Second Thoughts: "The Ring of Wax/Give 'em the Ax"
It's funny. As I'm watching these episodes again and listening to some of the commentary on a few of the more recent podcasts, I'm starting to have some doubts about Frank Gorshin. Ken Reid, when we were discussing different actors playing the same role in the series, mentioned how Gorshin seemed a little too "Rat Packy" for him and while he can't deny the performance was excellent, John Astin, on paper, makes a better choice for the crazed, intelligent Riddler. (We were discussing Eli Wallach as Mr. Freeze.) As I settle down to watch this one, I do remember it being the one I found weakest out of the four from the first season. Let's see what I pick up this time around.
- We had some discussion on the podcast and then the Facebook page about the figure of Riddler being real and not an actual statue. I maintain that it's the latter. The mouth is too well posed to be real. If you look at the forehead, you could argue it's a great bit of makeup making him look waxy, but there is also the recoil from the paint gun causes the figure to sway a little. The swaying is incredibly stiff. Again, Gorshin could have accounted for it, but I think the figure was wax and I would love to know where it went.
- Someone give Donald Trump a globe and let him play world capitals with Aunt Harriet so he can learn more about our neighbors to the south.
- You think for a moment as the camera lingers of Batman and Robin in the Batmobile that we're going to get an "Atomic batteries to power" scene, but we don't.
- And this is the only time we get a lingering shot of GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES sign as the Batmobile disappears into the distance.
- I had to laugh when the duo are talking about libraries in Gordon's office. I was expecting Gordon to offer Barbara's services as a student studying to be a librarian.
- How is it the French never thought to exploit the destructive nature of the wax from the Cognac region?
- You know, many of the villains and henchmen are very considerate when they knock out a civilian. They pretty much manage to catch them as they fall so as to avoid injury, as with the guard at the library.
- Gorshin is at his most manic in these two episodes. He laughs a lot and his frenetic energy is at an all time high.
- The set for the library is a little too simple. Considering this is supposed to be the biggest branch in the city, it looks more like a branch in the suburbs. And if the rare books are upstairs, why does it look more like a basement. And why would you have the safe upstairs? I worked in the archival section of the NYPL many moons ago. It makes more sense to keep such items below ground.
- Once again, the laser effects in Batman are much better than they were in Star Trek. The two are moving as Batman tries to get Robin and himself out of Riddler's glue with the Bat Laser.
- In the Batcave, the duo analyze the wax residue. Robin is capable of reading the analysis and yet in the third season, as I'm discovering now, he is so dumbed down as Batman shows him a slide with the Lygerian Sleeping Sickness.
- Riddler takes the Batmoble, having learned from his previous encounter how to bypass the alarm. I seem to remember reading somewhere that there is a list of all the attempts to steal the Batmobile somewhere on the Interwebs.
- Don't remember if I mentioned this on the podcast, but the recap features footage we didn't see in the episode. Riddler does a little dance when he acquires the rare book. It's only in the recap.
- I know he's being sarcastic, but there's something dumb about Riddler saying the duo should smile for their wax figures. They will be too busy screaming in agony when their feet first touch the boiling wax.
- Riddler simply leaves the bodies of the duo behind. Bad move.
- I love the looks not only on Riddler, but on the henchmen when Moth asks why he's wasting time with Riddles.
- Riddler really gets off on the torture devices. I've maintained that out of all the villains, he's the one I wouldn't trust for even a split second. (The Penguin comes second.) I mentioned earlier how Astin may have been the better choice for the Riddler, but in this scene, Gorshin nails it. I don't think Astin would have been as malevolent given the same scene.
- I think this is the only time Robin gets to Batclimb alone. This might also be the only time Robin fights alone. Yes, he'll fight as Robin in several other episodes without Batman, but Bruce will be there to lend a hand.
- Adam West's stunt double never made much of an effort to mimic West's moves as we would see in the closeups during Batfights, but when he dodges a charging henchmen and steps aside with a swipe of his cape like a matador, his moves are like West's.
- You know, the second episode really has no substance to it. Batman and Robin get free and then they figure out to head to the museum. From there, it's pretty much a buildup to a long fight scene.
In the end, where does this stand? It's a good story, but it's not one of the better Riddler stories and it's not as good as the top ten list so far, so I'm going to let it stand pat.
1: The Joker is Wild
2: True or False Face
3: The Joker Goes to School
4: Hey Diddle Riddle
5: Instant Freeze
6: The Purr-fect Crime
7: A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away
8: Zelda the Great
9: The Thirteenth Hat
10: Fine Feathered Finks
Next week, the Joker is back in a convoluted story that still is a lot of fun nonetheless.