Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Green Hornet: "Give 'Em Enough Rope" (September 16, 1966)

In “Give ‘Em Enough Rope,” the second episode of The Green Hornet (1966 – 1967), the hero becomes embroiled in an insurance scam. 

Worse, the Daily Sentinel -- Britt’s paper -- gets sued for failing to use the word “alleged” when describing a criminal involved in the scam. This means that a lovely lawyer with an eye for Reid, Claudia (Diana Hyland) will be spending time interviewing him.

But it also means that she could become a target for the scammers…

The Green Hornet, a serious superhero series, often works overtime to earn the descriptor “realistic.” 

You can see that in stories such as the sophomore entry, “Give ‘Em Enough Rope.” Here, an underworld insurance scam is the rather non-glamorous topic, and the clues that the Green Hornet follows actually make sense. That was rarely the case on Batman, a pseudo-comedy in which the Bat Computer and Batman made wild leaps in logic to follow the trails of evil criminals.

On top of that, important events that occur have real life repercussions. A mistake in the world of journalism, for instance, results in litigation against Reid’s newspaper.

This is also the second episode in a row in which Mike Axford (Lloyd Gough), a reporter for that paper, gets beat up by thugs. He’s in a dangerous business, covering a dangerous beat, and it’s intriguing that the Green Hornet doesn’t take overt steps to shield him from harm. Indeed, it seems like Green Hornet likes to use Mike as the point of the spear, allowing the reporter to lead him into areas of concern (and ill-repute).

As was the case in “The Silent Gun,” this episode of The Green Hornet finds the hero pretending to be a criminal for the sake of solving a case. He learns about the “accident racket” occurring in his city by claiming to want a piece of it.  “The Green Hornet doesn’t like competition,” he notes grimly. 

The episode also features a weird (if memorable) villain: a killer in a mask who swoops down on a swinging rope (hence the episode title...) to attack his victims.  Literally, he represents death from above.  And he jumps down to attack his prey in vast, dark warehouses, and from building roofs.  The night-time palette of the series, again, differentiates it from the daylight world featured on Batman.

Although Kato still doesn’t have much to do (besides pull the lever that flips the car platform and exposes the Black Beauty), we see a bit more of Britt Reid here, particularly in his guise as womanizer/playboy. Van Williams excels in these scenes because he plays them at two levels.  On one hand, he is playing the part of a callow young man.  On another level, he is squeezing Claudia for information that could be helpful to his alter ego. 

Also, by this second episode, viewers are beginning to become familiar with the trademarks of this hero's world.  He has the hidden garage in a bad part of town. From there, the Black Beauty is launched. 

We also see the D.A.’s secret entrance to the Green Hornet’s lair. It looks like a junk-laden elevator.  

Once more, these touches make the series seem much less romantic and glamorous than Batman's world in that Dozier series.

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