The All New Super Friends Hour Season One Vol. 1 - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: B-

5 Comments | Add

 

Rate & Share:

 

Related Links:

 

Info:

  • Title: The All New Super Friends Hour Season One Vol. 1
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Starring: Casey Kasem, Ted Knight, Ross Martin, Ted Cassidy
  • Writer: Various
  • Director: Charles A. Nichols
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 1977-1978
  • Extras: Two featurettes

The All New Super Friends Hour Season One Vol. 1

A look back at the 70's show.

By Tim Janson, Columnist     February 06, 2008


The All New Super Friends Hour Season One Vol. 1
© Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

The 1970’s really was the Golden Age of Saturday morning cartoons. The three major networks all broadcast cartoons from usually around 7:30 am to about Noon, with the occasional live-action show thrown in for good measure. In these days before VCRs and TiVo, kids were often left with a difficult choice over which cartoon to watch during a certain time period. That’s when re-runs came in handy because you could always catch the ones you missed in the second go round.

Super Friends had various incarnations over the years. The “All New Super Friends Hour” was the second incarnation, running during the 1977 – 1978 season. Each hour show presented four cartoons. The first one teamed two members of the Super Friends; next came the Wonder Twins episodes; the third cartoon was considered the feature for the week, usually running around twenty minutes and featuring the entire Super Friends Team; finally, the last episode paired on of the team with a guest-star hero. This two disc DVD features seven episodes so you get a total of 28 cartoons.

While these cartoons certainly bring back some fond memories of sitting in front of the TV and eating a bowl of cereal, the fact is that they really have not aged all that well. These were produced in an era when networks were very sensitive to the censors and to watchdog groups who were opposed to violence in cartoons. Words such as “Kill” or “Death” were strictly prohibited, as were scenes of physical violence. You just didn’t see Batman or Superman punching out the bad guys. The challenge to the writers became how to present these powerful heroes and all their abilities while satisfying the censors. Well, they did the best they could, but compared to modern superhero cartoons they look positively ridiculous. Batman and Superman are largely interchangeable personality wise. As noted in one of the featurettes, they were really like dads more than superheroes.

The other thing about these toons is that you don’t see the usual arch-villains. Rather the bad guys usually are in the form of an evil or misguided scientist whose experiments run out of control or perhaps strange monsters or aliens like the race of Rockmen from “Invasion of the Earthors” or the plant-like beings from “Day of the Plant Creatures. It is kind of like reading DC Comics circa the early 1960’s.

The Wonder Twins episodes always seemed to involve Zan and Jayna rescuing a young person from some mistake in judgment such as hitchhiking, drag-racing, or vandalizing their school. In between the episodes were short vignettes on topics such as health or safety. The Network basically dictated these be included.

The most interesting episodes to me were always the ones with the guest-stars because it gave you a chance to see other heroes like The Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Apache Chief and others.

the two featurettes are quite interesting. The first, “One Dimensional Goodness: The Super Friends and the Good Old Days” takes a look at how the creators dealt with the network constraints and makes comparisons to today’s shows. It includes comments from writers like Mark Waid and animation historian, Jerry Beck.

The second, “Origins of the Guest Stars” looks at how characters Hawkman, Hawkgirl, the Atom, and Green Lantern made their first cartoon appearances during this season.

The animation is average; this was the era where minimal animation was a necessity to keep costs down. The shows are rather bland, but if you grew up in that era, this show will always maintain a warm, fuzzy place in your memory.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
1 
mckracken 2/6/2008 5:19:22 PM
does this mean that memories of Batmite maintain a warm fuzzy place in my memory too?
jppintar326 2/6/2008 6:40:02 PM
Batmite was on The New Adventures of Batman, not Superfriends. I agree that these cartoons have not aged well, but I still think they are entertaining and they put a smile on my face because I grew up watching these shows.
Moz72 2/6/2008 9:23:13 PM
Even though I grew up watching the Super Friends on ABC, In rertospect, I think that Super Powers Team: Galactic Guradians was the best incarnation compared to the earlier shows. The animation was better, the stories were better,and it it had Darkseid Firestorm, and Cyborg!
RaithManan 2/6/2008 10:48:29 PM
Moz72, atleast you liked Galactic Guardians. I unfortunately didn't like it as much and really not too many didn't either since its was basically where the storytelling on Superfriends had already been on decline, largely due to the restrictions by the ABC. Though they are tolerable to watch on Boomerang currently, though right now they're running the most popular of the incarnations of that time, "The Challenge of the Superfriends" which is the Legion of Doom story arc. Which was unfortunately given only 1 year to deal with. And clearly reviewer Tim Janson must have a foggy memory, considering that they said "KILL" and "DEATH" often during the Superfiends run, though once restrictions kicked in they got inventive using other words the writers used to clue in the audience what they really meant. I mark out a couple of good episodes of Guardians. "Without Fear" which I believe is titled, where Scarecrow finally was able to put fear in Batman after both had unknowingly was battling in Crime Alley where Martha and Thomas Wayne were gunned down and Batman struggled and triumphantly conquered his one and only fear. The other was "Death of Superman" where Firestorm blamed himself for the "Man of Steel's" supposed demise while on a mission to discover a cure against kryptonite only to get a nasty surprise when one of the crystal formations was a giant chunk of kryptonite. Superman put himself in a induced sleep to slow the effects while Firestorm believed him dead and blamed himself because he chose to do a little sight-seeing. Too bad we didn't quite get that kind of dark storytelling often on Guardians or I would have agreed with you Moz. As far as animation, only gonna go halfway on that one. Clearly I liked the idea of the animators making the characters look more like their late 70's, early 80's comic incarnations. Superman was animated more to look like Chris Reeve and Batman then sporting the long ears, the darker blue cowl and sinster eyes and Wonder Woman with her very puffy, long and curly hair, but the rest of the animation didn't do the drawn character revisions justice. But animation wasn't graded on style points back then as much as they are now today. We were more interested in turning on the tv at 7 or 8 in the morning on saturday morning, getting that bowl of cocoa puffs and enjoyed the ride. Even though I'm in my late 30's, you miss those days today where it was cartoons for 4 to 5 hours on the major networks. Saturday mornings aren't what they used be. I will also mark that Adam West was brought in to succeed Olan Souchie as the voice of Batman when Firestorm was brought in Superfriends series after his run on FILMATION'S version of Batman and Robin with Burt Ward and the god-awful Batmite annoyance. Adam played cartoon Batman better than live 60's Batman because he didn't have to deal with the camp crap lines. Though he did have to play a little camp with Batmite. AGH!!! Though I did miss Olan doing the voice after he already done it for years, only for him to do the voice of Firestorm's mentor, The Professor.
RaithManan 2/6/2008 11:12:32 PM
By the way...something that needs to be said which is the age old mystery by most cartoon watchers....why Justice League never used Wonder Twins, Apache Chief, Samurai and Black Vulcan? Simple answer....those characters are properties of Hanna Barbera and not DC. If you ever even wondered why the ULTIMATES or ULTIMEN were knockoffs because that was the best way bring some sort of similarity to those characters. Hanna Barbera wouldn't allow DC to own those properties and since partners Hanna and Barbera are both dead they took those properties to the grave with them. Unless they get permission from the families which they probably been very stubborn about giving up those rights.
1 

ADD A COMMENT

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.

POPULAR TOPICS