Second Thoughts: "Fine Feathered Finks/The Penguin's a Jinx"
Oftentimes, when a new television show premeires, the pilot, while attempting to demonstrate the potential of a series, will fall short. It then takes some time for the series to develop and find its voice before it finds its audience. This was not the case with Batman.
From the start, the audience knew what they were getting and responded in kind to it. Batmania was born on that first night in January 1966 with the Riddler story. In fact, there are many fans who argue the show never achieved what the first two-parter managed to accomplish. I can't say I agree with that though.
And then I have to reverse my statement when it comes to the Penguin. As I've stated in the podcast, this was not the strongest story to follow up the premiere with. I don't blame Burgess Meredith as the Penguin. I chalk it up more to the fact that the Penguin, overall, has never had the best stories. There are those tales that tell that a Penguin script was always on hand in case Meredith was available. That might explain why they weren't as strong. Rather than writing a good story, we have a story, ready made, for Meredith's availability.
Despite all this, the story has points of merit, as I mentioned in the podcast. Plus, in this second watching, I noted the following:
- One of the actors in the opening scene playing the jewelry store clerk is James Karen. He is notable to people on the east coast as the spokesman for many years for the Pathmark supermarket chain. He also appeared on such shows as The Bionic Woman and Little House on the Prairie. He's 94 as of this writing with acting credits up to 2015.
- The mix of colorful and plain black umbrellas in the jewelry store were odd in the Blu-ray update. I wish they had just gone with one or the other.
- What's with the swooping sound effect as O'Hara closes the umbrella?
- Once again, Gordon issues the challenge to the gathered police officers. There are a few less this time around including Inspector Baish.
- We get our first, "Gosh Bruce, yes," moment from Dick as Bruce lectures him on studying French.
- And boy do I love the ascot on Bruce in his opening scene.
- Have to wonder if the kids felt cheated in the departure scene that we didn't get the startup sequesnce.
- We've commented on the podcast about how Batman has to reign in Robin from time to time. We see it here for the first time in Gordon's office when Robin gets overzealous explaining Penguin's method of operation.
- I missed the reference to "Big Brother" by Penguin from the video footage our heroes were looking at.
- They say that in the first two episodes, you can see that Batman's Bat-logo was attached to the costume as you can see the seams in the Blu-ray version. I can't remember catching that but you can clearly see the logo is part of the costume now.
- My favorite part of this entire story - the giant umbrella. The prop itself is impressive and the fact that it's opened wide in an exterior shot is amazing. Again, the cinematic feel is there in this one.
- In the Batcave there is a warning sign for the atomic pile. In the first episode it read, "Super High, High Voltage". The wordage read across one line. In this episode, there's a new sign with the same wordage, but the word "Super" is over the other words. Don't know why this was done.
- In the final scene with Bruce trying to spy in Penguin, Adam West braces himself for the falling net in the wide shot and again in the close-up.
- This is the first episode where Batman is refered to as "The Batman" by one of the goons as they truss Bruce up on the conveyor belt to the furnace.
- I don't know much about umbrella production, but Penguin says the furnace is used to temper the metal in the ribs of the umbrella. That's fine, but whenever I see a furnace being used to temper metal, there is a person who handles it personally, not a conveyor belt that simply dumps items into the furance. It looks more like a disposal shoot.
- I realized how the opening of the second episode in this story is similar to the second episode opening in the first story in that one of the Dynamic Duo is waiting in the Batcave for a signal from the other. This time around, it's Robin waiting for Bruce
- I never noticed how Penguin's TV erupts in purple smoke when it shorts out.
- Going to keep an eye on the igloo that houses the mechanical penguin for a clock. I have a feeling we might see it again in the Mr. Freeze episode.
- It's in this episode we learn how Alfred gets down to the Batcave as he exits towards a sign leading to the service elevator. The elevator will be more visible in the movie months later.
- We see the use of the breathing apparatus again in the penthouse scene.
- Hawk says he saw Penguin knock out the duo. No he didn't. Only Penguin was there for the gassing.
- I don't know if we talked about it on the podcast, there was no moll for this episode.
- I was thinking last week as I was watching the first episode that the entire cast was white. And it looked like that was going to be the case in this one until the very ending. Among those listening to Gordon relate the story of the Batman costume is a black couple. It's subtle, but as I mentioned on the podcast, as a kid it had an effect on me. Most television of the 70s and 80s had the ethic stereotypes and usually the negative one playing roles. Here is a well-to-do couple at Bruce's party being regalled by the police commissioner. It's awesome.
All in all, I was hard on this episode. Early on, many listeners thought I simply didn't like the show, despite my protestations otherwise. I still maintain that this was simply not as good as the previous story and that there were better ones to come, but I was being too critical.
With each episode I look back on, I'm going to place it in a ranking. It's simple at the moment.
1: Hey Diddle Riddle
2: Fine Feathered Finks
And next week we come to one of my all-time favorite stories as Cesar Romero premeires as the Joker.