Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “Ice Spy” / “The Duo Defy”

“Ice Spy”/”The Duo Defy”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 2, Episodes 59 and 60
Production code 9759
Original air dates: March 29 and 30, 1967

The Bat-signal: The S.S. Gotham Queen is heading back to Gotham City from a cruise. Among the guests are Professor Isaacson, who has developed a formula for creating instant ice, and Glacia Glaze, the ice skating star. However, Glaze is truly a moll for Mr. Freeze, who approaches the boat in a submarine disguised as an iceberg. As the ship’s crew panics over the presence of an iceberg just outside Gotham Harbor, Mr. Freeze is able to kidnap Isaacson. Unfortunately for Mr. Freeze, Isaacson hasn’t written down the formula for the instant ice—it’s all in his head, and he’s not talking. (We also learn that Mr. Freeze has a seal named Isolde in his ice sub, and she’s a homing seal.)

Upon learning of the kidnapping, Gordon calls Batman, and he and Robin hie to GCPD HQ tout de suite, where Gordon provides Batman with the passenger list for the Gotham Queen.

Mr. Freeze’s hideout is under the Bruce Wayne Ice Arena. He’s trying to torture the information out of Isaacson by putting him in a quick freezer (conveniently labelled “QUICK FREEZER”).

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Feeding the passenger list through the Batcomputer, they find Emma Strunk, which is Glaze’s real name. As it happens, Bruce is escorting Harriet to the ice revue that Glaze is debuting this evening, and taking her backstage to meet the skater, so Bruce can find out if Glaze is, in fact, Mr. Freeze’s accomplice as they suspect.

Isolde is sent by Mr. Freeze to Gordon’s office with a note that provides a list of ransom demands for Isaacson’s return. Bruce is to provide televised assurance that the money will be paid, and Batman and Robin are to deliver the ransom at midnight. Gordon calls Batman on the Batphone while O’Hara calls Bruce on the regular phone. O’Hara has Gordon put the two phones together so Batman can talk to Bruce, which results in a hilarious bit of vaudeville by Adam West as he talks to himself. Batman suggests to Bruce that they prerecord Bruce’s message with a dummy package of money.

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Bruce takes Harriet back to meet with Glaze. Harriet at one point picks up Glaze’s compact to admire it—but it’s also got a hidden radio that Glaze uses to talk to Mr. Freeze. Glaze covers the voice of Mr. Freeze on the compact when Harriet opens it as it being a music box, but Bruce knows better…

Harriet goes to Bruce’s box to watch stock footage of people ice skating while Bruce and Dick set up for Batman and Robin to appear as quickly as possible after Bruce records his message to Mr. Freeze.

Isaacson is from Iceland, so the quick freezer has no real effect on him. Undaunted, Mr. Freeze calls for his dry ice injector.

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Bruce records his message in Gordon’s office, then he excuses himself and Dick so they can change clothes. Batman and Robin take the dummy money, telling Gordon they’re not going to bother waiting for Mr. Freeze’s instructions, as they think they know where he is.

At midnight, Mr. Freeze injects dry ice into Isaacson and puts him back in the deep freezer, then turns on the TV to watch Bruce’s message. As they watch, Batman and Robin show up with the fake money and fisticuffs ensue. Our heroes do not fare well, and they’re tossed into the vaporizing transparent pipe pump (confusingly labelled, “SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURE VAPORIZING CABINET”). Mr. Freeze plans to freeze them and put them under the ice of the arena above, so that Glaze can skate right on Batman and Robin.

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Once the cabinet is covered in frost, Mr. Freeze activates the vaporizer, which whisks all the contents of the cabinet into the ice rink upstairs. Mr. Freeze then removes Isaacson from the quick freezer—now he’s willing to talk, as the dry ice has made him more susceptible to the cold (just run with it), but he’s so cold he can’t remember the formula.

Mr. Freeze finds out about Harriet picking up the compact/radio, so he figures that the hideout is burned, and the cops will be all over them once Batman and Robin don’t report in, so they take Isaacson and head to their alternate hideout in Gotham Harbor.

Once they depart, Batman and Robin emerge from the seal cage. Turns out that there was an emergency exit in the cabinet, but they didn’t make use of it until after the cabinet was frosted over, so Mr. Freeze would think them dead.

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The next morning there are a sea of icebergs in Gotham Harbor, brought there by Mr. Freeze with his ice magnets to disguise which iceberg is the one hiding his hideout. In that hideout, Isaacson finally provides the formula. Mr. Freeze then sends demands directly to the president, who calls the governor, who calls Gordon. Mr. Freeze plans to send the world into a new Ice Age if his demands aren’t met, and he’s going to demonstrate with his thermodynamic ice ray beam, created under Isaacson’s direction. He fires it, and it freezes everything in Gotham City—even the Batcomputer in the Batcave!

Batman has O’Hara attach a homing device to Isolde’s flipper and release the seal into Gotham Harbor. Tracking the seal in the Bat-copter, they find Mr. Freeze’s hideout, and confront him. Fisticuffs ensue, and this time our heroes are victorious. Gordon and O’Hara show up (in parkas) to take Mr. Freeze, Glaze, and the henchmen away.

Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! The Bat-computer spits out names on the passenger list based on Batman feeding it a list of the passengers. Right. Also Dick uses the Remote Batmobile Phase Advancer to get the Batmobile to drive on its own for the fourteen miles from the Batcave to GCPD HQ because Dick is too young to drive it himself, and Alfred is needed to take care of Harriet while Bruce is off doing crimefighting. Batman keeps a small echoing seal pulsator in his utility belt, and for fighting Mr. Freeze, the Dynamic Duo wear superthermalized Bat-skivvies and also take reverse thermal Bat-lozenges. We also get the triumphant return of the Bat-copter!

And in the end we find out that Batman keeps live fish in his utility belt. Yes, really.

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Holy #@!%$, Batman! Upon learning that Emma Strunk is actually Glaze, Robin cries, “Holy ice skates!” When they meet the Carpet King, Robin utters, “Holy floor covering!” After they find a frozen Batcomputer, Robin grumbles, “Holy chilblains!” When the Bat-copter flies over the icebergs, Robin yells, “Holy polar ice sheet!

Gotham City’s finest. After O’Hara makes a tiresomely long pronouncement about how awesome Batman is, Gordon totally trolls him with the rejoinder, “Begorrah!” in a comedy Irish accent. The look O’Hara gives him is priceless.

No sex, please, we’re superheroes. Glaze is obviously completely smitten with Mr. Freeze—which must be a relief to the villain, since last time he had to kidnap a woman to get a moll, and she never went for it.

Special Guest Villain. Eli Wallach is the third and final person to play Mr. Freeze, following George Sanders in “Instant Freeze” / “Rats Like Cheese” and Otto Preminger in “Green Ice” / “Deep Freeze.” Just as Preminger was cast because Sanders wasn’t available, Wallach was cast because Preminger wasn’t available for this one. Wallach claimed later that he got more fan mail for playing Mr. Freeze than any other role in his long and storied career.

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

“The chief executive was just beginning an early-morning address to Congress, and when he looked at his teleprompter, what do you think he saw?”

“His speech?”

–Gordon using a common rhetorical technique, and O’Hara screwing it up.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 46 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, Ken Reid, pop-culture guru, standup comic, and host of TV Guidance Counselor.

This is the first of two times that a villain role has been recast twice. The other will be Catwoman when Eartha Kitt shows up to succeed Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether in the role in “Catwoman’s Dressed to Kill.”

Part 1’s title is a play on I, Spy, a popular contemporary series starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.

Leslie Parrish plays Glaze; she was last seen as Dawn Robbins in “The Penguin’s a Jinx.” She also played Carolyn Palamas in Star Trek‘s “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Another Trek connection is Elisha Cook Jr., the great character actor, playing Isaacson here; Cook was Sam Cogley in Trek‘s “Court Martial.”

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The window cameo is Cyril Lord the Carpet King, who was a somewhat famous carpet salesman in Los Angeles, but completely unknown outside southern California, so his cameo no doubt confused viewers elsewhere who usually expected to recognize the person sticking their head out the window…

At one point, Gordon passes a message to his daughter Barbara to take a later flight to Gotham City. Barbara will appear in the third season, starting in the very next episode, played by Yvonne Craig.

In his autobiography, Eli Wallach tells the story of how he complained to his wife, Anne Jackson, about the fact that Arnold Schwarzeneggar got millions of dollars to play Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin when Wallach only got $2500. He asked her what he had to do to get that kind of money, and Jackson said, “Grow muscles.” Schwarzeneggar—by then, governor of California—heard about the exchange, and sent Wallach a pair of miniature gold barbells.

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Pow! Biff! Zowie! “‘To each his own,’ the woman said as she kissed the cow.” Perhaps presaging the move toward single-episode storylines in the upcoming third season, this particular two-parter really doesn’t have enough story for an hour. Usually when I do a rewatch, I’m taking notes as I go, and often have to hit the pause button because the episode is zipping past what I’m typing. I think I hit pause less on this rewatch than any other Bat-story, and possibly any other rewatch entry since I started doing this for Tor.com in 2011.

Some of this is amusing, like the many look-ins on Gordon and O’Hara, in which it’s clear that Gordon doesn’t think particularly highly of O’Hara (not that you can blame him). None of the Gordon-O’Hara scenes do anything to advance the plot, particularly the one where they’re wondering where Batman and Robin are—especially hilarious because, with a dangerous criminal on the loose, Batman and Robin went home to Wayne Manor to get some sleep after escaping the deathtrap, and never checked in with Gordon. This was solely so Mr. Freeze would have time to gather all the icebergs into Gotham Harbor, which was very accommodating of the Caped Crusader…

Eli Wallach is having a grand old time as Mr. Freeze, though his comedy German accent is painful to listen to at times, while Elisha Cook Jr. is having an equally grand time daffying it up as Isaacson. And the seal is really cute.

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But this storyline just drags, and even the most entertaining part—Bruce having a conversation with himself on two different phones in order to maintain his secret identity—is there for no good reason, as that entire elaborate setup is pointless, because Batman already knows the location of Mr. Freeze’s hideout thanks to Harriet picking up Glaze’s compact. It’s a great bit of comic lunacy for Adam West, so we can take it. However, that doesn’t excuse all the other awful filler, all the way to the mind-numbing scene at the end with Harriet and the playroom and the race-car scene.

This would’ve actually made a decent single story in the third season, especially since it might have meant less of the Gordon-O’Hara double act, and less of Leslie Parrish’s terminally uninteresting Glaze. As it stands, though, it’s the best evidence that moving to single episodes was the right move…

Bat-rating: 4

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s next novel is Marvel’s Sif: Even Dragons Have Their Endings, Book 2 of the “Tales of Asgard” trilogy, which is scheduled to be released on the 15th of November and is available for preorder from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also preorder Book 3 of the trilogy, Marvel’s Warriors Three: Godhood’s End, from Amazon or B&N, and of course you can still get Book 1, Marvel’s Thor: Dueling with Giants, from Amazon, B&N, other online dealers, or your local bookstore.

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