Sunday, January 15, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: All-New Super Friends Hour (1977)

ABC's 1977-78 Saturday morning block, it can be said, propelled the network to #1 in the ratings. Only two series returned from the previous year--American Bandstand & The Krofft Supershow. Filling out the block were three new series. We've previously reviewed Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, the 2-hour block in the middle of the pack, and the ABC Weekend Special. We've also featured some episodes from the series we're profiling today, the All-New Super Friends Hour.

It had been 4 years since the original Super Friends had been the centerpiece of ABC's lineup, and even though only 1 season's worth of episodes had been produced, most, if not all, recorded in Australia for whatever reason, the fan support was enough to keep it on the air as a mid-season replacement the next three seasons, truncated to a half-hour format in 1976. The ratings began to climb for the reruns, it would seem, prompting ABC to order a new series.

The format was different this time around. There would be 4 episodes per show, plus special health & safety tips, puzzles tied into the main feature, and the occasional magic tricks. The puzzles & magic segments, unfortunately, have been seemingly lost to the mists of time for now, save maybe for the recent DVD releases. Likewise, the Wonder Twins shorts are also not available on YouTube at the present time, save for some truncated and remixed pieces redone for [adult swim]. Trust me, pilgrims, you don't want to know what I think of [adult swim]'s mistreatment of the Hanna-Barbera library, but I may do an essay on that one day, just to vent!

Anyway, this was what I was willing to wake up for on a Saturday morning in 1977. H-B was competing with itself in the 8-9 am (ET) slot at the start of the season, what with CB Bears, similarly formatted to the Super Friends, airing on NBC, and Skatebirds (ditto) on CBS. Those other series, as we noted in our reviews previously, were plowed under in the ratings by the networks' short-sighted attempts to counter-program.

The plots picked up from the previous series, and due to the anti-violence regulations that were still in effect, our heroes couldn't fully lay the smack down on the bad guys. There was one DC villain that season, that being the Gentleman Ghost, a Hawkman enemy who would later reform for a time in the comics. Hey, trust me, I know, I read those stories! However, the Ghost wasn't treated too kindly by the writers, who couldn't be bothered to use Hawkman for that particular story.

This would be the last season where Norman Alden (ex-Electra Woman & Dynagirl) would be the voice of Aquaman, as he left the show when they switched formats again to Challenge of the Super Friends the following year, although he would reteam with Shannon Farnon (Wonder Woman) for a Cartoon Network ad with the Powerpuff Girls more than 20 years later.

Kurtis Findlay uploaded the open:

The video for the episode, "The Enforcer", was deleted by YouTube due to copyright infringement issues. We'll bring that back in a separate post another time.

Rating for the series: A.


magicdog said...

I remember this ep particularly because of the premise.

Now that I'm older I think the "criminals in charge of law & order" concept is just a euphemism for politicians!

I remember the opening credits too. I think they were the best and most memorable of all the Superfriends credits. In fact, "Family Guy" spoofed it a while back!

I am really looking forward towards your anti-Adult Swim essay!! It needs to be said.

hobbyfan said...

Yah, that Family Guy spoof of the ANSFH open is up on YouTube, but that will be part of the commentary on what's wrong with [adult swim].

The theme song is also the best by plenty.