D: Lambert Hillyer / 17m
Cast: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carrol Naish, Shirley Patterson, William Austin, Charles Middleton, John Maxwell
Unable to exit the stricken Lockheed plane before it crashes, Batman (Wilson) instead just walks clear of the wreckage, but not before saving the mechanics who had been zombified by Dr Daka (Naish). In doing so he discovers the snazzy silver caps that Daka uses to control people, and takes one with him. When Daka is informed of the failure of his mission, there’s another setback when the submarine he’s been in contact with is blown to bits by the US Navy. Meanwhile, Linda (Patterson) tells Bruce and Dick (Croft) about an old friend of theirs, Ken Colton (Middleton). Colton has struck it big with a radium mine, and is in town to see Linda’s Uncle Martin, who helped him buy it. Daka has Linda’s home bugged and learns about Colton’s mine but not its location. Colton is attacked by Daka’s men but Batman and Robin come to the rescue. When Daka makes another attempt on Colton’s life by luring him to an abandoned factory, Alfred (Austin) poses as Colton. Batman and Robin burst in, but Robin is soon incapacitated, and Batman knocked unconscious just as toxic chemicals receiving an electrical charge bring the factory down on top of the Caped Crusader…
Though Chapter 5 is definitely the silliest entry yet, Chapter 6 tries its best to match it. That it doesn’t succeed is due to the introduction of Colton and the latest sub-plot to revolve around Daka’s pursuit of large quantities of radium. Having to spend time setting this up, and planting the suspicion that Daka may eventually start targeting Bruce Wayne, this entry certainly has its moments – and Batman walking out of the plane wreckage without a scratch on him is easily one of them. Daka’s role is affected too, with the script requiring him to do a lot of knob-twiddling, while uttering the classic line (about Bruce Wayne), “That simpering idiot could never be the Batman!” And once again Alfred is placed in danger by impersonating someone else, and doing so in such a constipated manner that he and his fake beard aren’t fooling anyone. It’s all hands on deck on the good ship USS Implausible. The script follows its by now standard pattern: Batman cheats death, Daka plots something new, Bruce and Dick find out about said plot, there are fisticuffs, and then Batman is put in harm’s way at the end of the episode.
The introduction of Middleton as Colton seems promising enough but he’s very much the latest deus ex machina for Daka’s plotting, and in some respects he’s a replacement for the returning Linda. While she manages to get through the entire chapter without being put in danger, Colton is soon incapacitated and made to rest up (though it’s not so bad that he loses consciousness, or is forgotten about). But what is really noticeable is the apparent reluctance Batman has in doing anything with the clues he’s discovered, such as Daka’s radium gun, or the snazzy silver caps of Daka’s zombified henchmen. Just when you think, “this must be the episode where Batman starts to take the fight to Daka”, the script continues to do the opposite. Frustrating as this is, the formula remains king, and though a showdown between the two is inevitable, it’s obviously not going to happen soon. And so we have another poorly choreographed scrap between Batman and Robin and Daka’s goons – actually two such scraps – and the unexpected development of the Caped Crusader having a glass jaw (he’s been knocked out before, but not so easily). But all of this at least leads to the usual question: just how is Batman going to survive this time…?
Rating: 6/10 – the stop/start nature of the serial is in evidence here as yet another sub-plot tries to get off the ground without appearing flimsy and not particularly well thought out; Chapter 6 fizzes here and there, but there are too many moments where the effort to keep Batman from feeling strained and/or under-developed leads to just such an assumption.