It’s a real shame that this story is such a turkey. It’s another case of the comedy flopping badly, with serious situations undermined by material that isn’t clever or witty, just dumb. When Santa Claus shows up during the Batclimb – this was first shown three days before Christmas – Adam West even talks directly to the camera, and the kids in the audience. And it’s a real shame, since Maurice Evans is such a great actor, and I really like the Puzzler’s costume. This should have been better.
In a really odd coincidence, since the TV producers found themselves in need of a replacement Riddler, a character who was in every way a substitute for that character had been introduced in the funnybooks earlier in the year. In Detective Comics # 351, cover-dated May 1966, the Dynamic Duo met a new villain called Cluemaster. Even the fictional characters have since commented how Cluemaster is just a bargain-basement Riddler clone. I’ve often wondered why the TV people didn’t use that character instead of Puzzler.
(Incidentally, there was a one-off Superman villain called Puzzler who appeared in an issue of Action Comics in 1942, but it’s really stretching credibility to suggest that Maurice Evans is really meant to be playing that character. No, I believe this guy was intended as an original creation, and the similar name is just a coincidence.)
Daniel was not interested in either the puzzles aspect or the aviation aspect or the Shakespeare aspect of the character, but he did like that the baddie is operating out of a balloon factory. His favorite moment of the production came when Puzzler and his henchmen make their getaway under cover of a thousand balloons that drop from the ceiling. He liked the fights a lot, too. The climactic one takes place in a hangar, fighting on and around a private jet. At one point, Robin ends up shoved into one of the engines. That’s something you don’t see every day.
(No, the engines aren’t on. That was an episode of Firefly. Geez.)