Episode 120: Holy Skywriter!: December 11, 2023

The Great Train Robbery
February 8, 1968
"After his previous battle with the Terrific Trio, Shame now has Batgirl as a hostage. He agrees to a swap when he realizes that Batman and Robin also have Calamity Jan's mother, Frontier Fanny. Batgirl informs the Dynamic Duo of a plan for a "great train robbery" that she overheard as a hostage. The three work to figure out Shame's plan and race to stop him. But when they realize they are too late, Batman attempts to lure him out of hiding with an offer of man-to-man combat."
43 minutes

RD: READY TO DRY GULCH VARMINTS. He wishes there was more Shame and Egghead and King Tut and less Mr. Freeze on the show.

Narrator: "Gotham City Central Park, where the Dynamic Duo interrogate Frontier Fanny in Shame's  stable hideout."
We get a repeat of the last scene, to remind us of the situation facing the Dynamic Dingbats. Batman almost reaches for his gun.

The gang goes to Peter's Guns And Ammo with a sign ("Everything for the firearms enthusiast") written in a really goofy font, having left Batgirl in the truck of their vehicle. Peter, showing his experience in running a gun shop, leaves a pistol and ammo on the bare counter for Shame to immediately pick up and point at him. He tells his men to "hang him up" so they literally hang him on a mounted antler's head.

Jan: "Shame, honey, you seen my ma?"
Shame: "Yeah, I seen too much of her lately."
Jan: "I think we must've left her at the stable with the horses."
Shame: "Well, don't worry, nobody will notice."
Jan: "I know she's a battle-ax and an old owl, but she is my flesh and blood."
Shame: "Yeah, I was wondering about that heredity. What'd your father look like?"
Jan: "Oh, he was prettier than my ma."
Shame: "Nobody could be uglier."
Jan: "We could trade her for Batgirl, like a prisoner swap."
Shame: "No, that ain't no swap. If I swapped like that, I wouldn't have a pot to put my head in for a  haircut."
But ultimately he decides to listen to her. They kiss straight into the opening titles.

In Gordon's Office Batman worries of Batgirl's safety. "I think he has something else in mind, something infinitely more heinous."
Gordon worries of Barbara's safety. "While the welfare of Gotham City is important, worries of my  daughter's welfare keep invading my thoughts."
Then Chief Standing Pat just walks in with a "How" and a soft Native American theme instead of any police accompaniment. Not even a couple of officers chasing trying to apprehend him, and perhaps being stymied by all the cigar smoke. 

Batman: "Let's hear what he has to say."
Pat: "Man with blue-and-white face speak with straight tongue."
He offers the hostage trade.
O'Hara: "What's the catch? Shame usually has three or four aces and a derringer up his scheming sleeve."
Pat: "You no try catch us, we let Batgirl go with full scalp safe."
Gordon: "No deal."
Pat: "That's fine by me. Her scalp look good on my belt."

He goes to leave but Batman stops him by...putting his boot on his long buffalo robe. He agrees to the terms over Gordon's objections.
Pat: "Then you bring Fat Squaw to Central American pavilion at Gotham City World's Fair. It closed  now. No one bother us. We meet when little hand is on 11 and big hand is on 12. Chief Standing Pat has spoken."

Narrator: "Meanwhile, back at the ammunition store, Shame and his aides are celebrating their coup." (:15)
Pat informs the group of the deal, but also that Batman is no longer affected by the Fear Gas. Shame states he will "gonna dry-gulch them varmints", but not before he has to be told by Jan that the exchange will be at 11 o'clock. They all leave.
Fred: "Tallyho."
Shame: "Are you sure he's Mexican?"

Narrator: "But even as Batman and Robin race along the highway, Shame is arriving at the Central American pavilion with deadly punctuality."
The gang quickly get into a standoff with the Duo: "Get away from our Fanny!" Batman won't hide behind his Fanny, but he whispers to Robin directly over her that he has a Bat-chemical which can make metal 20 times heavier. Of course he has to throw it (after she shouts at Shane to watch out), which causes the now heavy guns to drop from their hands. RD wonders why they didn't consider using it before in the series. 

Shame: "Doggone it. Doggone it, Batman. You cheated. You know we ain't no good in a fair fight."

So there is another (unfair) fight, which is pretty good. Shame takes a flight through a table. Robin does some actual combat for once. Batgirl manages to free herself by using a sword in a manner that RD found rather sensual before she proceeds with her smiling kicks. Shame has to resort to shooting three pinatas down on the Trio so they can escape. RD thinks they contained not candy by metal toys, which were now heavier thanks to the Bat-chemical.
Batman: "Take heart, Batgirl. All is not lost. We'll catch Shame before this day is through."

Back at the Office Gordon is still panicking over Barbara's condition. Batgirl tries to reassure him, which helps his mood. Surprisingly he does not then start feeling around Batgirl, which makes RD think he only does that to Barbara, his own daughter.

Besides that they still have no idea on Shame's target.
O'Hara: "I think we all need some refreshment. What would you be saying to some soft drinks to cool  off your brows? On me, of course."
Batman: "Splendid idea, Chief O'Hara."
RD is reminded when Batman refused one for finding it "too relaxing"...earlier in the season. Vince thinks it's because O'Hara is paying, through a giant pile of cash that he has in his pocket.
This somehow is the breakthrough Batman needs: "Today's the day when the government ships all the old money out of town by train to be burned. Old money that's tattered and torn is collected by banks and turned over to the treasury for destruction. That must be what Shame's been after!"

Narrator: "But are you in time, Batman? Because, even now, evil events are being put into motion." (:26)
Cue stock footage of a train. The people inside boast of how the train can only be broken into with an acetylene torch and a 283-karat diamond drill, which just by coincidence the gang has. They enter with the Fear Gas.
Train Guard: "Please don't hurt us, mister. I'm a family man. I got a wife and kid."
Train Clerk: "I'm a bachelor, but...but...but I wanna live anyway!"

The Trio arrive too late, but Batman has some soup bravery tablets as an antidote. He also has his own solution: a skywriter drone which he will use to send a message to Shame requesting a showdown. 

Back at the ammo store, the gang decide what to do with their loot, amounting to $60 million.
Fred: "And how is this vast fortune to be allocated?"
Shame: "Yeah he's Mexican, all right. Look, Fred, I got no truck for a man that talks 8 pounds to the  word. Now, you talk English like us normal folks or don't talk, Fred. Get it?"
Fred: "Got it. How do you plan on divvying up the spoils?"
Shame: "That's better. You and the chief get 1 million each. That ought to keep you in tacos for a while."

Pat (staring out the window): "Look. Up in sky."
Fred: "It's a bird."
Jan: "It's a plane."
Shame: "No, it's a message for me."

Onscreen it is only one word: Shame. Offscreen he reads the script, as Batman demands the "lily-livered coward" meet him at high noon for a bare-handed duel. Knowing it's a trap from "that Caped Clown," he tells his gang to notify the police.   

At the location the hero contingent is somber for this duel for some reason.
Batman: "That's why I deliberately chose that urban renewal area, the one that's condemned, so that no  innocent bystanders would get shot up. This town's gotta be cleaned up so that little children are safe  and happy and healthy growing up."
He then dramatically says his goodbyes to each one. 

Of course Shame is not alone, and he tells his gang to shoot at 20 feet.
Jan: "Good luck, Shame, honey."
Shame: "Dumpling, I don't need luck as long as I've got you."
In the back Fred facepalms: "Couldn't you just get sick?"

Shame: "Hey, Batman, you fake. Don't you ever smile? You look grimmer than a losing football coach."
Batman: "Perhaps I should unbend a little. Thank you for the constructive criticism, Shame."
Shame: "Your mother wore Army shoes."
Batman: "Yes, she did. As I recall, she found them quite comfortable."
Shame: "I'm gonna keep on insulting you till you run out of cheeks to turn."
Batman: "If you need to be vitriolic, vituperative and vindictive, Shame, you go right ahead."

Meanwhile Robin and Batgirl see the gang laying in ambush and easily dispatch them all.

Batman: "What's wrong, Shame? Lost your nerve?"
Shame: "How far you figure we are apart?"
Batman: "Eighteen feet, six and a half inches."
Shame: "We're less than 20 feet apart. (Towards where his gang would be) You hear me? We're less than 20 feet apart! (To Batman) You big sissy, you couldn't drive nails in a snow bank."
Batman: "Why would I want to?"

In disgust Shame throws down his hat, revealing the revolver inside. 
Batman quickly disarms him, causing him to drop down and cower in fright.

Shame: "Oh, no! No, spare me, Batman. I ain't nearly, nearly as ornery as I ought to be."
Batman: "Stand up, Shame. You're not worthy of the name Shame. You're a sham, Shame. Don't ever  cry on my tights or pull my leg again."

So Shame gets up, leading to their fight. By which I mean, it's just he and Batman. By which I mean by which I mean, it's just Robertson and West. No stuntmen involved here. It's a very short fight anyway, of which the Dark Knight easily wins. 

Batman: "Shame, I look at you with a mixture of emotions: sympathy and disgust. You're heading for  the last roundup, Shame, because of your greed and your avarice. Otherwise, you might have realized  that good, even though it's sometimes sidetracked, (to the camera) always, repeat, always triumphs over evil."

Back at the Office, Gordon gushes to O'Hara about his one true love (besides Barbara). "It reminded me of that great old movie, Low Midnight or something." Shame is back in prison, and the women are too...as correction officers. Because of course Prosecutor Batman ordered it so.
O'Hara: "At last, maybe things will get back to normal around here."

Narrator: "Normal, Chief O'Hara? With that famed Yale professor of Egyptology back in his King Tut alter ego, escaping from a Gotham City Prison's psychiatrist's couch to begin another cunning caper calculated to confound our Terrific Trio? Watch the next episode to see just how normal things are not  going to be in Gotham City!"

This was obviously a very fun story, and could very well be the high point of the whole season. If only there was more like this instead of visiting Londinium Angeles.

Vince guesses Dina Merrill was 34, somewhat off from 42. He gives her 7 Batpoles, RD 6.5.  

While a well-known actress and model in her own right, Merrill, born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, may be better known for her wealth and philanthropy. Her mother was Marjorie Merriweather Post, owner of General Foods/Post Cereals. Her father was EF Hutton of the stock brokerage (and Post's second husband; her first, Edward Close, was Glenn Close's grandfather). Merrill's first husband, Stanley Rumbough, was an heir to Colgate. Her third husband, Ted Hartley, was a fellow actor (when not also an investment broker), and they bought and managed RKO Pictures/Pavilion in 1989. Even six years after her death at 93 (in 2017) her net worth of at least $5 billion has made her the world's richest actress.

Vince still has to watch what RD is willing to suffer through for Christmas.

  • Special Guest Villain: Shame [2] (Cliff Robertson) [2]
  • Extra Special Guest Villainess: Calamity Jan (Dina Merrill)


  • SPEAKING OFs: 2. Gordon's Office, cheap candy
  • RD Time Outs: 1 (Real Quick)

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