by: Matthew J.R. Kohler
It’s Election Time
The race is on, as citizen Penguin decides to run for mayor! The only hope is Batman, who decides to run against him. It’s issues versus people with issues. Who will win the race? This was one of the first episodes I saw when I was younger, and this tw0-parter is one of my favorites. From the amazing fight scene, to Burgess Meredith’s performance as the Penguin, this is a classic you need to see!
We start off with Penguin aiding a man who appears to be blind; even though the man never knows where the burglar is, he knows where Penguin is exactly. Later on, Commissioner Gordon finds out that Penguin has been aiding the weak, and donating money to charities. Immediately, Batman and Robin rush to Gordon’s aid, only to find out that the Penguin is running for mayor. After the current mayor is defeated, Batman decides to step in to compete. Penguin makes all the stops to prevent Batman from winning (by quadrupling the amounts of his own campaign pins, and handing out champagne to all of Gotham). Does Penguin hold all the winning cards?
In the show, the villains’ plans usually involve scoring a hefty sum of money, but Penguin’s plan was far more sophisticated. Not only did he want to control Gotham, but also have all of the other villains run Gotham with him. For the first time, everyone’s job was on the line, as Penguin tells the Commissioner that he will be replaced by The Riddler. Also, up until the end, the dynamic duo is constantly fighting an uphill battle. It looks like no one cares about Batman’s speech, as about five people are there; Penguin’s campaign, meanwhile, has hundreds. You don’t get a sense that the duo has a chance until Batman tells Penguin that the polls have been counted.
The Dynamic Duo’s escape is funny, but very mediocre. They are trapped by Penguin’s G.O.O.N.S, who place the duo on top of a net that is above a block of ice, which is above a vat of sulfuric acid. As the ice melts, the net lowers closer to the acid. The death trap for this show was disappointingly non-threatening because it took three seconds for Batman to figure it out. In fact, he had an acid-proof bat suit that saved him, so there was no problem at all. Both Robin and I were flabbergasted, but then—Robin realizes that HIS suit is also acid-proof! How the hell do you forget that?
Several new concepts and special occurrences are presented in these episodes. I love that the mayor plays a significant role in these two episodes. The one thing I love about this show is the intricate details of its universe. It impresses me that even a small character such as the mayor is played by the same actor in each episode. From a creative standpoint, I enjoyed seeing the dynamic duo actually hurting in this story. The bank heist fight scene is one of my favorite action scenes in the show. Not only do we see Penguin fight with his boxing glove umbrella, but also we see Batman actually lose. This showed me that Batman is not OP, because all you have to do is gang ten people up on him. The other interesting thing in this episode was how relevant the episode is to society in the 60s, and even today. Penguin tells Batman that politicians are the worst crooks of them all. Even the mayor says that the Penguin probably knows more underhanded tricks than what even he does. In today’s politically correct world, such a joke would probably not wind up in a family-friendly show.
The fight scenes are the best part of these episodes. One of my favorite battles is actually more of a race: who can beat up the most bad guys—Penguin or Batman? When I review fight scenes, I believe that they need to move the story forward. This fight scene did that and so much more. Not only were they destroying everything in the location (the bank), but also this was the final campaign speech for both of them. This showed me that Batman was no match for Penguin’s dirty tricks. What felt weird, though, was that Robin did not do anything in any of the fights. In the climactic fight, he is merely thrown through a table and is out for the count; and in the first fight, he is captured, which forces Batman to give up. I understand his minor involvement with the bank heist, because the story is more so about Batman versus the Penguin.
The most underwhelming part is the ending. Most of Batman’s greatest moments happen at the end. But not in these episodes. One moment, Batman looks like he has lost; the next he is destroying Penguin and telling him that the votes have been counted. I realize that they had a big fight at the middle of part two, but that is why it felt weak knowing that the final fight was going to take thirty seconds.
Overall, this two-part arc makes you seriously wonder, can Batman win? He lost two fights against the G.O.O.N.S, and he only gets one clean win against them. On top of that, the story is one of my favorites of the series. These episodes proved to be highly influential on Tim Burton’s 1992 film Batman Returns. Both stories show that Penguin’s actions are very similar to those of real politicians.
The Final Score
An interesting take on Penguin, by depicting him as a politician makes for one of the more iconic stories in the show.
Set Pieces: 7
The mayor playing a vital role and Batman versus Penguin through words is pretty entertaining. Interestingly, they never physically fight each other in these episodes.
Escape Moment: 6.5
Come on, Robin! No one forgets that they have an acid-proof suit.
Fight Scene: 10
This is one of my favorite fight sequences in the show. You see Batman lose twice, and the fights provide story instead of only laughs.
The arc has pretty amazing moments, albeit some slumps. The climax needed to be more exciting, and there needed to be more of Robin in these episodes.