“The Spell of Tut” / “Tut’s Case is Shut”
Written by Robert C. Dennis and Earl Barrett
Directed by Larry Peerce
Season 2, Episodes 7 and 8
Production code 9709
Original air dates: September 28 and 29, 1966
The Bat-signal: King Tut’s henchmen have broken into a rich person’s safe to steal an amber necklace. Said rich person caught them in the act, but was subdued by a lead pestle, of all things. He reports to Gordon, who has a temp secretary, Miss Patrick—who provides a mid-morning vitamin pill to Gordon while bending suggestively over the desk. Gordon calls Batman, and he and Robin head over. At Batman’s urging, Miss Patrick puts a call through to Yale to see if it really is Tut; the dean informs Batman that the erstwhile Tut fell off a podium and suffered another head injury, so he’s gone back to his villainous persona.
The use of a lead pestle, which has been out of use since the turn of the century, and the fact that amber beads with scarabs trapped in them were stolen, with several more precious jewels left behind, leads Batman to surmise that Tut is using an apothecary, a trade that has fallen out of favor with the advance of pharmaceuticals. They find an apothecary still working in Gotham, and head there.
At that very apothecary, Tut is playing Frankenstein with the dead scarabs, but he fails to revive them at 100,000 volts. But a 200,000-volt shot does the trick.
One bat-climb later, the Dynamic Duo show up at the apothecary’s, and fisticuffs ensue. While our heroes are victorious, the apothecary distracts them with sneezing powder and Tut and his henchmen make their escape, the bad guy snatching his scarabs—but accidentally leaving one behind. Batman and Robin bring it back to the Batcave and dig into some ancient papyrus scrolls that, apparently, he has lying around. He discovers a chemical formula that can no longer be used because it requires scarab blood—but now Tut has some! He can make a chemical that will subsume people to his will.
Batman—or, rather, Bruce Wayne—has also bought the sphinx that Tut used last time and had it delivered to Wayne Manor. Tut wants it back, and so plans to steal it from the stately mansion. However, it’s a Trojan sphinx—Robin is inside it as the henchmen take it to the Gizeh Gardens.
The apothecary has successfully created the elixir, and we also find out that Miss Patrick is actually Cleo Patrick, Tut’s moll. Tut wants the apothecary to crystallize the elixir to a powder and Miss Patrick will feed it to Gordon instead of his vitamin.
Fearing for Gordon, Robin tries to contact Batman, but he drops the bat-radio, which Tut hears, and his henchmen snatch Robin from inside the sphinx. Tut tries to give Robin the elixir, but Robin escapes through a door—that leads to Tut’s crocodile pit, complete with the world’s most unconvincing crocodiles. Robin is now trapped with them, a slowly receding plank the only thing standing between him and a tooth-filled death.
Tut, unable to stand the sound of the crocodiles chewing, leaves. Batman arrives in the Batmobile, and rescues the boy wonder by using the bat-laser to zap the bars on the window and then they climb out via the bat-rope.
Gordon heads out for an anniversary lunch with his wife, leaving O’Hara in charge. Miss Patrick comes in and gives him a pill—and two seconds later, Batman calls, urging him not to take any pills from Miss Patrick. Unfortunately, it’s too late, so despite O’Hara’s best intentions, he becomes Tut’s slave. Tut sends him out to dance on a thin ledge, and then to do flips on a flagpole. Batman and Robin decide to stand around and watch this for several minutes before finally heading up to Gordon’s office to rescue him, just missing Tut and Miss Patrick.
Batman continues to pore over papyrus in an attempt to find a cure for the elixir, and also drinks six glasses of buttermilk. Gordon—who has now also been zombified by Tut’s elixir—informs him that the sphinx has appeared in Jefferson Square Park, announcing that Tut plans to increase the number of places one can get water in Gotham City. At the park, Batman, Robin, and Gordon hear the announcement. Gordon then offers Batman a lemonade, which he has spiked with the elixir. Tut then calls Batman on a pay phone, and puts him under his control via the elixir. His henchmen lead Batman to his headquarters—when Robin tries to stop him, the henchmen capture him and bring him along as well.
Tut plans to taint the water supply with his elixir. He goes off to do that, and instructs his henchmen to feed the Dynamic Duo to the crocodiles. However, Batman was faking—the buttermilk he drank protected him from the elixir, er, somehow, but he needed to find out what Tut’s master plan was. Now that he’s divined it, fisticuffs ensue.
Tut tries to drive off with the tank containing the elixir, but the truck won’t start. Robin opens the valve, pouring it out onto the pavement, which is probably pretty irresponsible. However, Tut accidentally ingests some, and kneels before Batman.
Gordon apologizes profusely to Batman and Robin, and then commends their honesty and integrity to the camera for some reason, while O’Hara hauls a very confused professor of Egyptology off to jail.
Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! Batman keeps radioactive pellets around, and dropped a few in Robin’s utility belt without telling him so he could track him using the Bat-geiger counter. (Dick probably didn’t want to have kids anyhow…) We also get the bat-laser and the bat-radio.
Holy #@!%$, Batman! Once again, Dick goes with “holy hieroglyphics” when he learns that Tut is the bad guy, and then utters, “holy sarcophagus” upon learning that he suffered another head injury. Upon discovering the revived scarab, Robin mutters, “holy Frankenstein,” and upon discovering that the scarab will be used for a formula, Robin mutters, “holy corpuscle.” When he’s trapped with the crocodiles, he mutters, “holy jawbreaker.” Upon seeing O’Hara gad about on the flagpole, Robin mutters, “holy high-wire.”
Gotham City’s finest. The GCPD is very poor at doing background checks on their summer-substitute secretaries, and also at stopping known criminals from entering the commissioner’s office, something Tut accomplishes twice.
Special Guest Villain. Victor Buono returns as King Tut. Having already established himself as the first villain wholly created for the TV series, he’s now the first of those to recur. He’ll be back later this season in “King Tut’s Coup” / “Batman’s Waterlook,” and twice more in season three.
No sex, please, we’re superheroes. In addition to posing suggestively when offering vitamins, Miss Patrick also thinks Batman is dreamy.
Na-na na-na na-na na-na na.
“Gosh, Batman, what are they dressed like that for?”
–Robin’s magnificently un-self-aware question regarding the Green Hornet and Kato.
Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 22 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, author Julio Angel Ortiz.
The latest window cameo during a bat-climb is by Van Williams and Bruce Lee as the Green Hornet and Kato, stars of The Green Hornet, another Dozier production that had debuted alongside Batman‘s second season premiere that month. Williams and Lee will appear again later this season in “A Piece of the Action” / “Batman’s Satisfaction,” which will (unsurprisingly) not acknowledge the brief meeting in this episode.
Tut once again uses the “sphinx” (really more of a likeness of Khnum), as he did in “The Curse of Tut” / “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut,” to make pronouncements. This time the statue is in Jefferson Square Park, the latest riff on a New York location, in this case on Madison Square Park.
Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Of course, my good and friendly pharaoh, your wish is my command.” On the face of it, it probably made sense to bring Robert Dennis and Earl Barrett back to write King Tut’s second appearance, since they wrote his first one. But recycling the writers also meant, apparently, recycling several plot elements. We get Tut again falling on his head and becoming a villain, him again wishing to take over Gotham City, him again using the “sphinx” to announce his intentions, the climax again involving Batman pretending to be under Tut’s power but faking it (without even the benefit of a Batusi), and the episode again ends with Tut being restored to his professor persona.
It doesn’t help that the henchmen and moll are kinda too much. Sid Haig’s goggle-eyed performance as the apothecary just feels off somehow, Michael Pataki’s Tewfik is so one-note that even Tut comments on it, and Marianna Hill is a most ineffective moll. And Gordon’s turning to the camera at the end is honestly really disconcerting…
Plus, six glasses of buttermilk? Seriously? Also, why doesn’t Batman make Robin also drink some buttermilk? And why does he put radioactive pellets into Robin’s utility belt without telling him?
There are some decent elements. Victor Buono gives another spectacularly fun over-the-top performance. I like that they set up the crocodiles at the very beginning, so they make a more effective cliffhanger—or, rather, they would if the crocs they used weren’t the most unconvincing fake crocs ever, made worse by interpolating stock footage of real crocodiles, which only exacerbates the problem. It’s fun watching O’Hara gad about on the ledge, with Stafford Repp’s stunt double doing particularly well on the flagpole.
But ultimately, we’ve seen this all before, and it was more interesting the last time.