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)
Myma 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)
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)
Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones)
Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek)
Tallulah Bankhead (A Royal Scandal)
Eli Wallach (The Holiday)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
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)

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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
 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.
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REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES – SEASON 1-3

Image result for star trek the original series

MAIN CAST

William Shatner (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers)
DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Nichelle Nichols (Heroes)
George Takei (Heroes)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings)
Susan Oliver (Peyton Place)
Majel Barrett (Spider-Man 90s)
Malachi Throne (It Takes a Thief)
Meg Mylie (Lipstick)
Robert Walker Jr. (The War Wagon)
Eddie Paskey (Mission: Impossible)
Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Sally Kellerman (Meatballs III)
Roger C. Carmel (Transformers)
Sherry Jackson (Batman 60S)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Kim Darby (True Grit)
Michael J. Pollard (Superboy)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Morgan Woodward (Cool Hand Luke)
Marianna Hill (Messiah of Evil)
Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island)
Madlyn Rhue (A Majority of One)
Arnold Moss (Gambit)
John Astin (The Addams Family)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Emily Banks (Gunfight in Abilene)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Diana Muldaur (The Survivors)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Joan Collins (60s Batman)
Michael Forest (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
David Soul (Starsky and Hutch)
Billy Curtis (The Terror of Tiny Town)
Julie Newmar (60s Batman)
William Schallet (Innerspace)
William Campbell (Dementia 13)
Stanley Adams (The Great Gundown)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Frank Gorshin (60s Batman)
Charlie Brill (Bloodstone)
Ned Romero (Children of The Corn III)
Teri Garr (Tootsie)
Jack Donner (Stigmata)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

The original Trek series established, within it’s brief 3-year span, the panorama of an ever-expanding Federation of planets & civilizations, of which Earth was, in the 23rd century, a founding member (tho the audience never saw Earth during this run, except in time travel stories back to our 20th century). This series also presented mankind as, first & foremost, explorers, embodied by the trio of dynamic captain James T. Kirk (Shatner), his number two, science officer Spock (Nimoy) and irascible but kindly Dr.McCoy (Kelley) – but Spock was, of course, an alien (a Vulcan), an example of the alliances Earth held with many extraterrestrial races. They operated from a magnificent starship, Enterprise (one of several such ships in Starfleet), with a crew of about 400. Creator Roddenberry used the series as a platform to address many social & political concerns of the time. The general consensus of most familiar with the show is that the 1st & 2nd years were superior; the 3rd suffered in the writing & budget dept’s.

The best episodes: “City on the Edge of Forever”-Kirk almost sacrifices Earth’s history for the love of a woman. Almost, and he might’ve done so had he known her a little longer; “Mirror,Mirror”-4 members of the crew switch places with their counterparts in a parallel universe, where the Federation is a hostile Empire; “Space Seed”-the crew awaken Khan, an old-time conqueror boosted by eugenics, who returned in the 2nd Trek film(“The Wrath of Khan”); “Arena”-Kirk battles a lizardian captain of an unfriendly race on a desolate asteroid; “The Naked Time”-the crew lose their inhibitions, back when this was original; “This Side of Paradise”-another one with everyone affected emotionally and forgetting their mission; “The Trouble With Tribbles”-hugely entertaining romp on a space station; “Shore Leave”-another romp on a weird planet; “Journey to Babel”-Enterprise hosts ambassadors, Spock’s parents included, dealing with intrigue & politics; “Where No Man Has Gone Before”-the 2nd pilot which green-lit the series and the 1st with normal humans acquiring godlike powers; “The Enemy Within”-examines duality of human nature; “The Doomsday Machine”-space epic about a huge alien weapon destroying planets; “Amok Time”-detailed look into Vulcan customs; “Balance of Terror”-warships testing each other in space,introducing the aggressive Romulan race; “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”-answering all questions on androids; and “The Devil in the Dark”-which shows you cannot judge monsters by appearance.
As the list above demonstrates, all the concepts we have come to know in later films and series (Next Generation,Deep Space 9,Voyager) were laid out just fine in the late ’60s by some inventive writing (the first film to follow this, for example, merely reworked the episode “The Changeling” with a $50 million budget). The 2nd season also ended with a pilot for an unrealized spin-off “Assignment:Earth” which would have focused on human agent of aliens ‘Gary-7’ in the present day. It was back then, also, that omnipotent beings, such as “The Squire of Gothos” and the Organians (“Errand of Mercy”-which introduced Klingons) popped up to work miracles. The final 3rd season show ended things on a hysterical note as Kirk’s body was taken over by an unbalanced woman – quite unPC these days but nonetheless intriguing & entertaining. The series was followed 4 years later by an animated version, which took place during the same mission. Yes, the original is still the best, and it’s easy to see why. Image result for star trek the original series

REVIEW: THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1978): THE COMPLETE SERIES

CAST (VOICES)

Mike Road (Captain Caveman)
Ginny Tyler (Doctor Dolittle 1967)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Hal Smith (Beauty and The Beast 1991)
John Stephenson (Charlottes Web 1973)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
Don Messick (Tiny Toon Adventures)
Through no fault of DePatie-Freleng, the character of the Human Torch couldn’t be included in this series because he’d already been optioned for a film project which, at the time, didn’t come to fruition. Instead, marvel legend Stan Lee created Herbie the Robot, voiced by the multi-talented Frank Welker, Megatron in the original Transformers. Although some fans reacted badly to the new character, for those who were just small children at the time, Herbie was perfect for us. His longevity has since been assured in Marvel Comics where he now serves as a sidekick to Franklin Richards, son of Mr & Mrs Fantastic.

As a small child many years ago, this series was a great introduction for me to the World of Marvel Comics. Guest characters include Magneto, Blastarr, Doctor Doom, The Inhumans, and Skrulls to name but a few. The stories and characters have an innocence about them which is missing from modern television, and the emphasis is always on fun… even when Herbie and Ben are squabbling the way best friends tend to.

And if the cell-animation seems simple and basic by today’s standards, where cgi seems to rule the roost, then let us not forget that DePatie-Freleng actually helped out with the special effects on the original legendary Star wars film.  In short, Fantastic Four (1978) is fantastic for kids… and also for grown-ups who want to remember the good ol’ days!

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977-1982)

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MAIN CAST

Bill Bixby (Goodnight, Beantown)
Lou Ferrigno (The Scorpion King 4)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Ted Cassidy (Mackenna’s Gold)
Lara Parker (Dark Shadows)
William Daniels (Girl Meets World)
Gerald McRaney (Mike & Molly)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Loni Anderson (Nurses)
Pamela Susan Shoop (Halloween II)
Julie Gregg (The Godfather)
Jennifer Darling (Aladdin)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Julie Adams (Murder, She Wrote)
Sheila Larken (The X-Files)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Mickey Jones (V)
James Daughton (Blind Date)
Ned Romero (Children of The Corn II)
Sally Kirkland (JFK)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Kerrigan Mahan (Power Rangers)
Christine Belford (Ruffian)
Billy Green Bush (Critters)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Austin Stoker (Assault on Precint 13)
Carol Baxter (A Chorus Line)
Fred Ward (Tremors)
Sherman Hemsley (The Jeffersons)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Morgan Woodward (Dallas)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Ray Walston (Star Trek: Voyager)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes)
Anne Lockhart (Buried)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Melendy Britt (She-Ra)
Henry Polic II (Webster)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Faye Grant (V)

The first season of The Incredible Hulk premiered with its pilot in 1977 and went on to run for eleven additional episodes. This is the one that started it all and in the opening moments of the series we are given a glimpse at Dr. David’s origins and how he came to possess the abilities of the Hulk. With the introduction out of the way the first season more or less hits the ground running as it established itself with some strong episodes and character development. Granted there are a few clunkers in between the good parts, but all around it was a solid start for Hulk.

“Death in the Family” is the first episode after the pilot and it’s a nice way to get the series going as it establishes the formula early on. This episode sees Banner making his way through California only to stop and help a handicapped girl after she faints in an orchard. It leads to David getting into the middle of a plot to kill the girl, so naturally only he and the Hulk can save her. When he’s done with California, David hitches his way to a new city where he befriends a wannabe boxer involved with some shady dealings. After that he moves on to working in a zoo in an episode that actually features the Hulk fighting a gorilla. Both of these episodes were kind of weak after the pilot and “Death in the Family”, but the season gets much better from here on out.

One of the strongest notes comes from the fifth episode, “Of Guilt, Models, and Murder”. I found this episode entertaining due to the way it played with David’s amnesia after he becomes the Hulk. The episode starts out with the doctor waking up in a room with some dead fashion models, and naturally his mind heads down dark, guilty paths as he blames the Hulk for killing them. The rest of the episode sees him investigating the murders and trying to get the bottom to find out whether or not he was actually involved.

From then on the first season has some ups and downs as it makes its way through the remaining seven episodes. Of the better episodes, “Terror in Times Square” stands out as it features David helping out an arcade owner who is being pressured by some people for “protection”. What better protection could you ask for than having the Hulk on your side for some good ‘ol fashion smashing? “The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas” was a great episode as well. I mean, just think about it, the Hulk running through the streets and casinos of Vegas! After these episodes the only other one that stands out in this season is “Earthquakes Happen” which has David /the Hulk attempting to stop a meltdown after a massive earthquake.

The second season of the Hulk starts out with David heading to Hawaii and getting married to a woman named Carolyn. Of course, being cursed as he is, things naturally don’t end well for the doctor. In the end though, this “Married” episode was interesting because it was more or less two parts and presented itself as a much larger story than we had become accustomed to. The thing with The Incredible Hulk is that most every episode followed a strict formula and you could basically expect the same structure over and over again. Due to that fact it is always a nice thing when the mold is broken, which did happen from time to time with the series.

That “mold” is broken again later in this season with a two-part episode entitled “Mystery Man”. This storyline features the very definition of a close call when David is involved in a car accident that renders him with amnesia. It is bad enough he doesn’t remember what happens when he’s the Hulk, but now he just plain doesn’t know what’s going on. Because of the accident his face is bandaged and he winds up spending a lot of time with McGee when they are involved in a plane crash together. You’re left wondering throughout the episode whether or not the reporter will actually put two and two together.

Aside from these two breaks from the standard set by the first season, the rest of this year’s batch of Hulk episodes are formulaic. It works for many episodes, but there are others which just aren’t quite as sharp. “The Antowuk Horror”, “Alice in Disco Land”, “Killer Instinct”, and “Stop the Presses” all stand out as prime examples of the show at its best, while “Wild Fire”, “Vendetta Road”, and “The Disciple” are a few of the lower points.

All in all, the second season of The Incredible Hulk was much better than the first, but then again in the opening year the show was just finding its footing. We still see a little bit of that here though it’s safe to say that the show handles this material better than most science fiction programs of the era. Many of these episodes and plots are cliché beyond reason, but the series handles them seriously and with a hefty flare for the dramatic. This was definitely one of the feathers in the Hulk’s cap and because of that the series retains much of its entertainment value some thirty years later.

For the third season no multi-part episodes were included, so there really wasn’t much continuity here by comparison to the previous year. That serious tone that helped the series out in the second season was back for this one, but there were still some bits that just didn’t feel right. Having the Hulk freak out on an acid trip, party at a disco, and David fight his moustache wearing evil twin proved to be moments that were really hard to take. Little bits and pieces like this invaded just about every episode and some of the plots get downright ridiculous. Even so there were still some good episodes all around this season, but they were slightly harder to find.

Of the good stuff “Homecoming” definitely stands out as one of the best here. In this episode David goes home to his family for Thanksgiving. While there he spends a little time trying to help out with a problem on the farm, but that’s not what makes this episode so entertaining. For the entire time we’ve known David, we haven’t really learned much about his history prior to being big and green. This episode provides plenty of opportunity for the writers to explore his character and some of his background.

Another solid episode from this season include “The Snare” which has David being invited to an island where he’s hunted by a madman. “The Psychic” is an interesting episode that puts David’s morality on the line when he learns that Jack McGee is going to die. David’s life sure would be a heck of a lot easier if the nosey reported wasn’t around, but could he live with that? This episode really got into David’s head and we got a nice glimpse at how he ticks. Aside from these episodes, most of the other ones here are simply passable. In all honesty it seemed as though by this point the show had already begun to slip though it still retained most of the quality.

Up through the third season the thing that really kept The Incredible Hulk going was solid character development. Though each tale was more or less episodic, traveling with David every week provided a much needed amount of humanity to counterbalance the hulking insanity. The third year started a slide in quality with more gonzo episodes leading the way. Unfortunately that trend continues with the eighteen episodes included in this season.

Despite the overall lacking nature of the fourth season, there are still plenty of enjoyable adventures for David and his big angry friend. The most notable episode here is the season opener which is a two-part story that has David getting stuck mid-transformation. The military gets involved as they think David is actually an alien so they take him back to the lab for further examination. Another two-part episode in this season sees David tracking down another “monsters”. This one has plenty to appreciate for fans of the show and it even offers the Hulk something other than a thug, brick wall, or car to beat up on! Other than the extended episodes here this season more or less splits right down the middle in terms of quality.

After watching the fourth season it’s not too difficult to see why the series was cancelled early on in the fifth. With only seven episodes to its name, the final year is a sore spot compared to the earlier ones, which featured many highlights. The episodes here simply weren’t very entertaining, most were poorly written, and even the actors didn’t seem as invested in it. It’s a shame that the series couldn’t have found a suitable ending and that it ended with such a whimper, but while it lasted it was a comic lovers dream come true.

Even if you weren’t into the comic, The Incredible Hulk was quite a show for the time it was released. The dark nature of the program coupled with Bixby’s acting skills and some “decent” writing presented a unique television experience that became an icon. While the later seasons of the show definitely weren’t the best, the first three seasons were rock-solid entertainment. Tuning in each week to see David turn into the Hulk was a hoot and reliving the show again thirty years later proves to be a nice nostalgic trip into the history of everyone’s favorite green giant.

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.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 Supe4r Friends Episode, these separate episodes were released on a second set.