Episode Title: True or False Face
Original Airdate: March 9, 1966
When the Riddler first appeared in the 1966 Batman series he had only appeared in a few issues of the comics. He went on to become one of the most iconic Batman villains. Not every villain had such good fortune, however. The villain known as False-Face first appeared in a Batman comic book in February of 1958. That was it! One and done. Eight years later he got his shot on the television series, once again for only one story. Here is the first of his two-part appearance…True or False Face.
As our story begins False-Face and his chief lieutenant, Blaze (Myrna Fahey) manage to steal the jeweled Megenberg Crown and replace it with a fake literally right under the nose of Chief O’Hara. Of course, Batman and Robin are called in. As our heroes meet with Commissioner Gordon, a messenger arrives with a note from “F.F.” It reads: “I intend to give money to a defenseless little girl.” Since false face often speaks in opposites, the Caped Crusaders determine that the “girl” is actually a boy, or “lad.” “Little” would actually be big…and “defenseless” would be armored. Of course…False-Face plans to strike the Ladd Armored Car Company! But not only that, Batman soon realizes that the elderly messenger is actually the lovely Blaze in one of False-Face’s disguises. She manages to escape, though, in a spectacular dive out the window.
Our heroes soon learn that one of the Ladd armored trucks in running late for a pickup at the Gotham City National Bank. When the heroes arrive at the bank they find the truck out front, but they quickly realize False-Face is posing as one of the guards. You see only a criminal would disguise himself as a licensed bonded guard yet callously park in front of a fire hydrant. A chase ensues and False-Face even poses as an old lady crossing the street to lay a trap for the batmobile. After a fight, though, the police show up and False-Face manages to disguise himself as none other than Chief O’Hara.
Later, Batman realizes that the note he received earlier was printed on the same kind of paper used to print money. False-Face must be planning a counterfeiting scheme. When they investigate the factory where the money is made, they capture Blaze who is trying to steal more paper. Our heroes interrogate her, with Chief O’Hara (really False-Face) present. She offers to lead them to False-Face, taking them to an out-of-service subway station. There she hits them with some knock-out gas. Next thing we know, False-Face has the Dynamic Duo glued to the subway tracks with a train fast approaching. Cue the cliffhanger…
Bashed by the BMT
Will the Dynamic Duo dice with death – and descend to defeat?
Can Batman and Robin break the unbreakable,
slip out of the chemical clutches,
escape the epoxy?
Keep your batwings crossed until tomorrow –
Same time – same channel – same perilous predicament!
This is truly a wild episode with so much going on. I admit, at first I wasn’t that keen on the False-Face character. It seemed a bit too gimmicky. First, the episode keeps it a mystery who our guest villain is played by. The credits just say “Guest Villain – ?” We do know who played the part, but like the show I’m not going to reveal the actor until next time. Beyond that, when he’s not taking on some other identity, False-Face is portrayed as a guy in a creepy plastic mask. We never see his actual face. At first it seems a bit goofy. But as the episode continues, the writers make great use of the fact that this villain can quickly change his appearance. This is played for laughs at times, like when he does the little old lady bit, and at other times it’s quite sinister, like when he takes O’Hara’s place.
False-Face has many other great tricks up his sleeve, as well. In the opening scene he has a mask that doubles as an explosive device and Blaze aids in their escape by discarding a red cape that inflates and blocks the door so the police can’t chase them. He’s also able to place a giant airbag outside of police headquarters so that Blaze can make her high diving escape from Gordon’s office. He’s also got a candy machine that sprays knock-out gas…perhaps he borrowed this trick vending machine from the supply the Joker had in our last few episodes.
I’ve also got to say that I really admire False-Face’s choice of a first lieutenant. Blaze is a crafty villain in her own right. At times it even seems like she’s the real brains of the operation. Her leap out the window is one of the most exciting moments of the series so far. However, our cliffhanger has given a hint that she doesn’t want our heroes to die and may even be sweet on Batman. Is it possible she may switch sides? I guess we’ll see how that turns out next time in Holy Rat Race. Next week…same bat time, same bat channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Bouncing Boiler-plated Fits