It’s that bat-time, and I’ve got that bat-channel, so it’s time to dig into another pair of episodes of the classic Batman series from 1966. My love for the first two episodes is apparently not a one-off, because I absolutely enjoyed episodes three and four, which combine to form one full story featuring that cagey bird, The Penguin, played wonderfully by Burgess Meredith (that laugh!), who seems to delight in chewing as much scenery as he can.
Fine Feathered Finks was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and was first broadcast on 19 January, 1966. With William Dozier’s wonderfully campy narration, we learn that Penguin has set up a new umbrella factory (one of three that opened in the past three days according to police records) and is using them as distractions at potential crime scenes and thefts.
Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) are summoned by Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) to investigate, and the pair can’t seem to find an actual crime to pin on the menace. So, Batman as Bruce Wayne, visits Penguin’s storefront to plant a bug to find out what is going on, which triggers a trap for him, and leaves him in dire straits as he’s tangled up in a net and thrown on a conveyor belt leading into a flaming furnace!!
It also doesn’t help that Penguin pulled the same plan on Batman, giving he and Robin a supposed clue, that actually has a microphone inside it so that Penguin can use the Dynamic Duo’s plans as his own.
It’s bright, colourful, so campy and so much damned fun! I absolutely love Alfred (Alan Napier) but often question the appearance of Dick’s Aunt Harriet (Madge Blake) though she is a canon DC Comics character.
The cliffhanger was resolved on the next evening, 20 January, 1966 with the episode The Penguin’s a Jinx, which was also written by Semple. Picking up right where the previous episode left off, Bruce is able to escape his bonds and avoid being burnt to a crisp before working with Dick to turn the tables on the Penguin.
But with the Penguin listening to everything they say how will they get ahead of him? Especially when he overhears the perfect plan for kidnapping a movie star, Dawn Robbins (Leslie Parrish) and holding her for ransom.
Don’t worry though the socially-mindful duo, who despite being costumed vigilantes are civil and polite to all authority figures and work with them all the time, will find a way to put paid to Penguin and outwith the jailbird until next time.
They are able to save the movie star, capture Penguin, and recover the ransom money, all in time to have a big swinging party at Wayne Manor where Dawn laments the fact that she’s fallen for Batman, the smirk between Bruce and Dick is great here.
I love the production design, the way they use bright colours to emulate the comic book colours, and make use of the still new technology of colour television. It’s wonderfully written, is intent on having fun, aad because the actors are playing it as straight as they can, that makes it all them ore funny and enjoyable, and they were in on that joke, which really makes it pay off.
I can’t wait to see what happens on this bat-channel next time!!