Second Thoughts: "The Thirteenth Hat/Batman Stands Pat"
I wasn't sure what to write at first when I started thinking about this episode. I was pretty hard on it on the podcast. In fact, I'd say this is where most fans might have gotten the idea I didn't even like the series, I was so down on it, making even my co-host doubt her reasons for liking it. But I stand by that while David Wayne is phenomenal as The Mad Hatter, the story he is given is very weak by first season standards. And then I wondered how I would feel going into a second look. And then it hit me. The Mad Hatter stories are like some of the first season Penguin stories. Burgess Meredith is equally phenomenal as The Penguin, but two of the three stories he did left something to be desired. It makes me wonder if they had worked in The Mad Hatter more, might they have gotten a better handle on the character and David Wayne's portrayal and in doing so, developed better stories for him as they did The Penguin in the second season?
Looking at it a second time, I noticed the following:
- Gordon's large office space is now wasted as it's only he and O'Hara ruminating about whether to call in the Caped Crusaders. The background officers are gone.
- We're back to familiar territory with the excuses to Aunt Harriet and Bruce and Dick run off to do some bird watching.
- Lisa has quite the vocabulary and gets a little too aroused by the idea of violence to Batman and Robin when Hatter explains his hat-making machine and what it will do to the Dynamic Duo.
- You know, it's a shame. There's some great dialogue in the story, whether it's Lisa's glee at violence, Hermione's thinking the Communists were involved in the abduction of Madame Magda, or even the somewhat strained pontificating that Batman does in Gordon's office that Adam West manages to pull off nicely. Charles Hoffman was great with the dialogue, but weak with the overall story.
- We often talk about Robin's contained energy in the series. In the scene where the two visit Octave Marbot, you can see Burt Ward playing it as though he wants to reveal that they know it's really The Mad Hatter. It's a nice touch.
- It's a weird shot at the end when Hatter drops the plaster on Batman. He proclaims he will get a mold of the cowl when the plaster dries and it looks at first as the last of the plaster drips on Batman. It's a nice looking mold. And then they cut back and now it looks like a ton more plaster has fallen on him. Not going to get a good mold now.
- Um, Robin's being bound and gagged the way he was and hanging over the horse statue - was that the start of the fetish entusiasts love for the show?
- And the anti-theft device in the Batmobile is consistent with the first episode.
- Wouldn't the police at least have made some sort of connection with the abducted people since they were all taken by The Mad Hatter - you know, what they have in common? And frankly, I think it's pretty lame that Batman didn't realize it until the Batcomputer helped them figure out what came in twelves.
- Every time I watch this story, I feel like I should know the man playing Bowinkle. Actor George Conrad had a 24 year acting career, but there's nothing in his credits that stands out to me.
- Remember I said about the great dialogue? It fails here. Wall climbing scene:
Robin: You'd think we were human flies.
Batman: It's all in the game, Robin.
Robin: That's one way of looking at it.
Dialogue for the sake of saying something and having no real meaning.
- On the other hand, I did like Magda's romantic imagery of a hat as she tries to sell one to Aunt Harriet.
In terms of where I would place this, I did say I liken this to the Penguin's early episodes. I have to admit, this one has just a little more going for it though compared to Penguin's debut. (See, I'm not that harsh, right?)
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: The Thirteenth Hat
7: Fine Feathered Finks
And finally, we get a new Joker episode next week, the title card matching Dozier's narration once again. I have to admit, this one has really grown on me in recent rewatches.