SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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bat-rss
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SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by bat-rss » Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:07 pm

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Yes, at last, TO THE BATPOLES! podcast is going to do another script show! We're going to be looking at the evolution of one of our favorites, "The Joker's Wild/Batman is Riled"! We have a first draft (titled "The Joker's Utility Belt," as was the comics story that it was based on), and a revised draft.

Look them over and leave your observations here before we record. I expect that we're going to be recording this one on May 9. As always, we'll use some of your comments on the show.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/66g3aa5xcyfoz ... t.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jkqe884r3664u ... s.pdf?dl=0

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Ken Holtzhouser
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by Ken Holtzhouser » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:24 am

I rather liked that draft. It's still early days (and they obviously haven't quite got the tone yet) but it's remarkably close to the televised version. A few thoughts:
* Holy Homicide! There's sure a lot of casual henchmen deaths in this script. While there's a part of me that would have liked to see The Joker dispatch a couple of over eager goons (Mwah-ha-ha), having Robin accidentally incinerate henchmen is WAY off course
* Holy Holdout! It takes Queenie too long to turn up.
* Holy Handwriting! I have to admit, I liked the idea of the optical titles acting as captioning. It would have been a fun element for the show-and the first victim of the budget.
* Holy Happenings! I really liked the idea of the crime wave, featuring gags from The Joker's Utility Belt.In the televised version, the belt gets a few uses, but in the draft it gets to shine I mean, the belt IS in the title...
* Holy Humdrum! The exposition scenes slow the pace. The show wisely kept these sequences punchier in the televised version.
* Holy Household! I liked having Aunt Harriet act as the "greek chorus" for the Opera bit, but then I never found the comedy drunk funny-AT ALL.
It's all in all a very interesting insight into the primordial beginnings of BATMAN.

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Jim Akin
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by Jim Akin » Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:16 pm

I agree with Ken: Considering his was the first non-Semple script to air, and that the only finished episode he had to emulate was the pilot, Robert Dozier did a remarkable job nailing the show's rhythms and characterization.

I gather Semple must have agreed since, as Ken noted, most of the dialog in the broadcast was there from the first draft. The bulk of the script edits were cuts for time, or to reduce the number of shots and associated costs. (I love the note on the vetoed nightclub scene -- "Too rich for our blood.")

Dozier the Younger seems to have been inexperienced as a screenwriter; both drafts have too many scenes for the show's runtime. [Edit: I looked him up, and he’d been writing TV for decade or so by 1966, so he wasn’t making rookie mistakes.] Fortunately, a lot of the stuff trimmed from the first draft featured business borrowed from Hi Diddle Riddle: hanging up the lasered-off window grate; emergency bat-turn, go-go bar scene, etc.

Joker's furnace and conveyor belt brought to mind a 1968 Filmation cartoon and, of course, the Fine Feathered Finks cliffhanger.
JokerFurnace.png
I wonder if Dozier's script inspired the Penguin trap. Given the rush to get the show on air, it's reasonable to assume "Finks" and "Wild" were in development at the same time, along with Max Hodge's Mr. Freeze script. The circumstantial evidence about which furnace came first is inconclusive: The character of Warden Creighton, whom Semple invented for "Finks," had come into existence by the time of Dozier's second draft (although he ended up being mentioned in the prison-yard scene, instead of appearing in it as scripted). Yet the furnace and conveyor belt remained in Dozier's second Joker draft, and if Semple had just created a similar tableau for Penguin I imagine he would have nixed Dozier's version between drafts.

Borrowing the furnace setup for his script certainly would have been fair game for Semple in his role as script supervisor. Not saying he did, only that he had total license to do so, and that the timeline doesn't seem to rule out that possibility. Do dates on script drafts offer any details of which came when? Is Robert Dozier still alive? [Edit: He died in 2012.] Has he ever done an interview about Batman?

Making Robin inadvertently responsible for henchmen's deaths feels shocking even today, but the presence of death in the series must have still been an open possibility when those first-generation scripts were in the works. Molly died in the pilot, of course; the security guard shattered in Hodge's Mr. Freeze script (and somehow got better offscreen by Thursday night), and Eival Ekdal's gunsels offed eachother in Semple's Zelda script. From then on, aside from villains’ weekly attempts to murder Batman and/or Robin, death ceased to be an element of the show. Robert Dozier evidently thought he could kill off characters, and given the body count in 1960s westerns, cop shows and other "family" fare, he might have even expected a few bad guys to pay with their lives in each episode.

These scripts were great fun to read. Thanks for sharing them.

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chrisbcritter
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by chrisbcritter » Fri May 01, 2020 1:39 am

So, how close did this match the comic book story (body count in particular)?

I see they went with safely dead comedians who wouldn't sue or ask for royalties - Laurel, Hardy, Fields, and Kovacs - for the henchmen, and skipped making them resemble the originals. The hollowed-out exploding statues no doubt fell to budget concerns.

The newscaster, referred to as a George Putnam type, is named "George" in the script, but he's "Fred" in the ep as aired (did the real George turn them down?). He was played by L.A. newscaster Jerry Dunphy, supposedly the inspiration for the character of Ted Baxter.

Now a little mystery: In the first draft, the masks were stored in the "Lastvogel Warehouse" which got a big "No!" scrawled on it; next draft it's the "Last Longer Warehouse". Why? Only thing I can come up with was it was too close to Abe Lastfogel, who headed the William Morris Agency at the time.

Two great costumes in this one - Romero's Pagliacci outfit , which since has twice sold at Profiles of History auctions for big money, and the executioner's Middle Ages hooded gear with the red and black velvet pantaloons.

Thanks as always for posting the drafts - I hope you get around to the before-and-after Sandman scripts soon!
"To the medical eye, such childish claptrap means only one thing, young man: You need some sleep."

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High C
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by High C » Fri May 01, 2020 3:33 am

Jim Akin wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:16 pm
Borrowing the furnace setup for his script certainly would have been fair game for Semple in his role as script supervisor. Not saying he did, only that he had total license to do so, and that the timeline doesn't seem to rule out that possibility. Do dates on script drafts offer any details of which came when? Is Robert Dozier still alive? [Edit: He died in 2012.] Has he ever done an interview about Batman?
Jim, good catch, but remember, Leonard Stadd had a similar deathtrap in his unproduced Joker script, dated Nov. 1, 1965

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

So it appears Semple AND R. Dozier were 'borrowing' from him. And obviously R. Dozier would have had access to other scripts and rough cuts of the pilot that a 'normal' freelancer would not.

Unfortunately, Robert Dozier is no longer with us. He died in 2012 at the age of 81.

EDIT: There is an unconfirmed report that the Joker also is VILD!! More on this story as it develops...
'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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Ken Holtzhouser
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by Ken Holtzhouser » Fri May 01, 2020 6:18 am

I thought they were just saving money, redressing and reusing a death trap.

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Jim Akin
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by Jim Akin » Fri May 01, 2020 9:31 am

High C wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 3:33 am
Jim Akin wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:16 pm
Borrowing the furnace setup for his script certainly would have been fair game for Semple in his role as script supervisor. Not saying he did, only that he had total license to do so, and that the timeline doesn't seem to rule out that possibility. Do dates on script drafts offer any details of which came when? Is Robert Dozier still alive? [Edit: He died in 2012.] Has he ever done an interview about Batman?
Jim, good catch, but remember, Leonard Stadd had a similar deathtrap in his unproduced Joker script, dated Nov. 1, 1965

http://tothebatpoles.libsyn.com/110-the ... o-the-fire
Thanks for the reminder. I knew as I was typing the sentences you quoted that I'd been part of a similar conversation before, but I couldn't figure out when. You're obviously right that everyone was pulling ideas from everywhere else. I wonder if Robert Dozier had been told Stadd's script was spiked, and that he was free to pilfer it.

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High C
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by High C » Sat May 02, 2020 12:47 am

Ken Holtzhouser wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 6:18 am
I thought they were just saving money, redressing and reusing a death trap.
No, they used the Joker's time machine, went back to October 1965 and thought up the idea before Leonard Stadd did. ;)
Jim Akin wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 9:31 am
Thanks for the reminder. I knew as I was typing the sentences you quoted that I'd been part of a similar conversation before, but I couldn't figure out when. You're obviously right that everyone was pulling ideas from everywhere else. I wonder if Robert Dozier had been told Stadd's script was spiked, and that he was free to pilfer it.
Excellent point, Jim, that makes a lot of sense.

As for the scripts themselves, I agree with everyone, the tone is there for the most part, although there is a misstep or two, IMO.

Dick seems to be uttering a lot of 'holys' in Aunt Harriet's presence. In fact, Semple (or somebody) notes 'too many holys' in the teaser scene of the first draft. Although, of course, I appreciated 'holy octave' :P

I suppose Dozier didn't skimp on the allowance to his kids, because Robert had a LOT of expensive set pieces and car chases. I can picture Daddy Dozier, 'What do you think I am, son, made of money?' They also knocked out the museum director character in the retitled 'The Joker Is Wild' 2nd draft rewrite to save a little cash.

Some other observations--Chief O'Hara is made out to be an idiot right off the bat (pardon the double pun). The stage direction says softball, and clearly that is what was shot, yet he says it's baseball. What the divvel? ... Surprising the son of a TV producer would try to use the name of Bob Hope in an ABC show, and I'm doubly surprised the reference made it to a second draft. Hope, of course, was synonymous with NBC by this time, and I cannot imagine either network wanting this reference in there, NBC because Hope was 'their' guy, and ABC because why promote the competition?

As Ken noted, it's amazing how late Nancy Kovack's Queenie entered the fray in both the first AND second drafts. No wonder her part still feels tacked on in the aired version. A shame, because she was a talented actress who deserved to be a more integral part of the proceedings.

I liked Joker's line about Batman's utility belt being an 'unconstitutional device.' Well, he is a 'state actor,' as attorney Jim Dedmon said. (And once in awhile, a state overactor.)
'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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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by robinboyblunderer » Thu May 07, 2020 8:51 pm

bat-rss wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:07 pm
We have a first draft (titled "The Joker's Utility Belt," as was the comics story that it was based on), and a revised draft.
Thanks for sharing these!

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bat-rss
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Re: SCRIPT: THE JOKER'S WILD

Post by bat-rss » Fri May 08, 2020 9:11 pm

High C wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 3:33 am

Jim, good catch, but remember, Leonard Stadd had a similar deathtrap in his unproduced Joker script, dated Nov. 1, 1965

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

So it appears Semple AND R. Dozier were 'borrowing' from him. And obviously R. Dozier would have had access to other scripts and rough cuts of the pilot that a 'normal' freelancer would not.

Unfortunately, Robert Dozier is no longer with us. He died in 2012 at the age of 81.

EDIT: There is an unconfirmed report that the Joker also is VILD!! More on this story as it develops...
Yes, I was thinking about Stadd's script, too. If I'm reading that rubber stamp on "The Secret of the Impossible Crimes" correctly (and I'm not sure that the stamp was well enough inked), then Horwitz's receipt of it predates both "Fine Feathered Finks" and "The Joker's Utility Belt" by about 3 weeks. As someone else suggested, B Dozier had probably heard that the script was available to scavenge, but unfortunately he chose the same bit to scavenge that Semple did. (And then he scavenges the window-grate scene from the freakin' pilot?? Why?)

We are scheduled to record in about 9 hours. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

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