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TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 5:45 am
by bat-rss
Image

In 1965, as production of Batman was starting to get rolling, Lorenzo Semple was having some difficulties in getting across to writers his vision for the show. Leonard Stadd's "The Secret of the Impossible Crimes," a script that Semple rejected, shows Stadd's take on Semple's vision after reading the script for "Hi Diddle Riddle." The result is a funhouse-mirror version of Batman '66: it's recognizably the show, but bizarrely distorted in some ways. Once again, an unused script helps us understand what Batman '66 is, and what it isn't.

http://tothebatpoles.libsyn.com/110-the ... o-the-fire

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 6:39 am
by epaddon
Before I dive into the podcast, I looked over Semple's memo and honestly I can't disagree with the bulk of his criticisms because I do find that they echo a lot of the things I found wrong with the script in terms of execution (the pointless red herrings at the beginning, the absurdity of Alfred as Batman, the silly "Batograph" gimmick). Semple didn't seem to object to the villain's plot, he objected to it not being presented simply but then forgot that this *could* have been done with a decent rewrite. It was evidently Stadd's misfortune to submit this so early in the process when the series was trying to establish himself whereas if this had been later on and Semple had a chance to see what other kind of scripts were being submitted, he might have realized that this one wasn't completely hopeless.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 2:58 pm
by bat-rss
epaddon wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 6:39 am
Before I dive into the podcast, I looked over Semple's memo and honestly I can't disagree with the bulk of his criticisms because I do find that they echo a lot of the things I found wrong with the script in terms of execution (the pointless red herrings at the beginning, the absurdity of Alfred as Batman, the silly "Batograph" gimmick). Semple didn't seem to object to the villain's plot, he objected to it not being presented simply but then forgot that this *could* have been done with a decent rewrite. It was evidently Stadd's misfortune to submit this so early in the process when the series was trying to establish himself whereas if this had been later on and Semple had a chance to see what other kind of scripts were being submitted, he might have realized that this one wasn't completely hopeless.
Yes, he likely would have been more flexible later in season one!

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 3:17 pm
by epaddon
Well I enjoyed listening! Thanks first for pointing out that the deathtrap from the Penguin episode wasn't the only item from this script that Semple likely lifted (the point that made it into the Joker episode with Donna Loren later on). That kind of puts Semple's adamant rejection of the script in a more self-serving light because a rewrite would have meant he'd be without things he could use to bail his own scripts out conveniently.

Semple's criticisms in general as I said were spot-on but where I'd disagree with him is on the issue of the "left-turn" the story takes regarding Joker's ultimate plot with the nuclear reactor and coming so late in the script. Season 1 is in fact loaded with "left turns" in Part 2 like for instance in "Purrfect Crime/Better Luck Next Time" where Catwoman's interest in the pirate treasure of Captain Manx is only made clear in Part 2. "Fine Feathered Finks" also gave us a left-turn in the plot by not even introducing the character of Dawn Robbins until Part 2 (granted, Penguin is waiting for Batman to give him an idea he can seize to turn into a caper but it might have helped to foreshadow that by referring to the Dawn Robbins character in Part 1).

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 2:56 pm
by gothosmansion
The two U.N.C.L.E. scripts that Stadd received a solo credit on had some mis-direction to them...one of them a good bit. The misdirection was what made it such a great episode. In fact, the beginning seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the episode, but it ties back together in the end.

I guess he had improved by then. I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil the episodes for those who haven't seen them....Yeah, I'm worrying about spoiling some TV show that aired before I was born.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Sat May 18, 2019 2:12 am
by epaddon
And to add to my point about how the characters of Miss Alliance and Daphne should have been combined so that Miss Alliance could turn on Joker and then help tip Batman off as to where to nab him, this would also have taken care of the problem of the too-short tag since it could have given us a common S1 tag scene of the henchmoll being "reformed" (Blaze, Finella) and getting a "Batman appreciates the assistance you gave, and you will now be able to reform yourself" speech from Bruce accompanied by that familiar S1 tag music for such scenes.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 10:43 pm
by bat-rss
epaddon wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 3:17 pm
Well I enjoyed listening! Thanks first for pointing out that the deathtrap from the Penguin episode wasn't the only item from this script that Semple likely lifted (the point that made it into the Joker episode with Donna Loren later on). That kind of puts Semple's adamant rejection of the script in a more self-serving light because a rewrite would have meant he'd be without things he could use to bail his own scripts out conveniently.

Semple's criticisms in general as I said were spot-on but where I'd disagree with him is on the issue of the "left-turn" the story takes regarding Joker's ultimate plot with the nuclear reactor and coming so late in the script. Season 1 is in fact loaded with "left turns" in Part 2 like for instance in "Purrfect Crime/Better Luck Next Time" where Catwoman's interest in the pirate treasure of Captain Manx is only made clear in Part 2. "Fine Feathered Finks" also gave us a left-turn in the plot by not even introducing the character of Dawn Robbins until Part 2 (granted, Penguin is waiting for Batman to give him an idea he can seize to turn into a caper but it might have helped to foreshadow that by referring to the Dawn Robbins character in Part 1).
The sudden turn to the nuclear reactor threw me, but I think with just a few foreshadowing lines added to part one, it could have been adjusted to be as smooth as the episodes you mention.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 3:29 am
by High C
INTERIOR--BATCAVE

BATMAN: Robin, I've noticed something about two of our upcoming scripts.
ROBIN: What is it, Batman?
BATMAN: They seem to bear some startling resemblances to an unused script by a man named Leonard Stadd.
ROBIN: Why don't we run them through the Bat-Script-Similarities Analyzer?
BATMAN: Good thinking, old chum!

(Shortly thereafter)
BATMAN: GREAT SCOTT!
ROBIN: What is it, Batman?
BATMAN: There are *major* similarities in two gimmicks from Stadd's script and one apiece in two upcoming scripts by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
ROBIN: The fiend! (pauses) I seem to remember reading in the newspaper that his next project is writing some lyrics for world-famous chanteuse Lorelei Circe.
BATMAN: Working with such a beautiful and talented singer should put him back on the straight and narrow, old chum.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 6:25 am
by Jim Akin
High C wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:29 am
INTERIOR--BATCAVE

BATMAN: Robin, I've noticed something about two of our upcoming scripts.
ROBIN: What is it, Batman?
BATMAN: They seem to bear some startling resemblances to an unused script by a man named Leonard Stadd.
ROBIN: Why don't we run them through the Bat-Script-Similarities Analyzer?
BATMAN: Good thinking, old chum!
Hah! Your script made me chuckle—and also (finally!) clued me to the "feet to the fire" wordplay in the original post! Holy tempering furnace!

FWIW, as a freelance writer, I shamelessly pilfer (my own) discarded writings for new projects, and I'm not sure I'd call Semple a fiend for doing so with material from Stadd's scripts. Since Stadd was paid for his draft, it was Greenway's (or Fox's, or whoever's) to use as needed. Swiping the good bits from otherwise unusable junk is one reasonable definition of editing. As script supervisor Semple was editor-in-chief for the series, and I think repurposing Stadd's salvageable scenarios was fair game.

The fact that Semple used Stadd's material in scripts written under his own (Semple's) name admittedly makes it a little dodgier, but I don't think Semple violated any ethical or legal boundaries. The Stadd bits he inserted into his scripts are recognizable, but also adapted to completely distinct storylines/plots, and not so integral to the scripts that they'd warrant co-authoring credit, IMHO.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 9:15 am
by High C
Jim Akin wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:25 am
High C wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:29 am
INTERIOR--BATCAVE

BATMAN: Robin, I've noticed something about two of our upcoming scripts.
ROBIN: What is it, Batman?
BATMAN: They seem to bear some startling resemblances to an unused script by a man named Leonard Stadd.
ROBIN: Why don't we run them through the Bat-Script-Similarities Analyzer?
BATMAN: Good thinking, old chum!
Hah! Your script made me chuckle—and also (finally!) clued me to the "feet to the fire" wordplay in the original post! Holy tempering furnace!

FWIW, as a freelance writer, I shamelessly pilfer (my own) discarded writings for new projects, and I'm not sure I'd call Semple a fiend for doing so with material from Stadd's scripts. Since Stadd was paid for his draft, it was Greenway's (or Fox's, or whoever's) to use as needed. Swiping the good bits from otherwise unusable junk is one reasonable definition of editing. As script supervisor Semple was editor-in-chief for the series, and I think repurposing Stadd's salvageable scenarios was fair game.

The fact that Semple used Stadd's material in scripts written under his own (Semple's) name admittedly makes it a little dodgier, but I don't think Semple violated any ethical or legal boundaries. The Stadd bits he inserted into his scripts are recognizable, but also adapted to completely distinct storylines/plots, and not so integral to the scripts that they'd warrant co-authoring credit, IMHO.
Jim, thanks for the kind words. To be honest, I used fiend for comedic effect. I realize stuff like that goes on a lot, even today, I'm sure.

But I also do not agree, even though I have great respect for your opinions, that 'Impossible Crimes' was unusable junk. Even Semple said there was a decent caper buried beneath some of the (admitted) nonsense, so to me, it was disingenuous for him to trash the story and the writer and then cop what he needed for his own work.

And I know it's basically eye of the beholder, but I disagree with his obvious pride in the silly 'Jill St. John impersonates Burt Ward' set piece. That was camp of the worst kind, and I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I've hated that bit since I saw it as a kid. Semple was very good, but he wasn't always as clever as he thought he was, imo.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Wed May 22, 2019 4:28 pm
by clavierankh
If Semple thought this was unfilmable what would he have thought of the underwater fight scene in Batman's Anniversary?

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Thu May 23, 2019 4:46 am
by Jim Akin
There were mentions on the podcast of Alfred donning the batsuit in the Archer episode, but what really gets me in light of Semple's notes on Stadd is the *second* time Alfred put on cape and cowl (and performed a batclimb!) to rescue Bruce and Robin in "The Joker's Epitaph." That was in the last batscript penned by Semple himself!

I wonder if Semple had changed his mind about the absurdity of putting Alfred in tights, if he'd resigned himself to the broader, non-camp direction the show had taken, or if he was just done with it all and no longer cared. That might be a fun script to dig up, if it's in the archives somewhere.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 5:40 am
by High C
Jim Akin wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:46 am
There were mentions on the podcast of Alfred donning the batsuit in the Archer episode, but what really gets me in light of Semple's notes on Stadd is the *second* time Alfred put on cape and cowl (and performed a batclimb!) to rescue Bruce and Robin in "The Joker's Epitaph." That was in the last batscript penned by Semple himself!

I wonder if Semple had changed his mind about the absurdity of putting Alfred in tights, if he'd resigned himself to the broader, non-camp direction the show had taken, or if he was just done with it all and no longer cared. That might be a fun script to dig up, if it's in the archives somewhere.
It was a rewrite of a treatment by a crime fiction author Semple knew named Peter Rabe. I've seen the treatment. The villain is a version of Two-Face that is not Harvey Dent. This is where Semple got the idea for robot henchmen. But Alfred as Batman apparently was Semple's idea.

As for the Stadd script podcast, thanks to Paul for the 'dog whistle' on 'animated suspension' from the 1943 serial. In fact, it reminds me that you made a valid point about the coffins being rough on kids, to see the baddies rising from them. My fix/workaround would have been to use glass/fiberglass cylinders (think Lost In Space) to give the illusion of crooks in suspended animation (or animated suspension).

Other thoughts:

Re the Commish discerning The Duo's identity while under Siren's spell, maybe it shows that Siren's influence makes one more intelligent. Lorelei Circe should have marketed that on infomercials!

I totally agree with Semple that using Alfred as a stand-in for Batman is bad. Tim made a great point about how that rule was broken as soon as Semple was done with the day-to-day workings of the show. Your point about Batman with a mustache made me laugh, too. Reminded me of season 3 Wonder Woman on CBS with how Diana Prince basically was just slightly less glamorous than WW and she wore designer glasses. OK, I'm totally baffled by your disguise, Diana.

More good points from Tim--How the civic responsibility Batman would have felt badly about wrecking a farmer's crops, and how Semple also lifted the revolving wall from Stadd for Joker Goes to School.

Finally, you guys were right about how Batman often seems way less confident than he should be. I wonder if writers at that point were borrowing too liberally and literally from that scene in the study in the pilot in which Bruce is lamenting that the lawsuit from Riddler might end Batman's career.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 8:07 pm
by bat-rss
Jim Akin wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:46 am
There were mentions on the podcast of Alfred donning the batsuit in the Archer episode, but what really gets me in light of Semple's notes on Stadd is the *second* time Alfred put on cape and cowl (and performed a batclimb!) to rescue Bruce and Robin in "The Joker's Epitaph." That was in the last batscript penned by Semple himself!
Great scott! You're right, old chum, it's worse than we thought!
Jim Akin wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:46 am
I wonder if Semple had changed his mind about the absurdity of putting Alfred in tights, if he'd resigned himself to the broader, non-camp direction the show had taken, or if he was just done with it all and no longer cared. That might be a fun script to dig up, if it's in the archives somewhere.
Yeah, it would be interesting to know how a script with his name on it ended up employing an idea that he'd forcefully dismissed 15 months earlier.

Re: TO THE BATPOLES #110: "The Impossible Crimes": Semple holds Stadd’s Feet to the Fire

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:19 am
by Ben Bentley
Another great discussion from the brothers Young.

Lorenzo's memo was another enjoyable insight into his 1965 mindset. Although he does not shy away from the nuts and bolts of what he dislikes about this story and it's highly convoluted mechanics, I can't help but feel in broad strokes that ultimately the idea of death/resurrection/zombies of sorts is inherently too macabre by it's nature to ever feasibly work within the confines of the '66 TV show. Fatalities (and their very specific individual instances) aside, the "darker" tone of season one is largely defined in the visual language of the shows storytelling, carefully and healthily juxtaposed to the humor which as you have noted was initially derived from how seriously Batman takes the ludicrous world around him. Eventually that same visual language (even budget aside) evaporates in lieu of becoming too far at odds with the tone/style of humor Hoffman opens the flood gates to.