25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN: COOL, CRUEL CHRISTMAS CAPER

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COOL, CRUEL CHRISTMAS CAPER

CAST

Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Casey Kasem (Battle of The Planets)
Ted Knight (Caddyshack)
Jane Webb (Fantastic Voyage)

Mr. Freeze disguises himself as Santa Claus and steals the Diamond Star off the Gotham Christmas tree with Batman and Robin in hot pursuit.

There isn’t much to say about this as its only a very small segment, it’s a nice little episode from the 60s animated show partly instyle to the 60s Adam West Show. I grew up withFilmation cartoons so its always a highlight to rewatch some of them again.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACITCA (1978)

Starring

Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Lorne Greene (The Bastard)
John Colicos (Star Trek)
Maren Jensen (Deadly Blessing)
Noah Hathaway (Troll)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Black Gunn)
Tony Swartz (Schizoid)
Laurette Spang-McCook (The Secrets of Isis)
Terry Carter (McCloud)
Anne Lockhart (Convoy)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lew Ayres (Holiday)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sarah Rush (Catch Me If You Can)
Carol Baxter (The Incredible Hulk)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Patrick Macnee (The Howling)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Larry Manetti (Hawaii Five-0)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Red West (Road House)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Richard Lynch (Puppet MAster III)
Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane)
Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Fred Astaire (Funny Face)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Lloyd Bochner (The Naked Gun 2)
Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)

Since the the modern remake of this series rapidly become the next big thing in TV Sci-Fi, many people are going to be tempted to pick up this boxed set to find out how it all began. You can’t go wrong here – this represents astounding value for money, and a great opportunity to discover or rediscover a series that really does deserve its classic status. It even has some decent extras.

Battlestar Galactica was created in 1978 a year after the Star Wars, and was essentially a brazen attempt by ABC television to cash in on the mammoth unexpected success of that film. Under conditions that may never be repeated, it was suddenly considered viable to create a full-blown big-budget epic primetime family-oriented science fiction extravaganza with a budget of $1m per episode (big money in those days). The series ran for a total of 24 episodes before being canned due to its expense and sliding ratings, but it had a huge impact and is remembered with great fondness even by those who aren’t rabid fans.


The story draws inspiration from diverse mythical and religious sources, including Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the book of Exodus, and the Mormon upbringing of its creator Glen A. Larson. When the 12 colonies of man are annihilated by the robotic Cylons, the only surviving Battlestar, Galactica, assembles a small fleet of dilapidated civilian ships and makes a run for it with the survivors, hoping to find the legendary 13th tribe who may have settled on a distant, mythical planet called Earth.


The series is often criticised for endlessly recycling stock footage, especially during the space battles where this reaches almost unreasonable levels, and for its cheesiness (plenty of cute kids and robots in this one), but on the whole it’s much easier to forgive such faults in retrospect. It also benefits enormously from its arresting premise, strong plotting, and above all its nigh-on perfect casting. It’s worth watching the 24 episodes through as well, because it does improve as it goes along, and is serialised to a degree. Considering it ran for such a short time, it does a surprisingly thorough job of exploring its themes, so it’s debatable what its natural life would have been had it been allowed to continue. Towards the end it becomes more cerebral and interesting, as eventually Galactica moves beyond its own space and begins to encounter worlds and cultures that bear an eerie resemblance to modern Earth.

There are several documentaries on the seventh disc featuring interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew. These are fairly entertaining and informative, especially the production footage which reveals how hard the back-projection was to pull off (it’s a shame there isn’t more on the effects). It’s clear that Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict are still bitter that the plug was pulled so early, and they express this with some eloquence. Both campaigned vigorously, independently, to bring it back.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE COMPLETE 60’S SERIES

CAST

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Legends of The Super Heroes)
Alan Napier (Marnie)
Neil Hamilton (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Stafford Repp (Plunder Road)
Madge Blake (The Long, Long Trailer)
Yvonne Craig (Olivia)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jill St. John (Diamonds Are Forever)
Burgess Meredith (Rocky)
David Lewis (The Apartment0
Leslie Parrish (Sex and The Single Girl)
Cesar Romero (The Thin Man)
Nancy Kovack (Marooned)
George Sanders (All About Eve)
Anne Baxter (I Confess)
Susan Silo (James Bond JR)
David Wayne (The Andromeda Strain)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Myrna Fahey (House of Usher)
Julie Newmar (Mckenna’s Gold)
Ziva Rodann (Forty Guns)
Victor Buono (Beneath The Planet of The Apes)
Olan Soule (The Toweing Inferno)
Francine York (The Family Man)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Sherry Jackson (Brenda Starr, Reporter)
Julie Gregg (The Godfather)
Barbara Nichols (Where the Boys Are)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Van Johnson (The Caine Mutiny)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)
Michael Pataki (Rocky 4)
Bruce Lee (Enter The Dragon)
Van Williams (Surfside 6)
Shelley Winters (Alfie)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Liberace (Another World)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
Otto Preminger (Anatomy of Murder)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man)
Ted Cassidy (Genesis II)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
Donna Loren (Dr. Kildare)
Michael Rennie (The Day The Earth Stood Still)
James Brolin (Hotel)
Lesley Gore (The Pied Piper of Astroworld)
Bob Hastings (batman: TAS)
Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Diane McBain (Thunder Alley)
Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones)
Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek)
Tristram Coffin (Adventures of Superman)
Tallulah Bankhead (A Royal Scandal)
Kathleen Crowley (Target Earth)
Eli Wallach (The Holiday)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Billy Curtis (High Plains Drifter)
Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Linda Gaye Scott (The Party)
Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
John Astin (The Addams Family)
Milton Berle (Hey, Abbott!)
Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins)
Rudy Vallee (Sunburst)
Eartha Kitt (Holes)
Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide)
Dina Merrill (Caddyshack II)
Linda Harrison (Planet of The Apes)
Ida Lupino (High Sierra)
Howard Duff (Kramer vs Kramer)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (Jack of Diamonds)
Jane Wald (Girl Talk)
Angela Greene (The King of Bandits)
Norman Alden (Back to The Future)
Jack Kelly (Forbidden Planet)
Shelley Winters (Lolita)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Estelle Winwood (The Producers)
Joan Staley (Broadside)
John Mitchum (Dirty Harry)
Sharyn Wynters (Westworld)
Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young)
Rob Reiner (This is Spinal Tap)
Deanna Lund (Hammerhead)
Stanley Adams (Star Trek: TOS)
Meg Wyllie (The Last Starfighter)
Lisa Seagram (Caprice)

This is the show that set the tone for the Batman franchise for decades, good and bad, as its indelible mark is hard to erase. The power of the show is in how iconic it was, with every element so vibrant that it’s impossible to forget. Yes, it had the advantage of being the first modern-era mass-media representation of the character, and it also basically had the stage to itself forever, but there was so many memorable ingredients that made it the definitive Batman for generations. First among those were the performances of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Playing it completely straight–West with thoughtful gravitas, Ward with youthful enthusiasm–these actors kept the show from descending into parody. The world may be crazy, but our heroes remain vigilant defenders and detectives. The contrast makes their square-jawed heroics comedic, and the effect is enhanced when things get unusual like seeing Batman dance or surf, or when the Dynamic Duo are chilling out in the Batmobile eating burgers.
The structure of the series, which leans heavily on the style of the old serials and a well-defined formula, was also a big reason for the show’s success and long-lasting legacy. During the first two seasons, stories were split over two half-hour episodes, shown twice a week. The first episode would always end with Batman and Robin on the edge of destruction in some sort of insane death-dealing set-up, with the now classic refrain “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” reminding viewers to come back to see the story’s weekly conclusion. These cliffhangers, along with the emphatic narration, the atmospheric music, the wonderfully detailed sets and costumes and the choreographed fight scenes, which feature the show’s famous “Pow!” and “Bam” visual sound effects, all serve to create a larger-than-life adventure series that’s great fun to watch.
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Though West doesn’t appreciate the show being described as campy, it’s hard to think of a word that fits the series better. The thing is, you have to separate the ideas of bad and camp. Camp doesn’t have to be bad. It just has to be absurdly silly. So much of the show is obviously aiming for comedy, be it the way Batman solves impossible clues impossibly quick, the goofy names of the bad guys’ labeled henchmen, the villains’ strange obsession with personal branding, the overly literal signs seen all over the place, or the strangely specific gadgets Batman always has at the ready. I mean, really…an empty alphabet soup bat-container? Then there are the overtly humorous parts, like the cameos when Batman and Robin climb up the sides of buildings, which feature celebrity cameos from Sammy Davis Jr., Don Ho, Santa Claus and Lurch from The Addams Family. Elements like this earn plenty of chuckles throughout the series, but they don’t take away from the fun of the action or the crime-fighting plots. They also serve to make for what might be the most accessible Batman ever; enjoyable for young and old alike.
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The show burned brightly, but only for three seasons, crashing hard considering the show’s immense popularity. Perhaps it was overexposure due to the twice-a-week schedule, with 58 episodes in season two, but the show was definitely showing signs of slowing down in the final season before cancellation, including mostly eliminating the cliffhanger, instead linking episodes via a coda at the end. Whether it was an artistic choice or otherwise, the weird way the show started to use “suggested sets,” in which parts of a set were placed in an otherwise black room to create the idea of the setting, made it seem like something had changed for the worse. Another major change in the third season also stood out somewhat negatively, as Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (the crime-fighting alter-ego of police commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara) was added to the show as a regular. She didn’t bring a great deal to the party though, outside of a great costume design, as she often needed saving as much as she helped the team.
The other issue with Batgirl was she was further evidence of the show being a product of its time, as, in addition to the clothes, sets and language all being heavily dated to the ‘60s (especially in the third run), sexism is rampant throughout the series, whether display via the eye-candy molls of the villains or the drooling narration for the new distaff member of the Bat-team. The portrayal of women is pretty much entirely negative in the show, with flippant remarks about the vanity of women or their value, while one villain, Nora Clavicle, is actually a women’s rights activist, who replaces the police force with women, who are only interested in coupons and recipes. The rampant misogyny is odd considering the show was progressive enough to have an interracial flirtation between West’s Batman and Kitt’s Catwoman. Though the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder are obviously the stars of the show, the villains are what defines the series, as has always been the case with Batman. In addition to his traditional rogues gallery, including Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, this series introduced a number of freshly-minted felons, some of which eventually were incorporated into the comic books, like Victor Buono’s over-acted King Tut. The oft-ridiculous nature of these baddies, which were often created to give big celebrities of the day a chance to play, like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Minerva, Milton Berle’s Louie the Lilac or Liberace’s Fingers, was a big part of why the show was viewed as campy.
As goofy as the new creation were, the originals were wonderfully evil, especially Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman (though that shouldn’t take anything away from Eartha Kitt’s purr-fect turn in the cat suit in the show’s third season.) These three each brought something special to the show, be it Romero’s manic glee, Gorshin’s dark intensity or Newmar’s unrestrained sensuality. The problem with having the villains be such a focal point of the show is it makes the series uneven, as a weak villain, like Van Johnson’s Minstrel or Maurice Evans’ Puzzler, usually makes for a weak episode. The exception to that rule would have to the two-part “A Piece of the Action”/”Batman’s Satisfaction”, which had a terrible nemesis in the stamp-forging Colonel Gumm, but which is great fun because of a crossover with The Green Hornet, which meant Van Williams and Bruce Lee were on hand for twice the crime-fighting action. Just seeing Lee on Batman was great, but having two masked heroes and their rich alter-egos interacting without each other knowing made for a fun twist on the heroes.

Looking at the set as a whole, it’s easy to wonder why the first 12 discs are extras-free. There’s not a commentary to be found. Considering how long the wait has been, and how influential and popular the show is, you’d think there would be plenty of people that would want to sit down and talk about this show. It’s bad enough that the lengthy delays have resulted in many of the cast and creators passing before its release, but to not have any contemporary perspectives is just doubling down on this problem. There’s also the fact that two separate releases of bonus content that have been released in the past, “Holy Batmania!,” which offered four documentaries on the series, and “Adam West Naked,” a collection of recollections produced by West himself. Some of this contest should have been included on the third disc of season three, which has just two 30 minute episodes. What’s worse is Warner Brothers is offering “Adam West Naked” as part of an odd package online that includes the first 64 episodes, the Batman ‘60s movie and some ephemera.
Thankfully the 13th disc fills in a lot of the gaps holding all of the set’s bonus content, most of which is courtesy of master extra maker Alexander Gray, who has produced and directed this kind of material for loads of DC-related DVDs. It all starts with “Hanging with Batman” (29:56), which focuses on West, looking at his life, from his childhood to his acting career, with plenty of time on his experiences as Batman and the legacy of that performance. The piece, which is loaded with archival photos and video, isn’t fluffy in any way, touching on some of the darker moments of West’s life, including controversy that surrounded him at his peak as a star and his personal and professional struggles in the wake of the show’s cancellation and the character’s rebirth with the Tim Burton movies. An excellent profile of a charismatic man with an interesting life.
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“Holy Memorabilia, Batman!” (29:59) looks at the fans, a few in particular, and the collecting that sprung up around the show, including the key pieces and the process of acquiring them. With Toy Hunter’s Jordan Hembrough providing expert (and some personal) perspective, the featurette checks out the collections of actor Ralph Garman (Family Guy, the Hollywood Babble-On podcast) and Guinness record-holder Kevin Silva, as well as the work of Mark Racop, who builds replica Batmobiles. The Garman segments also feature a visit by West to check out (and even try on) the goods, and the result is an excellent look at a side product of the series.
An odd inclusion is “Na Na Na Batman” (12:15) which features a huge roster of producers and directors from Warner Brothers-produced series talking about the Batman series, including their memories of watching the show (if they are old enough) along with the costumes and villains. The connection to the show for most of these participants, which include Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Mike O’Malley, Stephen Amell, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, is beyond tangential, which coats the whole piece with a sheen of promotion, but if you’re a fan of shows like Supernatural, Arrow, The Following and The Mentalist, perhaps you’ll enjoy these worlds crashing together. Wedged in here with all these people is West and Burt Ward, bringing things back to center a bit.
The point of “Batmania Born!” (29:41) isn’t entirely clear, as it can get a bit scattered in terms of the subject matter, but it seems to mainly talk about the look of the series, and mainly features the voices of people from the world of comic books and related TV series, though some production design and costuming people sneak in as well to discuss the visuals of Batman, including the influences of the comic books, the animated opening, the tights and, most interestingly, the negative effect the show had on comic books in the larger world of entertainment. Among those sitting down to chat are Jim Lee, Bruce Timm and Julie Newmar, long with archival clips of Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin, making this catnip for comics fans. Lee and Garman return in “Bats of the Round Table” (45:08), joining Batman superfan Kevin Smith and actor Phil Morris (Smallville), as they sit down for a meal with West. Unsurprisingly, the chat is dominated by Smith–a natural conversationalist–but they all chime in at some point, peppering West with questions and actually getting some interesting answers, including talk about dealing with a difficult Otto Preminger, who West’s favorite guest star and favorite Catwoman was, life on the set and a fun story about Ward and Bruce Lee. One wonders how the mostly unconnected Morris got in on this group (though he does have a Batman story of his own to share), but they all interact well in a smooth-flowing get-together. The ending may be slightly cheesy, but it’s a satisfying featurette.
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Though there are no commentaries in this set, there are two pseudo-commentaries, in the form of the two-part “Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West.” These pieces, which run a total of 59:08, feature West, in occasional picture-in-picture appearances, reading excerpts from his shooting scripts for “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Stuck in the Middle” while the episodes play. There’s a tremendous amount of dead air (probably more than half the episodes are just the original audio), which may explain the lack of commentaries, but it’s great when West shares the notes he made on the script during the production process and his thought process for the character.
The bonuses wrap up with a quartet of rarities, which are mostly great to check out. First up is the 7:54 pilot for Batgirl. This never-aired “episode” was intended to show the character could work, in advance of her introduction in Batman’s third season. This compact adventure, which features Batgirl fighting Killer Moth and his gang alongside the Dynamic Duo in a library, feels just like the Batman series, complete with the “Pow!”s, but with a lot more sexism, courtesy of the narrator and Batman himself. Today, it’s really kind of creepy.
Also included are a pair of screen tests for the show, which are truly fascinating. First up is West and Ward (6:16), in a proto-Wayne Manor and the Batcave, doing a pair of scenes, following by a brief tumbling and karate demonstration by Ward and some silent footage of the pair in the ‘Cave. The performances were so fully formed right off the bat (no pun intended) that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles. That’s solidified when you see Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell try out for the parts (4:23), doing the same roles on the same sets, with the same sketchy costumes. Robin is more childish in Deyell’s performance, while Waggoner doesn’t bring the same measured intensity as West. Watching it though, allows you to picture an entirely different history for Batman.
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The final entry is a James Blakely Tribute (2:24). The title is a bit misleading, as it’s just a clip of Blakely, post-production supervisor on the show, discussing the story of the series’ development and the idea of editing in the show’s iconic sound-effects graphics. It’s not really a tribute in the traditional manner.
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It’s only natural that waiting so long for these episodes to arrive on home video has made expectations unmeetable, but between the wonderfully silly show, the quality of the presentation and the excellent extras that actually have been included, this set is one all Batman fans will want to own.

REVIEW: THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN

 

CAST

Olan Soule (Scooby Doo)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Jane Webb (Archie’s Funhouse)
Larry Srorch (Groovie Goolies)
Ted Knight (Psycho)
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I am so very glad that series is at last out on DVD. Just as the Adam West show ended Filmation animation gained the rights for Batman. they already had a long history of superhero’s. First with Superman later with Aquaman and others. so for the first time Batman came to the screens in animation form. I am a big fan of the 90s animated series, but I accept all versions. I love this early beginning of Batman animation. Here Olan Soule and Cassy Casum (Shaggy on Scooby Doo) voice Batman and Robin. (they later go on to voice them in the Superfriends Hanna Barbara cartoon.Ted Knight would narrate and voice many characters. so for this DVD it has the complete late 60s Filmation Batman animated series. I feel that not only does it have the spirit of the West show but it also has the feel of Silver Age comics. Your not gonna get dark gritty stories here. its all light fun and adventure. but its good for the whole family.
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Batman and Robin come up against many of their most well known foes. the Joker is there, The Penquin, Catwoman, there is  Mr. Freeze (who just gained popularity with the West show, which took the one shot villain Mr Zero, renamed him and made him famous). there is the Riddler, who would go on to Superfriends but do to rights issues not the 77 Filmation toon. There are many other foes all who make their first animated appearance. Scarecrow and Mad Hatter make single appearances. there are new villains. Simon the Pieman, the Judge. Dollman. Batgirl (who just won new found fame) shows up a few times to help out.
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on the whole this is just a fun series with lots of cool adventures. the first time Batman made his mark on the animated world.

 

 

REVIEW: SUPER FRIENDS: THE LEGENDARY SUPER POWERS SHOW

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Batman)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek:DS9)
Michael Bell (Star Trek: TNG)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Arthur Burghardt (Conan)
Stan Jones (Tranformers)
William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Casey Kasem (Transformes)
Mark Taylor (Melrose Place)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Buster Jones (Transformers)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stanley Ralph Ross (Babe)
Olan Soule (Batman 60s)

Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show! as announced in the opening main title by veteran voice artist Dick Tufeld was the second-to-last incarnation of the long-running Super Friends series. Based on the Super Powers Collection toy line of the time featuring select DC Comics heroes including hero Firestorm , Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984) is most revered as the Super Friends series that first introduced Firestorm the Nuclear Man in animated form, along with evil Apokolips lord Darkseid. Not to mention Adam West reprising his caped crusader role as the voice of this show’s animated Batman.SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984)Firestorm’s transformation scene looks cool . Plus the tone of the show is *slightly* more intense (for Super Friends) than the previous versions thanks to the presence of Darkseid. Comprised of 16 episodes totaling almost 8 half hours, this “Super Powers” collection also may seem limited, especially to SF fans who were hoping that the follow-up series The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episodes would be included on the set. However, unlike the previous collections, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show – The Complete Series is properly titled and contains exactly what the title says.SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984)Episodes:
1. The Bride of Darkseid (Part 1)
2. The Bride of Darkseid (Part 2)
3. The Wrath of Brainiac
4. Reflections in Crime
5. No Honor Among Super Thieves
6. Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Magic Lamp
7. Case of the Shrinking Super Friends
8. The Mask of Mystery
9. Darkseid’s Golden Trap (Part 1)
10. Darkseid’s Golden Trap (Part 2)
11. Island of the Dinosoids
12. Uncle Mxyzptlk (Super Brat)
13. The Case of the Dreadful Dolls
14. The Royal Ruse
15. The Village of Lost Souls

Sílvio Navas in SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984)Hearing Adam Wests voice once more as batman was awesome and Darkseid seeking Wonder Woman as his bride was just brilliant. With these stories seeming to me a little more mature it was a nice change, though sadly being the second to last season you know the end is coming.

REVIEW: SUPER FRIENDS: THE LOST EPISODES

 

CAST (VOICES)

William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Michael Bell (Samurai Jack)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Shannon Farnon (Burke’s Law)
Olan Soule (Perry Mason)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Jones (Tranformers)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Stanley Ralph Ross (Babe)

when the animated series was canceled in 1983, Hanna-Barbera continued to produce new episodes, which in most cases took years to show up after the series kept returning to TV in various forms. These Lost Episodes are gathered on this two-disc set, which, although it claims to be 24 “episodes,” is more like eight half-hour programs (each consisting of three short adventures). The Super Friends are in the house, or more exactly the Hall of Justice: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, and Aquaman forming the key group of comic-book holdovers, with new superheroes Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, Samurai, and El Dorado gaining opening-credits status.

In fact, other D.C. Comics heroes and villains thread through the series, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Brainiac among them. Some of the episodes are self-contained little adventures, but a few play around with original mythology; for instance, in one brief story Superman returns to Krypton, and for a moment prevents the destruction of his home planet. Another notable episode, “Bulgor the Behemoth,” has a distinctly postmodern kick: a writer for an animated TV show is struck by lightning and morphs into a super-villain, and can’t be stopped by Superman because he’s a fictional character.30443258_185915065543708_2989791336916554344_nThe animation is simple but the designs pop in a pleasing way, with plenty of color and some classic comic-book imagery. The action and cornball messages are skewed toward young viewers of Saturday-morning cartoons. Gleek is around too, and in “Two Gleeks Are Deadlier Than One,” he’s replicated as an “android duplicate of Gleek,” which is definitely overkill. Even if you don’t like the character, there’s a great deal of childhood fun in these lightweight adventures. And in the final episode there’s a trip to “Bizarro World,” trapping Superman and Wonder Woman in an Atari-style video game.

 

REVIEW: THE WORLDS GREATEST SUPER FRIENDS

 

 

 

CAST (VOICES)

William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Michael Bell (Samurai Jack)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Shannon Farnon (Burke’s Law)
Olan Soule (Perry Mason)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Jones (Transformers)

The World's Greatest SuperFriends (1979)

Season 4 is comprised of 8 thirty-minute cartoons (about 22 minutes without commercials):

1. “Rub Three Times For Disaster” (Original air date 9/22/79)
2. “Lex Luthor Strikes Back” (Original air date 9/29/79)
3. “Space Knights of Camelon” (Original air date 10/06/79)
4. “The Lord of Middle Earth” (Original air date 10/13/79)
5. “Universe of Evil” (Original air date 10/20/79)
6. “Terror At 20,000 Fathoms” (Original air date 10/27/29)
7. “The Super Friends Meet Frankenstein” (Original air date 11/03/79)
8. “The Planet of OZ” (Original air date 11/10/79)

I have to say that the picture and sound quality are quite good. There are no bonus features other than a few unrelated trailers, but that’s okay. Next to “Challenge of the Super Friends” ‘World’s Greatest’ is my personal 2nd favorite season of the series. Both are fun but also have a bit of darkness to them that still stand out. Many of Season 4’s episodes were influenced by a classic story and/or a famous author, such as Mary Shelly, L. Frank Baum, and J.R.R. Tolkien. These influences helped improve the storylines quite a bit.

My personal favorites are “The Super Friends Meet Frankenstein” and “Universe of Evil” written by Jerome Bixby. The idea of having evil versions of Superman, Batman, Robin, and the others (including Gleek) doing horrendous things was quite something to see back in the day. The specific look that was given to evil Superman was quite effective and still holds up. It has a tremendous nostalgic influence to see these classic cartoons even today.

 

REVIEW: SUPER FRIENDS (1978)

 

 

CAST (VOICES)

William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Michael Bell (Samurai Jack)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Shannon Farnon (Burke’s Law)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Buster Jones (Transformers)
Olan Soule (Perry Mason)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Jones (Transformers)

These episodes originally aired alongside Challenge of he Super Friends, Warner Brothers just labelled it a season two. Watching  the episodes at hand on this DVD i liked them all. I liked the story of the Anti-Matter Monster. The little, subtle things like Aquaman for example being taken to Atlantis in “World Beneath the Ice” is a good use of character history. I have my favorite episodes from the DVD, however. The favorites for me are “Rokan: Enemy from Space”, “Battle at Earth’s Core”, “Terror from the Phantom Zone”193500093Terror from the Phantom Zone feature Superman aging after being exposed to red Kryptonite and him having to travel to the asteroids of blown up Krypton. He then has to recover blue Kryptonite to reverse the aging process

The Last Episode features Superman’s foe, Mr myxlplyx. If i were to have a complaint it would be the use of Flash and Hawkman and Apache Chief on the DVD fold-out cover…scenes that took place on CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS are shown on the fold-out cover. Those characters are not on this DVD.

 

REVIEW: CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS

CAST (VOICES)

William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Michael Bell (Samurai Jack)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Shannon Farnon (Burke’s Law)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Buster Jones (Transformers)
Olan Soule (Perry Mason)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Jones (Tranformers)

Well, if you’ve seen even one episode of “The Challenge Of The Super Friends” you know it’s no Hall Of Fame animated classic – at least not as far as the continuity is concerned. There are some very grievous errors that are hilarious to spot. For instance in the episode “The Time Trap” three sets of the Super Friends get trapped in various eras of earth’s past, among them Batman & Robin who are captured and held by the troops of one of the Roman emperor Caesars. In the present day Superman discovers a clue that can pinpoint the time frames each of the set of heroes is being held so off he goes to the lab to have the piece of evidence analyzed; and who should be there amongst the other Super Friends waiting for the analysis – none other than Batman himself! Maybe he was just there in spirit and only we (the fans in Saturday morning TV land) could see him? Another sparkling moment comes in the episode “The Monolith Of Evil” when suddenly Green Lantern has three arms – I can’t tell if he has more than one power ring. Other blunders that happened periodically were Hawkman missing his wings; the inversion of colors and/or direction of logos on the uniforms of Batman & Robin; Green Lantern’s power ring would emanate a yellow  glow instead of green and, best of all, the Flash would go flying off  with Superman and Hawkman whenever it was convenient to the plot. The Flash had no capability of flying in any of his comic book appearances that I can remember – and you’d think the creative staff behind the show would be aware of that. But these are all forgivable mistakes to the fans of the series because it’s the strong points of the show that make it the classic that is revered by fans still to this day.Challenge of the Superfriends (1978)The positives of this program are many beginning with the vibrant theme music; heroic and majestic sounding it is reminiscent of the theme for the classic early 60’s animated cult favorite ‘Johnny Quest’. It certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that this quite probably was the inspiration behind it. The idea of ‘The Legion Of Doom’ is a great concept that is still unsurpassed. Scavenging back through the vaults and archives of DC Comics to get the right mix of villains must have been daunting at the time and not as easy to piece together as it appears when seeing the show. There were literally tons of adversaries, antagonists and nemesis’s to choose from and creating a balance – that is a viable and believably powerful enough force to challenge the Super Friends – wasn’t something that just jumped out at you I’m sure. Seeing such archenemies as Sinestro, Gorilla Grod and Gigantress in television animated form is a rare treat that is doubtful to happen ever again. The headquarters for ‘The Legion Of Doom’ is equally as impressive. They could go anywhere they pleased as a group; outer space, inner earth, backwards or forward in time, etc. The Super Friends on the other hand all have their own separate forms of transportation – and the Hall Of Justice is anchored to the ground permanently. While the stories are unquestionably juvenile in conception some of them still remain quite entertaining. My favorites are “Fairy Tales Of Doom” and especially “History Of Doom”, and the episode “Secret Origins Of The Super Friends” is also memorable.The DVD set is nicely packaged and has an excellent 13 minute mini-documentary titled ‘Saturday, Sleeping Bags & Super Friends: A Retrospective’ that I think every fan will be pleased with. Also included are bios on each of the Super Friends and also the members that make up ‘The Legion Of Doom’ that I found indispensable. If I had one quibble at all it would be the title of the set “The Challenge Of The Super Friends: The First Season”. This confused many people, but what Warner brothers have done is “Challenge” when aired would have two segments the first would be a Challenge of the  the Super Friends episode and then a separate Super Friends Episode, these separate episodes were released on a second set.

 

REVIEW: THE ALL NEW SUPER SUPER FRIENDS (1977)

CAST (VOICES)

Norman Alden (Bronco)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Michael Bell (Samurai Jack)
Wally Burr (Transformers)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Casey Kasem (Transformers)
Shannon Farnon (Burke’s Law)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Buster Jones (Transformers)
Alan Oppenheimer (The Six Million Dollar man)
Olan Soule (Perry Mason)
John Stephenson (Dragnet)

After having spent a few nights touring trough the DVD sets, I have to say that I believe the material contained within will appeal to collectors, very young children, or individuals hoping to relive their own youth.

To begin with, each episode is broken down into four parts: The first part involved only 2 members of the Justice League and was a fairly quickly resolved stand-alone plot. The second part features the Wondertwins (and Gleek) in a teen-trouble episode. The third section involved all of the Super friends and represents the heart of the entire show. Finally the fourth and final segment looked a lot like the first only it featured a guest appearance by the likes of Green Lantern, the Atom, Samurai, etc.1

Between these 4 main program segments are some engaging interactions with the Friends themselves in the form of Magic tricks, Decoder Games, health tips, and public service announcements. Now for the bad news, this is 1977-style writing and the one-dimensional quality of the scripts is overwhelmingly apparent. I realize that I am probably being overly judgmental having been spoiled by today’s well-developed animation but even when compared to Challenge of the Superfriends, the Hour program is incredibly campy. This is credited to the era itself when Parent Associations cracked down hard on all cartoons expecting none of the violence that plagued society at the time to show up in kids programming. This is a noble cause and certainly an indicator of a more innocent era but it can be very tedious to relive in this day and age.The All-New Super Friends Hour (1977)I believe much of the problem stems from the fact that there are no villains to work with here. Rather the writers are forced to alternate between evil-minded aliens and bitter scientists with experiments gone awry for each and every episode (except for the Wondertwins segments where a few kids make a bad decision and learn a lesson by the show’s conclusion). There are a few Scooby-Doo inspired episodes of de-masking a villain thrown in for good measure but overall the experience is quite repetitive. Each episode purposely ends with a corny joke and everyone laughing into the fade. Again, this was pretty on par for the time, I am merely stating these facts so as to provide potential buyers an idea of what to expect. Truthfully, this series will likely be appreciated by young viewers as it is very light on violence and heavy on humor (both spoken and slap-stick). The sets themselves are typical Warner with a well-drawn cover and inner sleeve.