The BATMAN ’66 Top 13 Episode Countdown: #5

I don’t know if it’s art, but I know what I like.

Maybe I should call this Batman '66 Fortnight?

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:

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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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 …

Author: Dan Greenfield

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2 Comments

  1. This is the episode I wore out the rewind on my VCR on. Its about where I would have put it on my top 12 list of batman episodes. This would be the start of using a bare set that would be utilized often in the third season when they really made drastic budget cuts.

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  2. Watching Alfred toy with Joker on the batpoles (whose “Bruce” and “Dick” signs were serendipitously removed for repainting) makes this one a hoot. But Baby Jane is definitely not my cup of tea, and I think the pop-art parody in the Clock King episodes is a little sharper (if not quite as slapstick-y) than what we see here.

    I hadn’t thought about it before, but the mention of the Bruce/Robin pairing reminds me that this is the second time that team has squared off against the Joker. Bruce was nearly forced to squash Robin into a comic book in The Joker’s Last Laugh.

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  1. The BATMAN ’66 Top 13 Episode Countdown | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] 5. Pop Goes the Joker/Flop Goes the Joker […]

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