One slight downside to the really sharp and colorful transfers on these DVDs is that some of the minor things we’d have overlooked on faded old film prints are crystal-clear. It’s not just the regular use of stuntmen in the fight scenes; we expected to notice those all the time now, and do. But suddenly lots of other things are painfully obvious that I’d always missed. For example, in the cliffhanger of the previous story, “The Ring of Wax” / “Give ’em the Axe,” modern viewers won’t be able to take their eyes off all the unsightly underarm sweat discoloring Adam West’s costume.
Then there’s this one, as Batman and Robin put their backs together and, using the pressure of their bodies against the walls, “walk” up the sides of the chimney as it fills with gas. Well, pressure and a tell-tale wire just visible between West and Ward’s bodies helping with that Hollywood magic! Oh, wait. That’s not West or Ward, either.
I really enjoyed this episode. It’s got a downright terrific twist, and a great scheme from the Joker. It’s not only a $500,000 ransom he wants for the safe return of the maharaja; he demands Batman participate in the money exchange. In other words, it’s not just the cash, he also wants to ruin his arch-enemy’s pride. Nobody’s yet pulled such a stunt, and I really liked the way Adam West played the scene. It’s not like this show was regularly presenting the leads or the guests with any real challenges, so the scene where Batman, on the phone, has to agree to something he finds completely immoral is interesting. For just a couple of seconds, we see the character respond with selfishness and pride before agreeing to do the right thing.
Oh, I almost forgot! There’s a deeply silly tag scene in which, just an hour after they solved the crime, Bruce and Dick are summoned back to the Batphone. Commissioner Gordon has called the Dynamic Duo because he’s heard a troubling rumor that Batman’s running for governor of California. Actually, Pat Brown had made so much of the electorate so darn angry that by early ’66, some people were saying that only Batman could save the state. In the end, it took Ronald Reagan to turn things around, whipping Brown in a landslide. I imagine the Caped Crusader got a write-in vote or ten as well.