Thursday, September 20, 2012

Teen Titans Episode 1

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Episode 1: "The Monster Machine"

Aqualad tends to get the short end of the trident on the Shrine, so it seemed appropriate to give him some time in the spotlight. Case in point, starting this week we're going to take a look at the Filmation Teen Titans cartoon series, which aired as interstitials during the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (for you younger fans out there: yes, that was a real show).

This first episode opens up simply enough: with a giant robot on a rampage!

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Speedy, in between shooting up, is on Teen Titan Monitor Duty (or whatever they call it), and sees the robot rampaging on a viewscreen. He puts out a call to his fellow Titans: Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and...that's it:
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The Titans arrive and take on the robot. But its so powerful that it quickly fends them all off, leaving them in a pile. It retreats back into the sea, which is Aqualad's cue to take it on himself (great idea, Garth), only to lead to the young hero caught helpless in the robot's pincers.

The robot then heads down the coast, and the Titans follow. Aqualad frees himself, and they see that the robot comes from a massive alien ship:

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The ship seems be controlled by the above supercomputer, which unleashes several robot monsters at the Titans. But this time, they are better prepared, and thanks to some quick thinking (and indestructible Amazonian bracelets), its the robots' turn to be left, defeated, in a pile.

This causes the computer to overload and explode, taking the base with it. The Teen Titans leap into their jet and escape in the nick of time, with Wonder Girl and Aqualad soon making quick departures themselves:

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This leaves Kid Flash and Speedy to take the jet home, ready for another adventure. The End!


These Teen Titans shorts were about five minutes long, leaving no time for anything other than the most bare bones plot: a robot attacks, the Titans try to stop it, fail, try again, and win. We never meet the supposed alien invaders, and the Titans don't get the chance to even investigate. The base blows up, let's call it a day!

I remember watching re-runs of these shows as a wee lad, and as much as I loved Aquaman in his own adventures (and I *did* love it), I was also jazzed at seeing such "B" level characters such as Kid Flash and Speedy in animated form. I always thought it was weird Robin didn't participate, but hey that just meant more time for the rest of the Titans!


Fun Fact: Aqualad was played by actor Jerry Dexter, who had a long career both in live action and voice over. In addition to essaying Aqualad on both Teen Titans and Aquaman, he could also be heard on shows like Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Fangface, and Shazzan.

6 comments:

Earth 2 Chris said...

These really do capture the zany Bob Haney feel of the comics, even though they don't have time to get into the whole "teens vs. adults" plots that the early TT comics had. I think Haney even contributed to the shorts, but I could be wrong. I know he worked on other DC/Filmation shows.

This show is probably one of the reasons Speedy was made a permanent Titans shortly thereafter. He basically got promoted to full Titan (and de facto leader) since Robin's rights were tied up in the live-action Batman show.

Kid Flash's redesign always bothered me. Kid Flash had one of the best costumes in comics, and the mangled it for no real reason.

Chris

Neal P said...

I guess the fourth monitor screen was supposed to be for Speedy, but I always thought it was for Robin who was off on a mission with Batman and couldn't respond.

Joseph Brian Scott said...

"Speedy, in between shooting up,..."

THAT is one of the reasons I love the Shrine.

I felt the same feelings you were feeling. It WAS very jazzling to see these lesser known characters brought to sketchily animated life. Heck, everybody knew Superman and Batman and probably Aquaman, but watching these obscure-to-the-mainstream-public sidekicks as a wee bairn, I felt like I had the inside track and could take special pleasure in it.

But yeah, this attempt at Kid Flash's costume missed the mark by a few yards; I guess the studio couldn't handle his true, somewhat quirky costume details. Those filmation character designs seemed to have a mandated top, belt, trunks, boots format. Anything that deviated from it would cause the cels to explode like an alien, robot-spewing supercomputer.

Anthony said...

Filmation wasn't exactly Disney-level (or even competitor Hanna-Barbera-level) animation quality. I just chalked Kid Flash's costume up to their bargain-basement animation...

Re: the "Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" (and its cheesy-but-catchy theme song), I wouldn't mind seeing a *new* version of the show. (Cartoon Network could throw in the new Teen Titans Go shorts as the interstitials!) Superman could use the spotlight again (vs Yet Another Batman Cartoon), and Aquaman's star is rising, plus the two have some history together ("Adventure Comics" in the Silver Age plus JLA teammates for years)...

Sphinx Magoo said...

I'm not sure about the timing, but I betcha the rights for an animated Batman and Robin were tied up with the TV show. Which is a shame because Batman and Robin soon starred in their own Filmation animated adventures. We were only THIS close to having Robin show up with these Titans... :(

hobbyfan said...

5-6 minutes was the norm for the shorts back in those days. No room for character development, even though DC's own writers were responsible for these stories (i.e. Bob Haney, George Kashdan).