Wednesday, November 18, 2020



PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTIONS: *psychological, sociological*

Whatever good feminist vibrations BATMAN ’66 may have generated with its use of powerful females like Batgirl and Catwoman, some might find those vibes wiped out by the insipidity of the “Nora Clavicle” episode. While an intelligent spoof of second-wave feminism is certainly feasible, Stanford Sherman’s script is merely reactionary and stupid.

Clavicle (Barbara Rush) is established as some sort of feminist activist, though her reasons for turning to crime are never addressed. She shows up in Gotham, garbed in a somewhat mannish suit, and attended by two statuesque blondes in archaic Greek attire. Said blondes don’t do much of anything except function as eye-candy—and perhaps suggest some naughty allusions to the Isle of Lesbos. On the night that Commissioner Gordon is honored with a dinner and a gold watch, Clavicle puts a feminist bug in the ear of Mayor Linseed’s wife, who haraunges her husband into firing Gordon and installing Clavicle in his place. Chief O’Hara is also out of a job, as Mrs. Linseed takes his place, and Clavicle also replaces all the male cops with completely inexperienced women. (Nothing is said about the disposition of any female officers.)

Clavicle anticipates that the Terrific Trio will become nuisances, so she sends her henchwomen to hold up a bank. The new female cops are too preoccupied with makeup and recipes to bother enforcing the law, so Clavicle manages to lure the crimefighters into the entire series’ chintziest death-trap. Batman, Robin and Batgirl are locked together into a “Siamese human knot,” so that they can’t move without mutually strangling one another. Once again, the villains then depart without killing the heroes, so that eventually Batman frees them all thanks to his uncanny knowledge of human anatomical responses.

Clavicle also explains her insidious plot to the heroes. The female fiend has bought a high-ticket insurance policy on the safety of Gotham City, and she plans to cash in by unleashing on Gotham a horde of mechanical mice, all primed to explode in one great cataclysm. It’s not clear whether or not Clavicle models her bomb-robots upon rodents because all the lady cops will be scared of mice. Neither Clavicle nor her henchgirls fear the mechanical mice, and neither does Batgirl, though the heroine seemingly agrees with the stereotype, stating that “You can’t get policewomen to help you catch mice.” (Given how incompetent Gotham’s cops usually are, it’s difficult to imagine them faring much better.) Batman naturally comes up with the solution: he contrives electronic pipes for himself and his compatriots, and the tunes they play guide the robots to Gotham’s docks and into the ocean. Dumb as the politics of the episode are, the image of the heroes playing Pied Piper is a memorable image in the episode. There is of course no final punch-up; Gordon, O’Hara and Alfred receive instructions from Batman to corral the three women. (No one asks why Batman would summon the aid of Bruce Wayne’s butler.) It may be of passing interest that while most villains never try to kill anyone but the starring heroes, Clavicle’s plot depends upon the wholesale slaughter of everyone in Gotham—though the script treats this enormity as if she were only assailing Gotham’s property values.

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