Second Thoughts: "Zelda the Great/A Death Worse Than Fate"


Take a listen to my podcast review with Dan Persons of Cinefantastique Online and WBAI Radio's "Hour of the Wolf".

I will admit that this episode has quite a number of flaws, the most of which is the failure to show Zelda as a stronger woman. Despite this, I have a soft spot for this story. To begin with, none of the Rogues Gallery is used, but still an issue of the comic is adapted. In addition, this story features not one Batfight. As my listeners know, I loves me a good Batfight. In watching it again a (ahem) second time, I noticed the following:

EPISODE ONE:

- Once again, we see something not as common in 60s television - a person of color in a position of authority. Here, it's the bank guard who tries to stop the disguised Zelda from robbing the bank.

- Gordon's got his men in the office as he's getting pressure to solve this crime which only happens once a year on April's Fool's Day. Always a shame when the episode didn't correspond with the actual date.

- Since Batman and Robin are called in at night, we get that one night arrival shot. Why not simply have a shot from the front of the building? Maybe it's closed at night.

- It's such a shame that in the second season, the writers got lazy and relied on the Batcomputer to all the work. In these early episodes, the duo used equipment yes, but they came to conclusions based on used the equipment instead of the computer doing all the work.

- All right, fifth episode and we get our first mention of Catwoman.

- Interestingly, we get an "Atomic batteries to power" departure scene when the Batmobile leaves the Batcave the second time in the episode.

- There were a lot more stunts in the first season as well. Batman and Robin leap down from the balcony in the jewelry store.

EPISODE TWO:

- In the recap, William Dozier keeps referring to Zelda as "the doll". He never once refers to her as Zelda. The writing was definitely on the wall if you didn't get it by then. In referring to her as "the doll", the whole idea of the villain being a woman wasn't just an interesting twist for a 60s TV show, it was a gimmick. As it is, Batman and Robin still don't know who their adversary is as the episode starts. It might have been a better gimmick if they hadn't bothered with having Zelda's name in the title of the first episode.

- Several of my guests have discussed on the podcast how they love whenever the show would have Bruce interact with Robin or Dick interact with Batman. Here is the first as Robin and Bruce appear on TV to communicate with Zelda.

- Weird, another "Atomic batteries to power" departure scene, but it's not complete. It was an odd ender to the first act.

- We talk about peole rarely die in these stories, but here we can add two more to the death count behind Molly in "Smack in the Middle" and the butler in Princess Sandra's hotel room in "Instant Freeze".

- I haven't read the Zelda the Great appearance in the 66 comic, but I have a problem with her appearing if she is going to be a villain. I hope the writers remember that she was repentant for her crimes at the end of the story.

So, where does this story rank in terms of the others looked back at so far? I have a soft spot, yes, but not enough of one to place it high and it will fall as we move through the series.

1: The Joker is Wild

2: Hey Diddle Riddle

3: Instant Freeze

4: Zelda the Great

5: Fine Feathered Finks

Next episode, the Riddler is back!

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