Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “Green Ice” / “Deep Freeze”

“Green Ice” / “Deep Freeze”
Written by Max Hodge
Directed by george waGGner
Season 2, Episodes 19 and 20
Production code 9725
Original air dates: November 9 and 10, 1966

The Bat-signal: In the height of a hot summer day, Gotham City is hosting the Miss Galaxy beauty pageant. The five finalists are Miss Corsica, Miss Canary Islands, Miss Barrier Reef, Miss Gotham City, and Miss Iceland. Mr. Freeze shows up and kidnaps Miss Iceland.

As soon as Gordon learns of this, he goes to call Batman. But Mr. Freeze shows up in the air conditioning vent and immediately freezes the entire office, including Gordon and O’Hara. Gordon barely manages to get off the words, “help… Ba…” into the Bat-phone before succumbing to the cold.

The Dynamic Duo race to GCPD HQ to discover that Gordon’s office is frozen. They blow the doors open with plastic explosives to find the office covered in snow and slush and Gordon and O’Hara suffering from severe hypothermia.

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Batman holds a press conference in Gordon’s office, which has been cleaned up in an unconvincingly speedy manner, but won’t give specifics as to what happened. However, reporter Nellie Majors is already ahead of him, as she figures it connects to Miss Iceland’s kidnapping (which Batman and Robin didn’t even know about, as Gordon was too busy freezing to death to fill him in) and Mr. Freeze’s recent escape from prison. Batman refuses to comment, though.

Mr. Freeze has been watching from across the street, even as he leers over a bound and gagged Miss Iceland, he has a block of green ice addressed to Batman (for Incidental Crime Expenses, which it takes Robin several seconds to figure out stands for “ICE”), but it turns out to be a case filled with cash. Majors assumes that it’s a bribe.

Batman gives the money to Gordon for the Policeman’s Welfare Fund, and he doesn’t concern himself with Majors’s accusations, as he knows how difficult it is for reporters to make interesting reading out of plain, ordinary, everyday people like him and Robin. Yup.

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Mr. Freeze has converted an abandoned cold storage unit into his headquarters. He’s thrilled to see that his “green ice” trick has resulted in a press backlash. He’s keeping Miss Iceland in a cell that is designed to lower her body temperature to the same as his, so she’ll fall in love with him. Miss Iceland herself is less sanguine about this plan, and she’s also pissed that Batman’s bad press is getting more ink than her kidnapping.

Their attempt to figure out Mr. Freeze’s next move is interrupted by Alfred, who reminds them of the poolside reception being held for the Wayne Foundation. Aunt Harriet has been working all week to set it up, and so they change from their costumes to their tuxedoes and head upstairs.

But Mr. Freeze was actually the caterer for the event, and so he’s able to show up and rob the attendees of the party. He gets them to all stand in the wading pool, and then he freezes the water, trapping them all. Then two of Freeze’s thugs show up dressed as Batman and Robin. Fisticuffs ensue, after a fashion, as Freeze’s thugs take a fall, getting their butts whupped by Freeze’s non-disguised thugs. “Batman” and “Robin” run away, to the disgust of the attendees—and the confusion of Bruce and Dick, for obvious reasons.

Alfred shows up and saves the day by turning on the pool heater. The Dynamic Duo head to the Batcave to try to determine where Mr. Freeze’s hideout might be. At the Frosty Freezies ice cream factory, they encounter Mr. Freeze and his thugs, and fisticuffs ensue.

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Batman and Robin win the fight, but then Mr. Freeze hits them with his freeze gun. He places them into two large cones, which will turn them into Frosty Freezies. However, they manage to kick one of the nozzles in the cone out of place, which messes with the heat elements and allows them to escape. I think. It wasn’t very clear, and it mostly happened off camera. Whatever.

They return to the Batcave to find the latest headline is a picture of Batman wearing Gordon’s stolen watch. The actual article says that the picture comes from an anonymous source, and may be fake, though Batman admits that most people will just read the headline and look at the picture. Given this bad publicity, and given that Mr. Freeze thinks they’re dead, they decide to temporarily hang up their cowls to lull the villain into a false sense of security.

Public opinion is definitely turning against the Dynamic Duo. The press is ridiculing Gordon and Batman during a press conference in the former’s office, while a little kid boos a picture of Batman and Robin on the streets of Gotham—Bruce and Dick witness that event, and it devastates them.

Mr. Freeze plans to blackmail the city: he’ll freeze the city completely unless they give him a billion dollars. He even goes so far as to provide an artist’s rendering of the city covered in ice. Gordon and O’Hara meet with Mayor Linseed and Bruce and Dick. (Why Bruce and Dick are in this meeting is left unclear.) To prove he means what he says, Mr. Freeze has frozen the reservoir, so no one can get water from their faucets.

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The citizenry of Gotham is frightened, especially since the city can’t raise that amount of money that fast. Given the immediacy of the threat, Batman and Robin come out of their brief retirement to check out the cold storage unit they didn’t get to check out last time. They bat-climb to the roof and twist the TV antenna. When Mr. Freeze sends a thug to check the antenna, it gives them access to the staircase, and they go down to confront Mr. Freeze—who has frozen Miss Iceland in a block of ice.

Fisticuffs ensue, but Mr. Freeze manages to trap them in the cell he’d had Miss Iceland in. Mr. Freeze then calls Gordon to reassure him that he isn’t bluffing—and only then do Batman and Robin escape the cell using the plastic explosives in Robin’s belt. Why they waited is left as an exercise for the viewer.

Batman and Robin are victorious, though Mr. Freeze’s collar is damaged—so they free Miss Iceland and put the villain in the ice block until the police can arrive. Afterward, Batman asks Warden Crichton to make sure that Mr. Freeze’s cell is kept cold, takes Robin to the Miss Galaxy contest (which was delayed until Miss Iceland could be rescued), and encounters the little kid who booed him earlier. The kid is now back on #TeamBatman, and Batman holds his hand and takes an elevator ride with him and Robin, which isn’t at all creepy.

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Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! They get Gordon’s door open via plastic explosive, which Robin keeps in his utility belt. (Yes, Batman leaves military grade explosives in the hands of a minor. What could possibly go wrong?) They use the Crime Analyzer (which Batman calls the Bat Analyzer, a rare case of the verbal description not matching the sign) to figure out what Mr. Freeze’s future crimes are likely to be, and also where his hideout is. The Dynamic Duo are slathered in anti-freeze before confronting Mr. Freeze.

Holy #@!%$, Batman! “Holy polar front!” is Robin’s utterance when confronted with Gordon’s frozen office. “Holy hijack!” is what he cries when he learns that Miss Iceland was kidnapped. “Holy tuxedo!” is what he grumbles when he’s reminded about the Wayne Foundation reception. “Holy shamrocks,” is what Dick mutters when he sees the green motif at the reception. “Holy distortion!” is what Robin snarls when they read the newspaper article showing Batman wearing Gordon’s stolen watch. “Holy chicken coop!” is what he cries when Mr. Freeze traps them in his cell.

Gotham City’s finest. Gordon is Batman’s staunchest defender throughout the bad publicity, but by the middle of “Deep Freeze,” even he has lost faith, and doesn’t use the Bat-phone when he should. At the end of the episode, he expresses his regret in losing faith right at the camera.

Special Guest Villain. Filmmaker Otto Preminger is another celebrity who wished to be on Batman, but this time they put him in the existing role of Mr. Freeze, replacing George Sanders, who appeared in the first season’s “Instant Freeze” / “Rats Like Cheese.” Preminger was reportedly rude and unpleasant and difficult to work with on the set, and when Mr. Freeze returns at the end of this season in “Ice Spy” / “The Duo Defy,” he’ll be played by a third actor, Eli Wallach.

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No sex, please, we’re superheroes. Mr. Freeze seems to think that giving Miss Iceland the same affliction as him—being unable to survive in any temperature save for 50 below zero—will make her fall in love with him. Miss Iceland herself is someone more dubious at the efficacy of this plan.

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

“Wild!”

–Mr. Freeze throughout the entire story.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 28 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, Dan Greenfield, co-creator and editor of 13thDimension.com.

Alan Napier previously worked with Otto Preminger on the film Forever Amber, which also starred George Sanders, the previous Mr. Freeze. Napier did not enjoy the experience, but, good professional that he is, held his tongue during the filming of this two-parter. However, everyone got to form their own (generally negative) opinion about Preminger all on their own.

Burt Ward was injured at some point, as the pressure bandage he’s wearing on his right arm can be seen in a few shots, and director george waGGner blocked several scenes so that Ward’s right arm was obscured. In addition, at no point during this two-parter does Ward do Robin’s signature punching of his own palm.

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The fake Batman and Robin appear to be played by Adam West and Burt Ward’s stunt doubles, Hubie Kerns and Victor Paul, who must have relished the chance to get dialogue for once (though they remained uncredited).

At eighteen letters, this is the shortest title for a two-parter the show has had up until this point. It will be unseated from this spot by the next Mr. Freeze two-parter, which only has sixteen letters.

Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Wild!” The makings of a good storyline are here, especially since—just like “Hizzoner the Penguin” / “Dizzoner the Penguin” last time—the script indulges in some fine social satire. I love the His Girl Friday riff in the press conference scenes in Gordon’s office, with the delightful Marie Windsor as Nellie Majors doing her best Rosalind-Russell-as-Hildy-Johnson. (There’s a character I wish we’d seen more of.)

Unfortunately, it never quite comes together. There’s way too much talking about Batman’s negative publicity and not enough showing it, beyond one doofy looking kid saying “Boooo!” to a poster, plus derisive laughter from the fourth estate during the second press conference. The deathtrap cliffhanger is so tacked-on that the script even cops to it, having Mr. Freeze express regret that he put the Dynamic Duo into the deathtrap because it meant he couldn’t ruin their reputations more, which was his whole plan. The Miss Iceland kidnapping also feels tacked-on, and very repetitive, as we’re subjected to endless numbers of scenes of Mr. Freeze leering over Miss Iceland and the latter sneering back at him, assuring him that she’ll never fall in love with him. You could remove the entire Miss Iceland part of the plot and not change a thing, which shows it up as the filler it is—well, that, and a desire to provide as many shots of Dee Hartford in a bathing suit as they can get away with…

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But the biggest problem is Mr. Freeze himself. Otto Preminger is very one-note, stroking his fake eyebrows and shouting “Wild!” constantly for no compellingly good reason. George Sanders before him and Eli Wallach after him brought a lot more verve to the role.

Bat-rating: 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s Stargate SG-1 novel Kali’s Wrath is now available for preorder on Amazon and Amazon UK. The eBook will go on sale on 19 May and the print book will be available in June. In addition, check out Keith’s seasonal Stargate Rewatch right here on Tor.com.

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