Gimme a J! Gimme an O! Gimme a K! …
Every day until 1/12 — the 50th anniversary of Batman’s TV debut — we’re counting down our Top 13 episodes. For more info on our latest Batman ’66 celebration, click here.
And bring on those comments — either here or in whichever social-media thread you found this. We want to hear your thoughts!
In case you missed them:
13. True or False Face/Holy Rat Race (click here!)
12. Green Ice/Deep Freeze (click here!)
11. The Wail of the Siren (click here!)
10. That Darn Catwoman/Scat! Darn Catwoman (click here!)
9. A Piece of the Action/Batman’s Satisfaction (click here!)
8. Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under (click here!)
7. The Contaminated Cowl/The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul (click here!)
6. Instant Freeze/Rats Like Cheese (click here!)
5. Pop Goes the Joker/Flop Goes the Joker (click here!)
4. Fine Feathered Finks/The Penguin’s a Jinx (click here!)
And now, No. 3 …
The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul. Y’know, when I set out to do this countdown, I didn’t expect that three Joker episodes would make the Top 13. The Joker’s not even my favorite villain on the show. (You can read more about that here.)
But that’s what happens when you rank episodes vs. villains or actors, even. You have to look at the whole product. And, it turns out, the Joker starred in more of my favorite episodes than any other villain.
I think this is also a product of how my perception has changed since childhood, because while I remembered parts of this show from watching it as Young Dan, I certainly didn’t appreciate the sheer volume of comedy that’s obvious now.
Because, oh, man, do I love this episode. In one of the show’s earliest send-ups of teen culture, we get to see inside Dick Grayson’s high school, making this episode something of a Burt Ward centerpiece.
Prime example: The scene where Dick tries to pass himself off as a juvenile delinquent — with a look that’s about 5-10 years out of date — is satirical Batgold. I’ve said many times (here, for example), just how underrated Burt Ward was as Robin/Dick, and that scene in the sweet shop is the kind of thing I’m talking about: He’s not playing a hooligan — he’s playing Dick Grayson playing a hooligan, and that makes all the difference.
I’ll always count among my personal Bat-accomplishments that Figures Toy Company made an Undercover Agent Dick Grayson figure after I suggested it to them during a conversation.
The episode’s other important ingredient is Donna Loren as Susie, the crooked head cheerleader. Like Lesley Gore’s Pussycat, Susie is a henchgirl who deserved a return performance. She had great comic timing, and went effortlessly from dim to devious and back again throughout the two-parter. (She was ably assisted by Kip King, one of the few standout henchmen actors from the entire series.)
The Joker’s scheme, such as it is, is pretty thin, but the scenes hold together so well, the holes don’t matter at all. Besides, the slot machine deathtrap is a great gimmick, pun intended.
And I think this had the first use of the awesome Batshield, too:
There’s never a dull moment in this one, and you get a glimpse of a pre-Nova Linda Harrison besides. (That’s her on the right, pre-postapocalyptic madhouse.)
Now excuse me, my 20-year wedding anniversary is coming up and I have to go shopping for one full quart of imported Mexican perfume. Or maybe Canadian perfume.
NEXT: Riddle me this …