Batman: TAS – S1 – Beware The Gray Ghost Review

They say you should never meet your heroes, will Batman regret meeting one of his?

Gotham has been suffering from a string of explosions as various buildings have been blown up, including the Gotham Bank. Batman investigates and finds an old, damaged note demanding one million dollars or the bank will be next (which it was) signed by The Mad Bomber. Bruce Wayne dreams of his younger days watching his favourite TV show The Gray Ghost, in this particular episode The Gray Ghost is up against The Mad Bomber (sound familiar). In his dream he recalls The Gray Ghost finding an old, damaged note from the bomber demanding one million dollars or he will blow up the bank, which he does. Bruce wakes up and puts two and two together, now if only he could remember how that episode ended.

No one seems to know how the explosives get inside the building without security or the police knowing. Bruce wonders what it has to do with The Gray Ghost TV show. No matter where he goes Bruce can’t find a copy of the show, even the studio that made it burnt down 20 years ago. Bruce visits the actors’ guild to find the whereabouts of Simon Trent the actor who played The Gray Ghost (in what must come down to genius casting Adam West is the voice of Bruce Wayne’s childhood hero).

In an apartment block a landlord is banging on the door of out of work actor Simon Trent. He owes the landlord rent but he can’t get any work as people only see his as The Gray Ghost and nothing else. His apartment is full of merchandise from the show which he sells to a toy shop owner called Ted to make some money. Simon even sells his costume from the show. Ted can’t pay him that much as there isn’t a demand for Gray Ghost merch anymore. In a near empty apartment Simon falls asleep in his chair.

The next morning when Simon wakes up he is shocked to see all his Gray Ghost merch back on his shelves and his costume hanging over a chair with a note. It asks for him to meet “a friend” at the Gotham Art School tomorrow. Simon turns up at the school but when he sees Batman he runs away. Batman easily catches up with him and asks for help with the bombing case. Batman explains the similarities between the bombings in Gotham and the bombings in the show; he asks Simon how the Bomber did it. Simon claims that he can’t remember and starts to walk away but suddenly he hears a sound which he finds familiar and then BANG the school blows up. Batman pushes Simon to safety but Simon runs off again as he is unwilling to help.

Simon returns home to find Batman there. Batman asks him about the sound he recognised, Simon goes to his closet and reveals film reels of every episode of The Gray Ghost and gives Batman the Mad Bomber episode and demands that he leaves. Batman tells Simon that he used to admire The Gray Ghost and what he stood for, Simon exclaims that he is not The Gray Ghost, Batman says he can see that now and leaves disappointed in his hero.

Bruce watches the episode (with popcorn) and he is surprised to see that the explosives where transported by radio controlled toy cars. Batman tells Commissioner Gordon to look out for RC cars at the next target for The Mad Bomber, the library.

That night outside the library the police are out in force waiting for trouble. Out of nowhere not one, not two but three RC cars (all identical to the cars on The Gray Ghost TV show) appear and charge towards the police. In a darkened room we see the shadow of someone controlling the cars. The police take out one car but two still remain and have now reached the entrance of the library. Batman runs out of the library and uses a flamethrower to blow up another. The remaining car changes direction and drives down a nearby ally. Batman runs after the car and finds that it has over turned. He picks it up to find that it was unarmed. As Batman realises it was a decoy car he see two more cars driving towards him. Trapped in the ally Batman looks lost as he has nowhere to go (I assume he left his bat grapple in another utility belt) thankfully a rope drops into view and Batman climbs to safety.

On the roof we see Batman’s saviour, The Gray Ghost. Batman shows Ghost the decoy car and he recognises it as one of the actual cars on the show. Before Batman takes the car back to his lab to check it for prints The Gray Ghost thanks him for getting his costume back. As Batman starts to climb down he stops and asks The Ghost to help him at the lab.

The Gray Ghost notes that the bat cave looks just like his own lair on the show. Batman shows him a room dedicated to The Gray Ghost and tells him that he was his hero. The bat computer has scanned the car and found finger prints on it that belong to……that belong to Simon Trent. Simon says it can’t be him as he sold his cars months ago to pay for rent. He realises who The Mad Bomber is.

We see Ted the toy shop owner hitting a control panel with a Batman toy. He turns to discover the real Batman standing behind him. Batman knows that he is The Mad Bomber; Ted explains that he needs the money so he can buy more toys. The Gray Ghost swings in and knocks Ted into some shelves, the shelves fall onto the control panel and it starts a fire (now a fire and some exploding cars do not make a good mix). Batman grabs Ted and everyone escapes Ted’s secret lair (his toy shop) just before it blows.

The newspapers report that The Gray Ghost helped save the city from The Mad Bomber and now everyone loves him again. At a signing for the new The Gray Ghost VHS release Simon in full custom signs a copy for a very big fan Bruce Wayne, Bruce thanks him and tells him that he was his hero and in fact still is. We see a sense of realization on The Gray Ghosts face (I think he knows who Batman is and I’m sure Batman’s secret is safe with him).

This was one of those rare episodes which didn’t suffer from the absence of one of Batman’s rogues. In fact it is one of the best episodes of the season. Having Adam West play the hero of Batman is one of the highlight of the entire series to me.