Holy Rewatch Batman!

Holy Rewatch Batman! “The Wail of the Siren”

“The Wail of the Siren”
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by george waGGner
Season 3, Episode 3
Production code 1708
Original air dates: September 28, 1967

The Bat-signal: The Siren has ensorcelled Gordon in his office with her mastery of the tone two octaves above high C. She has Gordon call Batman and tell him to go to a particular place—Gordon himself suggests Barbara’s apartment.

When he does so, Dick expresses confusion as to why he would want them to go there, never mind the fact that Gordon met the two of them at Barbara’s apartment just last week. Our heroes slide down the poles and head out in the Batmobile to Barbara’s building, parking in the underground garage.

However, Gordon doesn’t show up for the meeting, which also includes O’Hara. While Batman, Robin, Barbara, and O’Hara wonder what’s up, Siren instructs Gordon to hide in the trunk of the Batmobile. His task is to learn Batman and Robin’s secret identities and glean the location of the Batcave.

At her hideout in a grotto, Siren expresses her admiration for the evil women of history and literature, like Mata Hari, Lady Macbeth, and Lucrezia Borgia, rather than the good ones like Florence Nightingale and Molly Pitcher. Her goal is to ensorcell Bruce Wayne and expose Batman and Robin’s identities.

batman-siren02

The party at Barbara’s place breaks up. Batman and Robin head to the Batcave to see if the Bat-computer can provide answers, O’Hara heads back to the office, and Barbara decides to investigate the chanteuse who’s in town named Lorelei Circe, for reasons the script doesn’t bother to provide. Barbara changes into costume and heads out, accompanied by her very own theme song, which probably won’t make your ears bleed…

Batman and Robin return to the Batcave (along with their surprise passenger). After the Bat-computer fails to provide any leads (it’s only programmed with information about criminals),  they head upstairs to get some food, leaving Alfred to dust the cave. Gordon then pops out of the trunk (why he waited this long to do so is left as an exercise for the viewer) and quickly deduces that Alfred is both Bruce Wayne’s butler and the voice that answers the Bat-phone, so Bruce and Batman must be one and the same. But before he can call Siren to report this intelligence, Alfred takes him out with a spray can of bat-sleep and brings him upstairs (by hand, without help—take that, Sean Pertwee!).

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While Bruce, Dick, and Alfred try to figure out what to do, Siren calls Wayne Manor and uses her voice to ensorcell Bruce. At her direction, he goes to the Wayne Foundation, to the confusion of Dick and Alfred. Batgirl then calls on the Bat-phone from Gordon’s office. Somehow she’s figured out that Siren is going after Bruce and can captivate men over the phone. Dick tells her to meet him at the Wayne Foundation, and is evasive when she asks if Batman will be there, too.

At the foundation, Bruce goes into the wall safe—hidden behind a painting of a wall safe (well, everything else in Gotham is labelled!)—and hands over his ready cash and family jewels, and also signs over his assets to Siren. Now she just needs to know Batman’s identity, so she calls Gordon’s office—but, of course, Gordon’s still asleep in Wayne Manor. O’Hara answers the phone so Siren ensorcells him and tells him to literally go jump in a lake.

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Robin and Batgirl show up. Siren’s voice doesn’t work on Batgirl at all, and Robin’s wearing bat-earplugs—however, Siren now owns the building, so she kicks them out. Our law-abiding heroes do as they’re told, but Robin leaves a bug behind. They hear Siren order Bruce—now a penniless fop—to jump off the roof.

However, Batgirl and Robin arrive on the rooftop just in time to stop Bruce from committing suicide, and then fisticuffs ensue. Siren winds up dangling off the roof, and Robin is only willing to pull her up if she cures Bruce—which she does with an antidote note that’s three octaves above high C. It reverts Bruce to normal, but destroys her voice forever.

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Batgirl rescues O’Hara from the lake, and then Gordon is reawakened in his office, not remembering anything of what happened when he was under Siren’s spell, to Batman and Robin’s visible relief. Siren is taken off to jail, while the Bat-computer provides an alert that Penguin is back in town, and he’s got an accomplice…

Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! The Bat-computer has a resistance light that goes on when it’s confronted with a question it can’t answer. Batman keeps bat-sleep near the phone for whatever reason. Robin wears bat-earplugs that can block any sound over 14,000 deciBels—which is irrelevant, as it isn’t the volume of Siren’s voice that has the effect, it’s the frequency, not to mention that no sound on Earth is higher than 194 dB.

Holy #@!%$, Batman! “Holy one-track-Bat-computer mind!” Robin on-the-noses when they realize that the computer can’t answer a question about Gordon because it’s only programmed for criminals. “Holy stand-stills!” Robin grumbles when the elevator at the Wayne Foundation is irritatingly slow. “Holy fourth amendment,” Robin sighs when Siren kicks them out of the Wayne Foundation that she now owns.

Gotham City’s finest. While enslaved by Siren, Gordon finally puts together the evidence that’s been in front of his face all these years: that Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin, with Alfred, to whom he talks all the friggin time on the bat-phone, being the bog-obvious connection, thus proving that he’s a better cop when mind-controlled than he is normally.

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Special Guest Villainess. After her cameo last time, Joan Collins is front and center as Siren, a role that was actually written specifically for her. She’s the first of several one-and-done villains created for the third season, though she will be seen again in a non-speaking role in the animated film The Return of the Caped Crusaders.

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

“Oh Bruce, if only you were more like Batman.”

–Batgirl making an unintentional funny.

Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 51 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, Glenn Greenberg, author, journalist, critic, and former Marvel Comics editor.

Stanley Ralph Ross already knew Collins well, as he had collaborated on a musical with her husband, Anthony Newley.

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While Siren claims the note she’s using is two octaves above high C, which would still make it a C, the actual note that’s played when Siren uses her voice is an F#. She also says that the antidote note, which is three octaves above high C, would destroy her voice, despite Barbara earlier saying that Siren had a range of seven octaves.

Collins is best known for her role on Dynasty as Alexis, as well as her role as Edith Keeler on one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek, “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Whose baby are you, Batgirl?” This is a fun little episode, remarkable for the fact that Batman is utterly irrelevant to it. Batman’s sole contributions to this episode are to drive to and from Barbara’s apartment and to fail to get the Bat-computer to work right. After that, Bruce spends the bulk of the episode mind-controlled.

No, this one is entirely the Batgirl and Robin show, which actually works quite nicely. Robin insisting on obeying the law and not trespassing on Siren’s property (never mind that the papers Bruce signed haven’t been filed with anyone yet, so her ordering them off the property is unenforceable at that moment) is a hundred percent in character, and I like that he leaves a bug behind to set up the climactic fight.

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It’s less clear how, exactly Batgirl figured out what she figured out, but it at least gets the plot moving. And the rooftop fight is a joy, as both Robin and Batgirl are obviously having fun—and so are Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig. Plus, we get a little bit of nastiness in Robin once he’s out of Batman’s shadow—he gets to beat up on Bruce a little bit and then extorts Siren for Bruce’s cure, going so far as to threaten her life.

Plus in Joan Collins’s Siren we have an excellent bad guy, and our first real super-villain! Siren is the first Bat-villain to actually have a super-power of any kind. It’s used to good effect, too—I think we’ve all wanted to tell O’Hara to go jump in a lake at various times—plus her plan is actually quite brilliant, both using Gordon to dope out Batman’s secret ID and getting Bruce to sign over his wealth to her. It almost works, too, and it probably would have if Batman and Bruce weren’t actually the same person, which she couldn’t have known going in…

Bat-rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest release is the Super City Cops novella Avenging Amethyst, the first of three novellas about police in a city filled with costumed heroes and villains published by Bastei Entertainment. Full information, including the cover, promo copy, ordering links, and an excerpt can be found on Keith’s blog. The next two novellas, Undercover Blues and Secret Identities, will be released in January and February.

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