“Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 3, Episode 10
Production code 1714
Original air dates: November 16, 1967
The Bat-signal: The World Surfing Championship is coming up, and it’s going to be held at Gotham Point. Barbara’s old friend Skip Parker is a favorite to win the championship, and she watches him ride a wave and compliments him on his form. The Joker shows up in his Jokermobile with two henchmen, Wipeout and Riptide, and he radios his moll, Undine, at the Hang Five, a surfin’ hangout run by Hot Dog Harrigan. (The radios actually are in the shapes of hot dogs, for whatever reason.) Riptide and Wipeout put Hot Dog in a bag and then send Undine to tell Skip there’s a phone call for him. Skip enters the Hang Five and Joker gasses him and takes him off to his secret HQ.
However, Barbara sees Skip being kidnapped, and calls her father, who calls Batman. The Dynamic Duo take the Bat-copter to Pelican Cove and then walk from there to Gotham Point just like normal people. (Landing the copter on the beach is dangerous and ostentatious. Also, they don’t have footage from the movie of the copter landing on a beach.)
Joker has Skip tied up and hooked up to a Surfing Experience And Ability Transferometer, which will transfer all of Skip’s surfing knowledge to Joker.
After an hour of useless surveillance of the Hang Five, Batman and Robin return to the Batcave and consult the Bat-computer, which points them at the Ten-Toe Surf Shop, which is long abandoned, as being Joker’s new hideout.
But Joker’s ready for them, and he, Riptide, Wipeout, and Undine all throw sea-urchin spines at them, leaving them vulnerable to Joker, who ties them down and leaves Riptide and Wipeout to turn them into surfboards. They escape that trap and chase the henchmen off, then rescue Skip, only to discover that Joker stole his surfing mojo.
Batman sends Robin back to Wayne Manor to change back into Dick, and return with his surfboard. Joker’s prowess has scared off all the other competitors, but Dick enters Batman (on behalf of Bruce, who’s the head of the surfing commission, because of course he is) so that there’s an actual competition.
They surf, and while Joker finishes first, Batman wins on points. Then someone finally notices that Hot Dog is in the trash can, and Joker and his people beat a hasty retreat. However, his attempt to hide in the Hang Five fails, as Dick and Barbara ran into the locker rooms first and changed into costume.
Fisticuffs ensue, and Joker is wiped out (har har). Skip is restored to his old self and all’s right with the world—although there’s a theft of Her Majesty’s Royal Snuffboxes in Londinium that will likely garner our heroes’ attention…
Fetch the Bat-shark-repellant! The Bat-copter makes a triumphant return, while Alfred has reprogrammed the Bat-computer to provide pictures instead of punch-cards. Batman uses a portable ultraviolet Bat-ray to ignite the resin and make his surfboard covering explode. (How he made Robin’s explode is left as an exercise for the viewer.) Best of all, we get the Bat-shark-repellant, as Batman uses it to keep a shark away from the competition.
Holy #@!%$, Batman! When the Bat-computer gives our heroes a picture of two bare feet, Robin mutters, “Holy ten toes!” When Joker and his crew hit them with sea-urchin spines, Robin cries, “Holy pin-cushion!” When they’re turned into human surfboards, Robin on-the-noses, “Holy human surfboards!” When they escape that trap, Robin yells, “Holy detonation!”
Gotham City’s finest. Gordon and O’Hara go undercover as surfers on the beach named Duke and Buzzy, wearing the world’s goofiest sunglasses, and totally miss Hot Dog in a trash can, even though Hot Dog signals them repeatedly.
Special Guest Villains. Cesar Romero makes his first third-season appearance as the Joker. He’ll return, teamed up with Catwoman, in “The Funny Feline Felonies.”
No sex, please, we’re superheroes. All the extras this week are in bathing suits, as are several of the regulars and guest stars. It’s probably the most exposed flesh on any Batman episode, with a good chunk of it coming from Sivi Aberg as Undine and Yvonne Craig in a very sexy one-piece when she’s Barbara.
Na-na na-na na-na na-na na.
“A funny thing, isn’t it? That I know more than you’ve forgotten.”
–Joker getting all philosophical on Skip after stealing his mojo.
Trivial matters: This episode was discussed on The Batcave Podcast episode 56 by host John S. Drew with special guest chum, Dan Greenfield of 13th Dimension.
The surfing footage was all taken from the surfing documentary The Endless Summer.
Johnny Green and the Greenmen appear as themselves as the green-haired band performing on the beach. Green also was one of the musicians who played on the show’s theme song, and the band was still together as of last year (though their web site hasn’t been updated since 2010, they do have a Facebook page).
Riptide is played by Skip Ward, who was William Dozier’s first choice to play the title role in The Green Hornet, a role that eventually went to Van Williams. Based on his acting here, I’d say that the right choice was made in the end.
Sivi Aberg (Undine) previously appeared as Mimi in “The Devil’s Fingers” / “The Dead Ringers.” John Mitchum (Hot Dog) previously appeared as Rip Snorting in “Come Back, Shame” / “It’s How You Play the Game” (and also had a recurring role as Hoffenmueller in F Troop).
Pow! Biff! Zowie! “Cowabunga! Begorrah!” There are a few things to like about this episode. There’s the hilarious visual of Batman and the Joker wearing their baggies over their costumes. There’s Gordon and O’Hara undercover as elderly beach combers and doing the worst job ever. There’s the Bat-shark repellant. There’s Yvonne Craig and Sivi Aberg in bathing suits.
Yeah, that’s about it. It’s pretty much the same dumb plot we’ve already gotten in “Ring Around the Riddler,” “The Sport of Penguins” / “A Horse of a Different Color,” and “Louie, the Lilac.” Like Riddler and Penguin, Joker is taking on a sport to master in order to, like Louie, win over the youth of Gotham as a stepping stone to greater power. It’s less clear how, exactly, winning a surfing championship will lead to Joker’s plans for world domination (at least Riddler and Penguin had some cash attached to winning, and Louie actually actively tried to recruit the flower children), but then this is a guy who invents time machines and devices that can transfer someone’s surfing skills and athletic ability, yet hasn’t become incredibly rich selling these things to the highest bidder. Go fig’.
Joker runs away because he’s accused of kidnapping Skip and Hot Dog—but everyone knew he’d kidnapped Skip. So why was he even allowed to enter the race? Why didn’t Gordon and O’Hara—sorry, Buzzy and Duke arrest him right off? Why did Hot Dog finally being let out of the garbage can make the Joker scared when his more well known kidnap victim was standing right there?
And how come the surfboard that Riptide and Wipeout encased Batman and Robin in was thinner than their bodies could possibly have fit? How did Batman’s portable ultraviolet ray affect Robin’s surfboard? Why did nobody fix the left ear on Batman’s cowl that was very obviously falling off after the surfing competition?
Cesar Romero does the best he can with the material—even when he’s standing around pretending to surf in front of a bluescreen, he’s a delight—but this is just an incomprehensible mess.
Keith R.A. DeCandido has never gone surfing a day in his life.