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Batman 66 Bat-Probe Episode 21: Penguin Goes Straight
Reviewed by Geena Phillips, © 2015

Format: TV
Genre:   Batman!
Review Date:   February 03, 2015

"A beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Gotham City.” Hence, the gray skies and everyone bundled up against the cold.

Our story unfolds in the lobby of a local playhouse, where a production has begun its intermission. But what's this? Among the playgoers is none other than that capon of crime, the Penguin, discussing the drama so far with a fellow patron of the arts. Suddenly, an armed robbery is under way, carried out by a gunsel wearing a mask that looks suspiciously like the Great Hoodoo from Lidsville (a show that wouldn't be made for another five years; hey, I just report the news, people).

To the rescue leaps an unexpected umbrella-toting vigilante, who shields himself from a volley of gunfire with the bulletproof bumbershoot, and quickly apprehends the ne'er-do-well by employing his penguin-like reflexes.

Upon hearing news of this strange turn of events, Commissioner Gordon is understandably gobsmacked. "You mean to tell me, now even the whack-job criminals in this pissant town are doing my department's job better than my own employees can? Christ, I need a drink.”

Since the Penguin's committed no crime, and therefore his own cops can't beat the stew out of the guy (I guess the GCPD's numbers were a little high in that regard for the month), The Commissioner decides to call on that mysterious masked man with the godlike disregard for due process, Batman.

Oh, my stars and garters! My entreaties have finally been answered: they've developed some code-talk for Alfred to summon Bruce to the Batphone when Aunt Harriet is present.

And it is glorious, my friends:

"Telephone call for you, sir. It's a Mr. Rime; Mr. K. Rime.”

Whew! I think I need a cigarette after that.

As they wheel their way toward police headquarters, the Dynamic Duo speculate about the genuine-ness of the Penguin's reform. They reckon that if the robbery the Penguin prevented was a ruse, the robber must be a confederate of some kind.

”Call the commissioner; have him give that crook a grilling. We'll be there in time for the kill.” Whoa, Giuliani! Why don't you dial it back a little'

In a related note, I can scarcely think of anything more adorable and less menacing than being interrogated by Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara. Seriously, the chief has never more closely resembled the Maytag Repairman then he does in this scene. I really don't want to sully this interrogation scene by describing it too much, because it is a comedy fucking masterpiece.


Suffice it to say, the crook faints at the terrifying visage of the Bright Knight, thus depriving the forces of law and order of the answers they so desperately seek.

After learning the Penguin was seen at the exclusive Gotham Millionaires' Club, B&R speed to the scene, only to find that a kidnapping attempt has already been prevented by their erstwhile avian adversary.

Later, at the Penguin's newly-opened detective agency, he discusses his long grift with his henchmen, Dove and Eagle Eye. It's refreshing to see the henchmen's skepticism at their boss' braggadocio regarding his imminent success; as they sagely point out, Penguin has sung this same song before, and it's usually their skulls that receive a walloping when he's wrong (maybe it's time to go back to medical transcription school, fellas).

So, while Batman and Robin are presumably engaged in a game of slap-and-tickle, Alfred risks life and limb going undercover as an insurance photographer to get close to the Penguin and the heiress he is protecting. But we learn that Alfred has neglected part of his espionage assignment from the Caped Crusader! How do we learn this? Why, courtesy of extremely wordy and convoluted narration, of course! After his subterfuge is discovered, Alfred makes an awesome daring escape, of the sort never made by Batman and Robin.

As I understand it, Batman's brilliant plan to smoke out the Penguin's true intentions is to break into the heiress' safe, take her prized jewels, and replace them with fakes containing a tracking device. So, at what point in this plan are B&R NOT criminals?

And as it turns out, after engaging in fisticuffs with the Penguin's associates charged with protecting the jewels, The Dynamic Duo are labeled would-be thieves (quite correctly, it would seem). At news of this development, a contrite Commissioner Gordon rails against the media and an ungrateful public (in other words, he becomes your grandpa who always says something racist at the table at Thanksgiving).

The climax of the episode occurs at Gotham Amusement Pier, host to a gala event to raise funds for the Penguin's security service. As is tradition, the stock footage used to portray amusement park action is stupefyingly mismatched to the style of the rest of the episode.

And here's where the Penguin's plan veers into that inappropriate level of escalation that we've discussed before. After cold-cocking them with a cement-filled umbrella (stay with me here), The Penguin's men string Batman and Robin up behind the targets of the shooting gallery, where they've replaced the popguns with real ones. Why, Penguin' Thanks to your pretty-good-so-far plan, B&R are already on the lam from the law; a simple phone call to 9-1-1 would ensure that the cops'll show up and blow them away for you. Insisting on doing it yourself seems like unnecessary showboating.

While I'm certain this will all go south for the Penguin in a pretty big damn hurry, you'll still have to wait till next episode to find out for sure.

#SameBatTimeSameBatChannel

Find all of Geena's Bat-Probes at the big list that’s right here at this link.


Visual evidence that even super-villains have to take baths. You hear that, every child in 1966?


Send the uncanny Geena Phillips feedback at geenacanblowme@gmail.com. It's a real address. Try it and see!

 
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