Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

Post by robinboyblunderer »

I like John Astin's portrayal of the Riddler. For years I thought it was a lesser performance but I recently watched some of these episodes, and not only does he offer a different and inspired take, but the story itself is pretty good, especially for late Season 2.

Gorshin's version is definitive, much the same way Julie Newmar's was, but Astin brings his own maniacal energy; where Gorshin's Riddler would veer from calm to spastic in a second, Astin's is a slow boiling egomaniac.

For the only time in the series, the Riddler has a hideout that fits his character, with the trap puzzle floor, the question mark doors and numbered puzzle labels on the wall. No more skulking around sewers or candle factories.

The story feels a bit epic and unique.

For the first and only time, we have the citizens of Gotham thanking Batman and Robin with a surprise party, no villains, just Robin shaking his hand and the Caped Crusader's slight tearing up.

We then have the robbery of the calf, an underwater fight scene, the cake death trap, an inventor who eventually sees the error of his ways, the tenseness of the countdown at police hq, Batman's scientific gamble that pays off and a feisty moll kicking Robin.

The Riddler's scheme feels complex not convoluted. It actually feels like a first season episode.

Anyway, I think John Astin did a fine job as the Riddler in a pair of very entertaining episodes.
English Invader
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Re: Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

Post by English Invader »

I agree. This is one of my favourite episodes.
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Dr. Shimel
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Re: Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

Post by Dr. Shimel »

The Riddler wax museum is the most ego-driven of the Gorshin efforts--as in admiring his own statue, gleefully calling Gordon to tell him of the Duo's "demise."
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Re: Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

Post by cammy85 »

Definitely a different but great interpretation. I've warmed up to his episodes too. I'm almost thee in my marathon. All these differences are because this was all based on the Riddler' first appearance in the comics and helped me appreciate Riddler in the 90's cartoon/
Edward Nigma
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Re: Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

Post by Edward Nigma »

I downloaded "A Riddling Controversy" today and watching it again made me realize how much I like Astin's alternate take on The Riddler. His performance and the structure of the episodes work in tandem with one another, which I'm not sure would have been the case if Gorshin had done these two episodes. The story is so well-written (in part because it is based on a comic book story) that Gorshin's antics might have distracted from what is a jewel of a story from Season 2.

Watching "A Riddling Controversy" in hi-def for the first time ever was a real eye-opener. The colors in the Riddler's lair and in Anthony Acquila's penthouse jumped off the screen in a way I had never seen before. Best of all was the flower bed in the background of the disappearing statue scene. I never noticed before but the foliage is green and pink -- the color of The Riddler's costume! Whether that was intended or just happenstance, it adds an extra dimension to a scene where The Riddler had been moments before.
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Riddler Fan
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Re: Musings on John Astin and Batman's Anniversary

Post by Riddler Fan »

I have long admired Astin's portrayal of the Riddler. His version is much more of a fiend and without Gorshin's manic traits. Astin's Riddler is single minded and totally evil. I feel that Astin was wise to play Riddler in his own style rather than trying to copy the more twisted (and somewhat less threatening) way that Gorshin did. Astin being taller and heavier does make him look more menacing. It has bothered me that of the Bat-Villains who were played by more than one actor, Astin's Riddler always seemed to garner mostly negative reviews, while little was said about the multiple Catwomen and Mr. Freeze. I also think this Riddler's death trap was one of the most diabolical ever conceived, trying to drown B&R in quicksand on top of their own giant anniversary cake.

That being said, even though I enjoyed seeing Astin play Riddler, I will always think of Frank Gorshin as the one and only Riddler.
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