Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “A Piece of the Action” / “Batman’s Satisfaction”

“A Piece of the Action” / “Batman’s Satisfaction”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 2, Episodes 51 and 52
Production code 9751
Original air dates: March 1 and 2, 1967

The Bat-signal: The Green Hornet and Kato arrive at midnight at the Pink Chip Stamp Factory. The factory foreman, Colonel Gumm, is having a midnight snack of alphabet soup, which is interrupted by their arrival, and fisticuffs briefly ensue before the masked men depart. Kato questions their early departure, but the Hornet says they have what they need—this is definitely the counterfeit stamp ring they’ve been looking for, and they can wrap it up tomorrow.

In the morning, the factory’s owner, Pinky Pinkston—who has pink hair and a pink dog—calls Gordon to report the break-in by the Hornet and Kato (against Gumm’s better judgment). Gordon immediately calls Batman, interrupting Bruce, Dick, and Harriet messing with Bruce’s stamp collection. As Bruce goes to the study to answer the Bat-phone, Britt Reid, the Hornet’s secret ID, calls Wayne Manor’s main phone and speaks to Harriet. He wants to get together with Bruce while he’s in town for the newspaper publisher’s convention. Harriet sends Alfred to tell Bruce, and Bruce tells Alfred to say he’ll call Reid back.

Bruce has a lunch date with Pinkston. Reid also wants a date with her, but this is the only day he’s free, so Pinskton—who enjoys a good rivalry—invites him to come along as well.

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Batman, Robin, Gordon, and O’Hara speculate about why the Hornet might be in town, and in particular why he might target the Pink Chip Stamp Factory. One possibility is a rare stamp owned by Pinkston’s father, Pincus Pinkston, which has been missing since he died.

They’re interrupted by Reid’s arrival. Reid expresses shock—shock!—that the Hornet’s in town.

Gumm plans to rob the International Stamp Exhibition in a few days, which will allow him to give up this counterfeiting and retire rich. Pinkston arrives down her private staircase (handily labelled with a sign that says “Miss Pinkston’s Private Staircase”), and Gumm urges the henchmen to “Look busy—and honest!” She has learned that the intruders from the previous night are the Green Hornet and Kato. (But didn’t she already know that? If not, how did Gordon know to tell Batman that it was the Hornet?)

The Batcomputer fails to help with identifying the Hornet and Kato because it doesn’t have a dual identity bat-sensor. And they have to go off to their civilian responsibilities—Bruce to have lunch with Reid and Pinkston, Dick to his French tutoring.

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The lunch is held at the Gotham Hampshire Hotel, where a lingerie show is going on for whatever reason. After Pinkston goes off to give her pink dog Apricot a pedicure, the two millionaires head to Sevaroff’s Stamp Shop, as both of them have stamps in their collections that they think might be fake. Throughout the lunch, Gumm has been eavesdropping while disguised as an older British gentleman.

Boris Sevaroff, the owner of Sevaroff’s Stamp Shop, is also Gumm in disguise, and he assures Bruce that the stamp he bought is genuine. But the concern over the possible fakery means he needs to up his timetable.

However, Pinkston overhears the henchmen talking to Gumm, and upon the latter’s return to the factory, she confronts him, and he imprisons her in his office.

The Hornet and Kato head out to deal with Gumm. Hornet saw through Gumm’s disguise as Sevaroff, and plans to put the counterfeit ring out of business. However, since the world sees them as criminals, he’s worried that they’ll cross paths with Batman and Robin. Not wanting to harm a fellow hero, even if he doesn’t know Hornet’s a good guy, he puts his Hornet sting on half-power.

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Both the Batmobile and the Black Beauty arrive at the Pink Chip Stamps Factory. Batman and Robin observe the Hornet and Kato confront Gumm. Hornet asks to be cut in on the action in exchange for not revealing Gumm’s disguise as Sevaroff. Gumm pretends to play along, but then shoves the faux criminals into the Enlarged Perforating and Coiling Machine. Batman and Robin burst in, then, and fisticuffs ensue. However, Batman and Robin are stuck to an undetachable glue pad (handily labelled, “UNDETACHABLE GLUE PAD”), and they’re stuck (literally!) watching the Enlarged Perforating and Coiling Machine flatten the Hornet and Kato and turn them into life-sized stamps—with Batman and Robin next!

However, when Gumm dissolves the glue, our heroes punch their way to freedom, and loosen a panel enough for the Hornet and Kato—still alive inside the machine, it turns out—to blast out with the Hornet sting. Gumm and his henchmen get away, packing their counterfeit stamps in a truck and using Pinkston as a hostage.

Batman, Robin, Hornet, and Kato stand around and babble for no compellingly good reason before the Hornet and Kato leave and Batman and Robin follow, hoping to catch the other masked men in the commission of an actual crime.

When she was Gumm’s hostage, Pinkston fed Apricot from Gumm’s precious supply of alphabet soup. Batman, noticing that the J’s, Q’s, and Z’s are missing from the bowl, decides, somehow, that Pinkston left a message for him, so he collects the soup and he and Robin try to decipher what message Pinkston might have left.

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That detective work is interrupted by Reid arriving at Wayne Manor for a visit. Batman leaves Robin to continue working on the soup puzzle while Bruce and Reid worry about Pinkston, who hasn’t answered her phone anywhere. The two childhood friends talk about painting the town red like they did in the old days.

Since Robin has no luck deciphering the alphabet soup, Batman feeds the noodles straight into the Batcomputer (because that’s totally how computers work!), which reveals the contents of her note, saying that she was kidnapped by Gumm and to find her at the stamp show.

Apricot manages to gnaw through the ropes that keep Pinkston tied to a chair, allowing her to escape Gumm’s clutches. Before she did so, however, Gumm boasts that he believes Reid to be Batman and Bruce to be the Hornet. Pinkston immediately goes to Gordon and O’Hara to share this intelligence, which the cops find difficult to credit.

Gumm arrives at the stamp exhibition disguised as an Argentinian stamp collector, Senor Barbosa. The Hornet and Kato sneak into the exhibition, as do Batman and Robin. Fisticuffs ensue, with the four guys in masks beating up on Gumm and his three henchmen and also on each other. Once Gumm and his people are down, Batman faces the Hornet while Robin faces Kato.

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Before the fight can continue, Gumm manages to take Pinkston hostage, getting close by pretending to be Barbosa. Batman and Robin manage to stop him by sneaking up behind him, and the Hornet and Kato get away in the confusion.

Pinkston again has lunch with Reid and Bruce. She shares the hypothesis that Reid is Batman and Bruce is the Hornet. Bruce goes off to make a phone call, having Alfred call Gordon on the bat-phone, then having Gordon call Pinkston at the hotel. Gordon holds the phones against each other, as does Alfred, and yet somehow everyone hears each other clearly as Batman thanks Pinkston for her help in capturing Gumm and driving the Hornet out of town. This convinces Pinkston that Batman and Reid aren’t one and the same, and everyone has a good laugh.

Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! The Batcomputer has an ingestor switch—which proves handy when they feed the alphabet soup noodles into it—but does not have a dual identity bat-sensor. Batman carries an empty alphabet soup bat-container (complete with funnel) and a small broom and spatula in his utility belt.

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Holy #@!%$, Batman! When our heroes realize that they don’t have a dual-identity bat-sensor in the Batcomputer, Robin grumbles, “Holy oversight!” When Hornet and Kato arrive just after Batman and Robin do at the stamp factory, Robin mutters, “Holy split second!” When he’s stuck to the undetachable glue pad, Robin cries, “Holy flypaper, Batman!” When Gum reveals the Green Hornet stamp, Robin sneers, “Holy human collector’s item!” When Hornet and Kato turn out to be alive in the Enlarged Perforated and Coiling Machine, Robin says, “Holy living end!” When Batman notices that the J’s, Q’s, and Z’s are missing from Apricot’s bowl of alphabet soup, Robin on-the-noses, “Holy uncanny photographic mental processes!” (Yes, he really said that!!!!) When Batman proposes the possibility that the Hornet is actually a crimefighter, Robin scoffs, “Holy unlikelihood.”

Gotham City’s finest. Gordon and O’Hara are shocked at the notion that Reid could be Batman and Bruce could be the Hornet. They also totally fail to stop Gumm from kidnapping Pinkston literally right under their noses.

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No sex, please, we’re superheroes. The lingerie models flirt with both Bruce and Reid (one offers her name to Reid, the other her phone number to Bruce), while the men both flirt with Pinkston, who enjoys the attention from them both.

Also at one point Batman says, “I smell pink.” Yeah, we’ll just let that one go…

Special Guest Villain. Roger C. Carmel plays Gumm, but for the first time in the show’s history, there is no special guest villain credit in the opening, as poor Carmel is relegated to the closing credits only, not even listed as “special guest villain,” but just another guest star, albeit with single-screen billing. Carmel was a master comedic character actor, probably best known for playing Harry Mudd in two liveaction episodes of Star Trek, as well as one animated episode.

Instead, Van Williams and Bruce Lee get billed as “Visiting Hero” and “Assistant Visiting Hero.” They both wandered across the lot from The Green Hornet to appear on this show in an endeavor to boost the flagging ratings of the Hornet’s own show. It didn’t work, and The Green Hornet tragically only lasted the one season.

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

“It’s a good thing they’re on our side, even though they don’t know it.”

“It’s a good thing those guys aren’t in town every week.”

–Kato and Robin being all cutesy and meta.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 43 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, Justin Michael, host of Batman: The Animated Podcast.

This episode crosses over with William Dozier’s other ABC show that season, The Green Hornet. Also adapting a masked hero for the TV screen, The Green Hornet had a similar feel to Batman, though it was a bit darker and was played much more straight. The show never caught on, not being campy enough to draw in the Bat-crowd and not having enough mainstream appeal to be popular. Indeed, this crossover was done to try to bolster Hornet‘s anemic ratings, but Batman was having ratings issues of its own, and it didn’t help. The show was cancelled after a season.

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The Green Hornet‘s primary claim to fame was to introduce the United States to legendary martial artist Bruce Lee. Lee would go on to become arguably the most famous martial artist in history, having pioneered his own style, Jeet Kune Do. He’s generally considered responsible for the martial arts craze in the 1970s, both in film and in real life. Lee’s popularity sparked a lot of interest in Asian martial arts in this country, leading to several styles, particularly from Japan, China, and Korea, working their way over here.

The Green Hornet originated as a radio drama in the 1930s, and had previously been adapted to movie serials, comic books, and kids’ novels. In the years since, he’s continued to appear in prose and comics, as well as a feature film in 2011.

This is the third time the Hornet and Kato have been seen or referenced on Batman, and the three aren’t compatible. The Hornet and Kato were the window cameo in “The Spell of Tut,” in which Batman and Robin treat them like fellow heroes, and then Bruce and Dick sit down to watch The Green Hornet TV show in “The Impractical Joker.”

In 2014, DC published a companion miniseries to Batman ’66 entitled Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet, by Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, & Ty Templeton, which was a sequel to this crossover, as the Dynamic Duo once again are thrown together with the Hornet and Kato against Gumm.

Diane McBain plays Pinkston, having previously played the Mad Hatter’s moll Lisa in “The Thirteenth Hat” / “Batman Stands Pat.”

The window cameo is Edward G. Robinson, who engages the Dynamic Duo in a discussion about art, including a dig at pop-art guru Andy Warhol, whose art Robinson despised.

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There are several Star Trek connections in this one. Besides Carmel, there’s also Angelique Pettyjohn, who plays one of the lingerie models, who appeared in “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” and the title of the first part is also the title of a second-season Star Trek episode. Also Seymour Cassel, who plays one of the henchmen, went on to a major career as a well-regarded character actor, including a role in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The Child.”

Pink Chip Stamps is a play on Blue Chip Stamps, popular collectible stamps of the time.

Another minor crossover: when Batman is dumping the alphabet soup into the alphabet soup bat-container, the letters form an S, which is positioned right at Batman’s chest, thus making a sly reference to Superman.

Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Green Hornet usually comes out the winner.” I have always had a soft spot for The Green Hornet. It got lost in the Bat-shadow, and never really found an audience. The Hornet has always been a minor hero in the grand pantheon anyhow, and honestly if it hadn’t been for Bruce Lee’s meteoric rise to fame (not to mention his tragic death), both the show and the character might have been confined to the dustbin of history. But it was actually a fun little action-adventure show that deserved more acclaim and viewers than it got.

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As a result, I have a great fondness for this crossover. It helps that Roger C. Carmel leaves no piece of scenery unchewed as Gumm (not to mention his various disguises), that Diane McBain turns in another strong performance as Pinkston—who, like her prior role as Lisa, is a much more together and intelligent woman than the show usually manages to provide—and that Van Williams and Bruce Lee bring the same relaxed charm that they have in their own show. Plus Robin actually says, “Holy uncanny photographic mental processes!” With a straight face, no less! Seriously, the whole episode’s worth it for that line.

The story has some holes in it, not least being the complete lack of any follow-through on Pinkston’s father’s famous lost stamp. There’s not enough of Kato fighting, which is half the appeal of The Green Hornet in the first place, and it’s laughable to see him face off against Robin, because you just know that the Boy Wonder doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning that fight. (It doesn’t help that Burt Ward plays the fight scenes with tremendous hesitation, borne of a practical joke on Lee’s part. Having heard that Ward boasted often of his barely-there karate skills, Lee acted all surly around Ward, scaring the other actor and making him fear he might actually get hurt. One of the crew, who was in on the gag, referred to their confrontation as the black panther versus the yellow chicken.) And the climax is very anti, sadly, as the bad guy is stopped by Batman and Robin walking up behind Gumm.

But overall, this is a fun crossover. Too bad it wasn’t enough to save the other show…

Bat-rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido can’t believe that anyone ever thought that Robin stood a chance against Kato.

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