Entrancing Dr Cassandra

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Entrancing Dr Cassandra, The (1968)
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Yvonne Craig, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp, Madge Blake, Alan Napier as Alfred.
Guest Villains:  Ida Lupino as Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft & Howard Duff as Cabala
Screenplay: Stanley Ralph Ross
Director:  Sam Strangis
Originally aired:  March 7, 1968

 

This 3rd Season single episode of the iconic 1960s iconic Batman show entitled The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra presents a truly hair-raising and insanely outrageous doomsday scenario.  One that involves releasing not one or two but all the Arch Criminals (Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Egg-Head, King Tut and Catwoman) from incarceration and forming a syndicate of criminals to rule over Gotham City with an iron hand with the world to follow suit!  And the genius to devise this hellish scenario is a little-known nurse hailing from a family of failed alchemists and inventors who has of late, developed delusions of her own; very dangerous ones.

Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft, played with delicious deadpan seriousness and classic old school villainy by Ida Lupino, is the mastermind behind this scheme.  She demonstrates to her dim-witted Hippie Husband, who obviously did way too many drugs back in the day, how her scheme will be set in motion after many of her predecessors had failed.  With her alchemy skills honed to an art, the evil Dr. Cassandra has manufactured pills that render the user invisible and she has put their effectiveness to test by robbing a string of Banks before heading off to Spiffany’s Jewellery Salon on Gotham City’s fashionable 5th Avenue.  Spiffany’s of course is home to the world-famous Mope Diamond. Spiffany’s is such an elite shop that they don’t even allow browsing!  As the shop attendant G. David Schine informs them “One either buys or one leaves”.  Dr. Cassandra is a 60s Haight Ashbury rebel, least bothered about the elite ways of high society.

Commissioner Gordon and Police Chief O’Hara are totally flummoxed (not for the first time) as they receive reports from the looted banks of “26 eye-witnesses who didn’t see a thing”.  After many years together, they can almost read each other’s minds and they waste little time in heading once again (shamelessly) to the clear tea cozy which is home to the direct line to the Bat cave.  To their horror, an unseen force stops them from reaching the phone, pulling them back forcibly and plonking them back into their seats.

Moments later a message is delivered to Batman challenging him to stop Dr. Cassandra from simply pilfering the Mope Diamond in broad daylight.  Indeed, Batman and Robin arrive just as Dr. Cassandra and Cabala are about to swallow their invisible pills and make a move for the Diamond.  Poor quivering shop assistant G. David Schine (playing himself is a former assistant to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the infamous McCarthy Era) is immensely relieved as Batman arrives at the scene to apprehend Cassandra and Cabala and put an end to their dastardly shenanigans.

This is when Dr. Cassandra pulls out her trump card, the Deadly Alvino Ray Gun, another of her most ghastly inventions.  Batman taunts her about turning to guns but Cassandra warns him that this is no ordinary gun.  Batgirl tries to throw the very Hip Dr. Cassandra a line saying “I’ve got your number” but Dr. Cassandra clearly isn’t into swinging both ways and rejects her coldly “other women’s numbers don’t interest me Batgirl” as she whips out her Alvino Ray Gun and lets it rip.  Soon deadly waves of wild vibrations are hitting Batman, Robin and Batgirl, revving their third dimension, altering their molecular cells and rendering them as two-dimensional living cardboard figures.  Batgirl feels her boobs being compressed “I feel like I’m getting flat” as she vibrates uncontrollably to the deadly vibrations.  “What a pity” responds Cabala as he watches them become “flat as flounders”.

Moments later Batman, Robin and Batgirl are placed in an envelope and mailed to Commissioner Gordon’s office.  When the packages are opened The Commissioner and Chief O’Hara are devastated but then O’Hara says he can feel their hearts beating!  They have no one to turn to now as The Dynamic Duo and Batgirl are presently in cardboard form standing there motionless in the office.  When times are desperate you always turn to the Bat-Cave Hotline and that is exactly what they do.

A highly alarmed and yet supremely composed Alfred collects the flat living mannequins and passes them through the 3 Dimensional Bat-Restorer and hopes for the best.  As the flat boards pass through the machine there is immense suspense and tension in the wait to see if our heroes can be un-flattened and restored to normality again.

Batman is frazzled at the Bat-cave as they race to catch up with Dr. Cassandra’s dangerous situation.  When Batgirl remarks about this and that in her excitement at being in the Bat-cave, Batman puts her down in her place reminding her of her lowly position within the pecking order of their group.  With Gotham City at stake Batman has no time for coy pleasantries with Batgirl.  Maybe another time.  He also is not overjoyed to find Robin having strange thoughts delivering his classic line about “the first oncoming thrust of manhood”.  Classic Batman.

While this drama unfolds there is another deadly drama taking place at the City Jail where Dr. Cassandra and Cabala have dropped in on the Prison Warden Crichton and let their demands be known quite clearly.  Poor Crichton is unable to resist as Cassandra and Cabala once again swallow their invisible pills.  One by one all the arch criminals are released and later they have a summit meet presided over by Dr. Cassandra who explains to them how the plan is going to put to work.  All she wants is a large cut of the loot but other than that she will not interfere in any criminal activity and will continue to keep them in business by supplying them with the invisible pills which only she has access to.

Grudgingly the criminals agree to having Dr. Cassandra as leader.   However, what the Dr. didn’t expect was for a rejuvenated Batman and robin to return and worse because when the Dr. and Cabala and the super criminals pop their pills, they don’t appear to have quite the same effect.  There is still time for Dr. Cassandra to pull out her Alvino Ray Gun and save the day for Evil against Good.  She does precisely that and once again Batman must respond as only he can.  Will it be enough or will Dr. Cassandra take over as Queen of Gotham City?  All is revealed in a nail biting and surreal fight where the invisible pills do actually work but only by camouflaging the figures into the background.  Batman of course has discovered that and Robin and Batgirl are similarly ready to fight the unseen enemy.

Most people reckon that the Batman series was losing a little of its fizz by the time the third season came about.  Perhaps ratings were quite as high as they were in the first and second seasons but there are more than enough gems contained in Season 3 for the true Bat-fan to be more than satisfied including some of the most wacky and off-center story lines of all.  This episode has Ida Lupino, massive star of the 40s and 50s chewing up the scenery and stealing the show as the Entrancing Dr. Cassandra.  Kitted in the trendies Haight Ashbury threads with a Fish handbag that is the pinnacle of high fashion and a chic matching orange felt hat with purple lining – her signature colours.

The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra episode was one of the only times that the writers work got censored.  He had to change the name of his Ronald Ray-Gun to the less controversial Alvino Ray-Gun.  Ronnie was Governor of California at the time, making his unfortunate presence felt.