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Second Thoughts: "A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away/When the Rat's Away, the Mice will

So, Frank Gorshin returns as the Riddler and he's given a story with bite to it once again. There are stories that said Gorshin was insistent that he be given stories that had some depth to the story telling. (I wish he were around to explain his accepting the third season episode he did.) The thing is, as the the stories with the Riddler progress, he's not going to be as formidable or as interesting as he is in this and his first story. The only thing that will keep up the interest is Gorshin's portrayal. I'd say that's the only thing that saves the third season episode, but it looked like Gorshin was phoning it in as you should have heard on our podcast review.

With all that said, there is a lot more to be said about this two-parter:

- I wonder if the visiting dignitary was on purpose as it somewhat matches the opening of the Riddler's first episode.

- We're down to one man in the background looking helpless when Gordon asks if anyone is ready to tackle the Riddler.

- And I love the confused look on O'Hara's face as he comes to the realization that the Riddler is back.

- Alfred has just polished the batpoles. I like the domestic feel with that little touch. I'm sure Alfred wiped it good, otherwise Bruce's sweater is ruined.

- Dick and Bruce are playing normal chess here. Later, we'll see the two playing their version of 3D-chess.

- Why would a king, even one of a small country, be a judge at a beauty contest?

- I tried to find out who played the winner of Ms. Galaxy contest as she looked familiar, but found nothing. In looking though, I discovered that Susan Silo, who played Mousey, the Riddler's moll, has done a ton of voice work in recent years including The White Queen on the very first X-Men cartoon, Jungle Janet on The Tick, and Neptunia on Darkwing Duck.

- Had Batman not allowed Riddler to steal the tiara at the pagent, but rather had captured him, the story would have been over. The Riddler is one step ahead of Batman in this story for some time and Robin's original guess that King Boris is the target proves right.

- What I love about this episode as with previous ones is that we're not reliant on a Batfight to fill the time. I love a good Batfight, but it got silly after awhile that there were sometimes three in an episode. The Batfight should be the capper on the caper. It's what is so magical about the second episode of these early first season stories. After the chase, the death trap, and the solving of the crime, there's that satisfying fisticuffs.

- What's interesting is that Riddler gives Batman a riddle before he sets off the spinning wheels. Maybe he thinks Batman will be distracted by it and will not be able to think of a way to escape. More likely, being one step ahead of Batman, he figures he'll set things in motion in case Batman escapes. It's not like he waits it out to see the two die.

- The escape from the trap is a cheat as we never see Batman's arm come loose as the wheel is spinning. In fact, wouldn't he have at least dislocated his shoulder in freeing it?

- Loved it whenever they did a closeup of the Riddler with the shady lighting as he pontificated on what he was doing.

- King Boris wishing God's blessing on the people of Gotham. There's something you don't see anymore.

- Didn't realize it until watching it now, when Mousy comes to the police box to place the smoking note from the Riddler, it's the back entrance to police headquarters. Dozier doesn't identify it as such, which is weird, considering the cop who runs up to the box was hanging out just outside headquarters on the steps.

- Love the little touch as Bruce shakes "Batman's" hand and we hear a little crack.

- Riddler's naming the plan with some obscure lettering and numbering is silly.

- The final Batfight is much more stylized than the one from the first story. There is the bad wire work of the tossed rat, but there's also the closeup of Robin's flying kick, something we should have seen more of as Burt Ward was skilled in the martial arts.

- I had to smile at the final scene when Aunt Harriet was leaving to see her friends. She holds up her coat, waiting for Dick to place it around her.

So now we're getting into later episodes. The list of rankings will get more dense and I really have to ask how much more or less I liked a particular episode. I can definitely say I like it more than Penguin's first outing and Zelda. The question is, is this better than the first Mr. Freeze episode? The thing is, this story has so many of the same beats as Riddler's first outing, it's like watching it all over again. I have to say it's a little disappointing that nothing new was done in terms of story and pacing. The director does some interesting shots that does elevate this one a little more, but in the end, I still have to give Mr. Freeze his due.

1: The Joker is Wild

2: Hey Diddle Riddle

3: Instant Freeze

4: A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away

5: Zelda the Great

6: Fine Feathered Finks

Next week, the Joker returns, but the next week slide is for the Mad Hatter. That must have been interesting in the 60s as fans were happy to hear the Joker was back, but wondering who the strange hatted man was.

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