It’s time for my weekly Batman column and what with it being BATMAN ’66 WEEK and all, I figured I’d turn the keys to the Batmobile over to writer Jim Beard, who brought us the great book, “Gotham City 14 Miles.”
By JIM BEARD
So, I was asked to pick my favorite “Batman” TV moment. Huh. I mean, that would be like me picking my favorite BATMAN moment.
OK, OK; I’ll give it the ol’ Gotham U try.
How about this: One of the focal points of my enjoyment of the show has always been the Batcave. Probably a lot of deep-rooted, psychological luggage that comes with that, but I cannot deny it — I have always loved the Batcave. And some of my most favorite moments from the show were when someone other than Batman, Robin, and Alfred visited that hallowed place, “deep in the entrails of the Earth,” as the Caped Crusader says.
Let’s backtrack for a moment. Less specifically than Batcave moments, on a more general level, I’ve always gravitated toward the less-flashy scenes in my favorite movies and TV shows, and Batman is no exception to that. Beyond the color and sound and the fury, I love those “quieter” moments when the clever writing and the subtle acting skills really come out to play. Those are the moments that have really stuck with me over the years, and that’s what I’m thinking about right now.
So, let’s set the soundstage. In “Death in Slow Motion/The Riddler’s False Notion,” the Prince of Puzzlers has stolen a Joker plot from the comic books and crafted an entire scheme around silent films. To aid him in this endeavor, he’s enlisted the curvy, saucy Sherry Jackson. I’ll let that one sink in for a moment.
Okay, we’re good? The Riddler’s caged Robin with the help of Pauline — that’s Ms. Jackson — and Batman in turn grabs Pauline. And he’s going to take her to the Batcave for some interrogation. She screams for her lawyer. In Commissioner Gordon’s office. And Gordon does nothing. Let that one sink in, too.
Batman’s insistent that he takes the girl to the Batcave and asks Gordon to accompany them to keep things legally kosher. Now, firstly, Our Hero’s already taken molls to his secret sanctuary for a bit of extra-legal Q&A before — in the previous episode, in fact — so his need to have Gordon present is odd, but hey, it gets good, so let’s just follow this thing to its conclusion.
What exactly follows is one of my most favorite scenes in Batman: Commissioner Gordon in the Batcave.
Now, we all know that Gordon’s one of the biggest, most unrepentant Batman fanboys that ever lived, right? I mean, the masked man can just do no wrong in the Commish’s eyes and never before was that hammered so home than in this episode. Gordon, waking up in the Batcave after placing himself in Batman’s hands “with the most serene confidence” and being gassed to sleep, nearly has an orgasm of delight when he sees his hero’s cave of wonders. “At last, the fabulous Batcave!” he crows, practically drooling.
It’s such a great scene. And the wonderful Neil Hamilton plays it with such boy-like charm and childlike awe, you just love it even more.
Gordon compliments Batman and Robin for their work on the cave. Batman, seemingly both pleased and modest, sort of just goes with it. He lets Gordon gush a bit and then gets down to business: They have a sexy Sleeping Beauty in the passenger seat of the Batmobile and time’s a’wastin’. Robin needs to be rescued, you see, so Batman performs this wacky thing with one of those clear medical bags that hang on posts in hospital rooms, with a mouthpiece stuck on it and a Bat-symbol and … well, it’s wacky.
The really great thing about it all is that Gordon plays along with Batman’s stony intonation of doom-and-gloom for Pauline. “There are those who came to this Batcave and never left,” he says with deft assurance, and this bit of over-the-top, hardly-veiled threat from the highest-ranking police officer in Gotham makes the girl even more confused. Batman then performs a chemical procedure with the bag and Pauline’s captured breath — so nice to see some detective work from the Caped Crusader.
Then its back to stuffing the Commish and the girl back in the Batmobile — on the same seat — and Gordon squeals with delight a little bit more, thanking Batman for the “privilege” of witnessing the Batcave. And he promises him that he’d swear “in the highest court in the land” that Our Hero used no illegal means whatsoever or coercion to gain knowledge from Pauline.
N’uh-uh. Not at all.
The scene really illuminates the relationship between Gordon and Batman in the show, as well as both Adam West’s and Neil Hamilton’s acting skills. You almost want it to become a regular thing, with the Commissioner dropping in for cards or coffee, or just to watch Batman strut his super-heroic stuff. But, then again, it wouldn’t be so special, would it?
Gordon visited the Batcave once more, in Season 3’s “Wail of the Siren,” but that wasn’t as much fun as the first time. That time he was under the hypnotic influence of Lorelei Circe and hid in the Batmobile’s trunk and … well, that’s a whole ‘nuther story.
Thanks for reading along. See you in the Batcave. I’ll bring Commissioner Gordon.
Thanks, Jim! Now, this week’s From the Batcomputer. — Dan
Batman #27 was delayed, so it’s Batgirl #27, a “Gothtopia” tie-in, and Nightwing #27, to carry the Batarangs. But Bats is also in Worlds’ Finest #19, so here ya go:
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