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When I was a child, I watched the 1960's Batman TV series every chance I got. One of the episodes came to mind this morning when I was trying to explain why the Secret Sisters gift exchange was a scam. Someone is trying to scam the town by proposing a pyramid scam (invest a little money now, multiple people pay you down the line as they invest) and he mathematically proved that the only people it would profit were the people who started it.

The only concrete image I have in my head is Batman (Adam West) standing in front of a room of people and using a pointer on a piece of poster board on an easel with an image of the pyramid and showing the math that every new person would need to bring in a ludicrously large number of other people in for the scheme to work.

Which episode was that?

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    Which series? Adam West Batman? – Jason Baker Nov 18 '16 at 17:44
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    @JasonBaker: Yes. Adam West. :) I wasn't certain how exactly to indicate that, but I supposed I could always say "Adam West" or "Live Action" or "incredibly campy" – FuzzyBoots Nov 18 '16 at 18:23
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    If it was a pyramid scheme, shouldn't the villain have been King Tut? – Spencer Nov 19 '16 at 18:59
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    This site appears to list all the scripts for every Batman episode from the series in question. springfieldspringfield.co.uk/… - I searched every script for the word "pyramid" and, as Spencer said, the only results were generally in King Tut scripts and there seemed to be no relation to pyramid or ponzi schemes (I did not search for other potential keywords such as ponzi, scheme, etc...) but maybe you can have better luck – NKCampbell Mar 3 '17 at 14:52
12
+100

There was an episode of Dragnet in which Sgt. Joe Friday gives a presentation in court using pointer and easel to make the case that the defendant knew she was scamming people out of their money using a pyramid scheme.

Pyramid scheme chart

The clincher to the argument was the observation that in order to deliver on her promises of wealth, a follower of this revival leader's group would need to induct the entire population of the United States into the scheme.

This was episode 12 of season 10, titled "The Pyramid Swindle." It would be easy to misremember one famous deadpan lawman as another!

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    As indicated in the comments above, I have viewed the episode and I am convinced it is the one I'm remembering. – FuzzyBoots May 9 at 16:49
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    nice find! Well done - some of the revival episodes of Dragnet were lit in such a way that were very similar to both Star Trek and Batman of the same era: bright primary color gel spots, etc...I can understand how it might get conflated – NKCampbell May 9 at 17:35
5
+25

I think the episode you're referring to is Batman's Waterloo

Here is a description of the plot as given by IMDB

Though Batman escapes his watery trap, Robin is left in the hands of King Tut. The deluded villain still believes that Lisa Carson is really Queen Cleopatra, and calls Lisa's father to demand a ransom of $8,300,487.12, the mortgage on the Pyramids. Using the Jolly Jackson radio show to communicate, Tut negotiates the terms of payment with Batman. However, the villain most likely intends to keep both the money and Lisa, and has further plans to fry the Caped Crusaders in his royal boiling oil. - Written by Twenty Penguins

EDIT

I found another episode that kind of fits your description, but it has no mentions of Pyramids.

It's the The Puzzles are Coming episode.

The Puzzler, a villain with a fondness for both Shakespeare and aviation, indicates he is after the fortunes of Artemus Knab. He convinces the billionaire to invest in his puzzle balloon business, but when the Dynamic Duo find that Knab seems too intelligent to fall for a phony scheme, they look deeper for the criminal's true intentions. Their search leads them to Knab's airplane monopoly, but unknown to them, the Puzzler has plans to halt their investigation - permanently. - Written by Twenty Penguins

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    I've read through the summaries of each and there's still nothing matching what I'm looking for. There's no money scam involving the populace in either episode, and the scene I remember clearly, of Batman explaining it to the people involved and pointing out the mathematical impossibility is not there. I do appreciate your efforts. – FuzzyBoots Mar 7 '17 at 13:43
  • I can think of two episodes which come close. The John Astin Riiddler episode features Bruce helping Dick with the old "cut a pie to get the most pieces" problem, and it features a bit of increasing number math. Also I seem to recall a discussion of the "One penny, doubled daily" problem - the baddie wants that as payment, and Batman points out that it'll be millions in under a month. – VBartilucci Mar 7 '17 at 15:22
  • @VBartilucci: Hmm... maybe I'm misremembering the latter one? – FuzzyBoots Mar 7 '17 at 21:22
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    @FuzzyBoots Sorry, thought these two were the ones. Unfortunately, I can't find any other episodes, or the ones that VBartilucci was mentioning :( However, I hope you can find the episode, as I know what it feels like to have an image of the episode in your head and wanting to watch it again. Good luck! :) – G_as_in_Gnome Mar 8 '17 at 4:43

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