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Batman 66 Bat-Probe: Episode 5 : The Joker Is Wild
Reviewed by Geena Phillips, © 2014

Format: TV
Genre:   Batman!
Review Date:   August 02, 2014

Our story begins at Gotham State Penitentiary, where a game of softball is underway. Now pitching: The Joker! Some have suggested that the Joker is more of a catcher, but I believe he's equally comfortable in either role.

And while we're on the subject, it's important to remember that this series was conceived from the word "jump" to have both colorful adventures to appeal to kids (raises hand: it's impossible to overstate just how enthralled with this show I was as a child), AND more subversive humor that adults would appreciate. I mention all that at this juncture because there is NO WAY the word "penology" would be used that many times in the space of two minutes unless it was on-purpose.

"He sprung himself!" Heh; I see what you did there.

A "ball game." Well, they're finally mixing it up on excuses to get Bruce and Dick out of the house.

By the way, have I mentioned yet that the Batmobile (designed by George Barris) is completely fucking beautiful? Because it is. It may have been my first step toward the belief that design IS what art WAS.

Nice nod to Ernie Kovacs in the museum scene. I approve.

I don't know about y'all, but I am shaking like a junkie for the upcoming Blu-Ray release of this show. I eagerly look forward to the day when I can pause one of the Joker's close-ups, so I can sit next to the TV, and lovingly stroke each and every High-Definition whisker in Cesar Romero's poorly-concealed mustache.

Dude, calling YOURSELF "the Clown Prince of Crime" is a douche move. What are you, The Situation?

So, the Joker has decided that Batman's such a thorn in his side because of Bats's belt full of nifty doodads, and that he should fight fire with fire by putting together his own Joker-centric utility belt (and I do mean Joker-centric; his own damn face is on the buckle).

I REALLY wish this plot had been recycled for the 90s Batman: The Animated Series; I can only imagine what amazing hijinks Paul Dini and Bruce Timm would have concocted for this concept.

Commissioner, sir, I don't mean to contradict you and your many years of law-enforcement experience; but, I don't think a brick, with a clown doll tied to it, hurled through your office window constitutes the Joker "subconsciously pointing toward his next crime." But, then, I'm not a top cop.

Bruce Wayne: "I wonder if I might have that doll, as a souvenir."

Commissioner Gordon: "I don't see why not."

Note that this is the part about 11-12 minutes into the average episode of Forensic Files where the case seems hopelessly cold, and there's not a clue to be found.

Another common thing found in episodes of Batman is just how helpfully everything is labelled, both in the Batcave and in the villains' various lairs. I'm pretty sure this level of safety-mindedness goes above and beyond the requirements of OSHA.

And am I alone in wishing the "Hyper-Spectrographic Analyzer" could talk? "You guys! Guys! Guys! You will not BELIEVE what is going on spectrographically with this doll! Omigod, you guys!"

Jesus. After 70-plus years, how is the Joker not COMPLETELY SICK of I Pagliacci? Also, how can any traveling company of Pagliacci afford the MASSIVE insurance premiums that would surely result from being constantly targeted for wacky criminal activity by the same lunatic with a "tragic clown" fetish?

Gotta say: Not feeling the cliffhanger on this particular episode. I mean, threatening to unmask the Dynamic Duo on live TV is a time-honored chestnut; but I'd take it a lot more seriously if they weren't just being loosely held at the upper arms by a couple of dudes.


Check out RevolutionSF reviews of every episode of Batman 66 by Geena Phillips, who knows more about spectrographic analysis than you. Write her at geenacanblowme@gmail.com

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