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Monday, June 01, 2009

The All-New Super Friends Hour: Episode 1

In my quest to cover Aquaman in every single place he has appeared, I thought I would start going back and looking at episodes of the various Super Friends series that were produced over the years, like I do for the current Brave and the Bold series.

But unlike that show, Aquaman appears in every single iteration of the Super Friends, in some capacity, so I thought it'd be fun--and appropriate--to go back and take a look.

Since the very first Super Friends series--simply titled Super Friends, which debuted in 1973, isn't on DVD yet, I couldn't start from the very beginning. So I decided to just pick a series, and start from there.

So this is the first episode of The All-New Super Friends Hour, an ambitious effort, which ran from 1977 to 1978. Each episode featured several different stories featuring various combinations of characters, plus the fondly remembered Safety, Decoder, Health, and Magic segments.

So enough talk, let's get started!

This first episode kicks off with "The Brain Machine", featuring Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman taking on a scientist who subjects himself to his own experiments, and becomes so super-intelligent he tries to take over the world.

The first Safety segment features Aquaman, teaching a kid not to swim alone, because you could get in trouble:
Next up is The Wonder Twins in a solo segment called "Joy Ride", about two kids who steal a plane.

After that is the De-Coder segment, where one of the Super Friends (in this case Superman) gives you a clue to figure out a word that will have significance in the following segment.

All the Super Friends star in "Invasion of the Earthors":
In this story, a race of underground creatures (you guessed it, the Earthors) create all kinds of trouble for Earth when they start stealing bedrock by the ton.

Aquaman doesn't get that much to do in this story, except for one moment, where he has to seal a crack in the ocean floor which is spilling oil (this episode brought to you by the fine folks of Exxon).

Aquaman gets to the spill, and uses his tremendous speed to create a whirlpool, which drives the oil back underground:
He later calls some of his finny friends to cover the crack with boulders, keeping the oil in place. Eventually, the Earthors are stopped, and Superman breaks up a hunk of a nearby asteroid to give them all the bedrock they need. After that, in the Magic segment, Wonder Woman teaches us a trick involving a disappearing coin.

Aquaman's relative lack of screentime in the previous sequence is made up for in the last segment, which always featured one regular Super Friend and a guest star. In this case, its Aquaman and Black Vulcan in "The Whirlpool":
This story is about a sea captain, so determined to break the record in how fast he can get his cargo across the seas to its final destination, who risks everything by running his ship into dangerous weather.

Aquaman and Black Vulcan arrive, and try and talk the captain out of it:
...I don't know why, but this still just makes me laugh.

Anyway, the captain is too far gone to listen, and he even tries to kill the Super Friends! But they eventually escape, save the ship, and finally the captain comes to his senses.

Finally, in the Health segment, Batman and Robin stress the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. You don't become the World's Greatest Detective eating candy bars all day.

A curious thing I noticed about these episodes: while IMDB lists our pal Norman Alden as the voice of Aquaman, his name is nowhere to be found in the credits:
...so who is Aquaman here? The voice sounds a little like Alden, but not quite, so I'm betting he was voiced by one the people listed above, and IMDB is wrong.

You could argue that while the Challenge of the Super Friends episodes remain probably the most remembered and beloved of the Super Friends series, it was these All-New Super Friends Hour shows that are the most ambitious--writing eight different segments for each episode is a ton of work, much more work than writing one (or even two) longer stories.

Plus, as a kid, I loved the team-up segments featuring the random characters, some of whom never even made it onto Challenge of the Super Friends, as we'll see in future posts.

Speaking of future posts, if you would like to see more discussions of Super Friends episodes, leave a comment and let us know!

This episode's Aqua-Content: High


Russell said...

Totally awesome, dude!
(sorry, I was channeling my inner 70s child)

I think this is a great idea, mostly because this lets me skip to the episodes that I really want to watch and pass over the, say, Wonder Twins segments. :-)

But...ANOTHER chronological "blog," Rob? Heh heh, I thought you said you would NEVER do another one. :-)

I have been waiting for this season of SF (as opposed to the later, Super Power versions with Firestorm and Cyborg) but I don't recall seeing it. Now I'll have to track it down.

And (lastly, I promise) I swear I saw or read somewhere what the name of the voice actor who did Aquaman is, but I can't remember who or where I saw it. hmmm....

rob! said...

Well, these won't be every day, just every so often, so I feel like I'm sticking to my "no more chronological blogs" rule. :)

Wings1295 said...

I love the idea, Rob! Superfriends is where I first found Aquaman, and it is what led me to the comic world. They were great fun for a generation of kids! And Aquaman was right up there with the "big guns"!

Anonymous said...

The voice list isn't complete. Danny Dark (Superman), Olan Soule (Batman) and the guy who did Zan aren't on here either.
This was the last series that had Alden's voice. After this it was that Bill Callaway guy. IMO, Aquaman's role in the Superfriends went downhill when the voice changed.

Cindy Healy

Luis said...

I think it's a great idea! Mostly because I own the DVD of the Super Friends Hour Vol. 1 and am in the process of watching them and wallowing in massive doses of nostalgia.

Erik the Sleeper said...

Oh God this takes me back - 29th January 1979, my first day at school. I didn't have my school uniform yet (standard thing in Australia), so Mum sent me to school in my Super Friends t-shirt, with our man on the front. Popularity? No problem! Cheers for the memories Rob!!!

rob! said...

"Popularity? No problem!" ....that made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

It's Supervolt and Whitefish!

And evil sea captains make Black Vulcan nervous...in his pants.