When we last left Gotham City, Robin had been tied to the clapper of a giant bell inside the Wayne Memorial Clock Tower by the sinister Bookworm. Things seem hopeless since Batman is headed off to find the villain in the opposite direction! Let’s see what happens in part two of our story, While Gotham City Burns.
As we begin, we see Batman meet up with Chief O’Hara who reveals that there is no sign of Bookworm at the location where Batman thought he would be found. Furthermore, Robin has also vanished from the alley where Batman left him. Batman then goes into a strange trance-like state to try and “fathom the subconscious of a deadly criminal.” He recalls that Miss Limpett said something about “he strikes at midnight.” Of course…a clock! Batman and O’Hara take off in the Batmobile and head for the clocktower. The clock is just about to strike as they arrive. They use the Batzooka to attach two conductive lines from the clock to the nuclear power source in the Batmobile. This gives both the clock and the clapper a positive charge, causing them to repel each other. Thus, Robin is not clanged to death. This is perhaps the most convoluted resolution to the cliffhanger we’ve seen yet.
The Bookworm is frustrated, but he launches the next part of his plan. Posing as a man from the Gotham Bookmobile, Bookworm comes to Wayne Manor. He gasses Aunt Harriet and Alfred and then steals a priceless first edition cookbook while our heroes remain unaware down in the Batcave. Shortly afterward, a giant cookbook appears in the middle of a Gotham City street. The heroes open up the book and go in to investigate. The cover then closes behind them, trapping them inside. Bookworm then turns the heat up, turning the book into a giant pressure cooker. Meanwhile, Bookworm steals the Batmobile. The police struggle to get our heroes out. Gordon even suggests getting the best safecracker, The Riddler, out of prison to break the book open. However, Batman manages to communicate with Alfred who uses the Batcave computers to locate a manhole beneath the book which our heroes can escape through.
Meanwhile, Bookworm is attempting break into the library to steal some valuable books using the Batbeam from the Batmobile. But when they blast open the wall of library, Batman and Robin jump out…having already deduced Bookworm’s plan. A fight with the henchmen ensues and in the end all the baddies are hauled off to prison.
This episode is not as strong as the previous one, but it still manages to be fun. Roddy McDowall is still a real treat as Bookworm. He explodes into a rage, throwing papers all over his hideout, when his plan to bump off Robin fails at the beginning of the episode. I also love the way he sees himself as so much smarter than everyone else. This even extends to the epilogue of this story where Bruce Wayne shows up Bookworm with his knowledge of Don Quixote. Bookworm indignantly says, “This fellow, he’s almost as obnoxious as Batman.” As he’s hauled off he keeps looking back over his shoulder as if he’s slowly beginning to figure out that Bruce and Batman are one and the same. It’s a nice little touch.
I didn’t care for the fact that the resolution of the cliffhanger in this episode is very drawn out compared to many of the other episodes. It’s over seven minutes into the episode before Robin is saved. That’s nearly one third of the episode. This part of the story actually loses some of its impact when we get a much better cliffhanger scenario later in the episode…being trapped in a giant cookbook. This element of the story is just plain weird, not to mention more dangerous feeling than being tied to a giant bell. I was also a bit confused by the element of the story where Bookworm steals a cookbook from Wayne Manor. There’s ultimately no payoff with this plot point, so it just doesn’t quite fit.
So, while this episode is entertaining enough, it does have the same level of lunacy that the first part of the story had. We’ll most likely get some lunacy next time, though, as Frank Gorshin returns for his last season one appearance as the Riddler in our next episode Death in Slow Motion. Join us, same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
HIgh Energy Radar
Super-Powered Bat Magnet
Automatic Feedback Circuit
Holy Stew Pot
Holy Pressure Cooker