Second Thoughts: "The Joker is Wild/Batman is Riled"
So, here's the thing - this has to be my all time favorite episode of the series. I stated this when we started the podcast and I have yet to see an episode that can surpass it. (And the odds are slim as the third season now.) Cesar Romero is amazing as the Joker (compare with his real persona in interviews and the transformation into the character of the Joker is incredible). The story is tight and most of all, Batman is acting like a detective, making deductions based on the world around him. And this sets the tone for who the Joker is and who he is to be in the comics, movies, and cartoons for the future. While he may be much darker now, any version of the Joker still has Cesar Romero to thank (despite how many fans give that credit to Mark Hamill, good as he is).
So, in looking at this story, did anything still surprise me? I must admit, I have watched it numerous times since the podcast.
- I've said it before on the podcast, I love how even the stock footage got a nice cleanup.
- Our first view of the Joker is in the pen as he's playing baseball. He's wearing prison issue garb. (I guess Warden Creighton learned from the last episode about letting the villains wear their own costumes - at least for now.) The makeup is a little off as Cesar Romero has his shirt open and we can see his own tanned skin.
- This is the first time we see O'Hara outside the office.
- Now, Gordon is talking with O'Hara and there is a uniformed officer beside him. We never see the face, but Gordon refers to him as "Inspector". Is that Baish?
- Dick pounding away on the piano, practising Chopin, but it sounds more like Danse Macabre, which we'll hear much more melodically in the second season when Liberace guests.
- Is the entrance to the Batpoles operated by wireless controls. The Shakespeare bust does quite a bit of moving by Dick and Bruce and there are clearly no wires under it.
- It's the first episode not written by Lorenzo Semple, but rather by Robert Dozier, brother of the producer. I'll never understand why he didn't do another.
- And a rare takeoff from police headquarters for the Batmobile.
- On a recent podcast, one of my guests commented on how the Joker was particularly rough on Robin during a fight and it got me thinking about "The Killing Joke". Is it even remotely possible that the TV series might have had a hand in influencing the story? For the sake of argument, I'm going to keep a running tally of blows Robin receives from the Joker. In the first fight, it's only one, but it is a short fight.
- While the scene with Bruce and Dick in the Commissioner's office might seem gratuitous, I have to appreciate how West is animated and not simply standing still as Gordon explains about why Bruce is there. He leans in and forward as he gives the model of the craft and appreciative look.
- One of the things I never understood, even as a kid, was whenever Gordon hit a brick wall with talking to Batman, he never tried to contact him via the Batmobile's extension. And just how did the whole system work anyway where there was only one button that activated the phone? I guess all extensions would ring and Alfred would know not to pick it up when Batman was out and about in the Batmobile.
- As much as we like to thank Looney Tunes for giving us a sense of musical awareness, Batman was just as responsible. Be it opera in this episode or Gilbert and Sullivan in the Black Widow episode, I learned a thing or two about music appreciation from Batman.
- At the end of the first episode, the drunk is credited as the "Inebriate". That's a new one for me.
- I realized that the opening credits finally is in synch in this story. It was still off in the Penguin episodes.
- I never noticed it before, but when the Batmobile arrives at the Last Longer place at night, only Adam West is in costume. Hubie Kerns is silent as Robin with his back to the camera. They did this later in the episode when Batman christens the liner. Burt Ward may have been recovering from one of his accidents.
- In the second fight at the warehouse, Robin doesn't take a knocking from Joker, but we see the first of many instances, and I didn't realize it until this time watching, where Robin "rides" Joker. He steers him about, punching other goons
- Why does Dozier read the news headlines?
- And the final fight. I'll never tire of seeing it. There's a nice bit at one point where the Joker is about to land a punch on Batman, but Robin stops him by grappling his arm with some sort of coil that causes him to stumble.
In terms of the ranking, here's where I stand:
1: The Joker is Wild
2: Hey Diddle Riddle
3: Fine Feathered Finks
Next week, the first and best appearance of Mister Freeze.