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Monday, October 18, 2010

Super Friends: The Lost Episodes

Welcome to Super Friends: The Lost Episodes!

Released on DVD in 2009, these "lost episodes" were shows produced by Hanna-Barbera that were never aired. Apparently the network canceled the show, but H-B kept making new ones (or something; I've seen various descriptions of the hows and whys of this whole thing and still don't fully understand it).

Anyway, these episodes each contain three short segments, revolving around two or three of the regulars (Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and--yay!--Aquaman) combined with a rotating group of other heroes (in this case, Samurai, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and--getting a sort of promotion here--El Dorado). As you can see from the title card (above), H-B obviously had space for another headshot, so they chose, oddly, The Atom, a hero rarely seen on any iteration of the Super Friends show.

The title sequence mostly reuses animation from other SF credit sequences, and each hero gets their own moment, including this majestic shot of the Sea King:
"Charge, my finny friends--charge!"

Anyway, the first two episodes--three segments each--only feature Aquaman once. The stories, respectively, are "Mxyzptlk's Revenge" (Superman and Batman), "Roller Coaster" (The Atom and the Wonder Twins), "Once Upon A Poltergeist" (Batman, Robin, and Apache Chief), "The Krypton Syndrome" (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Robin), "Invasion of the Space Dolls" (Batman, Robin, and the Wonder Twins), and "Terror on the Titanic":
In this episode, some undersea explorers find the wrecked hull of the Titanic. Waiting for them inside the ship is some malevolent sea monster, which attacks them:
When the divers don't return to their ship, their shipmates call the Super Friends for help, and their call is received by Aquaman and Black Lightn--er, Vulcan. Once they arrive on the scene, Aquaman's telepathy warns him of great danger, but he can't say exactly what it is.

They find the divers, who have been taken over the icky sea creature. As they fight off the mind-controlled humans, they learn what the even bigger trouble is: the Titanic has somehow come alive!

As the Titanic heads for the surface, Aquaman and Black Vulcan subdue the divers, freeing them from the mind-control:
The Titanic, complete with eyes and mouth (making it look a bit like Jabberjaw), heads out to sea, with Aquaman and Black Vulcan in hot pursuit. Aquaman comes up with a plan, which involves Vulcan acting like a decoy so the Titanic will follow him away from a nearby coastal town.

Vulcan leads the ship to crash onto some ragged iceberg cliffs, tearing its hull and causing it to sink once again. Aquaman and Black Vulcan reflect on a job well done:

The third episode kicks off with a really neat segment--"Revenge of Doom", which is no less than a sequel to the Challenge of the Super Friends year of the show. It shows the Hall of Doom, now wrecked, the Legion of Doom having been decisively defeated in some unseen battle. Luthor, Solomon Grundy, and Sinestro salvage their old HQ, kidnapping Batman and Robin in the process.

Sadly, only Superman and Wonder Woman show up in this segment--too bad, this is a fun little follow-up and it would have been cool to see Aquaman, Flash, et al, also appear to take on the Legion of Doom (including Black Manta, seen briefly) once last time.

Aquaman does appear in the next segment, "A Pint of Life":
This story opens with a very sick boy at Metropolis Hospital. The doctor says the boy's only hope is a transfusion from his father, an archeologist, Dr. Jonas Marx, now currently on an expedition along the Amazon.

The doctor calls the Hall of Justice, and the Wonder Twins are there to relay a message to Aquaman, who goes on a search for Dr. Marx. After fighting off a giant python (who won't obey Aquaman's telepathic commands), Aquaman finds Dr. Marx in some ancient ruins:
...this will be the closest we will ever get to Aquaman teaming up with Indiana Jones--not that the world was screaming out for that.

Aquaman gives Dr. Marx the news, who agrees to return to Metropolis. But in the meantime they are attacked by a tribe of natives, who truss them up, dumping them both in pirana-infested waters:
The Wonder Twins arrive, just in time to fight off the tribe. Aquaman commands the piranas to chew through the trap door above them, allowing them to escape. With Dr. Marx now safe, they all return to Metropolis, where his son--Mutt?--gets the transfusion in time.

This episode ends with "Day of the Dinosaurs" (featuring Wonder Woman and Samurai), and the fourth show doesn't feature Aquaman at all--"Playground of Doom" (Superman, Batman, and Robin), "Space Racers" (Wonder Woman, Flash, and the Wonder Twins), and "The Recruiter" (Superman and Wonder Woman).

By nature of the format, these lost episodes either feature Aquaman a lot or not at all; so while he's only in two segments out of twelve, he gets a lot to do in those two. I think its great that H-B retained him as one of the "core" characters, appearing in every episode's opening credits and title cards. And of course the geek in me enjoys seeing Super Friends shows I have never seen before.

The Shrine will be covering more of these "lost episodes" soon!


Anonymous said...

Young Justice 5 Minute Preview at New York Comic Con 2010

Wings1295 said...

I didn't even know these existed, so awesome right there. Thanks for a great post, Rob!

Plaidstallions said...

These did see air in syndication, I have horrible VHS copies of these from the USA network.

JasonMotesBowles said...

I love how EV-ER-Y one in the Super Friends' world not only has a two-way video phone, but a direct line to The Super Friends! It seemed like it was easier to get ah old of them than it is to get tech support!