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Batman Bat-Probe Episode 15: Joker Goes To School
Reviewed by Geena Phillips, © 2014

Format: TV
By:   Lorenzo Semple
Genre:   Batman!
Review Date:   October 22, 2014

"Woodrow Roosevelt High School?" Is it really, tho?

As our story begins, the white cheerleading squad, the white basketball team and the incredibly white Dick Grayson are all engaging in various forms of activity in the school gymnasium (it bears mentioning at this juncture that I feel no guilt over being aroused by the sight of these cheerleaders, because there's no chance they're not WAY legal). The cheerleaders decide to take a break, and enjoy some refreshing milk from the milk vending machine conveniently located in the gym; when they insert their dimes, instead of wholesome refreshing dairy goodness, the girls instead receive a stack of silver dollars (oooooh! Does your nefariousness know no bounds, Joker?).

Naturally, this is a matter for the police, I guess . . . ? (just go with it) On the other hand, kudos to Commissioner Gordon for immediately recognizing this as the handiwork of the Joker; if I didn't already know the title of this installment, I would've totally thought it was the beginning of the Two-Face episode that we never got on this show.

Interesting. As Commissioner Gordon rises to call Batman (as one does), I see something I never noticed before: the commish has a pair of handcuffs on his belt (given what a committed desk-jockey Gordon is, there's no way this is not a sex thing).

Meanwhile, at Stately Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne is rebuffing the biannual exhortations from Gotham's business elite to run for mayor (“Oh, you don't want ME in charge of this town, buck-o. My first campaign promise would be Free Galoshes For Everyone. Why? Because the streets would run red with the blood of the guilty." j/k, you guys! His actual response was some slice of milquetoast about wanting to focus on the Wayne Foundation's charitable works. But whatevs).

Someone has struck at Woodrow Roosevelt High.” I really hope one of those books on that wall behind you is a dictionary, Commissioner Gordon; because I'm not sure you quite get what the word "struck" means (I have never in my life received silver dollars in a manner that made me feel particularly assaulted).

Batman races to police headquarters, where he reads the dossier the crack typing pool of the GCPD (hey, SOMEbody in that department has to not be an incompetent boob; it's just the law of averages) has assembled: “Joker, released from jail one week ago… Yeah, I think I found your problem, Gotham City. I'm no advocate of mandatory minimum sentencing, but as a general statement of philosophy, I would say that if you've got the Joker in custody, your best bet is probably to KEEP HIM THERE.

After a phone conversation with the wormiest high school principal in the history of film or television, the Caped Crusader speeds toward Woodrow Roosevelt High. Meanwhile, student body president Dick Grayson is holding an impromptu meeting with his fellow student leaders; it is here that I learned I will never ever again make fun of Burt Ward's performance on Batman: Compared to his peers in the scene, he's clearly the Dustin Hoffman of this show.

Wait… Batman's parking outside of a designated, marked parking space' What kind of example is he setting for the kids? They're already pretty mixed-up in the head, what with the Joker's gimmick vending machines dispensing all-but-free money ("what's the point of studying if we can just get free stuff in life?”).

So, by this time, you may have noticed only oblique references to the Joker; I haven't talked about him directly at all. Well, that's only because HE HASN'T SHOWN UP YET, almost halfway into the episode.

But I digress. “Stay back, kids. Robin's not here right now; and if any of you touch my car, you won't be either.”

"Meanwhile, at a fashionable little bistro…" a jukebox rigged up with a shotgun is holding the customers at bay while the Joker's henchmen rob the place. Marry me, Joker. I can't tell you how many times I've been in line behind someone at a jukebox, seeing the selections they're making, and wishing I had a shotgun ("I'll 'Achy Break' YOUR heart, buddy!”).

Batman gives the high school student council a quick slideshow about the malefactor who's been altering their vending machines, showing the Joker's various clever disguises (NOTE: All the "disguises" shown still involve him being a guy with chalk-white skin and green hair, so be on the lookout). Then, from behind the projection screen Batman JUST SET UP, emerges the Joker (seriously; the Joker should totally try to get on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, because that's a pretty goddamn good trick)!

Whoa! So, in Gotham City, the penalty for "Loitering on school property" is a $5,000 fine, and five years in jail? Sheesh, with a police state like that, it's no wonder the criminals in this town are all batshit crazy (pun COMPLETELY intended). I love how the Joker jailhouse-lawyers his way out of getting arrested; stick it to The Man, Mister J.!

Back at the Joker's hideout, sweet Susie shows up, fresh from her cover as a high school student. At first I thought she was the Joker's girlfriend; but I'm happy to report she wants no part of his tomfoolery, or that of his stupidly-named gang, the Bad Pennies. All Susie cares about is getting paid; GOOD GIRL. Apparently, what she stole for the Joker is a crib sheet for upcoming exams…?

Dick, honey? You're wearing the Robin costume while doing homework. Again. I'm CERTAIN that we talked about this before, sweetie; we're really starting to worry about you.

So, it turns out that Susie is doing all the heavy lifting RE: the gimmicking of the high-school vending machines. AND, she leads Batman and Robin to the booby-trapped machine that captures them. Tell me again what she even needs the Joker for in all of this.

Okay, I guess a pair of electric chairs rigged to the outcome of a slot machine IS pretty Jokerific after all. And, I have to say, this episode's deathtrap being deliberately dependent on a game of chance is a VERY comic-book touch; I love it.


p.s. You guys! Don't forget, we're still looking for a suitable code-phrase to replace the kinda-on-the-nose "It's the Bat-phone, sir." Tweet your suggestions with the hashtag #itsthebatphonesir to the RevolutionSF Twitter at @RevolutionSF Twitter, or email me at geenacanblowme@gmail.com. On Halloween, we'll select the best one to receive a Batman-related prize pack from RevolutionSF.com, also known as BLORT, the Box of Likable and Remarkable Things. #samebattimesamebatchannel

Find all the Bat-Probes at the big list that’s right here at this link.

I don’t think these henchmen are scared enough.

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