REVIEW: "Hot Off the Griddle & Episode"/ "The Cat and the Fiddle" (S2/E37 & 38)
Author: Robert Reineke (@BATMANONFILM)
Date: March 11, 2016
In Part 1, Catwoman has returned to foil Batman and Robin once again. The attempt to catch her but are double crossed and end up being the flies under a magnifying glass. In Part 2, Batman and Robin barely escape from their hot ordeal and track Catwoman's next step. Catwoman attempts to steal the violins but doesn't get to far due to Batman saving her life.
"Hot Off the Griddle & Episode"/"The Cat and the Fiddle" was written by Stanley Ralph Ross and directed by Don Weis. They were first broadcast, respectively, on September 14 & 15, 1966 on the ABC television network.
It’s something of a surprise that as iconic as Julie Newmar’s Catwoman is, she only appeared in one story in Season 1 of the series. But you can’t keep a good Bat-villainess down and this pair of episodes really seals it that Julie Newmar’s Catwoman is the best villainess that the series would produce.
Like any good Bat-villain, Catwoman announces her return with a series of cat burglaries, carried out by a trio of new recruits, resulting in the theft of a catalog, a model catamaran, and three sets of mittens from some baby triplets with the last name of kitten. Even Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara are able to see that the Catwoman is back in town and are quick to summon Batman.
Batman isn’t worried though as he’s convinced that her overconfidence will betray her. But, I suggest that Batman should look into the mirror as Catwoman is ahead of him every step of the way, from having a gossip columnist on her payroll that tips her off when Batman plants a fake article as a trap to literally getting Batman and Robin to dance for her, via proverbial hotfoot, when they investigate the front she’s set up for herself, the 60s go-go joint, The Pink Sandbox. She even manages to toss Batman and Robin out a window for their troubles, with a fortunate save by protective netting that Batman had set up. The first episode ends with Batman and Robin trussed up on a rooftop solar barbeque complete with magnifying glasses channeling the energy of the sun. Complete with the obvious joke about Catwoman’s new production of “Bat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Part two begins with convenient eclipse and Batman and Robin rearranging the magnifying glasses to burn their bonds, instead of themselves. And a moment of reflection as Batman postulates that it’s not because they’re smarting than they’re enemies that they always escape, but that they’re pure of hear. It’s a corny sentiment, but it’s also a relatively true sentiment which defines a lot of the series. As is, the a discussion of how important it is to “be prepared” in part one of the story. There are very few stories that address the ethos of the series as directly as this one does.
Julie Newmar as Catwoman
The story wraps up with Batman figuring out Catwoman’s plans to steal a pair of Stradivarius violins, helpfully Batman points out that they include 8 pieces of catgut, from the highest skyscraper in Gotham. The story loses some steam here as Catwoman’s disguising herself as an old recluse takes up a good chunk of the episode and isn’t particularly funny. But, it wraps up with a pair of disguise reveals, Checkov’s Bat-Jets being put to use, a pretty good climatic fight, and Batman saving Catwoman’s life, which again leads to development of a romantic interest between the two. Catwoman is carted off to prison at the end, albeit with a goodbye caress from Julie Newmar to Adam West, but there’s no doubt she would return.
BOF'S 60s BATMAN 50th Anniversary Podcast
I wouldn’t call this the best episode of the series, but it’s one that goes right to the heart of what makes the series what it is from it addressing Batman’s world view, a ridiculous death trap and escape, several good moments, including Batman lecturing on the importance of parking meters, and an actual new development in Batman’s relationship with one of his adversaries. Save for a Bat-climb with celebrity cameo, this hits every essential element of the show. Julie Newmar is one of the highlights of the episode, clearly having all sorts of fun, and cements what made her an iconic character in this story as well. While I don’t think this is anyone’s favorite story of the series, the violin scheme isn’t as fun as it could be, it’s certainly an essential story and one of the first I’d point to if asked for a typical story in the series. At this point, the series is still in good hands - Robert Reineke
ORIGINAL AIR DATES: April 20, 1966 & April 21, 1966
SCREENWRITER: Rik Vollaerts
DIRECTOR: Larry Peerce
BEST BAT-GADGET: "Bat-Jets"
BEST BAT-LINE: “I’m not pussyfooting around this time, Batman! - Catwoman
LAST BAT-TIME: "Shot a Crooked Arrow"/"Walk the Strait and Narrow"
NEXT BAT-TIME: "The Minstrel’s Shakedown/Barbequed Batman?"