Oh, look, it’s 1967.
Watching this turkey through my son’s eyes reveals a little more about why I may have been enthralled by this story as a kid. It really is unusual in scope, and our heroes are constantly behind the villains, entrapped again and again. Even knowing who and where the villain is, they can’t get the upper hand. Lord Ffogg doesn’t even have to hide in some abandoned umbrella factory or disused joke book warehouse; he and his sister flaunt their wealth and power and the good guys cannot seem to win. Especially when most of the shows this season are over and done with in thirty minutes, to have Lord Ffogg and Lady Penelope Peasoup not just evading capture, but downright slapping the good guys around really does make them look like awesomely powerful foes.
The proof? Daniel is miserable. He’s having trouble articulating it, but things feel completely hopeless in a way that the old cliffhanger deathtraps just don’t convey. Here, it’s just one trap and one obstacle after another. Two episodes in and Lord Ffogg is totally in charge of the situation. If you’re an adult, it’s just tedious, but if you’re a kid, it’s apparently overwhelming. That is how I remember it, and that is how he is experiencing it.
But proving that some things never change even though they clearly should, co-writer Charles Hoffman still somehow found room for another wacky Batcomputer gag. This time, the computer is trying to spell “winch” but can’t get the vowel right until Batman slaps the computer hard enough. Hoffman is the only writer who attempts to mine comedy out of the computer. Everybody else knows that it isn’t funny.