airdave817's Batman '66 #5 - The Sandman Says Goodnight; The Tail of the Tiger Topaz review

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"...Perchance To Dream."

The late Michael Rennie, star of the original "The Day The Earth Stood Still" appeared in a two-part, second season episode partnered with Julie Newmar's Catwoman opposite Adam West's Batman and Burt Ward's Robin. According to Joel Eisner's "The Official Batman Batbook", screenwriter Ellis St. Joseph had turned in a brilliant script for the British actor Robert Morley to appear as the guest Bat-villain. His script was recycled for Catwoman's appearance, Morley turned down the revised, diminished role and Rennie was cast as Doctor Somnambula, alias The Sandman. The rest is Bat-history.

In "The Sandman Says Good Night", Jeff Parker, Ruben Procopio, Matthew Wilson and Wes Abbott bring the dastardly villain back to haunt Gotham. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are heading out on a fishing trip when the phone rings. Bruce hears Commissioner Gordon snoring over the line. Later, as Batman, he discovers sand on the Commissioner's desk. Chief O'Hara is missing, and an armored car has been hijacked! The Dynamic Duo scour Gotham for clues and try to stay awake with coffee. Unfortunately, they are overpowered and captured by The Sandman and his gang.

Procopio's art is reminiscent of Joe Staton, but Parker's script is quite Rod Serling. It is refreshingly eerie and sinister. The Sandman's eyes are particularly wicked, mindful of Gary Mitchell's eyes in the Classic Star Trek pilot. Together, Parker and Procopio bring a surreal, psychedelic romp full of suspense. Which is what Ellis St. Joseph's original script intended. The hallmark of the live-action Batman '66 series was how light-hearted it was. Unfortunately, characters like Two-Face were missing because of a perceived serious Gothic horror factor. The Bright Knight was quite vanilla.

An interesting bit of Bat-trivia, revealed in this story, Dick's Uncle Walt - Aunt Harriet's husband - was lost at sea on a fishing trip.

In the second story, Batgirl faces the third season Catwoman - played by the late Eartha Kitt - who is trying to steal the legendary Tiger Topaz on display at the Gotham Museum of Science. It's another fun, light romp by Parker, Colleen Coover and Wes Abbott. It's unfortunate that Yvonne Craig's Batgirl/Barbara Gordon was the "Cousin Oliver" of the live-action Batman series. Cousin Oliver was added to The Brady Bunch series in an effort to improve and increase ratings. The same is true of Batgirl. But she was a fresh updating of the Batwoman and Bat-Girl concept in the comics. A liberated woman, a little younger than Batman, a little older than Robin; a thrill-seeker, rather than a vigilante searching for justice. It is hard to believe that Jim Gordon is as oblivious as he is played, but that seems to be a conceit that serves the stories. The "Tail of the Tiger Topaz" is a fast-paced, brief encounter that hits all the high points of adventure. It's a Batman '66 version of The Batman Adventures 12 featuring that version of Batgirl against Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

Seeing The Sandman gives hope that characters like Harvey Dent, Kirk Langstrom and Dr. Hugo Strange will make an appearance.

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