One reason I’m enjoying watching Batman so much is that while there’s a formula to the show that often gets dull, the villains themselves are often so very different. Many of them, of course, are portrayed as highly intelligent, such as Egghead, who was also created by the writer of this episode, Stanley Ralph Ross. Almost as entertaining are the downright dumb criminals: King Tut, and this dimwit, Shame.
Cliff Robertson, at the time arguably best known for starring as John F. Kennedy in the film PT 109, was cast as a villain, but without a part for him to play. He suggested a cowboy, and a stupid one at that. So he has the very unlikely scheme of building a truck with a super-engine, its pistons and carburetor and other parts heisted from various hot rods and race cars, which will outrun the Batmobile. This doesn’t seem like a likely plan, but in this universe, who knows? It might work.
Actually, as dumb as Shame is, his henchmen are even dumber. Shame boasts that his new engine will reach speeds of “Three hunnerd miles per,” and one of them asks “…day?”
Daniel was pretty bored with this talky episode, but he came to life during the fight. Naturally, Shame and his gang have found a hideout in an old western town, part of an abandoned movie studio. I don’t think anybody making this show was paying very close attention to continuity, but it would be funny if it turned out to be the same one that False Face hid out in during season one! So there’s a long fight in a saloon, with beer bottles to the head, and a great bit where Shame gets punched over the bar. Sure, something like that happens in lots of westerns, but I mean vertically over the bar. Round of applause for that stuntman, please. And, of course, he gets slid down the length of the bar, as baddies do.
So, yes, Daniel loved that fight, as well he should, because it was a great one. Shame’s crew only gets the upper hand because the dame of the week, Joan Staley, shoots the chandelier above the Dynamic Duo and brings it crashing onto them. This is especially amusing because Shame had earlier dismissed his girlfriend’s usefulness in a fight. Staley is the second former Playmate to appear in Batman; she had been Miss November 1958. But Daniel was very alarmed by the cliffhanger. Shame has the heroes staked out on the dirt street of the western town and sends a herd of cattle stampeding. We’d seen stock footage of Big Ben used as the location of a previous cliffhanger, but this is the first time that stock footage has directly threatened our heroes! My son was a little more worried than usual, and hid his face in his security blanket.
Appearing in an unbilled cameo this week, it’s Jack Carter, who was omnipresent on television in the sixties, and was still racking up a heck of a lot of screen appearances and voiceovers very late in life, until he passed away in June of this year at the age of 93. He’s best remembered in this house for being one of the gang of troublemakers on Match Game in the 1973 season. (1970s episodes of Match Game, you must understand, are the greatest thing ever.) Anyway, he doesn’t get a Batclimb cameo; he plays a disc jockey called Hot Rod Harry, and he does a good job with the motormouth patter required by the script.