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Archive for the tag “Hanna-Barbera”

The Bride of Darkseid

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

After getting Filmation Studios off the ground with TV cartoons in the ’60s, the DC superheroes (mostly) transitioned to Hanna-Barbera for the Super Friends dynasty of the ’70s and ’80s. We’ve covered SUPER FRIENDS, The ALL-NEW SUPER FRIENDS HOUR, CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS, The WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERFRIENDS, and started the ’80s with SUPERFRIENDS.

By this point, HB had enough episodes from the assorted series to package a show for syndication. ABC wasn’t crazy about filling a Saturday Morning slot with a franchise that was on every day in key markets, so they dropped the Super Friends from the ’83-’84 lineup. They were back on the network the following year. FCC rules regarding use of children’s programming as long-form toy commercials, which had been enacted back in the late sixties, were being relaxed (as demonstrated by HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE as well as G.I. JOE, etc.) and DC /Kenner had a new line of action figures to sell. So I presume ABC got the cartoon on the cheap.

SUPER FRIENDS: THE LEGENDARY SUPER POWERS SHOW added Firestorm to the line-up, and pitted the Justice League against the New God Darkseid, his minions and accomplices. (Not only was the rock-faced Big Boss badly nerfed here, but rendered mighty thirsty for Wonder Woman. Not that I blame him, but seems rather out of character.)

Adam West, star of the live-action BATMAN series from the ’60s as well as Filmation’s NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN animated series from the ’70s,  takes over voicing the Caped Crusader in this program. Olan Soule, who had done the character starting for Filmation in the ’60s and carried-on through all the Hanna-Barbera versions to this point, became the voice of Firestorm’s brainier half. From 1984. More from the OldHorseman.




 

Wonder Twins

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

When Hanna-Barbera took over the animation license for DC Justice League comic book superheroes, they stirred-in a big dollop of SCOOBY-DOO to appease the killjoy parent groups. But the Meddling Kids and semi-anthropomorphic mutt didn’t last long. The SUPER FRIENDS series was revamped, and they were replaced with actual superhero teens… Sort-of.

The Wonder Twins were aliens, wore costumes, had a blue space-monkey, and had what should have been awesome powers. Jayna could transform into any animal. Zan could shape-shift into any condition of water in any shape. Neither seemed limited by Conservation of Mass, and could take forms from ounces to tons as needed.

Problem was that they sucked at using their powers effectively. This was parodied in these Adult Swim interstitial segments… But they didn’t have to work too hard. The Twins really were almost this idiotic on the actual Super Friends shows. More from the OldHorseman.




Bigfoot, Ice Demon And Makeup

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

After getting Filmation Studios off the ground with TV cartoons in the ’60s, the DC superheroes (mostly) transitioned to Hanna-Barbera for the Super Friends dynasty of the ’70s and ’80s. We’ve covered SUPER FRIENDS, The ALL-NEW SUPER FRIENDS HOUR, CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS, and The WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERFRIENDS. Now we start a new decade with simply SUPERFRIENDS.

The format was three new short cartoons per show, coupled with material recycled from previous incarnations of the franchise to fill-out an hour.

The competence level of our long-john clad protagonists is pretty embarrassing in this era. Worst of all the teenage Wonder Twins. Seriously? Attacked by a giant Ice Creature and you “Shape Of” a tiny woodpecker and “Form Of” a monkey-sized jackhammer to mildly annoy the murderous monster?! Why not a fire-breathing dragon and a cloud of superheated steam to end that sucker?!?! From September 1980. More from the OldHorseman.




 

Big Mouse/Magnet Man

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Giving the SUPER FRIENDS a break, it seems we’ve already covered the shows that ran against the WORLD’S GREATEST- incarnation of the series. Let’s look at what followed it then…

PLASTIC MAN was a superhero introduced by Quality Comic in 1941, later assimilated into DC Comics. He actually made a brief appearance in the first HB Super Friends incarnation (the Wendy, Marvin, Wonderdog version) as a sort of reserve JLA member. Half a dozen years later, he became the central figure in a two-hour cartoon block produced not by HB, but their proteges at Ruby-Spears.

Among the most obscure (and lame) components of this mega-block was MIGHTY MAN AND YUKK. I half-suspect they wanted to make a new MIGHTY MOUSE series, only to find out CBS already was. So they made their diminutive protagonist human.

We get a bit of a BLUE FALCON / DYNOMUTT vibe going, as Mighty Man is “assisted” by a bumbling, semi-anthropomorphic dog called Yukk. Rather than an assortment of malfunctioning bionics, Yukk’s superpower is being so catastrophically ugly that his face can drive people to insanity and shatter inanimate objects. Thus he is obliged to wear a miniature dog house like a cowl most of the time.

This one was mercifully forgotten when Plas’ show got trimmed-down the following year and Ruby-Spears moved-on to better fare including THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN. From Sept. 1979. More from the OldHorseman.




Universe Of Evil

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Hanna-Barbera’s take on the Justice League of America were kinda’ phoning it in by the end of the Disco Decade. Although the WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERFRIENDS had a full hour time slot (albeit as the 8AM curtain-jerker), only eight half-hour episodes were made for the series. The rest was recycled from earlier Super Friends shows.

I picked this one because it features a concept that has been recurring since the DC Multiverse was established in the early 1960s, and which has been beaten like the proverbial deceased equine in recent years… Alternate versions of our superheroes — including Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman — who are, in fact, villains. From October 1979. More from the Old Horseman.




Wanted: The Super Friends

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

As we covered in recent weeks, the DC comic book superheroes came to TV animation in the ’60s, being the project that got Filmation off the ground. In 1973, Hanna-Barbera took over (mostly) and softened the superhero elements to try and satisfy the killjoy TV censorship groups by adding a big dollop of SCOOBY-DOO elements to create the SUPER FRIENDS series.

In 1977, they dropped the meddling Earth kids and their dog (who were surprisingly useful despite lack of superpowers) and replaced them with Vulcan-looking space teenagers and their blue monkey (who managed to be frequently useless despite having formidable superpowers) for the ALL-NEW SUPER FRIENDS HOUR. Covered that one while on the subject of hot Jungle Girls several weeks back. It’s how we got onto this tangent.

The following year, we got CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS. This incarnation brought the show much closer to comics than the earlier HB takes had been, with more action, references to alter-egos, back-stories, and actual bad guys. The first half of each show resembled the previous series’ segments. The second half featured the conflict between a larger Justice League roster and the Legion of Doom; a group of comic book villains organized by Lex Luthor and including Cheetah (with razor-sharp claws), Braniac (whose mind-games are deadly), Scarecrow (who is… uh… made of straw?), and Solomon Grundy (who wants pants too)!

During its network run, the whole program ran under the “Challenge of the Super Friends” title. For a while, the show was expanded to 90 minutes by folding-in material from the previous “All-New Super Friends Hour.” Later, for syndicated reruns, the first-half segments (which didn’t feature the LoD) were run with the 1977 series opening, while the LoD second-half segments retained the “Challenge” opening. From Sept. 1978. More from the OldHorseman.




Left In The Lurch

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Let’s give the SUPER FRIENDS a break and see what what was on the other channel!

Ah, the well-loved creepy, kooky family who jumped from Charles Addams’ magazine comic to live-action TV in the ’60s is back with an animated version the next decade. Ted Cassidy and Jackie Coogan return as Lurch and Fester. The rest are new voices, including preteen Jodie Foster as Pugsley and Lennie Weinrib as Gomez. Weinrib was one of the most prolific cartoon voice actors ever, but his version of Gomez misses the mark, I think.

I noticed that, on the other channel (we pretty much only had the three, back then, kids!), we find SCOOBY MOVIES, where the SUPER FRIENDS version of BATMAN and ROBIN, as well as the animated ADDAMS FAMILY, had been introduced. (They had the live-action series actors do Gomez and Morticia on the Scooby show, though.)

The 1973 Hanna-Barbera Addams series ran a full season of 16 episodes. The family would reboot and be back to TV animation in ’92… In a very rare case where I liked the newer version better than the first. More from the OldHorseman.




The Power Pirate

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Filmation studios got its start making TV cartoons featuring DC comic book superheroes, as covered here last week. But it was the ’60s, and the damned hippies were winning the Culture War, so the face-punching, hero vs villain cartoons were being pushed off TV. Filmation would continue to thrive with ARCHIE, SABRINA, FAT ALBERT, STAR TREK and other licensed characters. (Previously featured on this channel.) But it was Hanna-Barbera who would pick-up the JUSTICE LEAGUE license and run with it.

Their secret? Cut the superhero element to roughly half-strength by pouring in a big dose of SCOOBY-DOO, including Meddling Kids and semi-anthropomorphic dog.

Many call Shaggy, Velma, and Scoo… er… I mean Marvin, Wendy, and Wonder Dog “useless”, since they lack superpowers, tech, or special skills. But they’re the ones who tended to solve the cases, while the spandex grownups were running around reacting to events. Often, they stop the (not particularly villainous) antagonists by explaining the error of their ways.

A common complaint about superhero teams is that top heroes have to be “nerfed”… When you have a godlike being like Superman, who routinely saves the world in solo adventures, why would he need a team? They hadn’t quite figured out how to nerf the characters effectively in this first episode, though. We’re repeatedly reminded that the Batmobile is about the slowest means of transport on the show. And with ersatz Mystery Inc. solving the cases, Bats comes off even more useless than Aquaman… Who, for his part, gets caught by giant sea anemone as soon as he tries to swim in the ocean. (Dammit, Arthur! You had one job!!!)

From September 1973. The first episode of the first iteration of SUPER FRIENDS. More from the OldHorseman.




Force Phantom

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Last week, we wandered into the realm of Hanna-Barbera’s SUPER FRIENDS. The various series in that franchise were a bit of a departure for HB, featuring characters owned by DC Comics. The studio’s closest competition in TV cartoons, Filmation, was more into licensed properties. In fact, they had pretty much made their start doing DC superheroes themselves.

Filmation’s 1960s DC superhero cartoons featured the JUSTICE LEAGUE, TEEN TITANS, with all their members, villains, and associated characters. They were produced in association with DC editorial, so they closely resembled the comic books. This would ultimately be the downfall of the shows, as the rock ’em, sock ’em action was decried by killjoy busybodies who were already wrecking TV in the late ’60s. (This is why the ’70s Super Friends series are so laughably neutered that actual super-villains weren’t even included in the first few iterations.)

As one might expect, Filmation’s DC superhero ‘toons started at the top, with SUPERMAN himself. Here seen in his first made-for-TV short from 1966. More from the OldHorseman.




 

SuperFriends: Fire

Hey kids (of all ages). It’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Last week we had an episode of JANA OF THE JUNGLE. I noticed it got a down-vote almost immediately. I’m guessing because the crummy VHS transfer didn’t live up to the thumbnail. To make it up to y’all, this week we’ll do a similar character as she’s featured in a more popular show (of which I can find decent prints).

Hanna-Barbera usually prefers characters they own outright. So it’s no surprise that they used a near-copy of RIMA, a jungle babe who had previously been animated. The odd thing is that Rima herself had been animated by HB the year before. But that was part of the SUPER FRIENDS, one of HB’s few major licensed properties. This version of Rima basically came along with the rest of the JUSTICE LEAGUE characters from DC. This episode is the first of her several appearances in the franchise.

Of course, Rima wasn’t created by DC comics. She actually predates TARZAN (but not MOWGLI) in literature. She only got one movie though, probably because the 1959 Audrey Hepburn vehicle flopped. DC put her into her own comic book in the ’70s, and that’s the version adapted here.

This the second incarnation of the Super Friends, which catered to ever-shortening attention spans by breaking the hour-long show into multiple, brief stories and filler segments. This one includes Doctor Fright / Drag Race / Plant Creatures / Fire.

I kinda’ feel like the popular meme image of Batman slapping the hell out of Robin applies. Seriously, Dick! Sit this one out and let ol’ Bruce ‘adventure’ with the hot, half-naked blond without you along as a third wheel! Also, just how damned fast IS the Super Friends Batmobile? That sucker seems to be able to get across the continent in no-time.

From October 1977. More from the OldHorseman.




 

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