Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by bat-rss » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:29 pm

The next script we'll be discussing on TO THE BATPOLES podcast (probably around the end of May) will be Leonard Stadd's "The Secret of the Impossible Crimes," a script that Semple whole-heartedly rejected in 1965!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zalwnjuinbgdm ... S.pdf?dl=0

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by Jthree » Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:46 am

Can you tell us who the Bat Villain is?


James

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by elmrgraham » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:35 am

The Joker.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by epaddon » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:15 pm

Some early observations on this script.

1-The opening gives us a reminder of how before a series makes the air, writers don't have a handle on what the "format" is going to be. The handwritten notation "too soon per format" (I think it says that or else "too soon for format") is either pointing out this teaser is too short or that the writer is too soon in writing what the "opening" format of the show is going to be.

2-No firm handle yet on Aunt Harriet with the "good riddance to bad rubbish" remark! Bruce's admonishment made me suddenly envision her saying, "Gosh, Bruce when you put it *that* way." :D However, the question about why don't they ever bring back any fish from their fishing trips is more "in character."

3-Amusing to see the handwritten admonition "No Superman" regarding the art work. I suspect that would have invited trademark issues.

4-I don't like this whole bit of Gordon confronting Bruce saying he knows he's Batman. Of itself, it would damage the character of Gordon for the series by having him act so brazenly when Gordon would, if he suspected something, keep it to himself out of respect for Batman etc. This is more like a bad S2 or S3 scene (like Gordon and "Pat Pending" in "That Darn Catwoman" etc.) than a S1 scene trying to set the tone for the series.

5-OTOH, I do like the bit with fooling Aunt Harriet with the taped flute music so she thinks Dick is practicing.

6-Having Alfred impersonate Batman wasn't good in S2-3 and it's even worse here.

It's funny but *after* this shaky, early beginning and when Joker gets introduced, suddenly the script starts to get better and they even have the "format" right. I think frankly this whole opening was too long, *especially* with the pointless "Gordon deduces Bruce is Batman and must be proved wrong" bit. Condense it to something simple like show the painting being filched, Batman is called in and the conundrum is "this was robbed by a man who we know is dead!" Cut to Joker scene and you have all the exposition you need. The scene in prison and the other stuff at the beginning just made the start needlessly too slow.

7-Don't like the "Batograph" gimmick. Reeks of all those Charles Hoffman gadgets of S3 that gave us a Batman who didn't know how to use his own skills of deduction to figure something out.

8-The Bat Trap is clearly an early version of the one Bruce Wayne ends up in in "Fine Feathered Finks" And like that episode, the conceit is that Batman/Bruce has gone "in disguise" and the villain doesn't know who he's disposing of (he thinks he's just getting rid of a simple intruder).

9-Batman speculates if Joker might have a hidden space ship. "Holy Season 3 foreshadowing, Batman!"

10-The Daphne Siltch character is rather pointless and unnecessary. The script already gives us a presumably glamorous henchmoll in "Miss Alliance" so no need to give us a second female to be the "innocent" one. Would have been simpler to have her fall out with Joker and thus the Part 2 Deathtrap scene can be Batman and Miss Alliance instead of Batman and Daphne.

Overall though, despite the flaws I do see some good potential here. Cut the needless beginning, get rid of the Batograph and Daphne and increase the Miss Alliance role and I can see something that would have worked for the S1 template. Joker's plot/scheme I think is good.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by John Mack » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:41 pm

The note on the cover page, "We're almost making Batman stupid at times instead of earnest--careful!" Well! They certainly should have stuck with that remark over the course of the series!
Music. BAT! Music.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by bat-rss » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:05 pm

John Mack wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:41 pm
The note on the cover page, "We're almost making Batman stupid at times instead of earnest--careful!" Well! They certainly should have stuck with that remark over the course of the series!
Just goes to show what was lost when Semple left.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by gothosmansion » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:50 pm

Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy the scripts but was particularly intrigued to read this one. Leonard Stadd wrote two very solid fourth season episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., including one, The Maze Affair, that is one of my favorite episodes of that entire series.

Prior to those, Stadd had a story credit on a second season U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Discotheque Affair, although the teleplay was credited to Dean Hargrove. This Bat-script would have been written during U.N.C.L.E.'s second season. Reading this Bat-script made me wonder if Stadd improved his writing that much between the second and fourth seasons of U.N.C.L.E. or if an uncredited script editor rewrote and really improved his fourth season U.N.C.L.E. scripts.

Honestly, the Secret of the Impossible Crimes script is a mess, but there are some good ideas here. I love the idea of a mortuary hide out. I like the idea of the criminals faking their own death, but it may be a bit too dark for Batman 66. It also isn't a good idea for a Joker plot. Joker, in any incarnation, has always been an in-your-face criminal, not a mastermind that hides in the shadows. That is another problem with the script. The Joker isn't in it enough. There was a Brave & the Bold in the early 80s where Penguin fakes his death, and it worked very well. Maybe this would have worked better as a Penguin episode?

The script has real pacing issues as well. The first half is very slow moving and the Gordon figuring out Bruce Wayne is Batman is a bizarre subplot.Daphne's inclusion seems a bit pointless as well. U.N.C.L.E. always featured an innocent and maybe Stadd thought Batman would. This script may have worked better as an U.N.C.L.E. story, but then U.N.C.L.E. had a similar episode where villains faked their own death and the Thrush HQ was a funeral home. Unfortunately, U.N.C.L.E. really fumbled the ball with that great idea, too. Stadd didn't receive any credit on that U.N.C.L.E. episode.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by epaddon » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:22 am

I need to check out Stadd's UNCLE stories again at some point but last night I did check out another script of his that had recently been aired at the time he submitted the Bat script, which was for the ABC series "Honey West." For those unfamiliar with that show, it starred Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet) as the glamorous and liberated head of her own detective agency who was trained in judo and could give the bad guys a well-timed flip if she needed to. It was the first network TV series to ever give us a female action hero lead who could take care of herself and while it's numbers were decent, there was always a sense that in 1965 it was too ahead of it's time to give us a leading lady in this kind of role and so it lasted just one year.

Stadd's episode "The Princess And The Paupers" has Honey and her capable but clearly junior partner in the agency Sam (John Ericson) looking into the kidnapping of a rock group's lead singer (Bobby Sherman) who is being held for ransom. In the end, the guilty party is revealed to be the group's less than talented third member Michael J. Pollard.

I have no way of knowing how much Stadd's script was polished up by the show's story editor, but format wise it worked just fine in the series template ("Honey West", unlike the show it spun off from "Burke's Law", was a half hour show that had to be very compact). Which I think gets back to the point I came away with from reading his Bat script that if Semple had just tightened things into the proper template that was being established for the show (getting rid of the boring jail opening and the pointless Gordon speculation scene) and also compressed the two female characters into one, I think we would have had a good S1 story overall.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by High C » Wed May 01, 2019 9:50 am

Some terrific comments here already. Not much I can add, but I'll try.

I had the same thought as gothos mansion, that Stadd's association with Man From UNCLE influenced him writing the Daphne character. As he noted, UNCLE used a plot device called 'the innocent,' a guest star, usually a woman, who somehow gets involved in the intrigue. But it really doesn't fit in Batman. Worse yet, Stadd did nothing with the character. She wasn't even in the tag scene, which shocked me. So her 'arc' didn't even have an end. In fact, it felt like a Stanley Ralph Ross script in that if felt like the only reason he made her a bird-watcher was to use that bad Batman line where he says he's looking for a Robin. Ugh.

On the positive side, I felt that aside from the needless stuff (Daphne, the open which went on too long and had characters we don't care about, and Gordon being suspicious of Bruce), the script wasn't bad. I actually liked the idea of Joker working out of a morgue, it's the kind of macabre thing he would go for. I do think there were too many criminals being resuscitated, especially the ordinary henchman. Why bother?

But I think there was enough good stuff here that if there was a decent rewrite, it could have been a good arc. I would not have thrown it out the way Semple did.

I also should note that Stadd's draft script was received Nov. 1, 1965. Semple's final script for the first Penguin arc was dated Nov. 19. Both scripts have Batman in civilian guise being fed into a furnace, with the villain not knowing it actually is Batman. Coincidence? You decide.
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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by epaddon » Wed May 01, 2019 12:00 pm

I would say probably not a coincidence!

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by BatMite » Wed May 01, 2019 6:52 pm

The whole “Commissioner Gordon knows Bruce is Batman” arc takes the story nowhere and is completely out of place in this script. It’s truly pointless. The Joker is also underused. I like the gothic parts with the old, secluded house but, other then that, it’s a pretty awful script.

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by bat-rss » Tue May 07, 2019 7:55 pm

We're planning to record our episode on this Thursday morning US time. Any last comments before then?

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by epaddon » Tue May 07, 2019 8:04 pm

It might have been Stadd's misfortune that this was an early script submitted where the things that would stand out as really bad for a show trying to set a tone probably led to it being rejected. (The stupid use of voiceovers, the fact that Gordon comes off looking bad with his "you're Batman!" conceit that serves no purpose, plus Semple I'm sure was wondering how the heck do you show Batman and Robin "in disguise" without their blowing their identities?) If this same script had been submitted a year later with some key revisions, I can more easily see it being accepted given how much better it is in terms of basic villain's plot compared to a lot of S2 and S3 scripts.

I do have to add that upon seeing "Fine Feathered Finks" after reading the script I am more convinced than ever that Semple lifted the furnace trap from Stadd for "Finks". When you think about it, why would an umbrella factory have a big furnace to begin with? Plus, remember that "Fine Feathered Finks" is largely a faithful adaptation of a single-issue comic book story that has no trap scene it, so Semple had to be original on that point to break the flow and what better way to solve that problem by using the basic idea in Stadd's script?

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by robinboyblunderer » Tue May 07, 2019 9:16 pm

It reminded me of a pair of chapters from the black & white Batman serials; and just like them I didn't care for it. Robin sitting in the chair wondering where Batman was while the Caped Crusader floats below also reminded me of the dumbed down Detective from the third series.

I think the funeral home was just a bit too dark for the overall feel of the show too.

But bad, good or even mediocre, sharing these scripts, treatments and drafts are much appreciated!

cheers

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Re: Script: THE SECRET OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES, by Leonard Stadd

Post by High C » Wed May 08, 2019 6:29 pm

I'd like to reiterate that once I got past the obvious missteps by the scripter, I thought the arc had a workable plot with decent motivations for Joker, certainly better than much of the silliness of seasons 2 and 3. Put it this way--I am at a loss to understand why this one was tossed and the Jay Thompson 'Dr. Temporal' script was deemed salvageable. That one was unfilmable from jump street. I will be fascinated to see Semple's letter to Dozier about this script, because they soon would be receiving far worse scripts in terms of overall quality.

I think Semple was too hasty in tossing this one, unless maybe he already had mined it for his Penguin arc deathtrap. As epaddon said, a furnace in an umbrella factory is a weird sell to the layperson.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17

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