Thursday, February 15, 2018


Normally, I try to steer clear of conflation, claiming that one TV character is the same character in another show.  Usually there will be even just one line of dialogue that I'm unaware of which would put the Zonk to the whole concept.

There are easy ones, to be sure, which are too tempting to let slide.  On 'Batman', when the Riddler looked like Gomez Addams, that's because it was Gomez Addams.

As happened once in 'The Addams Family', Gomez must have been conked on the head and gone bad.  And since "The Riddler" is more of a job description than an actual identity, he must have purloined the costume usually worn by Lew Rydell as the Riddler while Rydell was in prison again.

Today, in continuation of our tributes for Black History Month, we're going to take a look at another TV character who took advantage of a job opening in 'Batman'....

"THE TRAITOR" (1967)
 A U.S. intelligence operative has defected to an Eastern Bloc country and is currently housed at that nation's embassy in Washington. Briggs devises a plan in which a contortionist is needed to navigate through the ventilation system of the embassy and break into a top-security portion of the facility. What's more, Rollin will pose as an official of the nation while Barney, Willy and Cinnamon also play key roles.

Good morning, Mr. Briggs. Edward Hughes, an American Intelligence officer, has defected to the enemy and taken refuge in their embassy here. Hughes took with him a top-secret message before we had a chance to decode it. We believe the information in that message to be vital. The sender of the message has died. Hughes himself does not know the code so Victor Belson, one of the enemy's best cryptographers, is on his way to the embassy now. Belson is unknown to the personal there. Your mission, Dan, should you decide to accept it, would be to get the message back before the enemy deciphers it and get Hughes out of the embassy in a way to discredit any other information he may have given them. As always, should you or any member of your IM Force be caught of killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowlage of your actions. This recording will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Dan.

Tina Mara was a professional contortionist who was appearing at the New Hippodrome when the Impossible Mission Force, led by Dan Briggs, recruited her services to infiltrate an enemy state's embassy.  Her mission was to maneuver through the vents and retrieve a stolen coded document and discredit the traitor who had originally stolen it.

But after just that one call to duty, the IMF never asked for her services again.  What nobody expected, least of all Tina, was that the adrenaline rush from the mission would prove to be a highly addictive narcotic for her.  Without the venue of the IMF to serve as a sanction for her proclivities, Tina Mara now risked going down the dark path to a life of crime......

By the summer of 1966, the word was spreading in the criminal underworld that Catwoman was dead, a victim of her own greed.  There were rumors that when the Dynamic Duo had searched the bottom of the chasm where she fell, Selina Kyle's body was not to be found, only a small black cat.  

So now there were challengers hoping to gain the coveted alias of The Catwoman, with the first appearing that summer.  She teamed up with the Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin but their alliance proved to be no match for Batman and Robin.  Soon she ended up in jail, where she fell in love with one of the detectives assigned to the case.  She reformed while in prison and married the detective after she got out.  Now going by her married name of Elizabeth "Betty" Jones rather than her other alias of the "Russian" Miss Kitka, her happiness was short-lived - her husband was killed during an investigation, prompting her father-in-law Barnaby to come out of retirement as a private eye and Betty went to work for him as a secretary.

But that's another story for another Bat-time.

By that September, it appeared that Selina Kyle had not died in that chasm fall after all and she resumed her previous career as the Catwoman.  However, this was someone who had taken her form and was in fact an Egyptian goddess known as Bastet.  The goddess wanted to explore life as a mortal and chose Selina Kyle's form and her memories as a tribute to one of her favored acolytes.  (It would be an idea which the Lord of Hell, Lucifer himself, would dabble in nearly fifty years later.)

But again, another story for another Bat-Time.

Once Bastet tired of playing the mortal and relinquished her earthly body, it became apparent that once again there was a void to be filled by a new Catwoman.  And so Tina Mara decided that the time was right to make her debut in the role.  December of 1967, Tina Mara made her debut as a super-villain.

1] "THE BLOODY TOWER" (1967)
Eartha Kitt has a cameo at the end of the episode to set up her appearance as Catwoman in the next episode.

The Catwoman targets the fashion industry by first terrorizing a banquet honoring Batgirl and then attacking a fashion show. During the attack on the fashion show, Catwoman captures Batgirl and takes her back to her hideout where she threatens to kill her with a pattern cutter. She then tells Batman that if he attempts to rescue her that it will leave the visiting Queen Bess of Bellgravia vulnerable for attack. Now the Caped Crusader must find a way to save Batgirl and prevent any harm to Queen Bess. 

3] "THE OGG COUPLE" (1967)
Eartha Kitt and Cesar Romero's cameo at the end of the episode to set up their appearance as Catwoman and the Joker in the next episode. 

The Joker, just released from prison, teams up with Catwoman. They follow the clues of an ancient riddle to retrieve a nightshirt and an antique crib, which together form a map to a hidden cache of gunpowder which they plan to use for their next crime. Batman and Robin, together with Batgirl, follow their trail, little knowing that they are about to walk right into an ambush.
—Twenty Penguins

Following a tip from Batgirl, the Dynamic Trio meet up at the Grimalkin Novelty Company, hideout of the Joker and Catwoman. There, they overhear the arch-criminals' plot and secretly trail them to a stash of hidden gunpowder. A careless mistake spoils the villains' evil plan, however, and they are captured and brought before the Gotham City judge. But when the jury seems less than interested in justice, courtroom mayhem ensues.
—Twenty Penguins

When Scotty is captured by a local gangster he encounters a beautiful drug addict working for the mobster. Their attempts to escape invariably lead to recapture. And, of course, Kelly is of no help when he also joins this endless game of cat and mouse.
—David Foss

Scotty is kidnapped by drug dealers and held for the $3,000,000 in heroin he and Kelly had intercepted earlier. Ring-leader General Chu orders nightclub owner Ramon to hold straight-jacketed Scotty in Angel`s dressing room until Kelly surrenders the huge cache of heroin.

I'm sure the most O'Bservant among Team Toobworld noticed that this 'I Spy' episode aired two years earlier the episodes from 'Mission: Impossible' and 'Batman'.  But Toobworld doesn't need to adhere to broadcast timelines, only those established within the framework of Toobworld.  So "The Loser" was shown two years before it actually happened.  This is not a Zonk for Toobworld, however, just as it's not a Zonk for this little fantasy realm that 'Star Trek' takes place 400 years after we saw it.  What's two years among friends in comparison to four hundred?

Eventually, Tina Mara's crime spree as the Catwoman came to an end.  By January of 1968, Tina Mara's adrenaline fix was cut off as she and the Joker were nabbed by Batman and Robin for the last time.  But being the contortionist that she was, Tina was able to escape Gotham Prison quickly and then she fled the country. 

She wound up in Hong Kong, falling in with another criminal - a drug smuggler named Ramon Pauley (anglicized from "Pauli".)  Assuming the name "Angel" to cover her tracks, she took a job as a singer in the nightclub/gambling den which Pauley used as the base of his operation. Tina was hoping to use the role of a chanteuse as a cover for her intended resumption of her career as a cat burglar, now in Hong Kong.  However, she made a dreadful choice by sampling the drugs Pauley was dealing as a means to assuage her adrenaline addiction but soon became hooked.  International spies Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott tried to rescue her from that den, but she was too far gone and knew her life was forever ruined by drugs.

The cops were called by Kelly and Scott and they quickly invaded the place, arresting everyone - including Pauley and the warlord financing the operation, General Chu (rumored to be the son of Fu Manchu.)  Hopefully Tina "Angel" Mara got the help she needed, but she was never seen again in Toobworld......

The character played by Albert Paulsen in that 'I Spy' episode was only known as "Ramon".  It is my own theory of relateeveety that his last name should be "Pauley", making him the brother of Vincent Pauley as seen in "The Conspirators", a 'Columbo' episode.  (Also played by Paulsen)


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