“The Penguin Goes Straight/Not Yet, He Ain't!” (S1/E21 & 22) Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
Date: April 5, 2015
SYNOPSIS PART 1: The Penguin goes straight, thwarting crimes across Gotham City and offering his services as a security expert. Batman doesn't believe it and sets out to prove The Penguin guilty of a crime, but The Dynamic Duo ended up framed for jewel theft.
PART 2: Batman and Robin escape Penguin's death trap thanks to their bulletproof boots, but are soon run to ground by the police and are shot down trying to escape. Confident that no one can stop him now, The Penguin carries out his scheme to steal his own wedding gifts and escapes in the stolen Batmobile.
“The Penguin Goes Straight/Not Yet, He Ain't!” was written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. & John Cardwell and directed by Leslie H. Martinson. They were first broadcast, respectively, on March 23 & 24, 1966 on the ABC television network.
Open on a seemingly peaceful matinee at a fashionable theater…one that turns suddenly deadly as a masked gunman storms the lobby, demanding jewelry from the wealthy attendees. Luckily for lovely socialite Sophia Starr, a hero is also present and ready for action – The Penguin?!
Indeed, armed with a bulletproof umbrella, Batman's former(?) fowl fiendish foe is able to overtake the robber and return Miss Starr's ruby necklace--much to the delight of the many witnesses. This, a new era of crime-fighting in Gotham City has begun! Not every citizen is convinced, however – primarily Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara, who feel enough unease from this situation to immediately call in The Caped Crusaders!
Bruce Wayne and his teenaged ward Dick Grayson leap at the call, and before you can say "Holy hidden hideaway!,” they're racing toward Gotham in the guise of Batman and Robin. What could The Penguin possibly be perpetuating? The four guardians of Gotham ponder this at police headquarters, but It isn't long until the bestial bird reveals his venture: "Penguin Protective Agency, Inc.,”a security team with an aim to help the Gotham's wealthiest sleep easier at night knowing their precious possessions are in protective hands.
Knowing there's more to this crook than meets the eye,Tthe Dynamic Duo (and Alfred) attempt to get one up on the bird by replacing the valuables in his "care" with lightly radiated copies (sound familiar, BOFers?), that can be traced if moved. Penguin is expecting this, however, and turns the switch into a trap to catch Batman and Robin in the act of theft, turning the heat away from the true master criminal and toward The Caped Crusaders!
The review continues after the jump!
This two-parter features Burgess Meredith's second round as The Penguin – a role the veteran these clearly takes fiendish delight in portraying, with trademark idiosyncrasies to boot. In the scheme of things, it is at times difficult to see a character like Penguin as relevant in the world of The Dark Knight, resulting in multiple artistic reinventions of the villain. Spending time with Meredith's performance, however, makes it easy to see how this wacky waddler managed to cement his place in the pantheon of Bat rogues.
Despite easily fitting in with the camp nature of the overall series, this does arguably feature the show's darkest cliffhanger to date…The Dynamic Duo hanging perilously, concealed behind a shooting range target that Gordon and O'Hara are preparing to fire at. Certainly a far cry from the more fantastic death traps of episodes past.
"One of the Most Perfect Frame-Ups" in DETECTIVE COMICS #58 (December, 1941)
The follow-up episode brings the more comedic tone back with ease, having the Batmobile retrofitted into the "Birdmobile" following a showdown with the police that has Batman and Robin presumed dead. We're later shown that our beloved crime-fighters have more than one way of traveling, with the reveal of the Batcycle (complete with Robin sidecar), from which Batman takes nearly childish delight in controlling his hijacked vehicle remotely, with a flustered Penguin at the wheel.
Here we have another example of a BATMAN episode taking inspiration from previous material, and influencing forthcoming material moving forward. The notion of Penguin framing Batman of theft actually comes from the rogue's first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS #58, another of Bill Finger's unsung contributions to the series. In turn, Batman's covert use of radiated objects was seen by millions nearly 50 years later in Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT; not to mention an emergency "turn in place" feature on The Batmobile shown here, which was utilized with gusto in Tim Burton's BATMAN RETURNS.
Burgess Meredith as The Penguin
All in all, this week's adventures find the show increasingly confident in its own skin, with a clever script from regular series writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. The team manages to push the tone in all directions successfully, and conjure a plot and climax completely unique from what we've seen thus far. - Bobby Barrett
ORIGINAL AIR DATES: March 23 & 24, 1966
SCREENWRITER: Lorenzo Semple, Jr. and John Cardwell
DIRECTOR: Leslie H. Martinson
BAT-FIRSTS: 1st live-action appearance of The Batcycle
BEST BAT-QUOTE: "Holy leopard, what a change of spots!" - Robin