Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “The Penguin Goes Straight” / “Not Yet He Ain’t”

“The Penguin Goes Straight” / “Not Yet, He Ain’t”
Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and John Cardwell
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Season 1, Episodes 21 and 22
Production code 8723
Original air dates: March 23 and 24, 1966

The Bat-signal: At a matinee performance at a Gotham City theatre, the intermission is menaced by a machine-gun-carrying man in a mask. Penguin is one of the attendees, and his discussion of the play’s merits is interrupted by the attempted robbery—which he foils with the aid of his bullet-proof umbrella. One of the attendees is Sophia Starr, a famous society woman, and she is very grateful to Penguin—they leave the theatre arm in arm.

Gordon is shocked at the news, and immediately calls Batman, interrupting Bruce and Dick practicing their golf game. Batman and Robin speculate as to whether or not the Penguin has truly gone straight. He suggests they interrogate the would-be robber, but he claims never to have heard of the Penguin, saying that Gordon and O’Hara have read too many comic books. (Har.) Batman and Robin try to scare him with a silhouette of them waving their arms and capes around, which prompts the viewer to laugh hysterically and the robber to scream and run head-first into a wall. Holy crappy interrogation techniques!

Luckily, the GCPD is actually doing their job properly for once, and they’ve tailed Penguin to the Millionaire’s Club. Batman inexplicably asks O’Hara to clear all exits for the Batmobile (he’s parked on the street!) and heads out.

BatmanPenguin05

At the club, Penguin saves a young rich man named Reggie from being kidnapped in the steam room. (Hilariously, while Penguin is wearing the traditional towel/toga wear one has in a steam room, he’s still wearing his hat and monocole and gloves, as well as his cigarette holder—the cigarette can’t be holding up well in the steam room—and also flippers for some reason.) Batman and Robin arrive thinking they’ve foiled his kidnap attempt, but Reggie assures them that Penguin is the hero.

Penguin also announces his new business venture: protecting the precious objects of the wealthy—and his first client is Starr.

They’re sure that Penguin has a long-term criminal plan, so they plan to substitute fake jewels for Starr’s real ones, which they’ll be able to trace. In order to get a look at them—so they can create the false ones—they send Alfred in as an insurance investigator. He takes pictures of the jewels and also switches out Penguin’s cigarette holder for one with a radio transmitter. Unfortunately, Penguin’s umbrella has a bug detector built in, and it’s discovered. Alfred manages to make his escape by literally pulling the rug out from under Penguin.

BatmanPenguin09

However, using Alfred’s pictures as a guide, the Dynamic Duo have created fake jewels, and they set off to switch them with the real ones. Robin is concerned that they’re actually technically committing a crime: they’re stealing Starr’s jewels, after all. But Batman insists that protecting private property is too important, which doesn’t actually follow, but whatever. They climb up the wall, and start to break into the safe—only to be caught red-handed by Penguin and his two thugs. Fisticuffs ensue, and Batman and Robin escape down the window. Starr calls the police, while Penguin calls the press.

Gordon is appalled at the notion that the Dynamic Duo could be considered crooks. Penguin is holding a party at the Gotham Amusement Park. Gordon advises Batman not to go, as he’d be obligated to arrest them. But Batman doesn’t listen and he and Robin go anyhow—where they’re ambushed by Penguin.

BatmanPenguin11

He then strings the Dynamic Duo up behind a shooting range at the amusement park. Penguin challenges Gordon and O’Hara to shoot the balloons that are attached to the dummy targets (right over the heart in each case), and if they get the balloons on the first shot, Penguin will donate to the PBA. Unable to turn that challenge down, the cops take aim and fire, not knowing that (a) the umbrella guns have real bullets in them, not pellets, and (b) Batman and Robin are in the line of fire.

Luckily, the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder have bullet-proof soles on their footwear, and they wake up in time to put their feet up on the curtain, thus saving themselves. Batman uses the Bat-knife to cut himself and Robin loose.

Penguin happily gives Gordon a certified check for the PBA, and then goes to dispose of the corpses—only to find that they escaped.

Back at the Batcave, Batman and Robin are despondent. Batman admits that they are truly fugitives—worse, they trespassed on the amusement park, which Penguin legally rented, they’re wanted for breaking-and-entering, and they can’t even nail Penguin for attempted murder because Gordon and O’Hara were the ones who shot at them.

BatmanPenguin06

Penguin and Starr go to Gordon’s office to demand that Batman and Robin be brought in, backed by Starr, who speaks for all the rich and powerful people Penguin has been befriending of late. Under pressure from Penguin, the Bat-phone is used, and Gordon insists that Batman turn himself in. Instead, Batman says he’ll meet Penguin at his protection office in 25 minutes. Penguin is outraged—he believes that Batman will attack him, and asks for police protection.

The Dynamic Duo show up and pretend to have snapped under the pressure. (Robin does a ridiculous head-twitch to help “sell” it.) Fisticuffs ensue, but when the police show up, they try to retreat, but the cops chase them into an alley, where they’re seemingly shot dead.

Penguin and his thugs steal the Batmobile, while Batman and Robin are taken to the city morgue. Gordon gives a press conference announcing that the Dynamic Duo will be buried with full honors, despite the fact that they died as fugitives.

BatmanPenguin08

Having redecorated the Batmobile as the Birdmobile (complete with umbrellas), Penguin roams the streets of Gotham pretending to stop crime, including foiling a staged robbery for Starr’s benefit. Batman and Robin are observing from the Batcave—they’re not actually dead, in fact, the cops were using blanks for the entire shootout. But they’re pretending to be dead and surveilling the Bat— er, that is Birdmobile until Penguin reveals himself.

Starr agrees to marry Penguin. The wedding includes tons of gifts from Starr’s friends and family. (Said gifts are under a sign that says, “DO NOT TOUCH! THIS LOOT UNDER THE PROTECTION OF PENGUIN PROTECTIVE AGENCY INC.” Yes, he refers to his wedding gifts as “loot.”) A water pipe bursts—thanks to a bomb planted by Penguin’s thugs—and so he gives everyone “emergency umbrellas” so they’ll stay dry under the cascade of water. The umbrellas explode with streamers and such. The wedding gifts all disappear, and Penguin goes off to stop the thieves. But instead, he goes down to the Birdmobile—the wedding gifts all got dumped into the trunk. He closes the hood and drives off—not only with tons of expensive gifts, but also leaving Starr at the altar, the cad.

Batman and Robin follow on the Bat-cycle. They’ve got surveillance footage of Penguin admitting to his crimes (as well as him making off with the gifts), and they use the Bat-cycle to take control of the Birdmobile from Penguin. They tie Penguin and his two thugs to the hood and drive back to Gotham. (It’s unclear what they do with the Bat-cycle.)

Gordon and O’Hara return Starr’s gifts to her. Starr still loves him, and still has hopes of marrying him and reforming him—but Penguin would rather go to prison than suffer that fate…

BatmanPenguin12

Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! The Dynamic Duo has just installed a new bullet-proof windshield in the Batmobile. Robin uses the electric eye looping unit to neutralize Starr’s safe alarm while Batman tries to cracks the safe. Batman’s boots and Robin’s silly shoes both have bullet-proof soles, and Batman has a Bat-knife in his glove, which is jarred out by the impact of bullets on his feet, apparently.

We also get the debut of the Batcycle! (Which is pronounced “bat-sigh-cull,” even though I desperately want to pronounce it “bat-sickle.”) It has a mobile Bat-scanner, as well as remote access to the Batmobile, up to and including remote steering, which is done via an adorable little steering wheel.

Holy #@!%$, Batman! “Holy nick of time” is Dick’s rather odd rejoinder when he learns Penguin is on the loose, mentioning the Batmobile’s new bullet-proof windshield (which is never actually used in the story, so why bring it up?). When the theatre thief knocks himself unconscious, Robin cries, “Holy knockout drops!” and when they learn Penguin is in the Millionaire’s Club, he says, “Holy jackpot!” After learning of Penguin’s protection agency, he says, “Holy leopard” as a prelude to mentioning how he’s changed his spots. When Penguin gets the drop on Batman and Robin breaking into Starr’s safe, he cries, “Holy bat-trap!” When they save themselves with their bullet-proof footwear, Robin cries, “Holy hotfoot,” and upon realizing how crappy their situation is, Robin mutters, “Holy nightmare.” As they observe Penguin pretending to foil a robbery for Starr’s benefit, Robin sees Starr’s dewy-eyed reaction and mutters, “Holy mush” and “Holy Romeo and Juliet!”

In the summary of “The Penguin Goes Straight” at the top of “Not Yet, He Ain’t,” William Dozier cries, “Holy bombshell!” when describing Penguin’s foiling of the theatre robbery.

BatmanPenguin03

Gotham City’s finest. Gordon and O’Hara interrogate the theatre thief. On the one hand, it never occurs to them to do so until Batman suggests it, which is kind of sad, since that’s Police Procedure 101. On the other hand, they do point out that Penguin would never have brought a bullet-proof umbrella to a matinee unless he was expecting to get shot at. Unfortunately, this promising line of inquiry is cut off by Batman and Robin doing shadow puppets…

The cops also open fire on the Dynamic Duo with pistols and machine guns repeatedly in the middle of a crowded city street without having secured the civilians, a level of public endangerment that is appalling, notwithstanding that they’re firing blanks.

Special Guest Villain. Burgess Meredith is the last of the Big Three male villains to make a return appearance, following “Fine Feathered Finks” / “The Penguin’s a Jinx.” He’ll return in the first-season finale “Fine Finny Fiends” / “Batman Makes the Scenes.”

BatmanPenguin10

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

“Oh frabjous day, calloo callay!”

–Penguin quoting Lewis Carroll upon seeing Batman and Robin shot down.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 11 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum Gary Mitchel, co-director of the American Sci-Fi Classics Track at Dragon Con.

This episode marks the first appearance of the Batcycle, and the only time they used a Harley Davidson. The next time we see the Batcycle will be in the feature film, and subsequent uses of the bike will be the Yamaha used in the movie (mostly reusing footage from the movie, in fact).

BatmanPenguin01

This two-parter is the only time Leslie H. Martinson directed for the TV show, but he went on to direct the aforementioned feature film.

Alfred poses as an investigator from Floyd’s of Dublin, a play on famous insurance company Lloyd’s of London.

Pow! Biff! Zowie! “A bachelor’s life for me, tit-willow, tit-willow, tit-willow.” I love this episode because Penguin’s plan actually is very close to successful, mostly because Batman and Robin screw up so many times. It starts with the interrogation of the theatre thief, which was actually going very well until Batman and Robin decided to try to frighten him. Then we go to their trying to stop Penguin from kidnapping Reggie, which he wasn’t doing (exactly), and then breaking and entering.

By the way, there’s an outstanding issue here. As Robin pointed out when they climbed the wall, they actually did commit a crime! And they were never arrested for it! Where’s Mr. Law and Order now that the Bat-boot is on the other foot, huh?

The episode also gets points for once again giving us Undercover Alfred. It’s fun to see Alan Napier do something other than answer the phone and dust things, and while this isn’t as much fun as his undercover work in “Batman Stands Pat,” it’s still rather enjoyable to see him in action.

I only wish they hadn’t included the scene in “The Penguin Goes Straight” where Penguin discusses his long con with his thugs, because the story would have been much more effective if the viewer isn’t entirely sure whether or not Penguin has reformed. But that’s a level of nuance this show was never interested in.

BatmanPenguin07

Anyhow, this is a nice subversive episode, in that our heroes actually do screw up multiple times, and let their prejudices interfere with their ability to do their job. Of course, Batman can’t stay flawless for long, so those prejudices turn out to be wholly justified, but it doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of watching them mess up repeatedly before they finally get the upper hand by faking their deaths and waiting for Penguin to incriminate himself.

 

Bat-rating: 8

Rewatcher’s note: Due to the holidays in general, and to Christmas Day and New Years Day both falling on a Friday in particular, we’ll be taking the Bat-rewatch off for a Bat-fortnight. We’ll be back on the 8th of January with “The Ring of Wax”/”Give ‘Em the Axe.”

Keith R.A. DeCandido hopes everyone has a lovely Bat-holiday and a wonderful Bat-new year!

 

11 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!