"Come back, Shame!" In season three, come back he does, and seemingly stupider than ever! And yet, Shame's plotting for his caper seems oddly smart. Meanwhile, Stanley Ralph Ross goes all-in on gags that are gleefully at odds with the template set by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. in season one. In this episode, we examine the final two-parter of the Batman series: what works, what doesn't, who's in it, and more.
Plus, Peter Seymour's remix of the Batman theme, and your mail about our Penguin's Clean Sweep episode!
First off, I found the mother-in-law jokes pretty funny. Sure, the mother-in-law was a trope on 60s sitcoms, but we hadn't seen it on Batman, so that makes it unique for the show. Some of the entendres on Fanny's name were pretty funny, too.
The series never even hinted at a relationship between the villains and their molls, so seeing a little "heat" (for lack of a better term) between Shame and Calamity Jan was a nice change of pace. As you guys mentioned, the henchmen had personalities and were funny in their own right. As a kid, I found Fred hilarious and still get a good chuckle from him.
As for the fear gas, it came from the Scarecrow. The show had been cancelled by this point and the producers knew they weren't going to use him....why not incorporate his gimmick? I like that both Batman and Batgirl played a part in deducing Shame's clue. One thing I'm surprised you guys didn't mention is the lustful growl in Batman's voice when he says, "It's obvious we need each other, Batgirl." Adam sounded like he was already prepping for his future roles in The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood and Young Lady Chatterly 2.
If you guys want to enjoy Stanley Ralph Ross's Batman a little more, you have to look on his Batman as just a different interpretation from Semple's, even though it is the same show. Yes, I enjoy Semple more, but there is a lot of fun to be had in some of Ross's scripts. For example, in the comics, Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, Denny O'Neil, Frank Robbins, Steve Englehart, Len Wein, etc. had a little difference take in their Batman, but you can enjoy them all...If you only like one interpretation of Batman, that prevents you from enjoying something as weird and wonderful as Bob Haney's Batman. That said, I admit that I can't get on board with the Frank Miller/Jim Starlin psycho-nut-job Batman. Yes, I like Stanley Ralph Ross's Batman better than Frank Miller's. There. I said it.
[Desmond Doomsday Voice]...the worst is yet to come!![/Desmond Doomsday Voice]
On occasion, the mother-in-law one-liners were funny, only because the character is saying what some in the audience would love to about any relative (or in-law) seen as "baggage" in their relationship.
Chief Standing Pat...where to start, other than that by 1968, such offensive stereotypes were being scrubbed from American TV series, so his presence in the episode seemed like Ross and/or Greenway were determined--in the case of Native Americans--to not "bend" to the shift in perceptions of minority characters. This goes beyond any idea of an innocent camp performance.
Standing Pat was so horrible, that in Robin's nice leaping kick moment, its ruined by Standing Pat receiving his blow, only to back away with arms crossed, performing some stereotypical "Indian" rocking dance.
Bat trivia: in 1973, there would be a minor Batman villainess reunion when Dina Merill & Ida Lupino co-starred in the ABC Circle Films TV anthology movie, The Letters, a tale about late mail having a negative impact on the recipients. It was the first of two films designed to launch a weekly series, but as you can imagine, with a story like that, it was never picked up.
Oh, unsung Greenway stuntman Charlie Picerni also had a minor role in the film.
About West phoning in some performances--yes, that's painfully obvious in the third season overall. He was just going though the motions so much that some of his delivery sounded like someone casually reading their script just to familiarize themselves with it. That's the opposite of Ward, who was always 100% as Robin, even when reading some cringe-worthy scripts. He was not a professional actor at the point he landed the part of Robin/Grayson, but he always brought what was necessary to sell the character(s).
I'm very glad depictions of native Americans (and other stereotyped ethnic/racial characters) have progressed as far as they have in 50-odd years, but I don't think I agree Standing Pat was especially egregious for the era, or that Hollywood had done all that much "scrubbing" of stereotyped portrayals by the summer of '68:BATWINGED HORNET wrote: ↑Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:17 am Chief Standing Pat...where to start, other than that by 1968, such offensive stereotypes were being scrubbed from American TV series, so his presence in the episode seemed like Ross and/or Greenway were determined--in the case of Native Americans--to not "bend" to the shift in perceptions of minority characters. This goes beyond any idea of an innocent camp performance.
- The characters Julie Newmar and Ted Cassidy played in MacKenna's Gold (which premiered in May 1969) are anything but nuanced representations of native culture.
- The original run of F-Troop, with its firewater-happy Hekawi con-men (all played by non-native actors) ended less than a year before The Great Train Robbery debuted (and was probably already showing in syndication at that time).
- Gilligan's Island ended its original run at the same time as F-Troop, and while I don't think it featured any Native Americans, it sure played fast and loose with stereotypes of spear-carrying, bone-through-the-nose natives, headhunters, etc. And of course it was in syndication *forever.*
- Ukrainian-American actor Ed Ames played Mingo on Daniel Boone until 1970. Mingo was supposed to be a half European/half native character who chose to live as an Iroquois; he was more sympathetic and less a "noble savage" than, say, Tonto, but other Indians on the Boone series were far less subtle.
I said they "were being scrubbed"--meaning it was in the process. For example:Jim Akin wrote: ↑Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:46 pmI'm very glad depictions of native Americans (and other stereotyped ethnic/racial characters) have progressed as far as they have in 50-odd years, but I don't think I agree Standing Pat was especially egregious for the era, or that Hollywood had done all that much "scrubbing" of stereotyped portrayals by the summer of '68:
During the fall of 1966, Burt Reynolds starred in Hawk, the short-lived detective series where he portrayed a member of the Iroquois, with no hint of anything from the "Me help-um you" / "Me blow smoke signals" box of stereotypes.
In the war drama Garrison's Gorillas (1967-68), one of the "Gorillas" was a (admittedly) stereotypically codenamed "Chief," but he too was Native American and not of the type that overpopulated TV earlier in the decade, so those were clear efforts to break out--or scrub out--the kind of shameful portrayals in movies and TV--including this episode of Batman.
You could say that about everyone in the third season!bat-rss wrote: ↑Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:06 am
"Come back, Shame!" In season three, come back he does, and seemingly stupider than ever!
Holy Ba-dump bump tish!
Have only been able to hear bits of your latest podcast if I mention something you covered below.
I was being sincere regarding Miss Clean (or wait, was it Miss Broom? you can tell how much this episode interests me can't you?) she could've done more, though what exactly, I don't know. Perhaps her big moment was staring down Robin in the elevator sequence. Maybe she could've whacked him in the head with her pushbroom or umbrella at the end. I don't know.
As for Shame, the only moments I like are the funny bits with Fred, Batman reading the misspelled letter and the verbal back-and-forth between Batman and Shame, particularly Batman's retort regarding his Mother. Quite funny! And I do like Batman's talking into the camera regarding Good defeating evil.
But Fear gas, Mother-in-Law, Batman needing Batgirl and Robin to disarm the gang all just seemed not good.
But now I draw your attention to something weird I noticed in these episodes I've never seen discussed. Holy Hype! What could it be old chums? Or Holy Next Sentence!!
Why the heck does Shame end up with a piece of balsa wood held between his arm and his body? He's just going to stand there with it? I don't get it. Move your arm and let it fall down. But he just stands there with it. Was the actor having fun? A secret message to someone off camera? Shame so badly bat-whupped he doesn't even realize it?
I think it happens in one of the other fight scenes with Shame, maybe in the Great Escape. I'm pretty sure, if so, that would be two occasions he ends up with a piece of wood held between arm and body? What does it mean? He seems tough but in the end is no stronger than a background prop? A consolation trophy for losing the fight?The banality of evil? Shame as flimsy as balsa wood? The scripts as flimsy as balsa wood? Nay, the entire third season as flimsy as...you get the point.
I think there's no shame in branching out on the podcast and any further scripts/treatments to share are most welcome.
I will say this for Ross--he actually did revert to a bit of the Sempleian ideal in one scene. Batman reacting calmly to Shame's insults is how he might have reacted early in the show's run, as opposed to Hoffman having him get in the boxing ring b/c Riddler insulted his manhood early in season 3. This was a return to BM's 'sticks and stones' attitude.
Speaking of that ep, Paul, the music by May over the beginning credits (in the arena box office) is the same as the one you spotlighted from this arc. I'll admit I didn't like it as much. It's ambitious, yes, but feels a little too busy to me.
As for Adam's attempted Gary Cooper-style line reading, I give him credit for trying, but I think he missed the mark. There's a fine line between laconic and bored, and Adam wasn't able to straddle that line, IMO.
As for Dina Merrill, she kind of fit in with the theme of contrasts. I understand she was cast b/c she and Robertson were married at the time, but she usually played socialites and sophisticates.
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
Cliff Robertson had been married less than a year to Dina Merrill (real name Nedenia Marjorie Hutton), which explains his eagerness to have her work with him. His first wife had previously been married to Jack Lemmon.
Dina was the daughter of E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriwether Post, whose Washington mansion served as the wedding site on December 21, 1966--two weeks after her divorce was final.
Ms. Post's father, C.W. Post, created Post cereals, etc. Dina grew up on a Long Island estate that's now the site of a branch of Long Island University, while her mother also had a Florida estate that perhaps you've heard of: Mar-a-Lago.
Regarding the portrayal of Native Americans in general, when Batman was being shown on the Hub network in the early part of this decade, these two episodes and the first Egghead were banned because they were deemed offensive.