Saturday, December 29, 2012

On DVD: DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures (1967)

In 2007, Warner Home Video issued a compilation of the six rotating backup features from the Aquaman half of the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Some of those shorts have previously been featured here in the Archives, but let's take a closer look:

The Atom: At the time, the Tiny Titan (Pat Harrington, Jr., who was also working on Journey to the Center of the Earth for Filmation & The Inspector for DePatie-Freleng), was starring in his own DC book, alongside Hawkman, if memory serves me correctly. In fact, each of the six features were being published by DC, which was the criteria for making it to television. Professor Ray Palmer was accompanied by two other eggheads (voiced by narrator Ted Knight) in each of his three shorts, and as Atom had to fend off bizarre alien invaders and the usual selfish, power hungry despots. DC writer George Kashdan wrote all three episodes.

The Flash: Police scientist Barry Allen (Cliff Owens) had similar menaces to deal with, one of which was an alien counterpart of himself, Blue Bolt (Knight). Kid Flash (Tommy Kirk) joined Flash to battle Blue Bolt and Professor Krang.

The Teen Titans: Kid Flash was joined by Aqualad (Jerry Dexter), Wonder Girl (Julie Bennett), & Speedy (Harrington), with the team's real leader, Robin, in absentia (20th Century Fox had the rights, of course, to Batman & Robin at the time), and thus we didn't get the full team. Best of their three was the last one, "Operation Rescue".

Green Lantern: We screened all three of the Emerald Gladiator's shorts a year and a half ago, around the time the live-action feature film with Ryan Reynolds hit theatres. Hal Jordan (Gerald Mohr, Fantastic Four) was aided not by his Alaskan-born aide from the comics, Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku, but rather a Venusian immigrant named Kyro (Paul Frees). No rational explanation was ever given for the switch. Frees also voiced the Guardians and some of the villains, taking some of the burden off Knight, who otherwise seemed to have a monopoly on the bad guys.

Hawkman: Thanagarian-born Carter Hall (or, Katar Hol)(Gilbert Mack) had the most alterations made to his series. For one, he was working without wife Shiera, aka Hawkgirl, who'd make her television debut 10 years later. He was given a set of multi-purpose, talon-shaped gauntlets and a hawk sidekick, Skreel, instead. His lab partner, Prof. Forbes (Knight) apparently was privy to Hall's dual identity, as Carter changed right in front of him in two of the shorts.

Justice League of America: Even though Aquaman (Marvin Miller) was advertised as part of the team, he didn't appear in any of the three shorts. Instead, Hawkman, Atom, Flash, & Green Lantern were joined by the star of the other half of the show, Superman (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth). As noted, Batman was missing, but so was Wonder Woman, whose rights were also held by Fox at that time, and it would be five years before Filmation would get to use the Amazing Amazon.

Today, these 7 minute shorts would be stretched to three times the length in order to get on the air, allowing for plot expansion and continuity, something that was not in vogue back in those days. The DVD also includes a documentary feature on Filmation co-founder (and sometime voice actor) Lou Scheimer that is worth viewing.

TheJusticeLeaguers provides us with the Justice League episode, "Bad Day at Black Mountain":

As has been widely noted, a printing error resulted in Hanna-Barbera's Birdman appearing on the contents screen on disc 1, in place of Hawkman. Yes, the Solar Sentinel arrived the same year, but had no connection to the DC heroes then.

Rating: B+.


Geed said...

Oh, how I loved the DC Filmation Adventures. I saw them via reruns on channel 5 in NY for a short time in the early 70's (possibly '72) when they then switched to all 60's Filmation Batman. The opening to the JLA cartoons haunted me for YEARS because I only saw it once and thought it was so cool. Fast forward years later to a comic convention and lo and behold...bootleg on VHS tape! Close enough for jazz, as they say. Got it home, memories flooded back JLA opening. Then bootleg dvd's of the same set came out so nothing new besides the change in format. I did finally see the JLA opening on YouTube (ever see the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure opening? Hilarious!) but the announcement of the DC Filmation Adventures on DVD made me scream with glee. Didn't have the Superman/Aquaman opening, the bumpers or the secret code segments (those weren't in the reruns anyway) but I was hooked once again. I'm a old DC silver age comic lovin' guy so seeing these toons, yes, even tho they weren't the best ever, made me very happy to own.

Oh yeah, and Birdman on the menu screen had me giggling first time I saw it.

hobbyfan said...


I have the open to the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure, which was posted a couple of years ago. The lyrics are cheesy, and the instrumentals were also used for the JLA open, and later, the close to the Aquaman Show, after the Sea King was bumped from Saturdays in favor of Batman.

Secret codes? That might've been something that they tried reviving on Super Friends a decade later, but bombed out.