The T.V. Phantom is a Zillion Dollar Adventures segment that aired on the season premiere of the fourth and final season of the Richie Rich cartoon series. It first aired 10 September 1983 on ABC. This segment featured the debut of Jackie Jokers, Richie's friend who had an interest in entertainment. The story was written by Sharman DiVono and Mark Evanier.
At the start of the segment, it appears that at a municipal ceremony, Dollar is being awarded a medal and a kiss from Fifi the poodle for doing a good deed for the city. As Irona came in, Dollar was about to kiss the poodle, but little did he know that when Irona had switched the TV channel, Dollar had been daydreaming. Dollar argued about turning the show back on, but Irona refused to change the channel back. Richie came in, asking what all the fuss was about. Irona explained that she wanted to change the channel so that she, Cadbury and Chef Pierre could tune in to their favorite soap opera, Look for Yesterday. When their show was about to start, an announcer came on and announced that the show was pre-empted due to "technical difficulties". Irona started to cry, but Richie warned her that her eyes would rust. Then, Jackie Jokers, Richie's comedian friend, informed Richie that the entire cast of Look for Yesterday went missing, and told Richie to meet him in the TV studio right away.
Richie then arrived to the TV studio by helicopter, and Richie was on the stage where the soap opera was taped. He then met up with Jackie, whom introduced Richie to one of hte security guards, and Richie then asked for clues, but the guard refused to and the two were not allowed on the set. The studio was soon about to start rehearsing for The Fifi the Poodle Show, and when Fifi walked past Dollar, he was easily distracted. Fifi was entering the room where her show was taped, and as Dollar was about to enter the room, the door was shut, and then a security guard denied him entry.
Then two actors dressed as pirates reported for the shifts, inspiring Dollar to dress as a pirate, and he was recognized as "R" based on Dollar's speech. Dollar successfully gained entry, but the security guard realized he never knew there was a cast member named "R".
Meanwhile, Richie and Jackie were on the set of the soap opera looking for clues, but unbeknownst to the boys, a suspicious person was walking on a platform above the stage, and started speaking to Richie, identifying himself as the T.V. Phantom and warned he will soon control the television airwaves and viewers will have to pay the Phantom to watch television. Richie decided to follow the Phantom, and using one of Professor Keenbean's inventions, a pocket elevator, but the Phantom told the boys "nice try" and they cannot chase the Phantom, and he tried to escape. Needless to say, the boys started to chase the Phantom and ended up on the set of The Fifi the Poodle Show, and while rehearsing, the Phantom kidnapped Fifi from the plank, since a pirate theme was the focus of the taping. Then the Phantom made his getaway by fleeing the studio. Richie then notified security to seal off all entrances to the studio.
Assuming the Phantom couldn't have gotten out so quickly, a security guard then told the boys they searched the studio eight times, with no luck. Jackie was then about to host a television show. While the show was live, Jackie informed the viewing audience that one of his friends, Richie, is in the audience. Jackie made some corny jokes, the Phantom was on a platform above the stage, and then swung like Tarzan, and kidnapped Jackie while the show was live on the air. Richie then decided to hunt down Jackie, and a security guard informed Richie he was told what happened to Jackie, and asked if Richie saw which direction the Phantom went, but Richie had vowed that he and Dollar would search for clues, starting at the front door. The guard then mentioned he would do what he could as well. Eventually, Richie was at the front entrance, but a security guard would not allow him to enter, but Richie sensed something odd, and wonders if Dollar may have found something.
Meanwhile, Richie learned that there was something wrong with Dollar's TV, and then the Phantom was on the air and informed the viewers that due to circumstances beyond his control, he has taken over the Rich Broadcasting Network. Richie then learned that the Phantom has been jamming the broadcast replacing the newscast with his signal. The Phantom then mentioned that he is now the owner of the TV station and will be presenting his TV show, and then showed two pirate characters and Fifi from The Fifi the Poodle Show, and Jackie, held in captivity behind bars. The Phantom vowed that they will be appearing on his TV show and the viewers will have to pay to see them. The Phantom then showed Richie a communications satellite and told Richie that he has seized control of the satellite and using technology he promises to destroy every satellite transmitter in the world except his own, and viewers will be forced to watch his shows. The Phantom insisted to tell a few jokes on air, but Jackie refused. The Phantom warned Jackie to tell some jokes, or else. Jackie felt he had choice other than to give in to the Phantom's demands. Richie realized there may have been a clue supplied by Jackie.
Then, while on a helicopter, Richie and Dollar were on their way to a spooky lake that Jackie mentioned in the clue. Richie realized that Jackie loves puns, and learned that he was referring to Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes. When Richie had arrived at Lake Erie, Dollar found what is believed to be the hideout, which has a satellite transmitter. Richie may be one step closer to capturing the Phantom.
Meanwhile, the Phantom had warned Jackie and the soap opera cast members that he is going to destroy all the world's transmitters immediately, but Richie and Dollar had arrived to free Jackie and the victims. Richie couldn't find the key to unlock the cell, but with a special corrosive substance invented by Professor Keenbean, it instantly dissolved the bars in a split second. Then the Phantom was in his control room, about to cause destruction, but Richie had lassoed and captured the Phantom with a TV cable Richie and Jackie found lying around, but a mishap by Dollar had accidentally turned the lights out, and the lights were turned back on, the Phantom got away and drove off in a vehicle with a camera attached to it. Richie was able to gain access to the Phantom's computer and realized the vehicle is remote controlled. Eventually, the Phantom was going all over the place, and the Phantom ended up in the water. Using a vehicle with a hook attached to it, Richie then used lowered the hook and told Dollar to pull the Phantom out of the water. The Phantom was then revealed to be a robber posing as the fake security guard Cosgrove, who in turn was in a costume posing as the Phantom. Richie then told Jackie that Cosgrove was outside the building right after the Phantom left the studio but the fake guard told Richie nobody went out of the front door. As a way to spark humor, Richie jokingly informed Cosgrove that his show has been cancelled.
Now, back at Rich Television Studios, taping of Look for Yesterday had resumed, with two cast members doing a scene in the kitchen. Irona, Cadbury and Chef Pierre were happy that Richie got their favorite show back on the air. Not nnly was the Phantom behind bars, but Dollar was rewarded with a part on The Fifi the Poodle Show. Dollar's part was as a stunt dog dressed as a poodle. When a pie was thrown at Dollar, Fifi licked the cream off Dollar's face as a sign of affection, which Dollar didn't appreciate.
- As of this episode, Riches, Gems, and Treasure Chest segments were dropped, and only Zillion Dollar Adventures segments were aired. This was likely a sign of ratings decline.
- New Zillion Dollar Adventures segments as of this episode have a title card with a still image instead of an animated version. Also, the writer of the story is credited in these newer segments.