The undisputed star of this episode of Batman never actually appears on screen. He’s Harry, the eight year-old son of the local newscaster, who prays for his mommy and prays for his daddy, and prays that Batman and Robin can stop the Joker’s crime wave. Robin is awfully concerned about poor Harry. The climactic question of the episode isn’t “Will Batman and Robin emerge triumphant in the Bat-fight,” it’s “Are we going to get an update about eight year-old Harry in the epilogue?”
There are a couple of elements of this production that intrigue me. First off, like the previous two stories, it’s based on a comic book story, but this one was much older. The first two were drawn, at least in part, from readily-available 1965 issues of Batman, but this one comes from a 1952 issue. When these episodes were made in late ’65, there was no back issue market of note, and no collected editions of Batman funnybooks in bookstores, but this, and the next story, originated in Batman books of the fifties. I wonder whether the production staff took a trip to the DC/National offices to look through the bound copies that the publisher kept in the archive to get inspiration for their episodes*?
The other thing that’s worth noting is that TV Guide said that what turned out to be story five was going to run in week three, and that this was moved forward at the last minute. I have never seen actual production numbers for these episodes, but their production was very, very hurried. After story one was made in October 1965, they got an order for sixteen more stories, and started in November for broadcast in January. It’s possible that they moved forward a story with Batman’s best-known foe for the publicity, but it’s also possible that they really wanted story five, with Anne Baxter, for the third slot, but it just wasn’t ready yet. In the days before serialized storytelling, TV people could do that sort of thing.
Daniel didn’t whimper or whine about this one at all. We talked about my suspicion about the laughter, and that seems to have done the trick. Will it work? Stay tuned for the next laughing bad guy and we’ll see.
(*For the most likely answer to this mystery, see the entry for the next episode, “Instant Freeze”.)