Why THE PURR-FECT CRIME Is the Greatest BATMAN ’66 Episode Ever

A JULIE NEWMAR birthday salute: The BATMAN ’66 Top 13 Episode Countdown hits #1…


UPDATED 8/16/22: The great Julie Newmar turns 89! This piece first ran as part of our BATMAN ’66 TOP 13 EPISODE COUNTDOWN for the show’s 50th anniversary on Jan. 12, 2016. The sentiments remain exactly the same, so it’s the perfect time to re-present it. Groovy! — Dan

We’re here! The 50th anniversary of Batman’s TV debut! Adam West and Burt Ward started it all on Jan. 12, 1966.

For the last 13 days, we’ve counted down our TOP 13 episodes. Gotta tell you, it’s been worlds of Batfun. So continue to bring on those comments — either here or in whichever social-media thread you found this. We want to hear your thoughts!

And for more info on our latest Batman ’66 celebration, click here.

Now, 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!)

3. The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul (click here!)

2. Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle (click here!)

Finally, No. 1


The Purr-fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time. There’s one. Just one. Just one episode of Batman ’66 that gives you everything you want from this show: Adventure, humor, drama, camp, great music, an epic deathtrap, a magnificent villain, enormous amounts of sex appeal and, yes, even pathos.

As great as this series is on so many levels to so many people for so many different reasons, Julie Newmar’s debut as Catwoman is the only episode that has it all.


I’ll start at the middle: The extended death-trap sequence, from the moment when Batman and Robin are lured into the dungeon toward the end of Part 1, all the way through to Robin’s rescue in Part 2, is hands down the best 10-12 minutes of sheer entertainment the show ever produced.


The fake bomb, the spikes on the wall as they close in, the discovery that the spikes are fake, Robin’s kidnapping via pneumatic tube, “the lady or the tiger,” the tiger, Batman’s defeat of the tiger, Batman’s trip through the catacombs, Robin dangling over the pit of tigers, Batman swinging in to rescue him, Catwoman taunting them through it all. Brilliant, exciting, electric. The show was never better.


Julie Newmar was the first Catwoman but owned the role so thoroughly that all others who followed her were basically doing a variation of what she perfected immediately in 1966.

But this is more than just Julie Newmar’s splendid performance. This is a taut caper — written by Stanley Ralph Ross and Lee Orgel and directed by James Sheldon– that highlights the show’s entertaining strengths while reining in what would become its worst impulses: It’s witty without being silly.

Batman 2-13

It also highlights what’s become an internal, informal theme for me as I’ve written about the 13 episodes on this countdown: Some of the show’s best, most compelling moments are night scenes, or at least scenes in darkened spaces. For a show known for its bright hues, it was often at its most interesting in shadow. Perhaps that owes something to Batman’s roots or perhaps night in Gotham City always seemed so glamorous.


Though it’s highly unlikely, I like to think that the producers of GAF’s View-Master reels knew precisely what they were doing when they selected this episode to be the one immortalized in stereoptic glory for a generation of fans for whom VCRs and DVRs and Blu-rays were years away. With View-Master, I was able to “watch” this episode over and over, committing scenes to memory.

Batman Bklt Cover

Perhaps that’s why I remember this one so clearly. More likely, I remember this one so clearly because it’s so clearly memorable.

In every way, this episode stands up across the decades as the show’s Platonic ideal.


— JULIE NEWMAR Recalls Her Start as CATWOMAN. Click here.

JULIE NEWMAR Pays Tribute to ADAM WEST. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Completely 100% agree!

    The Bat-trap with the spikes was ALWAYS my favorite one of the series…even if it wasn’t the cliffhanger one!

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    • Yeah, this was one of my favorite episodes. And yeah, the spiky walls closing in was my favorite Bat-trap, too.

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  2. And she was the first villain to die in the series. And bringing her back for the following seasons was a nice play on the ‘cats have nine lives’ theory.

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    • Dan doesn’t like King Tut. I personally would have to include a King Tut story in my top 13.

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      • Oh, I LOVE King Tut. But I just don’t see one of his eps that high up. Different strokes…

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  3. Top Episodes over the 4 years in my opinion? Include Catwoman (Julie Newmar only), Mr Freeze (excluding the one with the last guy who plays him) the Madhatter, and of course the Joker. Very good list.

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    • My second list of favorites include the Riddler (Gershin ones only), Penguin, Bookworm, and King Tut….These are the episodes and villians who define the series as the greatest show in history in my opinion…This is a great site Dan. Thank you

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  4. Dan. I’d like your thoughts on the Joker’s Wild? For me personally, it would have to be in the Top 5.

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    • I dig that episode too. I wanted to make sure the list had some variety, to give a broader sense of the show’s appeal. So it missed the cut in part because I had three Joker episodes on there already. But it’s definitely a keeper, I agree!

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  5. My favorite BATMAN ’66 episodes: 01. The Purr-fect Crime / Better Luck Next Time; 02. That Darn Catwoman / Scat! Darn Catwoman; 03. Hi Diddle Riddle / Smack in the Middle; 04. Hot Off The Griddle / The Cat And The Fiddle; 04. Catwoman Goes To College / Batman Displays His Knowledge; 05. The Cat’s Meow / The Bat’s Kow Tow; 06. A Piece Of The Action / Batman’s Satisfaction; 07. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin; 08. Ring Around The Riddler; 09. The Ring Of Wax / Give ‘Em The Axe; 10. An Egg Grows In Gotham / The Yegg Foes In Gotham; 11. The Bookworm Turns / While Gotham City Burns; 12. Marsha, Queen Of Diamonds / Marsha’s Scheme Of Diamonds; 13. The Sandman Cometh / The Catwoman Goeth!

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    • I accidentally have two number fours in the above post — please delete!

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  6. “…that highlights the show’s entertaining strengths while reining in what would become its worst impulses: It’s witty without being silly.” This is a brilliant observation and one with which I agree wholeheartedly. Stanley Ralph Ross wrote a lot of silly episodes and often took “camp” too far. This wasn’t among them. I can repeatedly watch “The Purr-fect Crime/Better Luck Next Time” and never tire of it because it was more high adventure than comedy. In fact, I get the same charge out of it today as I did watching as a small boy.

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  7. I always wondered why, since he had chosen the door with the tiger in the room , he did not immediately push the button for the OTHER door with Catwoman inside??

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  8. When we first see Catwoman she is obscured in shadows, dramatically (wielding her cat-o-nine-tails like it’s second nature). What a clever idea– to introduce this marvelous menace in such a sinister and mysterious way. Great episode. And I remember the View Master reels from this episode fondly, back in the 1970’s.

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  9. Julie Newmar will always be my favorite Catwoman (in my opinion, she was the BEST Catwoman on the show).

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  10. Julie Newmar is the birthday girl with 9 Lives! Love her version of Catwoman the best

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