played Lisa Carson, the damsel-in-distress on one of the King Tut episodes.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Mr. X »

Omega Woman wrote:You are almost correct, Sir.

Meriwether returned in one of the episodes, but it wasn't as Catwoman. She played Lisa Carson, the damsel-in-distress on one of the King Tut episodes.

Oh yeah I know that one. Man she would have made an awesome Wonder Woman. So odd that they would take a chance on empowering Batgirl but not a Wonder Woman.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by batgirl1969 »

Eartha Kitt is my favorite since she did what she did to Batgirl!! My god!
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Batman '66 #1: The Riddler's Ruse, Part 1

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Batman '66 #1: The Riddler's Ruse, Part 1
Release Date: July 3, 2013
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Colors: Jonathan Case
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Michael and Laura Allred (Alternate Cover by Jonathan Case)
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
So, uh...

Anyone still reading this?

(Heh heh heh...)

My apologies for being away for so long - times changed, my interests shifted somewhat, and my writing energies were diverted to certain other projects. But for the time being, at least, I'm back - and ready to get back in the ol' reviewing saddle.

And my further apologies, for today's review won't be featuring sexy ladies. It is, however, important to the next couple of reviews, which will, so please bear with me for the moment.

You may or may not remember all of the Batman '66 digital comics I've covered over on the Batgirl review thread. If not, there's no better place to get (re)acquainted than here, for today's issue was the the one that started it all. It's a neat little time capsule into comic's humble beginnings, and what kind of vision series launchers Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case had for extending the adventures of the '66 Dynamic Duo. A quote from Mr. Parker himself on the matter:

"I’m more concerned with getting the feel right through character. If we did everything the same way, use the same story structure, same Batmobile power-up sequence and so on, what you would have is pastiche, not a book that lives and breathes on its own. Then the whole dynamic would be ‘ha, that’s the way they always did it on the show,’ and that would get old really quick. Instead we sprinkle out most of those bits so they’re fresh again, you don’t feel you know where everything’s going."

While I don't precisely agree with every decision that Parker has made on the book (mostly, I think he made too many changes that made the book feel more in-line with the modern DCU instead of the idiosyncratic '66 Gotham), it's very obvious that he's a faithful fan of the series who did his homework and then some.

Let's take a look, and count the ways the comic has improved - or regressed - since its coming-out party.
Batman '66 #1.jpg
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While I've complained about how it backslid elsewhere, I have to give Parker and Case massive props for beginning with an honest effort to establish '66 Batman's one true archenemy:
Batman '66 #1a.jpg
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The late Frank Gorshin's take on the Riddler made the Batman's first season (which was far and away its most well-liked and internationally known), and even people who hate both the show and the Riddler as a character grudgingly give Gorshin his due. Dude was that good. And while Parker and Case obviously don't have Gorshin's amazing voice or acting skills on-hand, I think they did a pretty fair job of translating him onto the page.
Batman '66 #1b.jpg
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There are nits to pick for those who want to (Case's Commissioner Gordon looks a little too much like Alfred, for one), but I can practically hear those lines rolling out of Frank Gorshin's mouth. Case's caricature of Gorshin's face is almost creepy in its likeness, and I especially appreciate the reference to how even back then, Riddler and Joker were (unintentionally?) stepping on each others' toes with their crimes.

As for the plot... there isn't much of one. Despite being marked as "Part 1", this issue doesn't even spend that much time on setting up the next two parts, which is understandable. Parker and Case needed to get the public - not just the portion nostalgic for the days of West and Ward - introduced to all the key players of '66 Gotham, and so made the issue basically one big action sequence to attract more readers.

(Plus - again, there's only so much you can do in ten pages.)

But what the hey - Parker writes a pretty decent take on the Dynamic Duo, too. Square but not too square, righteous but not too righteous.
Batman '66 #1c.jpg
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This leads me to another one of the big - and intentional - differences between the show and the comic. Parker wanted to use the comic's near-infinite "budget" to work in big setpieces and action sequences that would've never flown on the show, and while I can't say I don't sympathize, the fact is... this other show already kinda did that.

Still, it does lead to one hell of a demonstration of just how far gone Riddler is:
Batman '66 #1d.jpg
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The predictable happens, and Riddler's plane goes BOOM while Batman bails out at the very last minute. Mother of mercy, is this the end of the Pasha of Puzzles?

You wish.
Batman '66 #1e.jpg
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Oh, Robin. I love how Parker reinstated that bloodthirsty little streak of his that vanished in the later seasons of the actual show. Remember, this was the same kid who suggested that Batman let The Bomb (of "Some days you just can't get rid of" fame) blow up in a bar rather than risk his life to tow it away.

That aside... it's not exactly the most exciting or heart-pumping note to end on, but I guess it's a fair recreation of the cliffhanger from the show's first Riddler story (which also featured less immediate stakes than our heroes in some cheesy deathtrap). More importantly, faithful readers: can YOU solve the puzzle before the Dynamic Duo does?

In conclusion: while it could definitely have been stronger in some areas, it's a pleasant debut to the continued adventures of '66 Batman and all his buddies, and I did appreciate a lot of the dialogue/art tricks that the digital-first format permitted. Tragic that Mr. Case couldn't stick by for art on all the subsequent story arcs, but such is life.

Omega's Rating:

6-and-a-half Question-Mark Canes (out of 10).

Next time: Me-ow! You've seen her team up with villains galore, but how shall the Catwoman fare when for once, she has to team up with a hero? Find out tomorrow... same Cat-Time, same Cat-Channel!
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by tallyho »

Well if nothing else its taught me what 'empennage' means!
:thumbup:
How strange are the ways of the gods ...........and how cruel.

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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Disciple »

tallyho wrote:Well if nothing else its taught me what 'empennage' means!
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Batman '66 #2: The Riddler's Ruse, Part 2

Post by Disciple »

Batman '66 #2: The Riddler's Ruse, Part 2
Release Date: July 10, 2013
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Colors: Jonathan Case
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Michael and Laura Allred (Alternate Cover by Jonathan Case)
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
When we last left our intrepid heroes... there were in no danger whatsoever. Hell, if anything, the Riddler's probably worse off than them.

But ah, let's get on with this issue. Since last issue was mostly spent on a dazzling action sequence, it's here that most of the show's remaining hallmarks appear: Alfred (who appears to have lent his glasses to Commissioner Gordon) and Aunt Harriet, Stately Wayne Manor, and of course, the Batcave.
Catwoman '66 #2a.jpg
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Naturally, this means more opportunities for Parker and Case to start modernizing '66 Gotham, and being the pedantic nerd I am, I don't really like most of it. The Batspresso machine in the background is cute, and I suppose giving the Batcomputer a monitor is... okay (most comic readers these days probably won't remember punch-cards anyhow), but giving the Riddler a civilian ID (the same one he has in the mainstream comics, no less) is just... eggghhhh. It clashes with the '66 world's hyper-exaggerated morality (where the villains are so evil that their nom de crimes are literally their only names), and it's not even necessary to the plot.

I'm also bugged by how Bruce and Dick have their masks down in the Batcave - something that's basically the hero version of the last point - but I've bitched enough already so let's just move on.

The parachute riddle from last issue lead the Dynamic Duo to a swingin' new nightclub called the Meow-Wow-Wow. Gee, I wonder which "reformed" arch-villain they'll meet there?
Catwoman '66 #2b.jpg
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Like his reproduction of Gorshin's Riddler, Case's take on Julie Newmar's take on Catwoman is the bee's knees, yo. And true to this comic's roots, she begins this story completely paroled with little-to-no explanation, only to start attacking the Dynamic Duo as soon as she sees them.
Catwoman '66 #2c.jpg
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(Suffice it to say there's a lot of neat flipbook action in this comic, which I sadly can't replicate here. C'est la vie.)

Catwoman's surprisingly blase about B&R beating the shit out of her nightclub's staff and clientele, but then, this is probably the definition of a Tuesday night for her. I also appreciate the bit from Parker about where exactly her staff came from - depending on your preferences, you can frame it as a rare bit of humanity from her or just plain ol' business pragmatism.
Catwoman '66 #2d.jpg
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(And yeah, Robin's a cockblocking little shit like always. Wouldn't have it any other way.)

We're about at the issue's end, so the Riddler pops up in that statue's built-in TV monitor to gloat, and show off what he was actually after.
Catwoman '66 #2e.jpg
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Oh, Riddler, you hilariously egotistical little sociopath, you.

No points for guessing what this issue's cliffhanger is, though I really dig the way that Parker and Case lay it all out. There's just not enough respect for the humble panel repetition in today's comics, I tells ya.
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In conclusion, it's much more Batman-y than Part 1, and Julie Newmar - even if she is just a pen-and-ink caricature - is a sight for sore eyes. There's a really hilarious window cameo, too - timeless enough to suit either the '60s or present day. My nitpicky gripes aside, this one is a real keeper.

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Next time: Are our heroes (and Catwoman) in fact a black smear on the ground? (Hey, it could happen!) Find out tomorrow!
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Batman '66 #3: The Riddler's Ruse, Part 3

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Batman '66 #3: The Riddler's Ruse, Part 3
Release Date: July 17, 2013
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Colors: Jonathan Case
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Michael and Laura Allred (Alternate Cover by Jonathan Case)
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Aaaand now you (or those of you who haven't bought/pirated this comic already) are probably wondering how our heroes - and more importantly, Catwoman - survived that club-shattering kaboom last episode. Three words: fire code compliance.

What the hell happened to ya, Catwoman? You just know that in the bad ol' days, she'd have bribed the safety inspectors instead even if it'd cost her more.

Ah, well. That aside, I see that she hasn't been totally de-clawed:
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Our first KO in the '66-comics verse. Yay?

So our Dynamic Duo has, for the moment, become a Dynamic Trio. By the show's conventions, you'd expect this to be a super-double cross, with Catwoman having been in cahoots with the Riddler all along. Hell, even if this weren't the '66 universe, Catwoman's track record would more than back it.

It... doesn't quite work out that way (sorry, spoilers), and I have to say I'm kinda grateful for that. Protective as I am of the '66 verse's corny datedness, incessant double crosses are one thing I've never quite cottoned to.
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Yeah, suppose I am an immature little shit, but I giggled like a five-year-old at the where-did-you-sit? gag. Wonder if Robin's getting those first thrusts of manhood again...

And yes, Batman invented 3-D printing. Let no one tell you otherwise.
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Even though I know there's no way it can last (and for all her entertaining qualities as a villain), there's something in me that just loves it when Catwoman starts using her talents for good instead of evil. I mean, I don't particularly care for the Ed Brubaker mold of her as a full-on (anti-)heroine, but these occasional moments of her working out ridiculous clues with B&R just make my heart tingle.

Pity, since this story is about over save for the final fight scene.

Our cast all congregate in the park, where Villkoop's final art piece is hidden. I had to snip out a delicious scene of Gorshin-Riddler acting like an egotistical little psycho and even temporarily tearing Batman & Robin apart, but I think we can all agree that more Catwoman is absolutely worth it.
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Part of me still wants to bitch about how "classic" '66 Catwoman would never sully her hands and feet with actual fighting, but the other parts have collectively bound and gagged it and tossed it off a pier. Fighting Catwoman is badass.

And it also leads to one of the more impressive flipbook scenes in the series, which I - once again - sadly can't really duplicate here.
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The ending's not really that much of a shock: the good guys win, Riddler gets nabbed by Chief O'Hara of all people, and he gets an extra humiliation conga heaped on him when it turns out that the final piece is a sculpture of a bat.

But what of the Catwoman, you ask?
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Oh, Julie. Never change.

No, she doesn't exit stage-left via comic book "death" (which is about the only way the special guest villains on the show ever escaped justice), but to be fair, Batman & Robin plan to go after her right that minute instead of standing around to pontificate about how they may meet again one day. To be quite honest, though, it's no biggie even if they don't: after all, Catwoman stole the replica made in the Batcave, not the real Dancing Cat.

(B&R have such shit-eating grins on their faces in this last part that I can almost hear the '70s laugh track being played over it. But don't let that bother you.)

Long story short, this conclusion to the first outing of the Batman '66 comic isn't really perfect, nor does it hit the comic heights that the show's truly famous for (but to be fair, that part's coming later). What it is is a fairly solid, lighthearted B&R adventure story - a real treasure in this era of grimmer-n-gritter Batman storytelling - and really, that about sums up the show's premiere story as well.

And if nothing else, Jeff Parker's pitch-perfect take on Gorshin's Riddler alone is worth the price of admission. At least for me.

Omega's Rating:

7 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Next time: Some blasts from the past are on their way, folks - but so is all-new material! Stay tuned.
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Batman '66 #15: The Tail of The Tiger Topaz

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Batman '66 #15: The Tail of the Tiger Topaz
Release Date: October 9, 2013
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Color: Colleen Coover
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Michael and Laura Allred
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before I turned my attention to the Batman '66 digital publication that DC has been putting out since 2013, and my thoughts are thus: it's a decent, lighthearted adventure comic and miles above all the grimdark garbage that the "mainstream" Batman titles are putting out these days, but it's not quite as much a return to the Adam West show as I would've liked.

Some of this can be blamed on the difference in mediums. The original show, being a live-action production, could rake in laughs just by putting two flesh-and-blood humans in costumes that were 100% faithful to the comics versions of Batman and Robin. But now that it's been adapted back into a comic, that difference is lost; though some artists capture the likenesses of the show's actors better than others, none of them can really recapture the sheer ridiculousness of two grown men running around in capes and tights. The simplified art style can't support it.

Then, of course, there's the matter of length. Thought Season 3's single-parter episodes were anemic? Well, that's nothing compared to the fact that one issue of this comic runs for about ten pages. Oh, sure, most of the stories run two issues and they try to pad it out further with the flipbook gimmick, but there's no denying that on average, the contents of each digital story could only cover maybe ten minutes of airtime on a single episode of the show. No room for anything but the most basic jokes. No scenes of domestic tranquility with Bruce and Dick. No villains just chillin' around their hideouts being evil.

Batman '66's main writer Jeff Parker is evidently a very strong fan of the old series (I think I read in an interview somewhere that he watched all 120 episodes, plus the movie, before getting started on the comic), but sometimes I feel his writing is a little too... straitlaced. It might be a byproduct of the abridged length, but a lot of the stories in this publication are hero-vs-villain stories that just run from Point A to B with no surprises or twists. Not really much more imaginative than your average Saturday morning cartoon. That said, when he's on the ball - like in the two-parter where B&R get their own TV adaptation by a crooked producer - he's really on the ball.

Alright, I've rambled on enough for now. You're all here for Batgirl, and so Batgirl you shall receive. And really, doesn't the prospect of Craig!Batgirl and Kitt!Catwoman - if only in pencils and ink - alone make this series worth it?

Our special guest villain(ess) is Subtly Foreshadowed (TM) from the very first page. Man, I gotta get me one of those stones. Make a bundle at the craps table.
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I must say, while Colleen Coover's Barbara is spot-on, her Jim Gordon is a bit iffier. I'm not sure I like her trying to blend Neil Hamilton's Gordon with the current comics' bespectacled Gordon.

Also, my word I can almost hear Eartha Kitt's sharp trills in Miss Kugar's voice. So yeah, I doubt I'm surprising anyone when I "reveal" that Miss Kugar was Catwoman all along, poised to steal the topaz that very night. Le gasp!
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(Man, I love that Parker had Kitt!Catwoman sing one of Eartha's real-life songs. Because why the hell wouldn't she?)
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A while back, Jeff Parker said that he planned to replicate the nonsensical continuity of the series by randomly switching between Kitt's Catwoman and Newmar's Catwoman without any explanation, which I heartily approve of. And where is the Batman, you ask? He's at home! Washing his... er, no, wait. He's in Japan, tracking down Lord Death Man! (LDM, incidentally, just got his own spotlight story completed today. Go check it out, if you've got a buck to spare!).

So anyways, Catwoman's set up a pretty sweet heist here, disguising herself as an exhibit designer so she can circumvent all the alarms. Sure hope someone else doesn't trip the alarms...
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No lie, that might be the best BG moment Jeff Parker's ever written.

So the heat is on, and it's time for that catfight we always wished Season 3 of the show would give us but which S&P would never allow.
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Egad! It seems that our two lovely ladies are evenly matched! It looks like Batgirl will have to summon up every ounce of her strength to overcome her bigger, older, wilier foe...
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... or she could just wait for her old man to do it for her. That works too.

And... that's pretty much it. No deathtrap action and not even any legitimate peril, but what can you expect from a ten-page story? Still, Parker captured the voices of the characters remarkably well, and threw in a fairly decent fight scene to boot (the full version blew my mind when I first read it), so let's not be too hard on the old fellow.

(Besides, I may or may not be doing a little expansion of this story with all those things we superheroine lovers are so accustomed to seeing in Batgirl adventures. That ought to take the edge off it just a little.)

Omega's Rating:

6-and-a-half Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Next time: The Princess of Plunder rides again with the Clown Prince of Crime - but under circumstances of a slightly... different bent. Don't miss it!
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Batman '66 #31: The Joker's Big Show

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Batman '66 #31: The Joker's Big Show
Release Date: April 2, 2014
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Colors: Jonathan Case
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Jonathan Case
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

I admittedly haven't read every chapter of the Batman '66 digital comic, but I think it's fair to say that Jeff Parker was genuinely trying to go for Something Special with this one. It's the first three-parter since the comic's debut story, and it features the return of Jonathan Case, the first (and possibly best) artist on the title. Throw in a slew of cameos from a half-dozen different villains, the introduction of a new one (at least in this continuity), and the first time that the Terrific Trio appeared all together in the comic, and you've got a recipe for greatness. 'course, dual covers (one by Case, one by the great Michael Allred) don't hurt, either.
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That said, our heroes don't really start the story off on their best foot...
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(Batgirl being helplessly paralyzed with laughter has always been an obscure kink of mine, almost entirely due to this.)

What's this? A Batman '66 story beginning in media res? Never fear, context is here: seems that a couple days back, Arkham's Dr. Quinn decided to hold a talent show for all its most notorious inmates as a way of "channeling their criminal urges toward something more productive" or some bullcrap like that. You can probably tell from that sentence alone that it was a doomed venture from the start, but the show itself is an absolute delight:
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With the usual gang of idiots (Bruce, Dick, Barbara, Gordon, and O'Hara) in attendance, we make our way to the headliner: the most terrifying criminal mind in all of Arkham and undoubtedly Batman's greatest foe...
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Yeah...

Call me a nitpick if you will, but this is one of the reasons I'll probably never like Batman '66 as much as I ought to. These little "modernizing" touches like replacing Gotham State Pen with Arkham and the increased emphasis on the Joker as Batman's archenemy eat away at the '66-verse's own unique little order of things, which I don't care for at all.

That said, the Joker's stand-up routine is in a league of its own, and I can very, very easily hear all the hacky material rolling out of Cesar Romero's mouth:
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(And now I must make a hypocrite of myself: I LOVE the shout-out to The Killing Joke that Parker stuck in here. It probably helps that according to a lot of sources, the joke is an actual joke predating the 1980s, not just something Alan Moore made up for the comic.)

Which brings us roughly back to where we are now. With all of Arkham sans Joker and Catwoman now laughing their guts out and unable to do anything else, it's time for some serious criming.
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... which we'll get to in the next installment, since this one's already ended!

First acts in stories have a reputation for being slow and ill-paced, but I'm glad to say that that's not the case here. Sure, there might not have been much genuine plot progression, but the amount of fun that Parker and Case are having with throwing all the villains together is palpable, and the whole talent show is such a hoot that I kind of wish the entire arc had been focused just around it. My God, can you imagine? Penguin's songbird chorus, cooking with Egghead, Joker and Riddler getting into a stand-up duel...

What we have, though, is still one crackerjack of an issue that leaves the reader hungry for more. Will the next two parts be up to snuff? We'll find out soon enough.

Omega's Rating:

9 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Next time: Exposition! Explanations! Political satire galore! And more Catwoman! Be there.
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Batman '66 #32: Gotham Goes Ho Ho Ho

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Batman '66 #32: Gotham Goes Ho Ho Ho
Release Date: April 16, 2014
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Colors: Jonathan Case
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Jonathan Case
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

When we'd last left our heroes and heroine, they'd been left in a pretty pickle by the Clown Prince of Crime and the Princess of Plunder. But, if nothing else, the Terrific Trio is quick to recover. Now, eagle-eyed readers will have no doubt spotted that strange headband in the Joker's green hair last issue. What is it, you ask? Another sign of Jeff Parker's ability to play the long, long game.

For you see, the seeds of this arc were planted way back in Issue #7, the comic's first Joker story. Much as I dislike a lot of Jeff Parker's choices with this extension of the '66-verse, that's some arc-weaving I can't help but respect.

But because he (unlike some writers) still believes in the credo of "every comic is someone's first", Parker still drops enough exposition in this issue to get new readers caught up.
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Meanwhile, the newly-liberated Joker and Catwoman use the miraculous laughter-spreading doohickey to go around robbing Gotham blind. And also humiliate not-Obama.
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(Okay, so he's supposed to be Gotham's mayor, but I think it's fair to call a spade a spade.)

No, I don't know what the hell Dick is doing, either. The more interesting thing, I feel, is Parker's take on Batman's take on a Joker-Catwoman teamup. It's a lot more well thought-out than the Joker-Catwoman teamup we got on the show, but... I'm still not sure I buy it. All the villains on the show were fairly interchangeable in terms of "abilities" (save for some obvious ones like Mr. Freeze's ice gun), and it's not like the Joker doesn't steal shit all the time on his own.

Bleh. I'm thinking too hard about this.
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Yes, the traitor in Arkham's midst was the Harley Quinn analogue all along! I know, aren't you surprised?

In all serious, this might well be my favorite take on Harley in any DC media. I might get into this more in a hypothetical future Harley review series, but let's just say I don't think any other adaptation's emphasized how innocent she was while she was still a psychiatrist. Even the rightly-celebrated Mad Love GN kinda portrayed her as being on the fast track to supervillainy. But in the flattened, more black-and-white morality of Batman '66, she's downright heroic. Kinda like the Harvey Dent we never really got!

(Okay, I know they did a "Lost Episode" where Len Wein adapted Harlan Ellison's rejected scripts for a '66 Two-Face, but quite frankly I don't think that counts.)

'course, the slashy subtext with Catwoman doesn't hurt, either...
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(What? It's still way, way more logical than when their mainstream comics counterparts decided to form the Gotham City Sirens for no goddamn reason. That Harley has a wonderful history of playing Hannibal Lecter with Catwoman at her most vulnerable.)

All right, all the pieces are in place, and this issue's just about ready to wrap up. But look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane... it's an incredibly obvious trap we're going to plunge headlong into anyhow.
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Oh, Batman. Never change.

All told, this is probably the slowest segment of this arc, but there's still a ton of great stuff here. Batgirl barely even appears, but I only missed her once - the Joker/Catwoman/Quinn stuff is that enthralling. Another strong recommend.

Omega's Rating:

8 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Next time: the saga concludes with a truly brutal kick to the gut. Plus the Batgirl/Catwoman cat-fight we all really wanted to see back in the '60s! Don't miss it.
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Batman '66 #33: The Dynamic Duo and Batgirl Say Hello

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Batman '66 #33: The Dynamic Duo & Batgirl Say Hello!
Release Date: April 30, 2014
Script: Jeff Parker
Art & Colors: Jonathan Case
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Jonathan Case
Assistant Editor: Aniz Ansari
Senior Editor: Jim Chadwick
Note: most of the content here is reposted from my Batgirl review series. I make no claim to it being original material; it is mostly here for the sake of completion.

When we last left our caped crusaders, well... I'll let Joker and Catwoman fill you in:
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Shockingly enough, charging headlong toward the villains without any plan doesn't go well for them. Joker just turns his supersized Crazy Ray (TM) on a bunch of innocent civilians in a park, driving all of them totally insane. Said lunatics then attack our heroes... and no one else. Okay, I get that it's a narrative convenience, and it can probably be handwaved by saying that this is Joker-brand insanity which is rooted more in hating law and order than anything else, but I'd still have liked something a little more sophisticated than just "BOOM, everybody's a Joker henchman now".

But it does give us this scene, so I'm not complaining too loudly.
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The Bat-Fight rages on, sadly lacking any of the show's signature music or clumsy cinematography. To make up for that, though, the comic gives us something the show never could: an honest-to-God Yvonne Craig/Julie Newmar fight scene.
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My friends, nowhere else on this planet (except maybe Lego Batman 3) could you find officially-licensed merchandise with that. Yow.

(It wasn't just poor timing that this never happened on the show, by the by. Craig was reportedly terrified of how Newmar was almost a foot taller than she was, and expressed relief that she'd be fighting the equally vertically-challenged Eartha Kitt for Season 3.)

For once, the concept of strength in numbers actually pays off, and the Terrific Trio are getting their asses handed to them pretty badly. But Dr. Quinn... oh, poor, sweet Dr. Quinn...
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To make a long story short: it works. Gotham's citizens go back to normal, and look like they're going to kick the crap out of Joker and Catwoman for the stunt they just pulled. But at what cost?

At. What. Cost?
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Look, I knew this series was, on the whole, more serious than the show itself had ever been, but I wasn't expecting something this dark and tragic. Sure, the whole Dr. Quinn arc could have been fleshed out a lot better (we're never given much of an idea why she went and helped the Joker with this scheme), but... Jesus. This is approaching Batman: The Animated Series levels of kick-in-the-gut origin, and I might hesitatingly call it Parker's (and Case's) finest hour on this title.

On a perhaps-unrelated note: good God do I want to smack that self-righteous look off Batman's face on the last page. Dude, she stopped the Joker and saved your life (entirely of her own accord, mind you) knowing that it would drive her permanently insane. Would it kill you to emote a little? I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd actually prefer the mainstream comics' Bat-jerk here, because at least he knew how to grieve (with lots of little narration boxes and laughably overwrought angst, yes, but that's beside the point).

Geez, what am I saying? This is the guy who watched Riddler's girl die in the Bat-tomic Reactor and didn't bat an eye. '66 Batman don't shiv, man.

(On the somewhat brighter side: hey there, Hugo. We all missed ya, buddy. See ya in another 15 chapters or so!)

So... overall, a fun and surprisingly brutal take on Harley Quinn's origin, and I can see why all three members of the Terrific Trio were needed. The only criticism I have is that Catwoman was largely superfluous to the entire story - it's almost the reverse of the Romero/Kitt teamup in Season 3 of the show, where now it's the Joker pulling all the weight and Catwoman who's just along for the ride. But with the Cat/Bat catfight we got out of it, I can almost overlook that entirely. Jonathan Case's art is, of course, as brilliant as ever, and I only wish he'd stick around as more than just an occasional artist.

And frankly, I look forward to when (or if) the Harley Quinn and Hugo Strange plot threads will finally pay off. As of this writing, I'm still waiting, Mister Parker.

Omega's Rating:

9 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Next time: A most special new review to come down the pike, featuring the most... unique aesthetics of one Mr. Burton. Anyone still reading this is welcome to ride along.
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Disciple »

Batman Returns
Release Date: July 19, 1992
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Daniel Waters
Special Guest Villains: Danny DeVito as the Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Christopher Walken as Max Shreck
Though Chris Nolan's Dark Knight saga has knocked it off its throne a bit, it behooves us to remember that an entire generation still takes the Burton Batman films as the definitive (or at least a definitive) Batman canon. No doubt this is at least partially due to the marketing blitzkrieg around the movies back in the late '80s and early '90s, which produced - among other things - Batman: The Animated Series, but I know plenty of people who feel the Burton movies are perfectly capable of standing on their own two feet to this day.

But while Burton's first Batman movie is seen as near-perfect at best and stunningly mediocre (save for a few things like Batman killing criminals and the Joker's backstory) at worst, opinion tends to be a lot more split on his second and last one. It's picked up a reputation for being the more "Burton-y" one, with some claiming that Burton simply took a massive Hollywood budget, made the movie he felt like making, and slapped a few bits and pieces of DC comics on top of it to keep the WB suits and McDonald's happy.

(Not that it worked; McDonald's wound up on the wrong side of parent complaints when it turned out that the characters in its Happy Meal toys were doing stuff more suited to an HBO show, and this is cited as a common reason for why Burton didn't come back to direct Batman Forever.)

Upon scouring the web, I've found a surprising number of people who not only believe this fact but defend it; there exist a small contingent of fans who like the movie's take on the Penguin, and a surprisingly large amount who defend its Catwoman on both sexual and feminist grounds. Well, the only film I've seen Michelle Pfeiffer in lately is Scarface, so this oughta be fun.

Well, I can see that Burton's not going to beat around the bush. The opening into Oswald Cobblepot's childhood is heartbreakingly bleak and unapologetically weird at the same time, culminating in the abandoned baby Oswald's crib being picked up by penguins living in... under?... the local zoo.

Abrupt cut to 33 years later (whee, lazy Biblical symbolism), where the Burton Gotham that B:TAS would later famously inherit hits us right in the face. And as if the city weren't already larger than life, it's Christmas - oooh, yes, this should be fun.

Okay, our three main baddies are getting set up at a nice pace. Oswald's all grown up now and presumably nice and homicidal, and the city treats him as an urban legend, 'cause why rip off New York's sewer gators when you've got sewer penguins? Meanwhile, high up in the unassailable corporate fortress that is Shreck's department store, there is evil afoot. By which I mean some jackass tycoon and his Frankenstein-tastic hair want to corner the market on energy (or something) while being a total dick to his mousy waif of a secretary, Selina Kyle.

These two sound like very stock characters, and maybe they are at the script level, but the designs alone give them a lot more personality than what another movie would've done. I'm still not sure what to think of the Burton/Waters backstory for Selina (which resembles no Catwoman origin I've seen before or since), but Pfeiffer does put in an appreciable amount of effort for the frazzled little wallflower.

While Shreck, his son Chip, and the other city establishment-types go out and bamboozle the masses, a Mysterious Figure (TM) stalks through the sewers, umbrella in hand. Gee, I wonder who that could be.

Poor, poor Selina forgets to give Mr. Shreck his speech, but really, the one that Shreck gives off the top of his head isn't that bad. Hell, the citizens of Gotham probably appreciate not having to stand out in the cold too long.

But here comes Penguin to come cock all that up. The sight of the giant present box sneaking up on the press conferences seems like something straight out of the '66 show, but what comes out definitely isn't. I have the feeling that these are guys Jack Skellington kicked out of Halloweentown for being too hardcore.

(Evil circus performers might sound like a straight rip-off of the first movie, until you realize how few times Jack Nicholson's Joker actually played to the "clown" gimmick. Generally, he used either ordinary mobsters or AK-wielding mimes.)

I suppose this take on Commissioner Gordon should be given credit for cutting to the chase: homicidal sideshow attacking Gotham? Call the Batman! We don't have to pay benefits if he gets hurt!

Still, I'm unabashedly fond of the whole system-of-mirrors thing at Wayne Manor, which is a realistic yet fantastic explanation for how Bruce can see the Bat-Signal without it being conveniently outside his window all the time. And I don't particularly care for Michael Keaton's strange, bug-eyed take on Bruce, but there's something strangely... uplifting about the sight of him posing in front of the light like that.

The first "fight scene" isn't much to write home about - Batman's car does most of the fighting for him, and the sideshow freaks look like they're ready to clear out anyhow - but I giggled a little at how he goes out of his way to set the fire-breather on fire. What can I say? The Burton/Keaton take on Batman is just hilarious when he's being a violent sociopath.

(And far as I'm concerned, Chip is the real hero of this scene. He's got the voice of a jock who'd struggle with "what is two plus two?", but you have to give props to a guy willing to stand up for his dad's life when the other side is holding him at gun- and swordpoint.)

When Batman gets out of the car, his rescuing Selina from a clown goon isn't exactly... exciting (the cowl still won't let Keaton turn his head, it seems), but it works decently as an introduction between this Bruce and this Selina. The latter, in particular, continues to be adorably awkward.

(Oh, and Selina palms the clown goon's Taser. This will be important later.)

So it seems that the Circus Gang actually aren't new faces in Gotham, but never mind that - Shreck is getting his sorry ass kidnapped by Penguin. Dammit, man, don't let your son down like that!

Our first clear scene with DeVito's Penguin, and... it's not bad, really. Certainly not as bad as I'd expected from all the scathing reviews and Internet parodies. No, the character's not much to look at and DeVito's voice is kind of grating, but his dialogue has a wonderfully sardonic charm to it that I wish more modern Penguin writers would take note of.

(By the way, the hypno-brella? No one does arbitrary toy advertising like Tim Burton does arbitrary toy advertising.)

Man, that bit where Penguin blackmailes Max... this movie really is the '66 show on a variety of hard drugs. Which is a-okay by me.

Back to Selina, and... I'm really starting to wonder if I'd have appreciated this movie as much when I was little. Burton really walks a knife's edge with the sentimentality and black comedy here, and the part where Selina starts going through the files in Shreck's office is genuinely unnerving once her boss shows up.

Shreck's big, evil plan, though... that's where the movie becomes a little too cartoony for my tastes. Building a "power plant" that would suck away all of Gotham's electricity sounds like something a Captain Planet villain would do, and I'm fairly sure that no one outside of grade school thinks that that's how electricity works.

(I heard somewhere that this is meant to be one of the film's many, many tributes to German expressionism - specifically Nosferatu - but there's such a thing as too much symbolism.)

Similarly, Shreck's "murder" of Selina is too steeped in cliche and illogic for me to give it full points, well-acted and directed as it is. You'd think a big, powerful businessman like Shreck would hire someone to do the dirty work for him, or at least move the body away from his store.

And now we come to the most (in)famous part of the movie, judging by the number of parodies and homages it's gotten. The rebirth of Selina Kyle. Maybe it was shocking back in the '90s, but I find it a little too embarrassingly "grrl power!" now, and I would've liked a little more explanation for how Selina makes her costume.

(The "Hell Here" sign is a cute touch, though.)

Next... morning, I think? The Mayor holds another press conference and is dumb enough to bring his infant son there. One of Penguin's clowns immediately grabs the kid and takes him down into the sewers... only for Penguin to "intimidate" him into surrendering the kid. Cue Penguin rising from the sewers, "rescued" baby in hand like some hideous underground Messiah.

Cue Penguin's sob story about wanting to find his Mom and Dad, and Gotham just eats it up. This might seem rushed, but since Max Shreck now (unwillingly) has Penguin's back, I can totally buy his company doing some kind of media blitz to make Gotham's dunderheaded citizens accept him. These are, after all, the same people who actually bought Joker's "free money" parade in the first movie.

Jeez - it's kinda shocking to hear this Alfred call Bruce "Mr. Wayne" when pretty much every other version uses "Master Bruce". I guess this means that he hasn't been with Bruce for very long, so... his letting Vicki Vale into the Batcave is even worse!

D'aww, even this murder-happy Batman melts when he hears about another man searching for his parents. Suck in that Christmas spirit, folks.

(Spoiler alert: Penguin's actually using the city's Hall of Records to make his hit-list. Also, where the hell did that monocle come from?)

Man, I'll never get used to the sight of Bruce Wayne wearing glasses. Quit stealing your buddy Clark's shtick!

... well, that's something else I can't see any other Bruce doing. It's not so much that he complains about the vichyssoise (I learned a new word!) so much as the way he does it, but... eh.

Okay, now this is classic Batman: Bruce is a suspicious ass, Alfred snarks about it, and deep down, Bruce doesn't want to find anything amiss. But alas, he does.

The scene where Penguin lays roses at the Cobblepots' graves seems like a twisted tribute to Bruce's own memorial services in the first movie, but I don't have much to comment beyond that, since I barely remember anything about the first movie aside from the parts I disliked.

Never mind that, though - it's time to see Catwoman's first night out! Geez, I never thought a superhero movie made back then would have a mugger/rapist this graphic. And yeah, they never really explain where Catwoman got her fighting skills (though I think a cut part of the script established that she'd been going to anti-rape classes). Even that aside, the part where she cuts up the thug's face is hilariously fake-looking, like she's spreading ketchup all over him.

But at least she didn't mug the woman herself (I think). That's something.

Now, my memories of Bruce's civilian life from the first movie are mostly "recluse who occasionally steps out to hold fundraisers for District Attorneys", so it's rather nice to see him wielding some of his economic and political muscle to confront Max Shreck on the power plant o' doom.

Once again, the first meeting between Bruce and Selina in this 'verse is nothing like any other version I've seen, but I can't tell if that makes it superior or not. There's definitely something amusing about "secretary" Selina walking in and talking to Bruce like she'd just done ten lines of blow, and Walken's reactions are priceless, but... I dunno.

"It's a long story." Yes, I see what you did there, Burton/Waters. Bruce's sudden interest in Selina is a little too abrupt for my tastes, but it still feels more entertaining than any other Batman movie romance.

So Shreck completely buys Selina's story about amnesia and decides to let her live unless she tries to blackmail him. Gold star. I can't see that backfiring in any way.

And now, the movie gets tired of simply homaging the '66 show and starts outright stealing from it. This Penguin running for mayor (endorsed by Max, no less!) makes no freaking sense, and I don't think a ruthless mover-and-shaker like Max is someone who'd confuse momentary fascination with genuine political charisma. Still, the posters on the wall are the closest we'll ever get to a "comics-faithful" Penguin in this movie, so enjoy 'em while they last.

I like Max's plastic-smiled political consultants well enough, but I'm kinda annoyed that Penguin's gone from an eccentric and disgusting but brilliant crimelord to a much less intelligent animal that Max's people have to deal with like a special needs kid. The part where he bites that guy's nose is pure gold, though.

So Burton and Waters spend several muttering minutes trying to justify why Max wants Penguin to run for Mayor, and... sorry, I still don't buy it. Not even all the Topical Political References (TM) help, though I suppose the part where they talk about the current Mayor and the small matter of election season being over is funny enough.

Alright, we've gone long enough without any mindless violence or wanton property damage. Time for Batman vs. the Circus Gang, round two! If anything, it's even goofier than the first fight, and the part where Batman whips out his remote-control Batarang reeks of toy/video game advertising like nothing's business, but the poodle lady partly redeems it.

Meanwhile, Catwoman's going around smashing shit up 'cause... she feels like it, I guess. This starts to dip even more into embarrassing '90s "grrl power"-ness, but I gotta give Michelle Pfeiffer mad props for doing her own stunts with that whip. Oh, and Batman kills a dude by sticking a bomb down his pants, in case you forgot whose Batman movie this is.

By now, the movie's spent almost an hour setting up its two main villains, so it's time for them to meet our hero. The first conversation between Penguin and Batman is reasonably fraught with tension, though I'm still not sure Batman has that much reason to think he personally planned the Circus Gang's attack. Penguin's gloating removes all doubt, though - that's clear enough.

... I just love that "WTF, is she with you?" look on both Batman and Penguin's faces when Catwoman comes out of that store and it blows up. I can almost see audiences back in '92 thinking that they're going to team up against her.

That doesn't happen, of course; Penguin beats feet and leaves Batman to take on the crazy cat lady by himself. I have to say - while Pfeiffer is pretty unhinged and brutal in comparison to Hathaway, the fight is rather dated in choreography, and I probably shouldn't be coming away with the feeling that Batman would've stood a much better chance if only he'd wear a costume that would let him move more than a few inches at a time.

After the fight, we get some of the requisite sexual tension... after which Catwoman attacks Batman again and Bats punches her off the fucking roof. Okay, so Selina lands in a conveniently passing truck full of kitty litter, but... Jesus. The hammer of justice is unisex, indeed.

The next day... yeah, I just can't get used to DeVito's Penguin perving on people. Drooling black sludge is one thing, but trying to imitate Nicholson's lechery just doesn't work for the character. That might be part of why Catwoman's big entrance at his Campaign HQ doesn't turn me on as much as it should... but then again, maybe Burton isn't going for pure titillation here. He's made it immensely clear that these two are both mentally ill freaks, and Catwoman's stitched-up costume is actually kind of disturbing, no matter what sexy poses she's making in it.

So, yeah - here's the granddaddy of all the gratuitous villain team-ups that we know and hate in today's superhero movies. Catwoman doesn't really have much reason to go to Penguin of all people to carry out her anti-Batman agenda, but by complete coincidence, Penguin's already got a crackerjack kill-the-Bat plan in mind. Don't hold your breath waiting for the movie to explain where he got the Batmobile's blueprints, by the way.

Okay, the bit where Catwoman and Penguin try to out-evil each other is cartoonishly delightful, though I'm at a loss to why Catwoman brought her cat to a place like this in the first place. Also... that stuff Bruce tossed on her was napalm? Good God, man!

So our baddies agree that killing Batman would only make him a martyr, so what they really have to do is frame him, bring him "down to our level". I don't know if you two have noticed, but Batman already spends most of his screentime killing people left and right out of his own private mental hangups and Gotham still worships him, so you're gonna have to work overtime on that. Anyways, Penguin challenges Gotham's current Mayor to personally light the giant Christmas tree and keep the public safe. Whee.

Cut to Bruce and Selina's first... date(?), and my is Michael Keaton pushing this "Bruce Wayne = Edgier, creepier Clark Kent" thing. I suppose that in some ways it's a more realistic portrayal of a billionaire recluse who puts on a playsuit to beat up criminals at night, but still...

So, Operation Frame the Bat part one: Penguin uses one of Batman's remote-control Batarangs to murder the Ice Princess (the girl who's supposed to light the tree). Juvenile as can be, but to be fair - Bane tried the same thing in the comics once.

I doubt anyone misses Kim Basinger's Vicki Vale from the last movie, so Burton and Waters don't really spent much time discussing why she broke up with Bruce before diving straight into the Bruce/Selina romance. I have to say, maybe this is why Keaton's Bruce is such a cult hit on the Internet - when he shows vulnerabilities, they feel like genuine weaknesses that make him seem dorky and small, not manly, temporary "vulnerabilities" that only serve to make him look cooler in the long run.

Bruce, do you really think a "Norman Bates/Ted Bundy" type would turn her off? Look in her eyes, man!

Well, this is awful graphic sexytime for a superhero movie, especially for back-then standards. Fortunately, it seems that our lovebirds aren't screwed-up enough to get turned on by touching each others' wounds. Yet. Oh, and the Ice Princess murder... er, kidnapping hits the news then, so it's time for Batman to hit the streets and start a-murderin' again.

... wow. So Alfred's your designated tell-my-love-interest-I'm-a-nutso-vigilante guy now. Once again, something no other Batman (not even Adam West) would be caught dead doing. But in a way, I guess it does make this Bruce more endearingly human (if kinda stupid for a superhero 'verse). But in true twisted rom-com way, Selina calls it off before the secret can get out.

(Alfred, you dog. How many dirty limericks do you know?)

... Bruce, when you've got a drawbridge leading to your freaking closet, it might be time to admit you have problems.

So because it's the quickest way to continue the plot, Batman jumps into Penguin's trap with both feet and... no, no, NO. How the HELL did you guys get a goddamn remote control for the Batmobile? You're supposed to be filthy hobo criminal circus performers, not genius electronic engineers! What, was the Riddler in an earlier version of this script only to get cut at the last second?!

Guh. Anyways, Batman finds the Ice Princess tied up in a place that might as well have "GIANT TRAP" spray-painted over it, and Catwoman predictably shows up for a rematch. This fight is inferior to their first one in every way, mostly because the set leaves no space for interesting angles or the like. All the focus is on the people, and... I'm sorry, but it's pretty much impossible to make a live-action Batman fight scene work like that. For my money, Batman's costume looks stupid and clumsy in every live-action production, so you can't choreograph his fight scenes like you would in a comic book or cartoon (unless you're trying to make fun of them, like the Adam West show). Even when Batman goes on the offensive, he just looks like a giant action figure trying to fight against a flesh-and-blood human!

The whole affair becomes even more laughably clumsy when Penguin murders the Ice Princess for real; he spends a good deal of time on a pretty elaborate murder method, and Batman just stands there and watches. When the reporters start screaming that he pushed the Princess off the roof, I'm half-inclined to think they know he didn't literally do it and are just saying that out of spite.

Yes, Bruce - an innocent girl is dead, Gotham's citizens are being terrorized by bats, and the lady who's at least partially responsible for it all is standing right there, but by all means make out with her and let her go. Fah.

So Catwoman and Penguin reunite on the roof and gloat over their evilness, only Catwoman suddenly starts showing a conscience and says that killing the girl wasn't part of the plan. Penguin then takes a level or twenty in creepiness, and when Catwoman refuses to do the mambo with him (my apologies to anyone who just suffered from a vision of Pfeiffer and DeVito actually getting it on), he... attaches her claws to his helicopter-brella or something and sends her flying off.

Okay, that's a fairly badass means of execution, and it shows off still more of Anton Furst's wonderful, wonderful sets. The part where Catwoman howls like a banshee and shatters an entire greenhouse is just plain inexplicable, though.

Now, onto Operation Frame the Bat part two: Penguin gets into his campaign van and... y'know, just what is it with Penguin jacking the Batmobile? This movie isn't even close to the first time it's been done. Is there some kind of subconscious theme going on here?

Anyways, while I still call bullshit on the setup, the part where Penguin takes control of the car is actually a wonderful piece of black comedy. Hell, DeVito's sheer unrestrained glee here makes it very, very easy to see him as a better Joker than the Burton movies' actual Joker.

Eventually, Batman pulls the hijacky device out of the Batmobile, but not before his car's killed at least a dozen innocent citizens. Hell, even after he regains control, his method of evading the cops probably killed at least one. Our hero, folks.

Penguin's not happy since Batman's still alive, but the bigger goal's been achieved: he can now run on a platform against both the Mayor and Batman. Selina (spoiler alert: she survived again) makes all kinds of death glares, while Alfred and Bruce discuss the trashed Batmobile. I'm kinda puzzled as to why they can't fix it themselves (how'd they build the damn thing in the first place if they're so concerned about security?), but it's all worth it to hear Bruce call Alfred out on letting Vicki into the Batcave.

Did... did Bruce have an entrance to the Batcave inside a freaking iron maiden in the last movie? On second thought, don't answer that.

Well, good to see that Operation: Frame the Bat was almost completely pointless. Bruce takes Oswald's mayoral campaign apart pretty easily (though it does make sense - not a good idea to put a video feed of yourself into the enemy's car, bud), without the situation ever really putting the screws on him. I know, I know - you can probably get your fill of Batman vs. cops from the animated series or the comics, but still...

That said, Bruce (and Tim Burton) get major points for at least keeping their world consistent. A batch of citizens who'd back the Penguin on nothing but a sob story and a random bunch of terrorist attacks probably would be the type to immediately abandon him just for insulting them behind their backs. And just to really seal the deal, Penguin snaps and opens fire on them with his bumbershooter, so it's totally okay for everyone to start hunting him down now.

Back in his zoo lair, Penguin completely snaps and goes back(?) to his original plan of kidnapping and slaughtering all the first-born children of Gotham while their parents are busy partying at Shreck's masquerade ball. How... very Old Testament. Surprisingly enough, one of the circus goons actually speaks up against it, which I find rather unfitting with Burton's misanthropic Gotham, but Penguin gives a pretty decent one-liner as he kills the guy, so I'll let it slide.

Meanwhile, Bruce obviously realizes that he's still got at least one insane supervillain to hunt down and that there are still some loose ends with the Penguin-Shreck connection to wrap up... no, wait, my bad. He's going to Shreck's masquerade ball because he's still got the hots for Selina. Our hero, folks.

The ball itself... okay, I suppose the parallels to The Dark Knight Rises are intentional on Nolan's part, but that only makes it feel weirder. Should I bury Pfeiffer for playing a character who's a little too psychotic for Catwoman or praise her for playing a character who's a lot more interesting than most takes on Catwoman? It really, really makes me wonder what would've happened if this movie had come out in, say, '97 or something and Harley Quinn was a decently big name in the Bat-mythos.

Damned if I know how, but Burton's actually gotten me to swallow the whole mistletoe scene. Maybe it's just the spirit of the season, or maybe I'm merely relieved that it's not as clumsy as the "Dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight" recall from the last movie. Or maybe I just like that for once, Catwoman and Batman discover each others' secret identities at exactly the same time.

Anyways, Bruce (temporarily) talks Selina down from putting a hot round between Shreck's eyes, but Penguin makes all that moot by crashing the ball himself. His big villain speech is impressive and all, but I can't help noticing that... well, shouldn't at least half of Gotham's hottest families have security or something to protect their kids? But it being Christmas and all, I guess you could justify it by saying they all have the night off or they're soused or something.

I'm also gonna guess that Penguin trying to take Chip Shreck is a unique thing, not that his gang is also going around kidnapping every adult first-born (as hilarious as that would've been to see). And I have to say - I knew that Shreck's One Moment of Humanity (TM) was coming down the pike, but Walken's acting still floored me. Guy's that good.

(The bit where he tries to touch one of Penguin's little penguins and almost gets bitten is adorable as all hell, BTW.)

Back in Penguin's zoo lair, ol' Oswald goes Maximum Evil for the movie's final act, which is pretty freaking evil. "I'm gonna drown a bunch of infants and toddlers in toxic waste" sounds like the kind of thing that would be either too over-the-top to take seriously or too dark to really work for a PG-13 film, but... honest to God, I don't think anyone besides Burton could've broken the mold of those two. When the carousel umbrella comes out, it basically becomes its own warped cartoon reality that's horrifying, but in a charming way. Does that make any sense?

Alas, the above point is largely rendered moot; we get just one scene of the Circus Gang stealing children before Batman shows up to clean their clocks - off-screen, no less. This is probably the wisest decision made so far in regards to Batman fighting, and the little note he sends the organ-grinder monkey back with is hilarious, but it kind of smacks of a plot point Burton wanted to go somewhere but got vetoed by the execs on. At the very least, I think Penguin would've killed Max out of sheer rage if the failure was meant to be part of the script.

So we abruptly cut to the "real" climax: Penguin's gonna send a shitload of bazooka penguin troopers to burn all of Gotham down. Batman and Alfred disable this threat in a suitably goofy (though still logically foreshadowed) way, but given that the shot of all the penguins turning away from the town square is obviously meant for comedy, I feel it would've been better to make their solution goofier still - like, I dunno, Batman lures them away with a giant bucket of shrimp or something.

Anyway, Penguin realizes that Batman's getting ready to open a can of Bat-whoopass on him, and... truth be told, I kinda felt for him when all his remaining henchmen slowly melted away rather than stay to defend him. Or at least I would, if Christopher Walken weren't completely stealing the scene with his Jack Sparrow act.

Final fight scene, and... yeeeeahh, Burton? I barely bought Jack Nicholson standing up to the goddamn Batman for more than five seconds in the last movie, so Danny DeVito in prosthetics ain't gonna cut it. Fortunately, Burton only wastes a minimum of time on "hand-to-hand" before giving us a defeat that, instead of being inexplicable and anticlimactic like the Joker's, is just really, really weird. But let's be honest: would we expect anything less of him? And look! Explosions!

Oh, and in case you forgot: Catwoman is still in this movie. Right after Max escapes, she confronts him with the most terrifying punishment known to man: an invocation of Halle Berry's Catwoman suit. Followed by slow, bloody murder.

Max keeps on stealing the scene with every line he utters, but to be honest, there's not much competition. Batman's just remembered he's supposed to be a hero, so here comes all the "Nooooo I can't let you kill him it's illegal!!!1!" crap. Yeah, Bruce? You don't have any fucking room to talk here, and I can't even remember the last time you sent any crook to jail.

... okay, I really wasn't expecting that, though in retrospect I should've been. Bruce unmasking himself in front of Selina when there's NOT an evil businessman about five feet away would be tough to swallow in any other Batman 'verse, but here... well, it's still stupid, but it's stupid in a way that at least makes sense with this twisted rom-com thing that Burton's turned the Bat/Cat relationship into. It's not quite as tragic as it could be, given it's pretty obvious that Selina is too unhinged for a fairy-tale ending to ever happen even before she "rejects" Bruce, but Pfeiffer's acting gives it a solid edge.

That said, Selina's killing of Shreck is a rather unwelcome return to that embarrassing "grrl power!" stuff I was talking about earlier, though the Taser-kiss gives it a mildly tolerable over-the-top feel - especially given that it turns Shreck into something that looks like it should be hosting Tales From the Crypt. The Night of the Living Cobblepot, I have much fewer problems with, since it's a thing of black comedy all the way through, though we don't fully realize that until the "Shit! I picked the cute one" punchline.

... okay, so I kinda got sniffly when Penguin's little buddies held that "funeral" for him. Wanna fight about it?

As for the epilogue... well, all I've got to say is that it should not be possible to feel so melancholy after a film so dependent on black humor and attention-grabbing nonsense, especially when Catwoman is explicitly shown to be alive. And yet, it is. Well played, Mr. Burton and Mr. Waters. And well played, Mr. Elfman and Mr. Furst.

Okay, for anyone still reading this, I've probably tortured you enough. Final thoughts: there's never a dull moment with this film, but it's definitely less than the sum of its parts. Strange as this might sound, I feel it would've made for a better (or at least more coherent) movie if Burton had been allowed to make it even more Burton-y instead of having to cater to "traditional" superhero/action movie tropes like the "Batman gets framed as an evildoer" part. I found DeVito's Penguin by and by large a worthy successor to Nicholson's Joker, and Pfeiffer's intensity as Catwoman easily overcomes any niggles I have about unfaithfulness to the comics (though to be fair, Catwoman in the comics has never been one of my faves) or her emphasis on creepiness and psychosis instead of fun or sex appeal.

If nothing else, the whole movie deserves ten pats on the back for being able to take two stock roles - the "sane" villain who gets all the crazies set up, and the love interest meant to bring out Bruce's humanity - and make them memorable beyond belief, a feat that no Batman movie before or since has really matched. Kudos to the whole cast and crew. Especially the guy who had to train all those penguins. To say nothing of Danny Elfman's soundtrack.

... alright, yes, this movie is almost the sole reason that Catwoman (2004) exists, but in the spirit of the (on-screen) holidays, can't we let that slide?

Omega's Rating:

8 Purrloined Prizes (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Just the pussy I wanted to see!"
"Just the pussy I wanted to see!"
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Re: Catwoman's Scratching Post: Another Joint for Reviews!

Post by Visitor »

The Penguin for Mayor plot was because Bruce Wayne had convinced the current mayor not to approve Shreck's plans and why wait for the next election when you got a patsy to use right now.

Catwoman (2004) was a sad result of Pfeiffer being good enough to be a lead and doing what everyone thought then as a great job as Catwoman. If only they had done it within 2 or 3 years with a decent script, we might have got something worth reviewing. By the time they finally got around to making the film, Pfeiffer was no longer available, but Warner Brothers finally was going to do it. At least Halle Berry didn't ruin the James Bond franchise too because there was talk of spinning off her Jinx character.
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