After two more robberies, the Riddler has enough money to purchase Professor Charm's Demolecularizer. He demonstrates his weapon on a park statue, then issues an ultimatum - if all criminal statutes are not rescinded within two hours, he will begin dissolving every building in Gotham City. He rigs his device to automatically fire on police headquarters if his demands are not met. The city's only hope is Batman, who believes he has a plan to counteract the device.
"Batman's Anniversary"/"A Riddling Controversy" marked for me the first time that the 1966 Batman series began to let me down. After all, someone else was playing The Riddler, not Frank Gorshin. I guess it was an omen of what was to come for me when it comes to this TV series.
Fast forward 45 years later, and the episode is not so bad. Yes, Frank Gorshin is MIA here, and we have the truly superb John Astin in the role. Mr. Astin is clearly trying his best to fill in a role that Mr. Gorshin really made his own, and his effort really shows. Deanna Lund, whom I have personally met, provides a really spirited performance as well.
But the episode falls short because the producers could not bring back Frank Gorshin for the second season, and the plot itself seems a little off. Overall, the stresses of Season Two are starting to really show here. The remainder of the season would have some hits and some misses, but it was clear the series was going a little awry.
I gave this episode an "8" because of Mr. Astin and Ms. Lund. They really give a fine effort, in spite of the handicaps. "A Riddling Controversy" finds the Dynamic Duo set to become Caked Crusaders, sinking in quicksand atop their own anniversary cake, until Batman decides that now would be the perfect time to launch via their utility belts their experimental Heel and Toe Bat Rockets! From there, John Astin's Riddler has acquired the right amount of cash to buy the deadly Demolecularizer from Professor Avery Evans Charm (Martin Kosleck), what at first glance appears to be nothing more than a flashlight, which can be easily recharged by plugging it into any wall socket. The Professor demonstrates how it can make any object disappear by focusing its beam on Riddler's hat, then the villain demands that Commissioner Gordon make crime legal in Gotham City or risk the obliteration of police headquarters. As usual, Batman finds the answer to neutralize Riddler's tiny contraption, through both the Batcopter (its third appearance) and Batcycle (its fourth), the Batcopter last seen in "The Penguin Declines," the Batcycle in "Come Back, Shame." Longtime Nazi villain Martin Kosleck made few films since his 40s heyday, but remained a fixture on television until his retirement in 1980. When next The Riddler appears, it would be in the third season's second episode, and Frank Gorshin playing the role for the final time. a5c7b9f00b
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