Second Thoughts: "The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns"
Take a listen to the podcast review with Revcast host and DragonCon American SciFi Classics track co-moderator Gary Mitchel.
I have made no bones about the fact that this is one of my all time favorite stories in the entire series. The only thing is, I've actually watched it so many times, I think I've gotten a little put off by it. Nevertheless, I will watch it again, trying to have the same enthusiasm I had when I first saw it for review.
In looking at what is really not a second look, I noticed the following:
- There is something odd about the establishing shot of the bridge. It looks like there may have been some matte painting added to it. As we'll see, it is an outdoor scene though, which is nice for Gordon as he gets out of the office. (Even though it's not Gordon.)
- Poor Aunt Harriet - she has been through so much trauma with watching Gordon die on TV and later dealing with the apparent deaths of Batman and Robin and Bruce and Dick. And all the while, the two leave her to her grief. We don't even have Alfred helping her out here.
- As the two get into the Batmobile, there is an odd note struck with the soundtrack. Don't know if it was a mistake of the musician or just a warp in the soundtrack.
- The producers knew they would use the Batmobile approaching police HQ as a regular shot. They had an opportunity to create some variety with the scene from a different angle as Devil watches. They could have done another shot without Devil in the shot.
- Miss Williams? Is that Bonnie?
- The bomb detector, based on our view of it, can only flash red. Was Batman saying this as a way to assist those without color TVs?
- Look at Bookworm's set - it's enormous! This could easily be the library for Barbara in third season. It shows you how much the budget was cut when an established set had to be redesigned for something else rather than building one whole cloth.
- Bookworm's tie has to be a clip-on. You can't knot a leather tie.
- Do you realize that Bookworm is one of the few villains with an actual super ability. He can speed read. Oddly enough, the book he is reading, "The Secret of Success - Self-Control" does not appear to have actual instructions, but rather listings, like a phonebook.
- Did the director forget that the Batmobile starts at night? Because when the Batmobile makes the emergency turn, it's daytime and continues to be so until the Batmobile arrives at the blown-up image of the bridge.
- This was the first and only Batclimb cameo of the first season. Jerry Lews sticks his head out the window and has a quick word with Batman. It is very brief compared to others.
- I love how Robin rolls his eyes when Miss Limpett poses to announce the theft of the Declaration of Independence.
- I wish Batman did more of the trance like thinking moments. The pose, the dreamy state of his voice.
- Bookworm's henchmen appear throughout the entire episode, stroking his ego. There aren't just one or two and then others come in during the Batfight.
- I will always marvel at the giant cookbook as I did Penguin's giant umbrella.
- When Batman and Robin try to disperse the crowd, Robin is a little pushy, pushing aside a woman in a pink outfit who seconds later rushes past the two of them. Guess she wanted to go in the opposite direction.
- The expression, "Curiosity killed the CAT" actually came from a play by Benjamin Johnson that Shakespeare performed in and then used the phrase in Much Ado About Nothing. The actual expression though is "Care killed the cat."
- Interesting to note that we have the deathtrap music being used as Batman and Robin enter the giant book. But it is another deathtrap, mid-episode.
- The Morganbuilt Library is actually the 42nd Street side of the New York Public Library that would be the establishing shot of the Gotham City Library in the third season.
You know, considering how many times I've watched this two-parter, I still managed to discover a number of things to point out. It just goes to show how layered this story was and why it's a shame Bookworm didn't make another appearance. So, where does it rank in the listings?
1: The Joker is Wild
2: True or False Face
3: The Joker Goes to School
4: The Bookworm Turns
5: Hey Diddle Riddle
6: Instant Freeze
7: The Curse of Tut
8: The Purr-fect Crime
9: The Joker Trumps an Ace
10: A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away
And the next episode features the final appearance of Frank Gorshin as the Riddler until the third season. Does it work as a fitting finale as we know that his third season appearance is so sad? Stay tuned, Citizens.