Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “Shoot a Crooked Arrow” / “Walk the Straight and Narrow”

“Shoot a Crooked Arrow” / “Walk the Straight and Narrow”
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by Sherman Marks
Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2
Production code 9705
Original air dates: September 7 and 8, 1966

The Bat-signal: In Wayne Manor, Bruce is arguing with Allan A. Dale, the Wayne Foundation’s PR dude, over giving money to the poor. Bruce is for, Dale is against—but only because the Archer has been on a spree of stealing money from the rich and giving it to the poor. Dale feels the money won’t be safe, but Bruce assures him that Gotham City is safe from criminals.

To prove him wrong, the Archer shows up with two of his hench-merry-men (Big John and Crier Tuck), shooting a gas arrow into the piano—which cuts short Dick’s piano lesson, a blow struck for music lovers everywhere—and Bruce, Dick, Dale, and Harriet all pass out from the gas. Archer uses another gag arrow to blow the safe and steal Bruce’s cash. Archer then rides to a poor section of Gotham City and literally throws the money around. When the cops show up, he uses a sneezing arrow on them and they get away.

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O’Hara himself takes the report from Bruce regarding the assault and theft, and they’re interrupted by the Batphone. O’Hara thinks nothing of Bruce and Dick waltzing off in the midst of making a police report to attend to “that business in the study,” as Alfred puts it.

After talking with Gordon, they head to police HQ. They arrive to find O’Hara also there. Somehow, O’Hara has finished taking the report, and driven back to GCPD HQ in a squad car faster than the Dynamic Duo can get there in their jet-powered automobile. Sure.

The good citizens of Gotham City apparently all returned the money once they realized it was stolen. Because that’s totally how that works. Dale is also in Gordon’s office (also arriving as swiftly as Batman and Robin did in their jet-powered car), and he insists now that the Wayne Foundation not give the ten million dollars to the poor. But Gordon insists just as emphatically that the money be allocated as planned, and assures Dale that with Batman and Robin on the case, the Archer won’t stand a chance.

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They really need to stop saying stuff like that, as just then another trick arrow shoots onto Gordon’s desk—a flashbang that blinds and disorients all five people in the office. Archer and his thugs (wearing visors to protect their eyes) proclaim that he will continue his Robin Hood act, and there’s nothing they can do to stop him.

He shoots an arrow with a rope into the windowsill and they all climb down it. Rather than follow via a sensible route like the stairs, Batman and Robin climb down the wall on their own batrope. Between the slow climb downward and an interruption from Dick Clark (who doesn’t recognize them, though Batman guesses that Clark is from Philadelphia because he dips his dipthongs), they lose the Archer. Questioning a nearby truck driver (driving a truck from the Trojan Hearse company) proves fruitless.

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However, that was the bad guys’ getaway truck, driven by Maid Marilyn. She, as well as John and Tuck, are growing frustrated with all the charity and the lack of personal profit, but Archer has a plan to get at the Batcave.

Marilyn calls Gordon to inform him that the Archer will distribute money to the poor at the corner of Neptune and 20th Streets at four o’clock. Meanwhile, Archer steals coins from a candy machine distributor and that’s what he gives to the poor at Neptune and 20th. Batman and Robin show up, as expected, and fisticuffs ensue.

However, the Archer’s defeat is met by an outcry from the citizens of Gotham, who apparently aren’t so hot on the idea of giving back money they’ve been given anymore. Gordon explains this to Batman, who decries their lack of understanding of the evil lure of easy money, a sentiment that would be way more convincing coming from someone other than a millionaire.

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After making bail, Archer makes a speech saying he has mended his evil ways and will no longer rob the rich.

The Dynamic Duo aren’t convinced, and they go to the Batcave. Using the Batfile, they try to figure out what alias the Archer might be using, and they find a Robin Hood reference: Earl Huntington, who owns an archery range on Sherwood Avenue in the Greenforest section of Gotham.

Alfred—who was called “the William Tell of Liverpool” in his youth due to his proficiency with a bow—goes undercover to check out the archery range. Alfred’s boasts of his skill gets the Archer’s attention, so the villain proposes a wager as to who’s the better marksman. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin investigate the area nearby, finding a hideout underground. This sets off an alarm, so Marilyn activates a net that traps the Dynamic Duo.

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The Archer, not being an idiot, figures out that Alfred was there to distract him. After securing Batman and Robin to the wall, Archer threatens Alfred’s life if they don’t reveal the location of the Batcave. But Batman calls Archer’s bluff, as he won’t kill an innocent bystander.

Instead, Archer proposes a contest of honor. Batman and Robin are tied to stakes while the three bad guys ride toward them with jousting lances. But our heroes get away with the Bat-springs in their boots (sure, why not?). Archer and his thugs get away, while Batman and Robin see to Alfred.

The Dynamic Duo then visit Dale to learn how and where the money from the Wayne Foundation grant to the poor is coming into town, but Dale can’t reveal that to someone without a letter of approval from Bruce or one of the other trustees. (Gee, where could he possibly get that?)

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Archer has set up a new hideout under police HQ, and he’s visited by Dale—who is in cahoots with Archer in order to get a cut of the ten million dollar heist. Archer hits the armored car—but the spectacularly incompetent security guards catch up to the abandoned truck only to find that the money’s still there. Everyone is very confused.

The money is to be given to the poor of Gotham at City Hall in a ceremony that both Bruce and Batman are to attend—the former to supervise the grant, the latter to provide extra security in case Archer tries something. So Alfred dresses up in the Batman outfit, and stands on a roof with Robin while the ceremony takes place.

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The first person to be granted $100 is shocked to discover that the money is counterfeit, with Archer’s face rather than Benjamin Franklin’s. There is outrage and annoyance, and Gordon realizes that Archer did steal the money—and also replaced it with these counterfeits.

Bruce, Alfred, and Robin retreat to the Batcave to try to figure out where the Archer may have taken the money. The other issue is that the money is right off the mint, with serial numbers that have been recorded. So the only place Archer could do anything with the money is in Switzerland. Plus, Dale was the only person who knew the location of the armored car, and right after the disastrous public event, Dale told Bruce he was going boating off Fire Cove—which, according to Alfred, is the last place you see before sailing across the Atlantic to Europe.

They head out to the bat-boat and take it to Fire Cove, where Archer hasn’t even left port yet. Fisticuffs ensue—as does swordplay—and our heroes are triumphant.

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Later, Bruce and Dick practice their archery on Wayne Manor’s lawn, with some pointers from Alfred. The butler suggests showing off his prowess by shooting an apple off Dick’s head, but Dick politely declines—wisely, as it happens as Alfred’s shot goes right under the apple on the target and would’ve gotten Dick right between the eyes…

Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! The Batfile is an early version of Google, pretty much. Batman and Robin have springs in the soles of their footwear (which, you’ll recall, are also bulletproof). In addition to a clothes-changing lever (seen in the movie), the batpoles also have a negate-clothes-change lever for Bruce for when he needs to stay in his civvies. Batman has a bat-speech-imitator that can allow a person to sound like anyone. And the Bat-shield makes yet another wholly unconvincing appearance to defend the Dynamic Duo from a barrage of arrows after they arrive at Archer’s getaway ship on the Bat-boat.

Holy #@!%$, Batman! “Holy Houdini!” Robin cries when they lose Archer and his gangs on the Gotham streets. “Holy Inquisition,” Robin mutters when they find the Archer’s hideout. “Holy hostage,” Robin pleads when Alfred’s about to have his head cut off. “Holy deviltry!” Robin yells when he learns the money has been switched. “Holy Blackbeard!” Robin utters when they board Archer’s boat.

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Gotham City’s finest. When a millionaire gets robbed, it’s O’Hara his own self who takes the report. It’s good to be rich. Also, the commissioner in charge of poor people (yes, really) is an old fraternity brother of Gordon. Finally, a cop lectures a woman on the subject of Batman’s reputation as a safe driver.

Special Guest Villain. Art Carney makes his only appearance as the Archer. Ten years removed from his most famous role as Ed Norton in The Honeymooners, it was also eight years prior to his Academy Award-winning role in Harry and Tonto. He’s one of many celebrities who made only one appearance as a villain in this season, drawn in by the show’s unexpected popularity.

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No sex, please, we’re superheroes. Marilyn spends the whole two-parter bitching about the pseudo-Shakespearean way Archer and his henchmen talk, and then in the end she helps Batman and Robin defeat Archer by giving them swords.

Na-na na-na na-na na-na na.

“I like that cape, Batman. Very chic. Wash and wear?”

—Dale trying to engage Batman in a fashion discussion.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 19 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, author and journalist Kevin Dilmore.

With this episode, the sound effects during the fist fights are no longer superimposed over the action, but instead on cutaway cards. According to post-production coordinator Robert Mintz, the previous method was prohibitively expensive. Mintz came up with this as an alternative to dropping the sound effects all together.

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We once again see the painting of Bruce’s great-grandfather, last seen in “Fine Finny Fiends,” but we learn that it also hides a wall safe.

Dick was last seen playing the piano in “The Joker is Wild.”

The Archer is somewhat based on a villain who appeared in Superman #13 by Jerry Siegel & Jerry Nowak in 1941. Both are based on the Robin Hood legend, with Errol Flynn’s 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood being the primary inspiration for this episode’s portrayal.

This is only the second script by Stanley Ralph Ross (following the first season’s “The Purr-fect Crime”/”Better Luck Next Time“), who would go on to become one of the show’s most prolific writers over the second and third seasons. Ross would go on to develop the 1970s Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter.

Ross said in an interview that he felt Art Carney was miscast, and that he’d imagined someone like Fernando Lamas in the role when he wrote it.

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Besides Carney, noted character actors Barbara Nichols (the original brassy and busty blonde bimbo from Brooklyn herself) and Doodles Weaver (uncle of Sigourney) appeared as, respectively, Maid Marilyn and Crier Tuck.

Vinton Hayworth appears as Marshall Roland, the commissioner in charge of poor people (yes, really). Hayworth was probably best known for what turned out to be his final role: as General Schaeffer on I Dream of Jeannie. Sam Jaffe, best known as Dr. Zorba on Ben Casey, plays the jokingly named Zoltan Zorba, who discovers the counterfeit money.

The “window cameo” during a bat-climb officially becomes a recurring element with this episode, when Batman and Robin are greeted by Dick Clark as they climb down the wall of police HQ. What Dick Clark is doing in police HQ (with music in the background, no less) is left as an exercise for the viewer.

The footage of the Bat-boat was reused from the feature film.

Pow! Biff! Zowie! “I came to warn thee—all of thee!” A lackluster opening to the second season, most of which is on the back of a phoned-in performance by Art Carney. He sounds half asleep throughout most of his line recitations, makes no effort to even try to shoot the bow properly (his henchmen, not to mention Alan Napier, at least put in some effort), and just generally gives the air of someone hoping like hell the check clears and not caring beyond that. (I particularly like the way he “strangles” Robin during the climactic fight scene by grabbing Burt Ward’s shoulders.)

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The idea of characters with thick New York accents speaking in faux Elizabethan phrasing could be funny in the hands of people willing to put comic oomph into it, but the end result is considerably less than hoped for. So is the lack of simple logic—like O’Hara and Dale somehow beating Batman and Robin to police HQ despite the latter driving in a jet-powered vehicle, like the Dynamic Duo climbing down the wall of police HQ, not because it makes sense (because it really doesn’t), but in order to facilitate the window cameo (which wasn’t even that good), like Batman trying to get the location of the armored car out of Dale as Batman when he could get it easily from Dale as Bruce Wayne and he doesn’t do it.

On top of that, there’s a lot more obvious lecturing—and it’s not even from Batman! The cop lectures the woman about safe driving, Gordon lectures Dale about how no one can replace Batman, and Gordon later lectures Robin on the subject of getting rest and eating all your vegetables when you’re sick (the cover story for Alfred being dressed as Batman being that he has a cold).

Finally, the Archer himself is a villain it’s hard to feel too nasty toward, given that he’s actually performing altruistic acts. Yes, he later steals from the poor, but that’s money they were just being given anyhow. (And I wonder how Batman reconciles his lecture on how the poor shouldn’t accept easy money with Bruce Wayne just handing $100 a pop to various poor folks.)

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There are moments here and there. Undercover Alfred is always fun, even more so when he gets to show off his mad archery skillz. But ultimately, this is a dud.

Bat-rating: 4

Keith R.A. DeCandido is pleased to see that his Thor novel Dueling with Giants (Book 1 in the Marvel’s Tales of Asgard trilogy) is now available in print form! The book should be available at finer bookstores everywhere (and crappy bookstores, too, no doubt) soon, and you can order it in print or eBook form various online dealers.

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