Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “The Thirteenth Hat” / “Batman Stands Pat”

“The Thirteenth Hat” / “Batman Stands Pat”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Norman Foster
Season 1, Episodes 13 and 14
Production code 8719
Original air dates: February 23 and 24, 1966

The Bat-signal: A chef reports for work in a very low-rent kitchen, when the Mad Hatter and two of his goons burst in on him. He steals the chef’s hat—thanks to the Lenny Henry show Chef! I will always think of a chef’s hat as a “culinary condom“—and then uses the super-instant mesmerizer in his big-ass top hat to render the chef unconscious. He does the same to a man wearing a deerstalker on a street corner, and the manager of a silver shop.

Gordon and O’Hara muse on these hat-related crimes, which he really and truly says are happening “right under our noses,” making me wish O’Hara said, “Well, technically, sir, they’re happening over our noses ’cause that’s where you’ll be wearin’ a hat,” but he didn’t, and I was sad. Strangely, Gordon’s main concern seems to be for the hats, even though the Hatter is also kidnapping people…

Anyhow, Jervis Tetch, a.k.a. the Mad Hatter, has been released on parole, and is immediately going after people and their hats. Gordon, of course, calls Batman. This handily gets Bruce and Dick out of the Gotham City Society Tea Tasting, where Aunt Harriet is struggling with whether or not to lead with oolong or pekoe. While Bruce is apparently an expert in Italian marble sculpture, he knows diddly about tea, and gives Harriet no useful advice.

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They bop off to GCPD HQ, where we are told that the Hatter threatened Batman with revenge after the Cowled Crusader (Gordon calls him that instead of “Caped,” as this is a Mad Hatter episode, and therefore his cowl is more important than his cape this time ’round) testified against him in court. How someone who refuses to reveal his real name on the record can possibly testify in a court of law is left as an exercise for the viewer. (Seriously, how does that work? “State your name for the record, please.” “I’m Batman.” “First or last name?”)

Gordon gets a call saying that the fire chief, and his shiny red hat, have been taken. Batman and Robin head out, and O’Hara says to clear all exits for the Batmobile. Why this is necessary when the Batmobile is parked on the street is also left as an exercise for the viewer.

The Hatter has placed hats on dummies that represent the twelve jurors at his trial. He has eleven of them, with two more to go—the twelfth juror, but also Batman’s cowl. His moll, Lisa, admires the notion, but his two thugs are wondering when they’ll get paid. The Hatter then shows off the death trap in his hat factory—all stuff used to make hats, but which will kill a person, like, say, Batman.

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He then reveals that the people he’s kidnapped are the actual jurors in his trial. He plans to ransom them for all the president’s hats, currently on display at a local museum, and worth millions.

Batman and Robin question the hat-check girl, Babette, at the event where the fire chief was kidnapped. They then follow up on a sighting of the Hatter at Maison Magda, a hat shop where Lisa works as saleswoman. However, they arrive too late to keep the Hatter from kidnapping Madam Magda, who was also on the jury.

Lisa hands Batman a business card that the kidnapper “dropped.” They take it back to the Batcave. It has the name of a sculptor, Octave Marbot, who is making a statue of Batman to put in the prison to inspire the prisoners. Robin says that’s a great idea, which is the opposite of what’s true. (Seriously, all that’ll do is remind the prisoners why they’re there…) They determine that the pattern of places where the people were kidnapped, as well as Marbot’s studio make the shape of a top-hat on a Gotham City map.

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The Hatter goes to Marbot’s studio, hits him with the mesmerizer, and then takes his place, wearing his beret and smock and a very obviously fake beard. Batman and Robin arrive, and the Hatter greets them posing as Marbot with the worst French accent in the history of humanity.

“Marbot” then asks if Batman would take the time for a sitting, but Batman doesn’t have time. He does agree to loan “Marbot” his cowl so he can adjust the head. They go into the dressing room, ostensibly for him to remove the cowl in private and Robin can bring it out to the sculptor. However, Batman saw through the ruse, not because he’s met Marbot and Tetch looks and sounds nothing like him, but because the real Marbot was quite happy with the head of the statue and wouldn’t need to adjust it. Right. Once they determine that the real Marbot is safe, fisticuffs ensue. Batman and Robin take down the Hatter’s thugs, but when the Hatter tries to use his mesmerizer on Batman, he uses a mirror to reflect it away—

—but right at Robin! The Boy Wonder falls to the floor, and Batman’s so devastated that the Hatter easily throws him into the wall right under the hardening plaster dispenser, which drenches Batman in wet plaster that is hardening fast.

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The Hatter forces Marbot to cut away the head of the newly formed Bat statue so he can have a mold of the cowl. He’s tied Robin to a marble horse and sends one thug out to steal the Batmobile. However, Batman—who apparently can hold his breath for as long as it takes to tie up Robin and chip away at a statue—just held his breath and then broke out when Marbot’s chipping weakened the plaster enough for Batman to physically break through.

The Hatter and his thugs try to get away in the Batmobile, but the same anti-theft device that got the Riddler gets them, and they run away on foot instead. They get away by virtue of Batman taking the time to dust himself off and offer to help Marbot clean up his shop.

They return to the Batcave. The Hatter mentioned the cowl as being his thirteenth hat. It turns out six other people have been reported to be kidnapped along with their headgear. Batman and Robin speculate as to what comes in twelves, but there are too many possible answers, so they consult the computer. Eventually, they figure out that the Hatter is taking the jurors at his trial.

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Gordon fetches the list of jurors, and the last name is Turkey Bowinkle. Yes, really. Batman sends Alfred to Bowinkle’s Bowling Alley in order to slip a tracer on his hat. Alfred poses as a genealogist, contriving a ridiculous excuse to look at his hat, but Bowinkle—who’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer—won’t let him see it. Lisa then arrives, distracting Bowinkle with her hotness. Alfred, realizing he no longer has a captive audience, pays for his drink and leaves, using Lisa’s distraction to check out Bowinkle’s office and put the tracer on the hat.

Lisa, of course, is there for the Hatter, claiming to be a reporter for a fashion magazine that has listed him as the best-hatted man in Gotham. He tells her it’s in the office, and she signals the Hatter, who arrives in Bowinkle’s office right after Alfred has placed the tracer in the bowler’s bowler. The Hatter takes the hat and confronts Bowinkle. They struggle briefly for the bowler, which reveals the tracer, and then the Hatter mesmerizes Bowinkle, taking him away.

The Hatter leaves the tracer on the bowler in the hopes of trapping Batman, and it works. The Dynamic Duo climb the wall and burst through the window, but the Hatter and the thugs get the drop on them. They’re led at gunpoint to the hat factory, but Batman manages to use a nearby scarf to get the drop right back on them, and fisticuffs ensue. At one point, Robin is knocked out, and put on the conveyer belt of the hat factory—yet he goes through the rabbit shearer and the blades without being hurt before Batman frees him. In the end, Batman kicks the Hatter into the acid cleaner, from which he emerges completely unscathed, but somewhat dazed.

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Later, Bruce and Dick take Harriet to Madam Magda’s to buy her a hat for her birthday, probably by way of making up for being kidnapped and losing her saleswoman to prison.

Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! It’s the triumphant return of the Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City! I love the Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City! The Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City is the best! We also have the Anti-Mesmerizing Bat Reflector (which is, basically, a mirror) and a Bat-tracer, which they follow with the Detect-a-Scope in the Batmobile. At one point, we get a look at the International Frequency Computer, which they don’t use, but there’s the Anti-Crime Computer, which leads them to figure out that the jury’s been kidnapped.

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Holy #@!%$, Batman! When the fire chief is kidnapped, Robin cries, “Holy helmets!” He says “Holy switcheroo” when he realizes that the Hatter has disguised himself as Marbot. Just as he falls to the reflected mesmerizer, he mutters, “Holy ricochet.” At the revelation that Batman held his breath, a stunned Robin cries, “Holy frog-man!” while the later revelation that the Hatter found the tracer in Bowinkle’s hat prompts a “Holy bowler!”

Gotham City’s finest. Gordon acquires the list of jurors in the Hatter’s trial. He’s staring right at it, yet he has no idea why Batman would want it, even though eleven of the twelve names on it are the same as the eleven people who’ve been kidnapped. Dumbass.

No sex, please, we’re superheroes. Lisa is completely smitten with the Hatter, to the point of fawning, and Babette the hat-check girl and Hermione Monteagle are equally smitten with Batman, who remains utterly oblivious to their drooling.

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Special Guest Villain. David Wayne debuts the Mad Hatter. He’ll return to the role in season 2’s “The Contaminated Cowl” / “The Mad Hatter Runs Afowl,” also written by Charles Hoffman.

Na-na na-na na-na na-na na. “I’m a practical man.”

The Mad Hatter’s line shortly before he discusses his plan to ransom twelve people for a hat collection.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 7 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, Linda-Ali Cruz.

For the first time, both the voiceover and the text use “Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!” for the cliffhanger.

This episode borrowed bits from several comic book appearances of the Mad Hatter: Detective Comics #230 by Bill Finger & Sheldon Moldoff, Batman #161 by Dave Wood & Moldoff, and Batman #49 by Finger.

The Mad Hatter who appears in this episode is based on the second villain to call himself that, who first appeared in the aforementioned Detective #230 in 1956—he even used the same name as the original Hatter (who first appeared in Batman #49 in 1948). Later (some fifteen years after this episode aired), it was revealed that the second Tetch was an impostor and the original took the moniker back. The second Hatter recently appeared as “Hatman” in Batman #700.

Diane McBain, who plays Lisa, will return in the Green Hornet crossover episodes “A Piece of the Action”/”Batman’s Satisfaction” as Pinky Pinkston.

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Pow! Biff! Zowie! “How could I have been so stupid?” Aspects of this episode work rather well. David Wayne is obviously having a grand old time as the Hatter—or, rather, Jervis Tetch. This is the second code-named villain whose real name is also revealed, but unlike Mr. Freeze (a.k.a. Dr. Art Schivel) whose name is only mentioned once or twice, this one is used as often as the Lewis Carroll-inspired sobriquet, probably because “Jervis Tetch” is fun to say out loud.

Anyhow, Wayne is fun, and I really like Diane McBain’s performance as Lisa. Unlike all the previous molls who were either bored young women in it for kicks or good women led astray by the lure of evil, Lisa is a total sociopath. She takes absolute glee in observing how the hat factory deathtrap works, and just in general is an eager participant in the Hatter’s schemes. (More so than the two thugs, who are mostly peeved that they haven’t gotten paid. Then again, Lisa actually has a day job…)

Unfortunately, the storyline has lots of nonsensical stuff, even by this show’s high standards. It starts with the emphasis on hats being stolen, with the actual people being kidnapped as an afterthought. At the start when Gordon gets the report, all the way through to later when Batman calls Gordon for an update, everyone’s emphasizing the haberdashery and not the kidnapping. Hell, in most cases, you probably can’t even tell the hats were also taken (viz. the chef, who was wearing the thing when he was taken). The general lack of concern for people is kind of appalling.

So is the policework. At least Batman is kind enough to admit to being stupid when he finally cottons to what the kidnap victims all have in common, but Gordon doesn’t figure it out when he’s staring at a list of the jurors.

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And finally, we get a truly awesome deathtrap—and it’s not the cliffhanger! And when it is used, it doesn’t work! Seriously, Robin lays on it and then is not skinned or sliced, even though he goes right through those two parts of the deathtrap. Lame.

 

Bat-rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest work is an essay that lists the top ten good things about the Star Wars prequel trilogy in A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe, just released by Sequart. Yes, he actually found ten.

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