"The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom" is, like "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula," a two-part episode featuring the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The plot has Frank and Joe Hardy, their father Fenton Hardy, and Nancy Drew, all attending a detectives convention in Hollywood, right next door to Universal Studios.
Black Glove and Polaroid
Things get interesting when the detectives start to be kidnapped, one by one, by a mysterious "Phantom" who lurks in the movie studio, with the remaining detectives as the prime suspects. It's basically a combination of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" and "The Phantom of the Opera." The Phantom even wears a Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera Halloween Mask.
Look out, Nancy!
The episode is chock-full of guest stars playing themselves, including Dennis Weaver, Jaclyn Smith, and Robert Wagner. It also features Casey Kasem in a scene-chewing role as, of all things, Peter Falk's stand-in on Colombo.
"Now, we're up to our long distance dedication. And this one is about kids, and pets, and a situation we all can understand..."
The "Phantom" in this episode is great. He wears a rubber mask and a cape, and runs around giggling like a maniac. When he's not kidnapping people, he's taking Polaroid photos of them, and then slicing off the photos' heads. It's weird, creepy, and funny all at the same time.
Even better, the voice actor who does the Phantom's voice is one of the same actors who voiced the villains on Scooby Doo! If your familiar with the actors who did the voices on Scooby Doo, that will probably spoil the Phantom's identity for you. But I still thought it was kind of awesome, because this Phantom character is pretty much straight out of a Scooby cartoon anyway, and having him pursued by a group of teenage detectives (Frank, Joe, and Nancy) made it almost perfect. The only way it could have better would have been to have him say, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids!"
Frank Tackles the Phantom
Over all this was a very enjoyable episode. If they had only shoe-horned a couple of Shaun Cassidy musical numbers in there, it could have matched the giddy heights of "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula." As it was, though, it's still my second favorite episode of season 2, so far.
As always, here is our obligatory shot of The Boys rubbing their shoulders against each other.
Real Name: Abner Krill Also Known As: Polka-Dot Man
Powers / Skills: Mr. Polka-Dot is a genius inventor, who created a white jumpsuit covered in colorful polka dots. When removed from his costume, the dots transform into powerful weapons. The level of technology employed in his polka dots is so high, that it almost seems like magic, and must have cost billions of dollars to develop and create.
Weird Obsession: Mr. Polka-Dot, much like the Harvey comics character Little Dot, is obsessed with dots and spots. He uses his amazing, incredibly valuable and high-tech polka dot suit to commit dot-and-spot-related crimes, like robbing a carpet cleaning company called "Spot Service," or robbing a nightclub called "The Ink Spot." He has his secret headquarters painted with dots as well, and he peppers his speech with dot and spot puns.
First Appearance: "The Bizarre Polka Dot-Man" in Detective Comics #300
"The Bizarre Polka Dot-Man" begins with Batman and Robin wandering around on the rooftops of Gotham City when, as the narrator puts it, "they sight the first stirring of evil." The evil in this case is three shadowy figures sneaking into the "Spot Service" carpet cleaning plant via the skylight.
Batman is just straight up "Dracula Cape-ing" in that first panel! Are we sure he's not a vampire?
The Dynamic Duo burst in to find two criminals burgling the carpet cleaners' safe. These two guys are no match for Batman and Robin, but then the third criminal shows himself, and he's a weirdo in polka dot covered spandex! The weirdo introduces himself as "Mr. Polka-Dot."
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of dots and spots
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's pans and pots
First, he pulls one of the polka dots off of his suit, and it becomes a flying buzz saw that nearly decapitates Batman and Robin! Then, he pulls of another, and it becomes a flying saucer that flies the criminals to safety, along with their stolen loot! Then, as if he hasn't humiliated Batman and Robin enough, he issues them a challenge as he flies away. (Note to criminals: Please do not "challenge" Batman. This will always end up with you getting punched in the face.)
He just CHALLENGED BATMAN! Now it's on like Donkey Kong!
Mr. Polka Dot then goes on a massive dots-and-spots-related crime spree throughout Gotham City, with his polka dot gimmicks leaving Batman and Robin in the dust at every turn. The newspaper headline reads "Polka-Dot Man Drives Batman Dotty!"
Eventually, Batman and Robin have to split up, to cover different sides of the town in their patrols. This leaves Robin vulnerable, and he is kidnapped by Mr. Polka-Dot after succumbing to an extremely bizarre polka dot attack:
Robin is punched repeatedly by a swarm of flying fists.
Robin doesn't stay kidnapped for long, though. He uses braille to send a secret message to Batman (Oh, the irony! Using raised dots to trick the master of dots). Then the duo bust in on Mr. Polka Dot and his gang as he commits his latest robbery. But this time Batman figures out the perfect way to defeat Mr. Polka-Dot.
First, he shines a bright light in his eyes.
Then, he punches him in the face.
There is no problem that Batman can't solve by punching it in the face.
FUN FACTS: Did you know that Batman villain "The Penguin" was inspired by "Willie The Penguin," the mascot for Kool Cigarettes? Also, Batman villain "The Joker" was inspired by actor Conrad Veidt in the movie "The Man Who Laughs."
Gosh! I wonder what inspired the creation of "Mr. Polka-Dot?"
After his initial appearance in 1961, Mr. Polka-Dot didn't show up again until Batman: GCPD #1, in 1996. In this comic, Mr. Polka-Dot has hit an all-time low, and no longer has any of his electronic polka dots. Now just wearing a functionless polka dot suit, he attempts to rob a jewelry store with a baseball bat. During the robbery, Mr. Polka-Dot breaks a cops knee with his baseball bat. Harvey Bullock then takes the bat away from Polka-Dot and beats the crap out of him with it, putting him in the hospital. After he recovered, Mr. Polka-Dot had a couple of minor run-ins with Nightwing and Batgirl. In the miniseries Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! Mr. Polka-Dot was recruited by General Immortus, along with a variety of other criminals, and given new, upgraded powers, only to be killed off by the Human Flame.
He's also made several cameo appearances on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series.
Mr. Polka Dot in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Legends of the Dark Mite."
With his amazing costume, Mr. Polka-Dot should have been a legendary criminal. I mean, he could do practically anything with those dots. But, no matter how awesome his crime gimmicks were, no one is going to take seriously a grown man who is obsessed with polka-dots, and dresses like a loaf of Wonder Bread. He might not have had what it takes to join the elite ranks of Batman villains like The Joker, The Penguin, or Catwoman, but he easily qualifies for the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains."
BONUS! MUSIC VIDEOS:
Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates from Psycho) - Polka Dots and Moonbeams
In "Mystery of the African Safari," the Hardy Boys continue their globetrotting adventure that has so far led them from Paris, to Germany, to Transylvania, and Egypt, this time arriving in beautiful sunny Southern California... whoops, I meant Africa (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).
Hunting for Clues
While not one of the best, this was a reasonably entertaining episode. I guess I prefer the episodes with more outlandish plots , you know the ones with Draculas and UFOs and whatnot.
In the Darkroom
It was educational, however. For instance, did you know that in Kenya the only form of entertainment is watching people dance along to drums, and, no matter where you go in the country, you will see the same half dozen drummers and dancers everywhere? I didn't know it before watching this episode.
Drummers Perform at the River's Edge
Another fun thing was the casting of actor Albert Popwell as Keino. I immediately recognized Popwell as "Hey, that guy!" A quick Google search told me he starred alongside Clint Eastwood in a bunch of Dirty Harry movies, as well as a host of other shows on TV in the '70s and '80s. His most famous role was as the bank robber in Dirty Harry to whom Harry asked, "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya', punk?"
Hello Dominos? I would like a large pizza topped with ugali and sour milk. What do you mean, "do I feel lucky?"
It was also fun to see Anne Lockhart as Frank's romantic interest. I remember her mostly for her role as Lt. Sheba on Battlestar Galactica. In fact, I think I had a medium grade crush on her when I was little boy.
So, overall this wasn't the best episode, but I liked watching it. But to be honest, I think I'm looking forward to next week's episode, when they return from their world tour, back to the United States. Now if only they can wrangle up some more Draculas we'll be in business.
"Unfunky Drummer." Joe Hardy performs with the SAME drummers we see constantly in this episode, this time at a hotel restaurant's floor show.
The Hardy Boys will return next week in, "The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom." Judging by the title alone, it sounds like a good one, so I hope you'll be back to hear my thoughts! Until next time, mystery fans!
BONUS! MUSIC VIDEO:
I thought this would be a good music video for an "African Safari" episode that was obviously shot in Southern California
Make a comment in one of the four designated participation posts.
Send in a "fun size" review of a horror figure or toy.
Send in a picture of yourself with a pumpkin.
I never sent in a "fun size" review, or a picture of myself with a pumpkin, but I did comment on three of the participation threads. So I wasn't spamming the contest or anything like that, but when it came time to "draw the names out of a hat," as it were, I ended up winning two of the three prizes! Crazy, right? Yeah, CRAZY AWESOME!
Decayin' Dom. Don't get to close, I think he might be RADIOACTIVE!
The first prize was "Decayin' Dom" a figure from series 1 of S.L.U.G. Zombies. This was pretty cool, because I've always been interested in the S.L.U.G. Zombies, but somehow never pulled the trigger when it was time to pop some in the old shopping cart. So now I have my first S.L.U.G. Zombie. I just hope that it doesn't start me on a craze of collecting more S.L.U.G. Zombies, Monster in My Pockets, M.U.S.C.L.E. Men, and other similar mini figures, because I've got enough weird toys that I collect as it is! Then again, those Garbage Pail Kids MiniKins have been catching my eye lately... oh my god, it's started already!
The second prize was my favorite, this great Kenner "Legends of Batman" Catwoman figure:
This was perfect for me, because I've been wanting one of these for my Batman collection for a while now. In fact, I've come close to buying one of these on eBay a few times. Be sure and check out ThEpicReview's action figure review for this figure, to see how cool it is. The only problem for me with this toy is that the card is in such nice shape, that I don't want to open it. So I'm probably going to save this one on the card, and still look for a second figure loose to display with my other action figures.
So, thanks to "Barbecue17" from ThEpicReview for these awesome prizes!
I think I've got a new FAVORITE TOY in my toy collection. I just received NECA's 1/4 Scale Adam West Batman action figure in the mail yesterday, and it is a thing of beauty. It's 18 inches of pure Adam West, and it just looks amazing, and it's super fun to play with, too.
CRITICISMS: Is it absolutely, 100% perfect? No. I did have a couple of issues with it. I'll get those out of the way, so I can get back to talking about how awesome it is.
The biggest problem I had with it is that some of the joints are really stiff. For the most part, they got better after I worked them for a bit. It was really hard to get the double jointed elbows to move on both joints, but I kept messing with it, and now it works. This is important if you want Batman to dance the Batusi, or hold his Bat-Walkie-Talkie close to his mouth. Then there were his knees. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get his knees to bend. After a while I gave up, because I was afraid I would break them if I put any more force on them. Normally this problem can be solved by dipping the action figure in heated water for a bit, but this guy's pretty big, making that difficult. But, I'll give it a shot again, later. I'll probably get them working, eventually.
The second problem was a gray smudge on the back of his utility belt. I couldn't tell if it was gray paint that had rubbed on to the belt, or if the belt was made out of gray plastic, and some of the yellow paint had rubbed off. But it's on the back of his figure, and covered by his cape. If you're going to have a paint defect, that's the place to do it.
Those were the only problems I had with this toy.
AWESOMEISMS: Okay, now that I got the criticisms out of the way, I can get on to the awesomeisms. "Awesomeism." Is that even a word? It is now!
"Can you read me Robin? Over."
First of all, this thing is just beautiful! They've really captured Adam West's likeness, and all the little details of his costume. Both the sculpt and the paint are just about perfect.
Flapping the Bat Cape
It's got a ton of articulation, so you can pose him practically any way you can think of. NECA's figure feels solid and sturdy, like a big action figure you can play with, not something delicate like a Hot Toys doll that you're afraid you'll break if you're not gentle with it. He stands fairly well on his own, but you will probably want to get some kind of stand for him if you want to display him on a shelf, because he is fairly heavy, so if he tips over and falls, he will fall hard.
He also comes with three sets of hands in different poses, so you can make him punching his fist, throwing his batarang, or doing the Batusi.
In addition to his extra hands, he comes with a few neat accessories. He's got his Bat-Walkie-Talkie (with retractable antennae), and a batarang holster (containing a folding batarang that attaches to his belt), and a second, non-folding batarang with a rope that attaches to it.
Eat your heart out, John Travolta
I really, really love this toy. It's far and away my favorite of all the new 1966 Batman Classic TV toys to come out this year. NECA hasn't officially announced it, but they are probably going to make a Burt Ward Robin in this scale as well (they posted a photo of the prototype on twitter). I can't wait until that comes out! Until then, I guess Adam West will be making a lone vigil looking out for all of my toys when I sleep at night.
I'll have more 1966 Batman toy reviews coming in the next few weeks. While photographing this NECA Batman, I also took photos of Mattel's Joker, Surf's Up Batman, and Batusi TV Batman, as well as a die-cast version of the 1966 Batcycle. Look for all of those soon.
I just got my 1/4 scale Adam West Batman action figure by NECA today, and it is AWESOME! I've already snapped a ton of pics, and will be writing up a review of it shortly, but I wanted to share a couple of pictures of it right away. Above, there is a picture of it with Yours Truly, to get a better idea of it's scale. And yeah, that is a homemade "Gotham City" background behind me. It just didn't feel right to take pictures of this guy with a plain background, so I whipped up Gotham City out of some poster board and table cloths from the 99 cents store! It came out pretty good for something I only spent a few minutes on.
Below, is a mini comic I made using NECA's 1/4 scale Batman, and a couple of Mattel's 6 inch Batman figures. I'll be back soon, probably tomorrow morning, with a full review and set of pics.
Powers / Skills: Mr. Camera has the ability to take photographs, although the evidence suggests he is not very good at it. He sometimes shines flashbulbs or other bright lights into people's eyes to temporarily blind them
Weird Obsession: Mr. Camera is mildly obsessed with cameras and photography, but not overpoweringly so. If there is a photography exhibit, film convention, or some other camera and photography themed event in Gotham City, he will be sure to try and rob it. But if there is not, he'll be perfectly happy robbing a jewelry store or a bank.
First Appearance: "The Boy Wonder Confesses" in Batman #81
Published in 1954, "The Boy Wonder Confesses" begins with Dick Grayson revealing to his classmates that he is really Robin the Boy Wonder! At first, the kids don't believe him, but then he "proves" he is Robin, by walking a tightrope and doing some aerial gymnastics. Which doesn't really make any sense, because before Dick Grayson was orphaned, he was a trapeze artist with his family, "The Flying Graysons." So his classmates should expect him to be able to do all of that stuff anyway. The news that Grayson is Robin quickly makes the news, which is followed by reporters speculating that is Dick Grayson is Robin, then his foster parent Bruce Wayne must really be Batman!
I love those bat-shaped narration boxes. I can't help but hear the voice of William Dozier in my head when I read therm.
We are then treated to a series of flashbacks that explain just what prompted this shocking confession. It seems that Batman and Robin had been having a series of run-ins with a criminal known as "Mr. Camera," so-called because he wore a helmet shaped like a giant camera on his head. Mr. Camera committed several robberies, and escaped from the Dynamic Duo each time.
Batman anticipated that Mr. Camera would attempt to steal a new 3-D camera that was going to be demonstrated in a movie theater during the movie's intermission, so he arranged to have Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson in the audience. When Mr. Camera struck the theater, Bruce and Dick snuck into the alley behind the theater and changed their clothes, becoming Batman and Robin. They then attempted to capture Mr. Camera and his gang, but Mr. Camera escaped again. However, Batman and Robin then made a disturbing discovery. It turned out that Mr. Camera had a camera hidden in the alley, set-up to take pictures automatically, which may have gotten pictures of Bruce and Dick changing into Batman and Robin. Worse, Mr. Camera retrieved the film before he escaped. That film could prove to the world that Bruce Wayne is Batman, which would be very bad. Or, it could prove to the world that Bruce Wayne takes his clothes off with young boys in dark alleys. That would probably be pretty bad, too. Thus, the Caped Crusaders then have to race against time to capture the criminal before he has a chance to develop the film.
What's never explained is just why Mr. Camera had this camera hidden in the alley to begin with. Was he hoping to get a shot of a hobo peeing on the wall, or something? The world may never know.
Crime scene photos? Check. Photography equipment? Check. Giant movie projector and film reels? Check. Cuckoo clock? Check. Wait... a cuckoo clock? Who put that crazy thing there?
Wasting no time, Batman and Robin quickly track Mr. Camera to his hideout. His hideout is pretty interesting, it's full of camera and photography equipment, including a giant, 20 foot tall movie projector. It also has one wall labeled "Crime Gallery" that appears to be covered with framed crime scene photos. Mr. Camera does his best to defeat Batman, by shining an extra hot light bulb at him. Batman responds by punching him in the face. Mr. Camera is finally captured. He didn't have time to develop the film, but he did manage to hide it somewhere before he went to his hideout. So Batman and Robin are pretty much screwed. Even though Mr. Camera is going to jail, eventually he will get out, and when he does, he will develop the film and discover exactly what it is that Batman and Robin do in dark alleys.
Batman and Robin then spent the next nine months searching for that film, without any success. Then, Batman receives a letter from jail, written by Mr. Camera! "Dear Batman," it read. "A friend of mine gets out next month. I told him where to find the film. He knows what to do with it! So long, chump!" Signed, "Mr. Camera." The heat is on, now! Batman comes up with a bizarre plan. He will intentionally have Dick Grayson reveal to the world that he is Robin, which will convince everyone that Bruce Wayne is Batman! He will then DISPROVE that Bruce is Batman! By doing this, he believes that no one will believe Mr. Camera's photographic evidence when it is revealed in one month. Does that even make sense? No, not really, but let's see the whole plan before we decide for sure.
Step 1: Bruce Wayne will be wandering around on the streets, being hounded by reporters who think he is Batman.
Step 2: Robin will be seen standing on a nearby rooftop, when the Batplane lands on the roof of a tall building near Bruce Wayne. This will prove to the reporters that Robin is not flying the plane. WHAT THE REPORTERS DON'T KNOW: Robin is piloting the plane, using a remote control!
Don't do it, Robin!
Step 3. Batman will be seen on the top of the building that the plane landed on. Bruce Wayne then has a conversation with Batman, using a bullhorn that he just happened to be carrying. WHAT THE REPORTERS DON'T KNOW: "Batman" is really a snowman that Bruce dressed up in a Batman costume, and Batman's voice is really Bruce Wayne using ventriloquism!
Step 4: The plane flies away, and the reporters go to the rooftop, to make sure "Batman" was not really a dummy with a phonograph recording of Batman's voice. They find no evidence of a dummy with a phonograph inside it, which apparently proves that Bruce Wayne is not Batman! WHAT THE REPORTERS DON'T KNOW: The snowman had a small termite explosive inside it set to a timer, which melted it away! Plus, it was wearing a "self-disintegrating" Batman costume, which is the real reason no evidence was left behind!
Step 5: Tell the reporters that Robin and Dick Grayson teamed up on a hoax that Dick Grayson was Robin, in order for Dick to impress a girl.
Step 6:PROBLEM SOLVED. The next day, the newspaper reads, "Once again, Bruce Wayne proves conclusively he is not Batman." So when the photographs are released of Bruce and Dick in the alley, no one will believe them, because Bruce just proved he was not Batman a month earlier. Now it make sense, right? Right?
Investigative journalism is not what it used to be.
In the final twist to the story, Robin finally recovers and develops Mr. Camera's film, only to find out it was badly underexposed, and the figures in the picture could not even be made out. Because apparently Mr. Camera's love of photography didn't extend to him actually being any good at it! Come to think of it, we never did get an "origin" story for Mr. Camera, maybe his sub-par photography is at the root of his obsession. As a boy, Mr. Camera desperately wanted to be a famous photographer, but he was just terrible at it. Eventually, this triggered a full-blown mental-break, and he started wearing a camera on his head.
It seems like most Batman villains are only in jail or prison for a few days or weeks before they escape and start committing crimes again. Gotham city must have the worst guarded penal system in the USA. But I guess even a poorly guarded prison is enough for a criminal whose only skill is wearing a giant camera on his head, because that was the last anyone saw from Mr. Camera for nearly 60 years.
One of Mr. Camera's cameo appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
He reemerged in 2010 for a couple of cameos on the cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and finally returned to comic books in issue 14 of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book. In "Captured by Mr. Camera," The Huntress is being stalked by Mr. Camera. In this story, Mr. Camera has upgraded his camera helmet for the 21st century, and can now use it to see the signal from any digital camera anywhere in the world. Traffic cams, cell phones, webcams, department store security cameras, etc..., they are all at his disposal. Worse, he has become obsessed with the Huntress, and has used his camera mastery to find out her secret identity of Helena Bertinelli. He attacks her in her office at Gotham University using a hypnotic flash bulb to temporarily paralyze her. He then gets down on his knees and asks her to marry him. Then Batman crashes through the window and beats the crap out of him.
Mr. Camera's helmet is smashed and broken, but he tries to use it anyway. The helmet misfires, and the video feed from every camera in the world beams directly into his brain. The information overload causes Mr. Camera to go insane. The final panels show a straight-jacketed Mr. Camera talking to himself in his cell in Arkham Asylum. His dialogue? "I... spy... I spy with... my little eye... someone... named... WAYNE." This is a great ending, setting up Mr. Camera to be a much more formidable opponent in the future. Or at least it would have, if the Brave and the Bold comic had not been cancelled. And I for one, am not looking forward to Mr. Camera being introduced into the New 52. With his camera obsession, and the New 52's need to make all of their villains "edgy" and "extreme," they'll probably turn him into a child pornographer or something. No thanks, I'll pass on that.
Even though he only made one appearance in regular Batman comics continuity (Batman: The Brave and the Bold stuff basically exists in it's own, separate universe), Mr. Camera made a big impression. It's pretty hard to forget a guy with a giant camera on his head. The fact that he wasn't particularly good at what he did, and his only "weapons" were flashbulbs, makes him even more of an oddball treat. Thus, Mr. Camera easily joins the wacky ranks of "Batman's Weirdest Villains."
BONUS! MUSIC VIDEOS:
Spoon - I Turn My Camera On
A Flock Of Seagulls - Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)