Batman 1.13 – The Thirteenth Hat

Oh, dear! I’m afraid that Daniel was upset by the cliffhanger to this episode, the first appearance of one of Batman’s sillier foes, the Mad Hatter. Everything was going swell until the very end. Previous villains unnerved him simply by virtue of their laughs or appearance, but David Wayne’s very mannered and prissy antics didn’t frighten him.

I think he was charmed on the one hand by the Mad Hatter’s moxie – just stepping up behind people and snatching their hats from their heads, before zapping them with his mesmerizing zap-eyes in his own hat – and bored on the other, because his scheme involves taking revenge on the twelve jurors who last convicted him, and Batman, who was a witness for the prosecution, and he is four, and doesn’t know what a trial is. Nor has he seen or been read a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland yet, so he asked “Why is he mad?” a couple of times.

It really got confusing for him when the Mad Hatter disguised himself as the sculptor Octave Marbot. He couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then he cheered and laughed when the fight started, and then everything fell apart. Mad Hatter tried to zap Batman, but our hero quickly raised a mirror to reflect the rays back. But the Mad Hatter ducked and the rays zapped Robin instead! Daniel bellowed “Oh, no!”

Distracted, Batman then got shoved against a wall and Mad Hatter yanked a chain, and Batman got drenched by super-quick hardening plaster. Daniel lost it. “NO! WHY DID HE DO THAT?!” And there were tears. It took a couple of readings of a Mo Willems book before a bath, and he got calmed down.

This episode’s lineage is a very strange one. Wikipedia notes that it’s a mash-up of three different comic book adventures, but unlike the episodes we’ve looked at so far, none of them were available as reprints for the producers to easily pick up in late 1965, and the first of them hadn’t been seen since its original appearance in 1949. I wonder where they got copies? Maybe somebody looked through DC/National’s archive after all?

On the acting front, David Wayne had been in dozens of films in the 1950s, the best known of which are probably Adam’s Rib and How to Marry a Millionaire, before spending about five years on the New York stage and making very sporadic TV and film appearances. This is kind of the career arc for many of the Bat-villains, as the major studios started deliberately scaling back the number of pictures they released each year in the sixties, and former leading men, now in their forties, found themselves less in demand and with lots of TV options available. His sidekick Lisa is played by Diane McBain, in the first of her two supporting roles as different characters in the show.

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