Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Batman, Episode 2 - Smack in the Middle (1966)

Batman, Episode 2 - Smack in the Middle (1966)

50 years ago today...
"Smack in the Middle," the second episode of the Batman TV series, premiered on ABC TV, January 13th, 1966.  It continues on from the cliffhanger of the previous episode.

Whamm!!  Kapow!  Urkkk!!  Zok!!  Biff!!!
Besides being only the second in the series, this episode is notable for being one of the few episode where a character actually dies, in this case The Riddler's moll, Molly.  It's also the first episode to feature the onscreen onomatopoeia during fight scenes, with words like "whamm," "kapow," "zok," and "biff" appearing onscreen as the characters punch and kick each other.  It also ends with Bruce Wayne ruefully wishing he could have "reformed" the female villain Molly, which will later be a recurring theme when Batman encounters Catwoman.

"I'd have reformed her all night long, Dick.  Reformed her like she had never been reformed before.  Alas, it was not meant to be."



Plot Synopsis for "Hi Diddle Riddle"
Batman is desperate after a long night of failing to find Robin, who has been kidnapped by the Riddler.  Finally The Riddler lures Batman into a car chase, supposedly with Robin in the passenger seat as his prisoner.  Batman disables the Riddler's car, rescues "Robin," and brings him back to the Batcave.  But it's not really Robin.  It's The Riddler's henchwoman Molly in a Robin disguise.  She pulls a pistol on Batman, only to discover that Batman had seen through her disguise, and secretly disarmed the weapon using the Bat Laser beam in his utility belt.

Molly panics and tries to escape by running into the Batcave's atomic power generator.  Batman tries to save her, but Molly falls into the heart of the atomic power source and is killed.

Batman then tracks down the real Robin and rescues him from The Riddler's clutches.  The Riddler and his gang escape, but Batman and Robin finally figure out their true target.  The Riddler returns to the Republic of Moldavia Exhibit at the Gotham City World's Fair, as seen at the beginning of the last episode.  The exhibit features a large stuffed mammoth filled with priceless Moldavian postage stamps.  The Riddler fills the pavilion with laughing gas to disable the crowd.  But then Batman and Robin burst out from inside the stuffed mammoth wearing Bat Rebreathers and get into a colossal fist fight with the gang.  Batman and Robin capture the gang members, but once again, The Riddler escapes.

The episode ends with Bruce Wayne mourning the death of Molly, before cheering up and helping Dick with his high school homework.

"Hi Diddle Riddle" and "Smack in the Middle" were based on the 1965 story "Remarkable Ruse of the Riddler" that appeared in issue 171 of the Batman comic book, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.
More screencaps after the break...

 

Batmobile Headlight Rays

Batman Hunts for Robin's Homing Signal

The Riddler and Molly

Even While Tied to a Table, Robin is Full of Spunk

The Batcave Hotline Phone

Batman Makes a Decision

Robin Gets in Touch With His Feminine Side

Fake Robin and The Riddler

Batman Action Face

Parachute Jettison Button

Riding With The Riddler

Get Your Helmets On, It's Going to be a Bumpy Ride!

The Evil Plan is A-O.K.

Flaming Batman

Molly Unmasked

Batman Senses Danger!

A Rescue Attempt

"What a way to go-go."

Mobile Crime Computer

North American U.S. and Canada Crime Computer.  Sorry, Mexico.

Bat Conference

Batman Fires His Bat Laser

Crashing In On The Riddler!

Foiled Again

Moldavian Fiesta Week: Prime Minister's Climax Dinner

Stuffed Mammoth

Laughing Gas

The Riddler is a Real Gasser

"Riddle Me This: How do you know if there's an elephant under your bed?

Answer: You bump your nose on the ceiling!"

Batman and Robin Emerge From a Stuffed Mammoth

Bat Oxygen

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