Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “That Darn Catwoman” / “Scat! Darn Catwoman”

“That Darn Catwoman” / “Scat! Darn Catwoman”
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 2, Episodes 40 and 41
Production code 9743
Original air dates: January 19 and 25, 1967

The Bat-signal. Robin is giving a commencement speech at Aaron Burr High School. (Why someone who hasn’t actually graduated high school yet is giving a high school commencement is left as an exercise for the viewer.) He’s approached afterward by Pussycat, who is Catwoman’s protégé. (She’s actually a rock and roll star, but Catwoman has recruited her to be her sidekick, since at age twenty, she’s already over-the-hill to be a rock star…). She scratches Robin with a cataphrenic, which turns Robin to a punk. The boy wonder actually slams O’Hara into a wall and then goes off with Pussycat.

Upon learning of this assault on a police officer, Gordon immediately calls Batman almost apologetically. Batman drives to police HQ, alone for once (thus requiring new footage of Batman driving alone and only using stock footage that shows the Batmobile from enough of a distance that you can’t tell who’s in it), and Gordon and Batman question O’Hara. The chief says that he was talking to some redhead, and then tripped him. (Which is odd, as Robin actually shoved him.)

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Back at Wayne Manor, Harriet asks why she’s not allowed in Bruce’s study. Alfred’s lengthy and offensive diatribe on the subject of having a masculine retreat away from female encroachment is mercifully interrupted by Catwoman, Robin, Pussycat, and her three thugs entering Wayne Manor. They tie up Alfred and Harriet, blow open the safe, and steal two hundred thousand dollars.

Alfred calls on the Bat-phone, which surprises Batman and Gordon. Probably hoping it was Robin, instead it’s a report from Alfred, including the information that Robin is suffering from amnesia and dizziness. (He’d fainted at the end of the robbery.)

The camera cuts away before Batman has to explain to Gordon and O’Hara to whom, exactly, he was talking to on the phone, as we look in on Catwoman. Robin is sleeping off his fainting spell, and Pussycat, despite Catwoman’s protestations, practices her new song, “California Nights,” which sounds exactly like Lesley Gore’s hit single of the same name! What a coinky-dink!

Once Pussycat’s done with the song, Catwoman gets down to business: they need eight hundred thousand more dollars and also Batman. She calls Gordon and has him put her through to Batman. He puts his phone and the Bat-phone ear-to-mouthpiece (which would make for a terrible connection), and Catwoman makes her play. If the police or Batman try to stop her upcoming series of robberies, Robin will die. She offers to meet Batman on neutral ground to discuss it, but he refuses.

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After the call, Batman says he must handle this in his own way, and Gordon shouldn’t make any attempt to stop her nor be surprised by anything Batman does.

Catwoman steals another hundred thousand, but they still have seven hundred thousand to go. So she goes off with the thugs to rob more money while Pussycat guards the loot.

We cut to the workshop of Pat Pending, described as the world’s cheapest inventor, where he’s discovered a universal solvent, though Rudy the valet points out that there’s no container that would hold it.

Then Catwoman comes in and steals all his cash, which he keeps hidden in his mattress. Afterward, Pending and Rudy report that she mentioned something about a prince getting weighed. Gordon and O’Hara recall that Prince Ibn Kereb of Gedallia is weighed in every year: they put paper money on the other side of the scale to weigh him, and the money is then given to Gedallia’s orphans.

Catwoman, Robin, Pussycat, and the thugs show up to steal the money, but Batman is waiting for them. He’s appalled to realize that Robin doesn’t recognize him. Fisticuffs ensue, and Batman takes out the three thugs in short order. However, while he does so, Catwoman, Robin, and Pussycat put the prince’s money in a bag. Catwoman orders Robin to beat up Batman, which he does gleefully—and successfully, since Batman can’t bring himself to strike his old chum.

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Jumping into the Catillac, Catwoman and her gang go to their headquarters in New Guernsey. Batman follows, and calls Gordon that he thinks he’s found a second Catlair. This surety is borne of the three signs on the door to the lair, which say, “SECRET ENTRANCE TO CATLAIR WEST!” “THIS MUST BE THE PLACE,” and “CATWOMAN’S IN HERE!”

He enters to find Robin tied to a chair. Thinking Robin was playing possum the whole time, he frees Robin—which distracts him long enough for the thugs to stun him with electrodes. He wakes up to find himself tied inside a giant mousetrap. Catwoman asks Batman to join her as her partner, which he refuses. So Robin cuts the rope that’s keeping the trap from springing—until Batman gives in. He agrees to become her partner, not to save his own life, but to keep Robin from committing murder.

Catwoman’s about to apply the cataphrenic—to make sure he’s not faking—when Batman asks to take a bat-pill first, to put off a headache. Bitching about how men are hypochondriacs, she lets him, then applies the cataphrenic. Batman starts acting like just as much of a leering doofus as Robin, and they head to the old criminals’ home on Short Island to meet up with Little Al. Catwoman’s been stealing money in order to pay Little Al for the plans to the Gotham City Mint.

Gordon is beside himself. Catwoman has been sighted as a passenger in the Batmobile, and he’s getting calls from Mayor Linseed, Governor Stonefellow, and President Johnson. But then O’Hara comes in with an anonymous tip about the location of the Catlair.

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Pussycat is singing “Maybe Now“—another Lesley Gore song (ahem)—to a picture of Robin. Then the boy wonder himself comes into the room and tries to make a move. Pussycat isn’t having any of it, though, as she’s not the type of girl to kiss on a first crime. Robin grabs her and tries to force a kiss on her, which isn’t at all creepy, when Gordon, O’Hara, and two other cops walk in to arrest them. They question Pussycat to no avail, and so Gordon decides to try to trace the Bat-phone.

Batman, Catwoman, and the thugs see Pussycat and Robin being taken to the hoosegow. A frustrated Catwoman tells the thugs to lay low, and she asks if Batman remembers where the Batcave is—at which point he gasses her.

He wakes her up the Batcave and convinces her that she fainted in his arms. She doesn’t question this, partly because she’s overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the Batcave. She also comes onto him, but Batman says they need to focus on the mint robbery first.

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Before Catwoman can try harder, an alarm goes off alerting Batman to Gordon’s attempt to trace the Bat-phone. Batman is able to divert the phone line so that Gordon instead follows the trace to Pending’s lab. Gordon and O’Hara arrest Pending, assuming that Rudy is Robin. Pending’s protestations that he has too much of a paunch to be Batman, not to mention the fact that the 32-year-old Rudy could hardly be the “boy” wonder, fall on deaf ears.

Batman leaves a note for Alfred to take Bat-antidote pills to Robin at police HQ before he gasses Catwoman again to leave the Batcave. They head to the mint (with Catwoman not even questioning the fainting spell). After they break in, Robin shows up, announcing that he’s no longer under the cataphrenic spell—at which point Batman reveals himself to have been faking it long enough to learn the weak spot in the mint’s security. Now that he’s found it (there was a false door), they can take her in. Fisticuffs ensue, but while the thugs are taken care of, Catwoman manages to lift the bat-keys to the Batmobile and get away.

Batman takes O’Hara’s cruiser to give chase and get close enough to take remote control of the Batmobile. They stop it at a warehouse and Batman chases her to the rooftop. He tries to convince her to give up, but she plummets a hundred feet to the West River—to her doom? We’ll never know—well, at least not until she shows up again…

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Fetch the Bat-shark repellant! My new favorite bat-device is in this one: the Automatic Bat-Alarm for Detecting Phone Detecting Equipment! You gotta love a device that has the word “detecting” in in twice! He also has the ability to divert a trace on the Bat-phone to another line, which becomes a serious problem for Pending.

Plus we have the old standbys of the Bat-antidote and the Bat-gas. And at the end, he uses a Bat-hanky to catch his tears as he weeps over Catwoman’s apparent demise.

Holy #@!%$, Batman! When Batman frees him from Catwoman’s chair, Robin cries, “Holy nick of time!” When Gordon and O’Hara show up to arrest him and Pussycat, he grumbles, “Holy shucks,” which may be the worst “holy” utterance in the show’s history. Finally, he cries, “Holy diversionary tactic!” when Catwoman escapes in the Batmobile.

Also, William Dozier cries, “Holy bat trap!” during the cliffhanger voiceover.

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Gotham City’s finest. For a moment, the GCPD approaches competence, as Gordon actually figures out that Catwoman will hit the prince of Gedallia. After that, though, they hardly cover themselves in glory, with Gordon immediately assuming that Batman has gone bad and calling for him to be captured “dead or alive.” He also totally believes that Pending and Rudy are Batman and Robin.

O’Hara doesn’t fare much better: Robin shoves his ass right into a wall and later he says that he saw Catwoman got away in the Batmobile, something it never occurs to him to mention until Batman prompts him.

Also at one point Gordon says that he’s violently opposed to police brutality. Okay, then.

Special Guest Villainess. Julie Newmar is back for another go-round as Catwoman, having last appeared as the Sandman’s partner in “The Sandman Cometh”/”The Catwoman Goeth.” Despite jumping to her apparent doom, four stories hence she’ll be back in “Catwoman Goes to College” / “Batman Displays his Knowledge.”

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No sex, please, we’re superheroes. Pussycat comes onto Robin in the beginning, though he doesn’t return the interest until after he’s scratched with cataphrenia.

Catwoman also comes on to Batman, particularly in the Batcave and before the mint heist. But Batman deflects her the first time with his faux eagerness to commit crimes, and the second time she’s interrupted by the thugs showing up to commit those crimes.

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

“I wanna be alone with you, Robin.”

“Alone with me? But why?”

“I can see a very important part of your education has been grossly neglected.”

–Pussycat making a pass at Robin, and Robin getting an incomplete pass.

Trivial matters. This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 38 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum Dan Greenfield of 13thDimension.com.

Guest star Lesley Gore was a very successful pop star, having scored a #1 hit with “It’s My Party” in 1963 when she was only sixteen. “California Nights” actually debuted in “That Darn Catwoman.” Gore is also the niece of producer Howie Horwitz, which probably isn’t a coincidence…

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All the New York references in this one: besides Mayor Linseed and Governor Stonefellow (plays on Mayor Lindsay and Governor Rockefeller, the mayor of New York City and governor of New York state at the time), we’ve got New Guernsey across the river (New Jersey is across the river from NYC, and both Jersey and Guernsey are types of cows), Short Island (a play on Long Island, just to the east of NYC), and the West River (a play on the East River).

While it isn’t specified that Gordon gets a call from President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the commissioner does sit up very straight, speak far more formally, and closes the call with “Give my best to Hubert,” referring to Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey.

Stanley Ralph Ross originally named the prince who weighed himself Missentiff of Furderber, named after a friend of his, but the network thought it sounded too much like an insult and asked him to change it. So he changed it to Kereb, which means “son of a bitch” in Arabic, which blew right past the network.

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Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Close your eyes and pucker and don’t worry about your reputation.” Usually one can count on a Stanley Ralph Ross script to be among the higher echelon of Bat-scripts, but he’s done in by any number of issues, not all of them his fault. For one thing, while the idea of Catwoman adopting a sidekick on the theory that Batman has one, too is a good one, the execution suffers from the warping effect of Lesley Gore’s pop career. The action of the two-parter grinds to a screeching halt twice so that Gore can lip-sync a hit single.

A good story could be told about how Robin and Batman can both be turned bad, but it’s done in by the simply terrible acting of the principles. Adam West doesn’t actually do too bad with it, and he’s helped by the fact that Batman is faking. Robin isn’t faking, though, and it’s just awful. His bad-guy act is even less convincing than it was in “He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul,” starting with his doofy laughter and only getting worse as the two-parter progresses. At least he suffers dizzy spells so he can be asleep and off-camera for big chunks of the story, which is all for the best.

Catwoman doesn’t cover herself in glory here, either. Stealing a million dollars so she can buy the plans to the mint just seems unnecessarily complicated. It’s also blindingly obvious that Batman took a universal Bat-antidote rather than a Bat-aspirin, and the fact that Catwoman didn’t cotton to that—or to Batman gassing her, not once, but twice to avoid letting her know the Batcave’s location just makes her out to be an idiot.

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And Catwoman deserves better, as Julie Newmar still shines like a big giant shining thing. As ever with her appearances, the best parts are when West and Newmar get to play off each other, and they do so splendidly in the climactic rooftop confrontation. Batman tries to get her to reform, and she turns it into a marriage proposal, and she also proves that reforming is a problem for her given that her solution to Robin being in the way of their theoretical wedded bliss is to kill the boy wonder.

Bat-rating: 4

Keith R.A. DeCandido is very grateful to be back at rewatching. Moving to a new place has been insane…

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