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: 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”

 

Terror 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 Oppenehimer (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.