Episode 42: Holy Transistor's Bill!: May 29, 2022

The Minstrel's Shakedown
September 21, 1966
"A musical and electronics oriented new villain threatens the Gotham Exchange for ransom."
65 minutes

"RD: Asleep via Minstrel" as seen by the sleeping mask on his head since the episode put him to sleep. He considers it the most boring episode he's ever seen, even more than recent Raws. Vince thinks the opposite, much to RD's "shenanigans". 

Narrator: "BUT WHAT'S THIS? The [Gotham] stock market has gone completely crazy!" 

Gordon watching the news on this in his office is interrupted by static from the villain of the week. Sings he: "A helpful minstrel I, when I see folks in trouble / Then I come on the double, with counsel both soothing and wise / With counsel both soothing and wise." Oh, so he's actually an attorney. Is Harvey Dent hiring?

Bruce and his colleagues are also watching the news in Stately Wayne Manor. Braless Aunt Harriet is of course attracted to his being "so gentlemanly" and "thoughtful" and a "strapping youngster" despite his being 50 years old at the time of shooting.

The Minstrel offers "immunity from the repetition of today's calamity" to all 250 registered traders for the low price of $1,000 weekly (from each person). Oh, so he's actually an attorney AND a stockbroker specializing in stock options. He should just go legitimate and make far more money that way than being a villain of the week. He lists his bank account just so the writers can make a James Bond reference. (#007 in the Broccoli Bank; my guess under the account holder name of Pussy Galore.)

A sad Gordon Batphones Bruce just to know he too is aware. Cue opening credits. Wrote RD: "I hope the show picks up or I may fall asleep." He tries to trick Vince to agree with him.

Like King Tut the Minstrel was also an original creation for the show. There was another separate Minstrel from Quality Comics, but when the company was bought by DC 10 years earlier he made no further appearances. I don't know if that is a good or a bad thing.

In Gordon's office, (:12) he wonders about this "minstrel who is also an electronic genius" like he was a robot. The Duo note it's not weird for a "musician with a twisted criminal mind". Oh, so he's actually an attorney AND a stockbroker AND a musician. He should go legitimate, make far money that way, and retire so he can spend his days touring with his rock band. (He will of course play keyboards, preferably while wearing a suit.)

As the president of the Stock Exchange arrives to discuss how the Minstrel could do what he could, West does all he can to also not fall asleep. RD shares his sentiments. Vince thinks RD has a vendetta against stocks for some reason. RD: "You could have gone with "Did you invest it all in Global Gold?" That would have been way more interesting." Batman stays awake long enough to ask to inspect the signal room.

The signal room is filled with 60s style large supercomputers and accoutrements, a harbinger of trading slowly becoming more electronic over the years. RD is reminded of Epcot's Spaceship Earth narrating how computers shrunk over the years as they grew in power, though unfortunately they couldn't do anything to help him watch this episode. 

The Duo enter the transistor room. Robin: "Holy transistor's bill! What an installation!" They pretend not to notice they are being transmitted to the Minstrel's lair. (RD managed to avoid giving the episode way too much credit.) His henchwoman Octavia has a musical note tattoo on her chest and is charmed by Batman's "warm attractive voice." Minstrel: "So what? He's still a second rate genius." He then mocks her for this for some reason with less emotion than bored and sleepy RD. 

Batman notes the tampered circuit and decides to leave it for the Minstrel to come by later to check. O'Hara wants to use his men for this and Batman takes all he can not to make fun of them too plainly. Gordon expresses his concern for the Duo's safety.
Batman: "Commissioner, after Penguin, Archer, Clock King, King Tut, Catwoman, and all our other artful adversaries, I don't think we'll have too much of a problem with this Minstrel."
RD time-outs as Clock King hasn't appeared on the show yet, but he forgets that King Tut was (much like the aforementioned villain with his brain injury making him so). Vince calls for Jeff to edit out RD's searching, most likely through this fine website you are reading right now. (:22)
RD: "You don't have to edit it out, people can know I'm an idiot."
He thinks the crew knew in filming that it would be terrible and thus added the line in to keep people awake.

At the Batcave it is dinnertime.
Batman: "I'd be fine with a peanut butter and watercress sandwich and a glass of milk."
Forget the strange food, shouldn't he eat more than that to maintain his crime-fighting strength and physique?
Alfred too agrees with me.
Batman: "It's okay, we have a few good years left."
Alfred: "The women in Gotham are swooning over him, and the men are in a state of panic, including myself."
RD wonders where his sex appeal comes from.
Alfred is in his panic not because he too is swooning, but he has invested in stocks also. Sadly Batman does not then tell him of the value of diversifying his portfolio (it's not as if he's a multimillionaire head of a corporation or anything). Instead he plans to wiretap the Minstrel's microphone. Calling Gordon again the Commissioner warns him to be careful with that "evil balladeer." 

This comes to the one thing in the episode RD likes: the Duo finding Phyllis Diller mopping the floor in the signal room whistling the Minstrel's tune, A Wand'ring Minstrel I, from The Mikado. (:31) RD likens her to a D&D style hag, reminding him of the time he once needled Mrs. Deal by calling her one. He then has to explain what work Gilbert & Sullivan wrote. (Weren't they also the very model of a modern crimefighting duo?)
Diller: "Do you always sneak up on people like that?"
Batman: "...No."
They are supposed to relieve her on scrubbing duty.
Diller: "Glad you wore your old clothes. This job is a mess!" 

After she leaves Minstrel shows up and...waves a sparkler around. This somehow temporarily blinds the Duo, allowing the villain to...mock them before just walking off.  

To save face to Gordon who comes after (but without a sparkler), Batman managed to emotionlessly delay Minstrel and obtain a microchip of a hetrodyne oscillator, i.e. a signal frequency mixer. RD: "I have no idea what that means." In turn Minstrel knows Batman is on him.

In the Batcave the Duo work on a literal Bat Drone to track Minstrel's next broadcast location. Batman: "If only to taunt me!" (:38) As expected he taunts him in the form of a broadcast song. Alfred: "The audacity of it all!" (Conscious) sources have told this reporter RD that Van Johnson probably came on the show because he and Napier were old friends who had worked together before. Thus RD feels Alfred's words are in fact putting him over. 

The Bat Drone finds the location of the transmitting warehouse and Batman asks Alfred to flick the Bat Drone Retriever Switch since he doesn't have time to do it himself before they take off in the Batmobile. Alfred stands there with a big smile on his face.

Minstrel is of course waiting for the Duo who have to climb up the building into a window.
Batman: "It's a pity Robin, that a man with such musical talents who could bring such pleasure to millions of people, should pervert that genius to criminal anti-social ends."
Robin: "Especially when he could earn a good living from just records."
RD wonders who would buy whatever stuff he is singing. RD would probably do better. BLADE would probably do better. UNDEAD BLADE would probably do better. 

(Although they would then have to have Mike Check play the records for his target demographic at KBAT Gotham 39 or something.)

Cue fight with musical instruments.
Octavia: "POW! WHAM! Look at the Dynamic Duo!"
Minstrel: "They are efficient, aren't they?"

The Duo give chase, dropping small magnets as breadcrumbs and smashing through a door.

Robin: "Holy flytrap!" 

The show doesn't display what exactly Robin is holying at, because we smash cut to them tied up on rotisserie spits in giant grills. Because minstrels are also good (medieval style) cooks...? RD thinks the writers had nothing else and were too bored to think up something so they just winged it.

Minstrel: "Batman and Robin rotate and revolve / As the heat grows, your bodies dissolve / When it's still hotter, then you will melt / Nothing left but your utility belt."
Robin: "Is this the end?"
Batman: "If it is, let's not lose our dignity."

Narrator (also bored): "Can this be true? Is the melodic fiend finally cooking the duo's goose? Check the thermometer on your radar grill! Be here tomorrow! Same hot time, same hot channel!"

Vince, being a supporter of the episode for some reason, gives it 5 (Batpoles?) but guesses there will be worse stories than this one. 

Vince remembers a future episode where Gordon actually figured out who the Duo were. RD guesses Batman would just tell Gordon he was wrong and the Commissioner would agree. 

Vince reads some of Van Johnson's profile since RD "obliviated" him. (:52) This includes reading about his and Napier's relationships. He expects an apology from RD next time for some reason. He considers today to be cerebral. RD considers today to be good for insomnia. 

Speaking of boring things, RD wrote about a boring fight between Tony Atlas and Ted Arcidi.

Vince: "I'm trying to stay up."

  • Special Guest Villain: The Minstrel (Van Johnson)

  • RD Time Outs:  1
  • Entertain The People:
  • Window Celebrity: 1. Phyllis Diller

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