Hi Diddle Riddle / Smack in the Middle (1966)
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, Jill. St. John, Neil Hamilton, Alan Napier, Madge Blake
Director: Robert Butler
Nutshell: The dastardly Riddler is back in Gotham City and has Batman & Robin in a deadly spin that threatens to destroy the Dynamic Duo for good.
A bright sunny day in teeming metropolis Gotham City greets a very auspicious occasion for the Republic of Moldavia as dignitaries, diplomats, royalty and high society guests gather at the Gotham City World Fair for the week-long fiesta. There is a collective gasp of delight as the Moldavian Prime Minister prepares to unveil their country’s finest national treasure. But, before the star attraction, the guests are to be treated to the Moldavian – American Friendship Cake.
Unfortunately, the excitement is short lived as an explosion goes off from within the giant cake in what seems to be a shocking act of terrorism and the guests are floundering in shock and horror. An action man sized parachute floats down from the debris and plumes of smoke with a chilling message attached to it “why is an orange like a bell?” it says, kicking off a ghastly wave of crime that has Gotham City’s police Commissioner Gordon and his team utterly perplexed. With the police force at a complete loss and knowing that the Riddler has outwitted them time and again on previous occasions, the only avenue is to send out an S.O.S to Batman.
At the stately Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson are alerted by Alfred and without a moment wasted they head along to the Commissioners office to analyze the cryptic riddle. The Dynamic Duo then head for the Peale Art Gallery where they are outwitted by the fiendish Riddler and fall right into his trap despite smelling a rat. They apprehend the dastardly Riddler as he pulls a pistol on the Gallery manager but the tables are swiftly turned by the grinning devil and Batman and Robin surrounded by media flashlights and a lawyer who serves them a legal summons for a number of damning transgressions including harassment. It turns out the Riddler’s pistol was a mere lighter that he was offering the manager to light his cigarette!
Subsequently there is gloom in at Wayne Manor with Bruce, Dick and Alfred distraught at the legal documentation that may destroy Batman’s crimefighting career as in court he will be forced to remove his mask and reveal his true identity. Robin miraculously stumbles upon a plan and using the Bat infrared decipherer, the dynamic duo find more riddles secretly planted in the legal summons and make their way to 222 Glover Street where they expect to find the psychotic genius and his henchmen but instead they arrive at one of the most swinging and happening Go-Go Dance clubs where only adults (rich and white) are allowed in and so an underage Robin has to remain in the Batmobile while Batman proceeds to investigate.
There is much excitement upon his arrival inside the club where the dancing socialites are thrilled to find such a superstar in their midst. As he approaches the Bar, we, the audience can see that the barman is a dodgy member of Riddler’s posse and his current Moll, Molly, is sitting in wait, ready to spin her web of charm around Batman.
Batman has a juice and then takes up Molly’s invitation to shimmy on the dancefloor where he proceeds to dazzle with his stunning Batusi to gasps of wonder and amazement. But as the spiked juice kicks in he is rendered a slobbering, mumbling buffoon while Molly and The Riddler pounce on Robin and attempt to destroy the Batmobile, setting it alight. However, they fail in that endeavor as the Batmobile is fitted with incredible devices of self-preservation.
As a drunken Batman attempts to drive away in pursuit of the abducted Robin, the police remind him that he is in no condition to drive. Robin is taken away to the underground hideout of the maniacal Riddler where he is tied down on a surgeons table and with Batman clueless and totally incapable of saving a ghastly situation The Riddler seems poised to destroy the Dynamic Duo with Robin as putty in his hands. The episode reaches its ghastly conclusion as Robin lies strapped to the table surrounded by Riddler’s goons and surely this time, even Batman cannot save him.
This very first episode “Hi Diddle Riddle” kicks off the series in considerable style and contains several memorable moments the best of which are the breathtaking Batusi at the club and then Batman’s dreadful drunken state which brings out he very best in Adam West’s thespian talent. Robin and Alfred are at their best and Molly, the caviar swigging Moll who later starred as a Bond Girl in Diamonds Are Forever is fascinating and alluring in equal measure.
Will Robin survive as Batman lurches around in a desperate drunken stupor? The chances don’t look bright as the curtain comes down on a thrilling episode promising much more horror, thrills and excitement ahead. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!
Smack in the Middle (1966)
The last episode left viewers dangling on the edge of a cliff with Riddler having abducted Robin and left Batman with a million dollar lawsuit to grapple with as well as an embarrassingly bad hangover but he makes his way back to the Bat-cave and though he has to lie to an increasingly concerned Aunt Harriet, rescuing Robin is the primary and immediate goal.
Meanwhile in his underground den, the cackling twisted fruitcake The Riddler has a fiendish plan of his own and is busy making a plaster mould of Robin which is turned into an exact replica of the boy wonder. His next dastardly move to destroy Batman for ever he plans on to plant a fake Robin in the form of a masked Molly as bait and destroy Batman as the Batcave will be revealed and so will the Dynamic Duo’s identities. Molly is kitted out in Robin’s outfit and when she dons the replica mask, she is the spitting image of the Boy Wonder even if slightly effeminate with a rather sexy slinky sashay, most unlike Robin. However, she looks the part as long as she doesn’t open her mouth.
Batman using his immense cerebral powers and the array of gadgets and computers he has created homes in on The Riddler’s location but the green menace is already two steps ahead planning his trap. He swipes Robin’s belt and has the fake Robin (Molly) wear it and switch on the homing device which Batman latches on to and speeds to the rescue unknowing that the real Robin is still stuck in the villain’s den while Molly is set as bait to entrap him.
As expected The Batmobile doesn’t take long to catch up with The Riddler and Molly and play right into their fiendish plan as he finds the fake Robin who indicated to Batman that because of the injections Riddler has used on him, he is unable to speak and much to Molly’s excitement she soon ends up within the secret Batcave exactly according to Riddler’s plan. But Batman is not so easily fooled and because of the poorly designed holes of her nostrils, he easily recognizes the fake Robin and as Molly attempts to make her getaway she heads for the deadly nuclear reactor that Batman has built within the Batcave and though Batman, still entranced by her allure tries to stop her from danger, she falls into the pit and is vaporized instantly.
It’s a sad end to the deluded by gorgeous Molly who Batman had clearly developed a soft spot for but there is no time for moping as Robin has to be rescued and its not long before Batman discovers the Riddler’s hideout thanks to Chief O’Hara’s observations and is rescued in the nick of time but once again Riddler using his bullet proof screen is able to get away with his henchmen and vanish into the underworld while Batman returns to the Batcave with the real Robin restored to complete health. Solving more riddles, they apparently head to the treasury where they expect The Riddler to strike but the impish criminal has more up his sleeve than apparently even Batman imagined.
At the Annual Gotham City Fair, the Moldavian Prime Minister is once again in the midst of high society and top most diplomats and is about to reveal a Great bejewelled Mammoth of Moldavia which is packed with incredible riches. The Riddler releases a laughing gas that has the dignitaries in peals of laughter and they soon pass out, knocked out by the noxious gas leaving The Riddler to steal the Mammoth but in a shock twist, Batman and Robin burst forth from the Beasts belly and subdue Riddler’s henchmen in quick time but as they close in in The Riddler he blasts some more laughing gas an vanishes from the scene leaving Batman and Robin frustrated but for the moment, the menace has been vanquished though the prospect of his return remains an ominous prospect.
For the moment Gotham City is seemingly safe and the lawsuit against Batman is dropped and sanity restored. Robin notices that Batman is quite saddened by the demise of the deluded Molly who he had found alluring and intriguing but sadly she is now just a puff of nuclear waste; a sad waste of life. Aunt Harriet is relieved that Dick Grayson is back doing his homework and not being exposed to the terrible deeds of the city’s dreadful criminals. Batman & Robin save the day and Gotham City’s residents are able to sleep calmly as The Riddler’s threatening shadow seems to have receded for the present time. All ends well at Stately Wayne Manor and Aunt Harriet is back to her chirpy self. For the moment, Gotham City is rid of The Riddler and all is well and calm in the metropolis.