Batman 1.12 – When the Rat’s Away, the Mice Will Play

First thing’s first: I love the Riddler’s jacket and tie suit. Love it. A decade ago, I paid someone a hundred and fifty bucks to make me one, and then we stopped speaking. It wasn’t the money, it’s that I didn’t get that suit.

There’s a fantastic bit of synchronicity in this episode. Daniel copes with the bad guys by blowing raspberries or similarly making noise. If he were older, I’d object to all the noise, but he’s only four, and I accept that it’s a coping strategy, but that’s not important. He boos the villains. In this episode, the Riddler and the River Rat Gang watch a live broadcast from the museum, in which King Boris is giving a ceremonial statue. The presenter shows off a pop art painting of Batman and Robin, and the bad guys, watching TV in their lair, boo the good guys.

Honestly, this is the weakest of the first six stories, and perhaps not coincidentally, it’s the first one that apparently was not adapted from a comic book adventure. The Riddler’s scheme doesn’t rise above basic baddieisms, and there’s a huge missed opportunity with all his riddles. Batman has written them all down, in sequence, on a blackboard, and it looks for a minute like he’s about to draw a connection between each of the clues, in order, that we’d all missed, like the Riddler was playing one giant game of misdirection and he was aiming for something that had nothing to do with King Boris and the queen of freedom, but I fear that working on multiple levels like that was a little above the production’s abilities at this stage.

He even sends Commissioner Gordon a perfectly straightforward extortion note, without a riddle at all. What’s up with that?!

There is a really nice bit of continuity when the Riddler, who’s been at large since episode two, acknowledges that the Penguin, the Joker, and Mr. Freeze all tried, but it’s he who is the king of crime in this town. The story is disappointingly weak, but Frank Gorshin rises above the material. At least he’s really fun to watch in this one.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Batman 1.12 – When the Rat’s Away, the Mice Will Play

  1. I love the Riddler’s jacket and tie suit.

    And Frank Gorshin wore it very, very well. Sylvester McCoy’s question mark sweater comes close, but he would have looked awful in Riddler Green.

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