“The Sport of Penguins” / “A Horse of Another Color”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Sam Strangis
Season 3, Episodes 4 & 5
Production code 1703
Original air dates: October 5 & 12, 1967
The Bat-signal: It’s the day before the Bruce Wayne Foundation Memorial Handicap—why it’s called that when neither Bruce nor the Foundation are dead is left as an exercise for the viewer—and Lola Lasagne and her horse Parasol are holding a press conference when Penguin shows up and makes off with Lola’s parasol (the accessory, not the horse). Nobody makes a move to stop him even though there are lots of people around and he doesn’t really move all that fast…
Penguin shows up at the Gotham City Library. Barbara is working the information desk, and Penguin beelines for a display of a folio on umbrellas and parasols. He then uses his umbrella’s razor-sharp edge to cut the glass—again, in front of witnesses including the daughter of the police commissioner who’s secretly a superhero—and only when he starts to walk out does she try to stop him. She snatches the folio out of Penguin’s hands and calls her father, but Penguin buggers off, leaving a ticking umbrella behind.
Batman and Robin just happen to be in Gordon’s office when Barbara calls him. The Dynamic Duo head off to the library, where he grabs the umbrella from safely behind the bat-shield—then turns so the umbrella is facing Barbara and Robin. Good job, Caped Crusader!
He runs out to the corridor where the umbrella explodes harmlessly in the bat-bomb machine. Our heroes head to the Batcave to let the bat-computer dope out what Penguin is up to.
Penguin is headquartered in the likely-very-easy-to-find not-so-secret hideout, Penguin’s Bookshop (clearly labelled “PENGUIN’S BOOKSHOP”), which is more of a bookmaking shop, as he’s using the place as his horse-race betting center. Lola shows up, and Penguin announces that the parasol he stole from her is a fake. Turns out the only thing she’s got left after her three-week marriage to the billionaire South American playboy Luigi Lasagne is Parasol, the horse—she had to sell her real collection of rare parasols in order to eat. Her plan is to win the Bruce Wayne Handicap and take the purse—but Penguin points out that it’s a charity race and there is no purse. Since Parasol is the favorite, the betting winnings will be very little. However, they can fix the race by disguising another horse as Parasol and running Parasol under a different name (with her distinctive white stripe painted over).
The bat-computer throws out various bits, including definitions of parasols, Glu Gluten’s Glue Factory, and Lola’s real name of Lulu Schultz, and so our heroes head out to the glue factory to see if it will reveal a clue. After they leave, Alfred calls Barbara and lets her know what Batman and Robin are up to, figuring Batgirl might be interested.
Penguin is livid when he discovers that Batman and Robin stopped his bomb from killing Barbara.
At Glu Gluten’s Glue Factory, there are vats containing adhesive tape, paste, birdlime, fish glue, hoof glue, hot glue, sticky glue, and putty (all clearly labelled of course). Turns out Penguin and Lola are there to buy a horse. Gluten points out that they don’t use horses to make glue anymore, but he happens to keep a spare horse around for emergencies. Batman and Robin enter the factory while Penguin and Lola are haggling with Gluten, and fisticuffs ensue. Batgirl shows up mid-fight and lassos Penguin (thus horning in on Wonder Woman’s action), then helps the Dynamic Duo take down Penguin’s henchmen. However, Penguin gets out of the lasso and makes off with a bucket of library glue (clearly labelled “LIBRARY GLUE”), and glues the Batmobile tires and seats. Meanwhile, Lola snuck off with Gluten’s horse in the confusion.
Batgirl does her usual disappearing act, and our heroes leave the goons tied up and Gluten with a trashed factory and a lost horse. The Dynamic Duo find themselves stuck to their seats in the Batmobile.
Back at Penguin’s Bookshop, Lola assures Penguin that she’s put Gluten’s disguised horse in Parasol’s stall. Their plan to bet on “Bumbershoot,” Parasol’s pseudonym, and clean up will only work if they have money to put down on her in the first place, and they’re both broke, so Penguin breaks into the library to steal the folio he tried to make off with earlier.
Unluckily for Penguin, Barbara has a library alarm next to her bed. She calls Gordon, who calls Batman. The Dynamic Duo, having unglued themselves, show up at the library along with Gordon and O’Hara, but Penguin distracts them with umbrella-induced fireworks and gets away with the folio. Batman thinks this is part of a bigger caper, and he promises Barbara that he’ll get the folio back in an hour.
Penguin’s plan is to get the other horses to scratch, leaving only Parasol and Bumbershoot to race each other, and “Bumbershoot” will win. But first they have to sell the folio, and there’s an ad by a Mr. A.L. Fredd seeking folios on rare items like parasols. Of course, it’s Alfred, and Batman put the ad in the paper. Alfred pays Penguin the ten grand and gets the folio back, and it’s returned to the library, to Barbara’s relief.
Penguin is livid that the folio’s been returned to the library, and he suspects that the whole thing was a setup and that Barbara was involved. He sends one henchman off with a gas-producing penguin to give as a “gift” to his former fiancée while Lola is sent off to apply itching powder to the other horses in the race.
When Penguin enters Bumbershoot, with himself as the jockey, the racing secretary calls Bruce to inform him that the other horses scratched, leaving just Parasol and Bumbershoot. Bruce decides to enter his own thoroughbred, Waynebeau, which he’d originally held back because of the conflict of interest in running his own horse in his own race.
“Parasol” also doesn’t have a jockey—Penguin’s goons took care of him so he wouldn’t expose their plan—so Dick offers to serve as jockey, while Bruce thinks Batgirl would be the perfect jockey for Waynebeau, but he has no way of getting in touch with her. Alfred goes to the library to alert Barbara to Bruce’s desire—and also save her and a fellow librarian from Penguin’s gas—and Dick enters as “Parasol’s” jockey.
As the horses line up, Batgirl shows up on Waynebeau, and the three horses go off. Bumbershoot is in front for most of the race, but Waynebeau rallies and takes the lead, coming in first, followed by Bumbershoot, with Parasol third.
When the race ends Penguin waddles off, and Batgirl and Dick both go after him, while Bruce slips away to change clothes. Batgirl confronts Penguin in the changing room, and fisticuffs ensue, with Batman and Robin joining the fray a moment later (they needed time to get into costume). Penguin and Lola are arrested for fixing the race, and the racing secretary is outraged at the farce that the race turned into.
Gordon heads to the library to take Barbara out to dinner. He finds her in the Egyptology section—and they both encounter King Tut…
Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! Batman attaches a pair of tongs to the bat-shield so he can dispose of the ticking umbrella in the bat-bomb machine. Batman has anti-percussion asbestos bat-flax in his utility belt. The Batmobile has a library paste bat-dissolving switch, though apparently it sometimes gets stuck. The Bat-computer acts particularly random this week.
Holy #@!%$, Batman! Upon being told that Penguin’s umbrella is ticking, Robin utters, “Holy time-bomb!” After the bat-computer throws seemingly random facts at them, Robin grumbles, “Holy non sequiturs!”
Gotham City’s finest. When Penguin gets away with the folio, Batman stops O’Hara from having his men go after the criminal, and Gordon’s outrage at that notion is uncharacteristically palpable.
Special Guest Villains. Burgess Meredith makes his second appearance of the season, and he’s teamed up with Ethel Merman, playing Lola Lasagne, who also gets billing as the “Extra-Special Guest Villainess.”
No sex, please, we’re superheroes. A line of Bruce’s presented without comment (but with snickering): “No, Dick, I couldn’t allow my own ward to ride my own thoroughbred. People might think it was funny.”
Na-na na-na na-na na-na na.
“I’m sure that our ten grand is gonna be in the feedbag, Lulu.”
“It’s not Lulu, it’s Lola Lasagne.”
“Well, have it your way—lasagne, macaroni, whatever.”
–Penguin and Lola discussing the use of her married name.
Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 52 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, prolific podcaster The Hunnic Outcast.
This is the first two-parter of the third season, though it’s not structured the same as previous two-parters—the cliffhanger, such as it is, is Batman answering the phone, and there’s no recap of any sort at the top of part two.
There’s an establishing shot of the Gotham Public Library which, like many establishing shots on the show, is a New York location, in this case the New York Public Library’s main research library on Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street (the one with the lions out front), with the words “NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY” clearly etched over the entryway.
There are repeated references to Penguin trying to marry Barbara in “Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin.”
The radio announcer Penguin listened to throughout the two-parter was voiced by the great Gary Owens, probably best known for being the MC of Laugh-In and the voice of Space Ghost.
Parasol’s original jockey is named Wally Bootmaker, a play on famous jockey Willie Shoemaker.
Apparently, Yvonne Craig originally requested to ride Waynebeau herself, but once she saw how fierce the horse was, she let a stuntman do it. (Yes, stuntman. Ah, 1967…)
Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Faugh! Double faugh! Triple faugh!” There’s really only one way this story works, and that’s if Bruce is using Penguin’s scheme as a contrivance to get Waynebeau into the Bruce Wayne Handicap without it looking like a conflict of interest.
Or maybe he just really hates the Bruce Wayne Handicap and wants to make a laughingstock of it.
Seriously, why else does he do anything he does in this episode? He had, like, a dozen different opportunities to stop Penguin, most notably when he steals the folio from the library and just walks out. For that matter, he says that he knows where Penguin’s hideout is—not that “Penguin’s Bookshop” is a particularly difficult “secret” hideout to locate, all things considered. Penguin already tried to blow up a library. There really isn’t any need to wait on a bigger plan because no fraud he could commit at the racetrack would be a nastier crime than trying to blow up a library.
But no, he lets Penguin go through with it, even though it means trashing the horse race, screwing up several horses, endangering the life of poor Wally Bootmaker, and just generally committing all manner of reckless acts all to catch Penguin in the act of something that’s nowhere near as nasty as trying to blow up a library.
Hence the need for an ulterior motive. Heck, he’s so eager to make the horse race look stupid and/or make his own horse look good he doesn’t even question how Alfred got word to Batgirl…
Anyhow, without that caveat, the episode is spectacularly stupid. Which is too bad, because the team-up of Ethel Merman with Burgess Meredith is comedy gold. The pair of them are a delight, and the screen lights up when they’re bantering. It’s also a good vehicle for Yvonne Craig, as both Barbara and Batgirl play a large role in the proceedings, plus it’s fun to see Bruce Wayne in action as much as Batman.
But ultimately, this is a truly dopey episode.
Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest release is the Super City Cops novella Avenging Amethyst, from which you can read an excerpt right here on this site. This is 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 another excerpt can be found on Keith’s blog. The next two novellas, Undercover Blues and Secret Identities, will be released in January and February.