"The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul" (S1/E15 & 16) Author: Bill "Jett" Ramey (Follow @BATMANONFILM)
Date: February 1, 2015
SYNOPSIS PART 1: The Joker strikes at the high school level when his rigged vending machines gives out stocks, bonds, and silver dollars. It's all part of his sinister scheme to blackmail the school basketball team, but The Dynamic Duo are on the scene...only to fall into The Clown Prince's trap.
PART 2: Batman and Robin narrowly avoid Joker's electric chairs thanks to a fortuitous power failure. Robin then goes undercover as a juvenile delinquent to get the goods on Joker's gang, but the Clown Prince sees through his deception and sets a trap for The Dynamic Duo.
“The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul” was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and directed by Murray Golden. They were first broadcast on March 2nd & 3rd, 1966 on the ABC television network.
While this is my first BATMAN episode review for BOF’s ongoing series of, well, BATMAN episode reviews (as you know by now, “Team BOF” is currently reviewing all 120 episodes of the series), I’m not going to get into how I came to love the series, etc., etc. I’ve talked about that MANY times over the years, so no need to rehash that yet again. (Of course, if you want to read about my personal BATMAN story, CLICK HERE).
According to the BATMAN schedule meticulously created by longtime BOF contributor Robert Reineke, my first at bat (pun intended) has me taking a stab at reviewing episodes 15 and 16 of series, “The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, The Grisly Goul.” This eighth two-parter of BATMAN features the second appearance of Cesar Romero (and his mustache) guest-starring as Batman’s archenemy, The Joker.
Before I get into the review, let’s talk a bit about BATMAN’s version of The Joker; played marvelously by the great Cesar Romero.
When I was a kid watching this show, I always thought that The Joker wore makeup. In fact, I also thought his comic book counterpart did as well. It wasn’t until I got a little older and found a reprint of the story “The Man Behind the Red Hood” from DETECTIVE COMICS #168 (February 1951) that I realized that The Joker was, ahem, “permawhite.” However, I’m of the belief that a good chunk of the mainstream audience – i.e. people who do not read comic books – think The Joker wears makeup as well and haven’t a clue about his permawhiteness. There’s no doubt that the makeup-wearing The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) – as portrayed by the late Heath Ledger – furthered that belief in the mind of the mainstream.
So all of that begs the question: Did BATMAN’s Joker wear make-up or was he pemawhite?
In “The Joker Is Wild” (S1/E3) – which featured the first appearance of The Joker on BATMAN -- Romero’s Joker is shown pitching during a softball game while wearing prison duds. If you look closely – and it’s VERY clear now on Blu-ray – The Joker’s hands and neck are skin colored and not white. And in the episode I’m currently reviewing here – “The Joker Goes to School” – The Joker is shown wearing a regular suit in a mug shot while Batman proclaims that he’s a “master of disguise.” Based on that information, one could make a very educated inference that the Romero-Joker did indeed wear makeup.
Personally, I think the answer to the makeup/permawhite question is that the Romero-Joker is whatever you want him to be. It’s truly as ambiguous as The Joker’s “true origin” in the comic books. Now, back to the review…
Apparently, Cesar Romero was about 7 feet tall!
“The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul” marks the second appearance of The Joker (Ceser Romero) on BATMAN. In short, The Joker attempts to recruit high school dropouts to join his gang, while Batman and Robin try to spoil The Joker’s plans and save the tainted high school kids as well.
The Joker buys an old slot machine company and uses it as hideout. He jimmy-rigs school vending machines to deal out money, stocks and bonds instead of milk. The Joker also modifies juke boxes with shotguns to help him knock off local bars.
When The Dynamic Duo attempts to catch The Joker, he and his gang capture Batman and Robin instead. He straps them into electric chairs with a slot machine hooked to them to determine their fate (3 lemons = 50,000 volts of electricity). Luckily, a power failure saves Batman and Robin and they are able to escape this week’s death trap. Our heroes determine that Susie – Woodrow Roosevelt High’s head cheerleader – is actually part of The Joker’s gang. When The Joker instructs her to put test answers into the school’s rigged vending machines – as well as give her some poisoned perfume which will kill her – Batman and Robin save her with an antidote for The Joker’s poison. Thankful, Susie decides to repay Batman by helping him take down The Joker.
In the meantime, The Joker and two of henchmen – Nick and Two-Bits – go back to Roosevelt High to take a picture of the school basketball team in possession of those test answers from the rigged vending machine. He plans to use the incriminating pictures to make the team ineligible and unable to play in the big game versus Disco Tech (yes, I’m serious). As a result, The Joker would be able to cash in on the bet he previously made on Disco Tech as they would win by default.
Batman and Robin show up and announce to the crowd that the test answers were fake and actually planted by the Dynamic Duo themselves; thus, The Joker’s picture plan is foiled. Susie has to pay for her crimes and is sent to the Wayne Foundation Institute for Delinquent Girls.
The moral of the story? Slackers become criminals and criminals go to jail.
Yes, “The Joker Goes to School/He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul” is goofy and downright silly at times. But playing the goofy and silly dead serious is what makes BATMAN great. The first episodes of BATMAN are among the series’ best, and these two are no exception.
ORIGINAL AIR DATES: March 2-3, 1966
SCREENWRITER: Lorenzo Semple Jr.
DIRECTOR: Murray Golden
BAT-FIRSTS: "Universal Antidote" pills
BAT-QUOTE: Cheerleader - "Hey, Batman, where's Robin?
Batman - "Attending school, just like as you are."
Cheerleader - "What school?"
Batman - "I can't tell you that, it might reveal his secret, true identity."