I don’t know if it’s art, but I know what I like.
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!)
Now, No. 5 …
Pop Goes the Joker/Flop Goes the Joker. Shout-out to my wife Wendy, who really only tolerates the show but likes this episode a lot. It’s easy to see why: It’s a sharp parody of a ripe subject — pop art, with the Joker playing a Warholian artistic genius with a secret, larcenous agenda, and Diana Ivarson as Baby Jane
Holzer Towser, his moneyed muse.
Part of what makes it so great is that it’s a scheme that very much plays to the Joker’s schtick. Instead of a more random gimmick, like stopping time, the idea of the Clown Prince of Crime fancying himself a master of art is very much in character. (So much so that Tim Burton repeated the idea in 1989.)
Plus the episode has some rip-roaring gags. The art contest alone — “I kind of like what the monkey did” — is some of the funniest, smartest slapstick the show ever produced.
And the payoff at the end, with the Joker discovering — and then getting trapped on — the Batpoles is brilliant camp.
But there’s so much more in between:
— I always like it when you get a Batman-Dick or Bruce-Robin team-up as a change of pace. It’s a nice shift in the dynamic, as it were.
— Bruce taking the piss out of the Joker during art class is sly work by Adam West. (As is the way he takes in the art contest.)
— The Joker shrieking when Batman surprises him in his lair, foiling his plan, is rewind-rewatch-rewind-rewatch priceless.
— This episode also has one of the absolute best death traps: the mobile with the whirling machetes, backgrounded by colorful playing-card suits done up in Daliesque melted imagery.
All in all, it’s a wildly entertaining romp that is fitting for the Joker and demonstrated that the show still had some gas in the tank near the end of the second season.
NEXT: One K.G. Bird arrives …