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Second Thoughts: "The Joker Trumps an Ace/Batman Sets the Pace"

Got a little off on these second look at first season episodes, but we'll spend the month of August making up for it. So far, I've really liked the Joker out of all the villains in the series. I know there is a lot of love for Frank Gorshin's Riddler and it's well deserved, but in seeing him in interviews he really wasn't stretching as much, simply cranking his manic up to 11. Cesar Romero was a different sort who transformed when he put the makeup on. And I appreciated that.

This story though is a little off in its telling. It still doesn't take away from what is a great performance and making it one of the better of the first season.

Here's what I took away from a second viewing:

- I always enthuse about the stock footage of Gotham City and I totally missed the great street shot. Anyone recognize where it's from?

- I never paid much attention to it, but it is true that most of the henchmen of the villains of this series are middle-aged. There's one closeup of one of them with a gun in the opening scene and man he's old.

- Alfred seems to be less tolerant in this episode. He's brief with Gordon and there's that look he gives Bruce and Dick as they depart from the living room. Mind you, he's quick on his feet when Aunt Harriet asks where the two are headed.

- As most know, I'm about to wrap up my third season reviews. In looking back at this first season, it's so sad to see how the quality of the show, both visually and in stories, declined so badly in the third season. I'll always maintain that there's a cinematic quality to the first season, which is why the motion picture fits in so easily. It's also why the stock footage of the Bat-vehicles in the movie works so well with the rest of the series.

- Gordon's warning to Batman to be careful as they head out to the country club comes across more like Aunt Bee wanting Opie to be careful.

- Huh! Adam West did have the Bat-nipples first. And they're real.

- Ha! When the Batmobile first pulls up to discover the Maharaja being kidnapped, Robin's hair is disheveled. We cut to see the kidnapping and then we cut back where we see his hair is nicely in place.

- OMG! When Joker's moll, Jill, is staring longingly at Batman, she subtlety licks her lips.

- The deathtrap is one of the better in the series, in terms of the nature of the trap and the way the two get out of it.

- That's Adam and Burt doing the stunt work in climbing up the wall to escape the trap. It's a nice piece of work.

- Is that police headquarters down the street from the refinery that Batman and Robin escape from?

- Further lamenting when it comes to first and third season. Watching Batman and Robin analyze the hairpin, this would have been a waste of time in the third season.

- I like the bit with Bruce playing with the vanishing bird. It's a brief moment, but it's more of the kind of humor the show should have been doing and not the outright farce it descended into.

- We don't get too many outdoor scenes that are shot indoors, but this one works really well as the duo sneak in on the Joker and his gang.

- We didn't get a Batfight in the first episode, but here we're treated to two, the first is midway through the episode.

- "Holy Molehill!" A nice reference to the first story by Robin when Joker and his men escape.

- Still don't understand why Gordon waited to call about the Maharaja other than it dragged out the story.

- This story would never work today thanks to the Internet. Batman had to call (something we don't do much these days) the palace of the Maharaja to find he was on safari.

- Alfred is once again very dismissive when Gordon calls at the end of the episode. What I don't understand is why he and Bruce are surprised that he might be calling. Does crime work on a timetable? Even if Batman had closed the Joker caper, is it that hard to believe that another criminal might be hatching a plan almost immediately? Or do they have a period of mourning for their fallen comrade?

So, does this fit in with my top ten? Barely, but it makes it. In fact, in looking at the list, I shifted one of the stories down as I realized that the one that follows it was actually better, so that we have a listing now like this.

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: The Joker Trumps an Ace

8: A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away

9: Zelda the Great

10: Fine Feathered Finks

As you can see, the Joker ranks highly in my top ten. This will change, of course, as the series progresses, but not by much. Next time, it's the first appearance of Victor Buono as King Tut. I wasn't so fair to him on the podcast, but I've come to find the humor in his role and may be more generous with a second viewing. Stay tuned Citizens.

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