Monday, November 30, 2015

On DVD: Challenge of the Super Friends (1978)

We have discussed Challenge of the Super Friends before, but now we're taking a look at the complete season DVD.

All 16 episodes with the Legion of Doom are included, but that's only half the show. The other half is a continuation from the previous season's format, to give the Wonder Twins something to do. When the series was broken down into half-hour increments for syndication, those episodes were kept to the side, since the LOD episodes were much more popular with comics fans.

However, there are some flaws in the writing of some of these stories, as well as some artistic gaffes. Take for example the episode, "Secret Origins of the Super Friends". Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) schemes to erase Superman, Wonder Woman, & Green Lantern from existence, and for a time, he succeeds. Problem is, and the writers completely whiffed on this point, with Superman gone pro tempore, his imperfect clone, Bizarro, should've been erased as well, because without the Man of Steel, there is no Bizarro.

As we noted in reviewing "History of Doom", Giganta (Ruth Forman) was originally a foe of Wonder Woman, but with the Cheetah (Marianne Aragon) already in the fold, the producers, ignoring the fact that Superman & Batman both had multiple foes on the Legion's roster, decided to assign Giganta to made-for-TV hero Apache Chief, as denoted in the show's opening sequence. The problem with that is, Giganta was attired in the same jungle gear she had in the books.

Funny thing: when Hanna-Barbera was commissioned by NBC to produce 2 live-action specials, they eventually posited Giganta as a girlfriend of the Atom. In the books, that would eventually happen, but not with the Atom we knew (Ray Palmer), but his successor, Ryan Choi. Like, who knew?

The documentary feature, Saturdays, Sleeping Bags, & Super Friends, has comments from comics creators such as Paul Dini, Alex Ross, and DC editor Dan DiDio (who can't write his way out of a paper bag). Whee.

In essence, Dini and Bruce Timm and company reinvented the LOD as the DCAU's version of the Secret Society on Justice League Unlimited nearly 30 years later, but with a larger roster to match the Justice League's, and missing some original LOD members. Not to be confused with the pro wrestling Legion of Doom, which was condensed down to its most iconic members, the Road Warriors, in the 80's.

Looking back now, with the series 3 years away from its 40th anniversary, it's easier to see some of the mistakes the writers made, leaving fans to consider how it could've been done better.

Rating: A-.

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