Batman 2.23 – Marsha, Queen of Diamonds

First things first: Daniel hated this episode. Wow, we haven’t seen him react like this in a few months. He’s never liked Robin being in trouble. This time out, the villainous Queen of Diamonds has shot O’Hara and Gordon, along with some other hapless suitors, with love darts, which instantly bend them to her will and leave them desperate to prove their devotion. Batman also gets one in the shoulder, but, while it’s touch and go for a few minutes, his iron will allows him to shrug off the drug. Robin is not so tough, and when Marsha zaps him, Batman has no choice to obey Marsha’s commands in order to get the antidote. Meanwhile, Daniel hid behind the sofa.

And so we come to a very labored, but nevertheless hilarious, set of obstacles in order to get us to the cliffhanger of Batman led down the altar, forced to marry his foe. In the previous installment, I mentioned that classic kids’ TV trope of the coincidence where the thing that the villain wants is suddenly depicted for the very first time as something the hero has. Queen Faroh wanted a magician who looks like an ape in the same episode that Tracy the gorilla starts to learn stage magic. In this episode, the Queen of Diamonds comes to Gotham looking for diamonds, and Batman is revealed to have a diamond about the size of an armoire powering the Batcomputer.

Marsha suggests trading Robin, Gordon, and O’Hara for access to the Batcave. The problem, which you wouldn’t think would be quite this insurmountable, is that Batman swore a sacred vow never to bring a stranger into the Batcave. Except for Jill St. John. And Francine York. And Sherry Jackson on Commissioner Gordon’s lap. And “Commodore Schmidlapp” with five dehydrated henchmen, although, in fairness, the Caped Crusader didn’t actually know those five were there.

So Batman mentions a vow, and the Queen of Diamonds pounces on it. He couldn’t possibly refuse her access to the Batcave if she isn’t a stranger, and who could be less of a stranger than Batman’s bride? And so Batman accepts in order to save Robin. The episode ends just as our hero is about to sadly say “I do.” I think they got the idea for the cliffhanger first and worked backward.

The Queen of Diamonds is played by Carolyn Jones, the first of a trio of Addams Family actors to appear in this series. According to The Official Batman Batbook – and more on it in the next entry – Zsa Zsa Gabor was originally announced in the role, but for some reason that actress couldn’t make the filming dates. The diamond-obsessed character of Marsha seems an obvious fit for Gabor, but she’d make her way to the show as a Batvillain in the next season.

But speaking of The Addams Family, isn’t it strange the way that child-friendly dramas and action shows from the 1960s and 1970s used to depict marriage as a terrible trap? I never watched the police series CHiPs, but I remember two family friends, about when I was nine years old, coming over with their parents one evening for the grownups to play pinochle or whatever, and the kids absolutely desperate to see the second episode of a two-part episode of that show. Apparently Ponch and Jon were going to get married – not to each other, but I imagine that there’s fanfic for that – and they were horrified that the show was going to end. Being good hosts, my parents let them watch that on the color TV in the den, while my brother and I watched our show (probably Wonder Woman) on the portable black and white set.

Another example: you remember why all the fun in The Avengers ended. It’s because Mrs. Peel’s husband finally showed up. But it was just the dramas and adventure shows that portrayed marriage as a dead end, destroying all the good times. Comedies like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and before them, The Dick Van Dyke Show, made marriage seem completely awesome. And they were right. What’s up with that?

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