When I mentioned in yesterday's tribute to Frank Gorshin that John Astin had major cujones for taking a role on 'Batman' which Gorshin had indelibly made his own, that was not meant to be a slight against Astin. He didn't have to worry about making the Riddler his own or in following in Gorshin's footsteps.
That's because he wasn't playing the same man.
They were both the Riddler, but I'm not invoking Everett's "Many Worlds" theory. Both of them existed in the same dimension, on the main Toobworld, Earth Prime Time.
"The Riddler" is just a nom de criminel; it's an alias they both used.
Astin's character usurped the name in February of 1967 while Gorshin's original was in solitary at Gotham City Penitentiary. He probably figured that the identity wasn't doing the original Riddler any good while he was locked up, so he might as well put it to use... especially since he didn't know what his real name was anyway.
Well, I know who he was. Anybody familiar with my fixation about the TV Universe will know who he really was.
Say it with me - GOMEZ ADDAMS!
There was an episode of 'The Addams Family' in which Gomez got a nasty knock on the noggin. Normally in TV tradition, that would just lead to the number one malady of Toobworld - amnesia.
But Gomez Addams was no ordinary man. This was a guy whose business partner was a sentient giraffe!
Gomez gained a whole new personality when he got el kabonged. This new persona found his own family to be abhorrent. And in order to cure him, everybody in the family took turns at clobberin' time without knowing that someone had already beaten them to the punch. Literally.
After all those conks on the cranium, there may have been some brain damage. Or he was later overwhelmed by post-traumatic stress syndrome. And this time, Gomez saw himself as a notorious criminal.
But which one?
Perhaps in some deep inner recess of his suppressed memory, Gomez remembered how much he loved fun and games. (He loved blowing up his toy train set.) And so when he heard about the incarceration of the original Riddler, the blank-minded Gomez probably decided that he should become the next Puzzler of Perfidy.
Stealing the Riddler's clothing was no big deal, apparently. At some point in history, another famous TV character also stole an article of clothing from the Riddler's wardrobe. (I'll have a blog entry later as to... who he is.)
The career Riddler Gomez was short-lived. After his capture by Batman and Robin, - and with the proper medical care, - Gomez Addams was returned to the loving bosom of his family.
There would have been no need to incarcerate him. After all, as with Professor William Omaha McElroy who held the Chair of Egyptology at Yale, his criminal career could be attributed to brain damage.
He may have been ooky, and he may have been kooky, but Gomez Addams was not a crooky.... er, crook.