Thursday, April 25, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Birdboy (1967)

It wasn't enough that Birdman already had a sidekick in Avenger. Someone decided he needed a juvenile partner, giving the Solar Sentinel (Keith Andes) his own answer to the likes of Robin, Kid Flash, et al.

Enter Birdboy (Dick Beals), introduced as an semi-amnesiac left all alone at sea, separated from his father, who is presumed lost, thanks to an attack by the Barracuda. Since only one season of Birdman was produced, Birdboy never found his father.

Nearly 35 years later, when the series was resurrected as the satirical Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, Birdboy was in turn revived as a clerk named Peanut. [Adult Swim]'s handling of the characters over a 6 year period has made it nigh impossible for anyone to properly mount a more appropriate revival of the original series that can finish the story that Hanna-Barbera's staff of writers had created in 1967. Today's audience has been conditioned not to take Birdman & Birdboy seriously. Not only that, but considering that Birdman's own origin was never fully explored, there is a whole wellspring of ideas left unused. That shouldn't be the case, but these are the sort of things that make older fans frustrated with Warner Bros. & Cartoon Network.

Edit: The episode was deleted by YouTube due to copyright issues. 

Rating: B-.


Geed said...

Ah Birdman. I'm a total Toth maniac and love most of his animation work (yet to be sold on Bionic Six). I even have the insanely priced Alex Toth - in Black and White book which has model sheets done by Toth (The ABC execs wanted to make Flash another color from red simply becuase Superman's cape was red...the FOOLS!). The third book in the Alex Toth hardcover series will cover his animation career (actually, book two covers some of the early years) but it probably won't come out till next year.

Geed said...

Whoops, tiny mistake. It's Alex Toth By Design that has all the model sheets, not in Black and White.

hobbyfan said...

By "insanely priced", I take it that means it's a coffee table book that runs about $50-75?

Whomever made that boneheaded suggestion at ABC must've either not known his comics, or was dumber than a bag of hammers altogether. Then again, when you consider the colorists at H-B couldn't decide from one episode to the next of Scooby-Doo what color pantyhose Daphne was wearing (pink or purple), then did the same thing with the Wonder Twins' costumes........!

Toth also did Bionic Six? Wow! That reminds me that I've got to do a review on that show.....

magicdog said...

I didn't mind Bird Boy too much, but I do think it was unfair to have never explored who his dad was. There were a lot of fan theories suggesting Bird Man was in fact the kid's father, but then one would have to explain why Ray Randall would have seeingly abandoned his wife and son for the superhero life.

I also wasn't crazy about Beals being the VA for Birdboy. I feel it would have been better to have had Tim Matthison do it.

I think the characters could be revived - especially if we use the HB version of Justice League idea.

hobbyfan said...

I was one of those who posited the prospect of Ray Randall actually being the kid's dad, but in watching this episode again, that would be nigh impossible.

Matheson was available, but as he was doing Young Samson, Birdman's NBC stablemate for H-B, I think he wanted to move on from juvenile roles, as his Samson voice was more mature, and doing Birdboy would've been a step backward.

Geed said...

Actually, the original Toth books (By Design/Black and white are out of print and fetching around $250/150 respectively. I was lucky enough to buy them when they were new.