I kind of get the feeling that the script for this episode was written without any idea who would be cast as the Minstrel. It’s not just Aunt Harriet seeing him on TV and reacting to him like he’s a member of One Direction. When he shows up incognito at the Stock Exchange and Batman confronts him, one fellow exclaims “This nice young man?!” Van Johnson was fifty years old when this was filmed!
I wondered why I either didn’t remember this episode, or misremembered it as less than excellent. I suppose I must have dismissed it as too talky when I saw it as a child and never reevaluated it. Certainly when I would catch episodes of this show in my twenties, I’d be much more likely to pay attention if Julie Newmar or Frank Gorshin was in it, but this truly is an excellent story, and Johnson is great as a villain who is almost smarter than our hero. It is a huge shame that he never returned.
But speaking of dismissing this as too talky, Daniel was totally uninterested in this one. As befits a more cerebral and deliberately-paced adventure, the Minstrel was absent from more of the action than usual, our heroes unsure how to stop him. This leads to an amazing scene where Gordon and O’Hara actually argue about whether they can trust Batman and Robin. Wow. Those actors must have asked the producers for something new to do.
But Daniel rolled around and talked a lot and asked what was happening, and to be fair, there really are a lot of men in business suits arguing in this one. He probably won’t remember this when there are so many fun episodes with the Joker and the Penguin, and, should he ever care about this show into adulthood, conclude that this must be a turkey. That’s what I did, and I was wrong. It’s one of the best stories of the series.