One thing’s for sure when it comes to this classic Batman series, no matter how many times the Caped Crusades put the Joker away it won’t be long until the Clown Prince of Crime breaks out and strikes again. This time Batman’s arch nemesis begins a series of crimes that seem as ridiculous as the villain himself. Cesar Romero returns as the Joker, moustache and all, in today’s episode The Joker Trumps an Ace.
Our episode begins with the Joker and his men terrorizing a group of wealthy patrons at a fur shop. And for what? To steal one measly hair pin. Having already received a report that Joker has stolen a hole from a golf course, Gordon and O’Hara figure a new wave of crime is in the works. They dial the emergency phone, interrupting Bruce and Dick’s efforts to put a puzzle together upside down (it’s excellent training for Dick’s visual memory). As they arrive at the Commissioner’s office, the heros find a package that contains a bizarre inflatable jack-in-the-box, as well as a recording. They soon realize that the Joker plans to steal the jewel-encrusted gold golf clubs of the Maharajah of Nimpah, who is visiting Gotham.
Our heroes show up at the golf course as the Maharajah is playing a round with the mayor. When the visiting ruler sinks a putt, knock-out gas streams out of the hole. Then the Joker’s men sneak in to grab the clubs…and the Maharajah. A chase ensues with the Batmobile pursuing the Joker’s van (disguised as a laundry truck). But suddenly, the van seems to vanish from the golf course. Batman then finds a small toy version of the van left in its place. Inside the toy van is a note that leads the heroes to where the Joker’s lair may be.
When Batman and Robin arrive at the old warehouse, they spy the Joker and his gang seated around a table. But when they throw their bat-a-rangs, they bounce back. It’s a trick using mirrors…which is also how the van seemed to disappear. After a fight scene, the Dynamic Duo are captured and sealed in a smokestack which is slowly filling with gas. It’s too tight for our heroes to use their bat ropes, and the Joker has neutralized the other items in their utility belts. Cue the cliffhanger narration.
But help from where?!!
Not the Joker, certainly!
And no one else know where they are!
Is this the Joker’s crowning jest?
Find out tomorrow night –
Same time, same channel!
But be prepared —
No help is likely to come!
This episode is a bit uneven, but does have some fun moments. We get the heist at the beginning in the fur shop. This scene has some funny moments as Gotham’s society types deal with being robbed by a clown. Joker also has a nice entrance in the scene, wearing a mysterious hat and cape, covering his face a bit like the Shadow. He then ties up all the rich folks using streamers and uses a big horseshoe shaped magnet to snatch the hairpin. Then we get the Arabian style jack-in-the-box, which is kind of a goofy scene. I mean, we have Robin, Gordon, and O’Hara ducking behind the Bat Shield as Batman surgically tries to open the box, complete with a stethoscope. The highlight though is the high-speed chase through the golf course. The Caped Crusaders even take care not to use the emergency reverse lever because the retro rockets might burn part of the course, thus ruining the golfing experience for years to come.
Ultimately, though, much of this episode feels like setup for stuff that will hopefully pay off in the next episode. The purpose behind the theft of the hairpin, the first scene of the episode, is not revealed. Likewise, we don’t know why the Joker decided he needed to kidnap the Maharajah. Right now his crimes seem totally random, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…I just hope it all pays off in the next episode.
We do still get a solid performance from Romero as the Joker, once again. It’s maybe not quite as maniacal a take on the character as he’s given previously, but still excellent. He even gets a moment where he kinda sorta sings a song in this one. However, Joker’s gang is somewhat lacking in personality this time. He’s got half a dozen henchmen this time, not counting his fur-loving moll Jill, but they don’t have thematic names or outfits like we often see out of the henchmen.
Hopefully all the question marks left by this episode will be worked out in our next episode. Join us next time for part II…Batman Sets the Pace. Same Bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Holy Taj Mahal
Hoy Tee Shot
Holy Spider Webs
Holy Looking Glass