When I was a very young, I grew up in front of the television. Not because my parents insisted on it, but because I was a bonafide TV addict. Growing up, I knew two things about television. One was that Adam West’s “Batman” was a great series, and that “Green Hornet” was the much more sophisticated and entertaining counterpart that was disgustingly underrated.
I didn’t grow up with either series since I was born in 1983, but back when local networks played classic programming during the day, “Batman” was a surefire choice of entertainment after school for many years. “Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!” always kept me coming back to see how Batman or Robin would get out of a jam. During that time, I fondly recall watching “Green Hornet” on VHS and found it to be much more entertaining and exciting.
Plus the costumes and equipment were much cooler. Would you rather have a Robin or a Kato by your side? Bruce Lee was always kind of a God in my movie loving family, and Lee was the silent but loyal sidekick to the Green Hornet. With his throwing darts and lightning quick martial arts prowess, no one would mess with Kato. So it seemed like a no brainer that they would eventually meet up to fight crime.
Whether you love or hate either series, the writers follow the formula of traditional comic book crossovers well. Superheroes are investigating the same villain, they cross paths, fight for a while, and eventually team up finding common ground. The two parter of “A Piece of the Action,” and “Batman’s Satisfaction” begins with Green Hornet and Kato investigating the factory of the goofy villain Colonel Gumm.
They infiltrate the factory, and bash on the criminals in an effort to find out their operations. Gumm’s boss Pinkie Pinkston decides to retaliate by simply calling Commissioner Gordon and reporting the breaking and entering. Thus, completely oblivious to one another, Batman and Robin hunt for the two men they think are criminals, while Green Hornet and Kato intend to keep the dynamic duo from messing up their operation. The situation becomes even more confusing when Hornet and Kato pretend to be interested in helping Gumm in his operation as Batman and Robin watch from a window, convinced they’re criminals that have to be stopped.
Thankfully Van Williams and Bruce Lee appear in full regalia as their characters, and the writers build a fine rivalry. Britt Reid is a playboy who has a healthy competition streak with Bruce Wayne, and though they’re unaware of their alter egos, Reid and Wayne have known one another since childhood. It’s a shame the villain Colonel Gumm is completely cut out of the cloth we find in the Batman series.
Colonel Gumm has an odd obsession with stamps and alphabet soup, and is intent on printing counterfeit stamps. The cliffhanger ends with Green Hornet and Kato being printed in to life size stamps. The hows and whys don’t matter, it’s the absurdity of the situation that’s entertaining. And Gumm leaves behind a riddle for Batman to decode with alphabet noodles, which Batman collects with his trusty Bat Thermos! Man, he’s ready for literally anything, isn’t he?
The team up is what matters in the end, and the writers thankfully don’t let the viewers down. Britt Reid and Bruce Wayne begin investigating the stamp fraud in their plain clothes, and even compete for the affections of Pinky Pinkston (the gorgeous Diane McBain). Fans of both series wanted a team up, but there was always the “versus” angle, as well. Surely they’re good superheroes, but we always wondered who’d win in a showdown. Surely, Kato would murder Robin without scuffing his shoes, but Batman and Green Hornet seemed very evenly matched.
The pair of crime fighters eventually go toe to toe during the art exhibit Gumm throws, prompting the superheroes to battle Gumm’s henchmen while batting at one another. It’s still a rousing and exciting crossover to watch, especially when it’s obvious to just about anyone that Bruce Lee is feigning weakness to present the illusion that he and Robin are evenly matched in combat, and the writers don’t let the fans down. The fight is still very entertaining, and four really unique and exciting superheroes eventually joining forces is a highlight, especially when they’re kept rivals until the end.
Green Hornet and Kato flee from the scene still gritty vigilantes, while Batman and Robin remain the allies of Commissioner Gordon. It’s just how we liked it, too. “The Green Hornet” was always the superior series to me, but the crossover simply doesn’t fail to deliver on a showdown that fans wanted for a long time. I hope we can see Green Hornet garner a resurgence soon much like Batman has. The characters are too amazing to fade out in to obscurity.