During the glory days of Saturday morning cartoons, there were certain shows that made a kid scream if anyone touched the dial. The folks insisted you go outside to the playground instead of watching TV. There was no point in heading to the swing set since all the other kids were at home watching that show. Who wants to be a social outcast at 7 years old? What child wanted the stigma of missing the latest episode of Super Friends in the Fall of 1973? Who could afford to be out of the loop of knowing how Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Robin saved the world? Super Friends!: Season One, Volume One gives the first eight episodes of the morning madness.
To make the series more educational, we’re introduced to the new characters of Marvin, Wendy and Wonderdog. They’re considered Junior Super Friends. What are their secret powers that lets them rub shoulders with Superman? The kids are normal teens. Wonderdog does the communication skills of Scooby-Doo. They were not the Wonder Twins. The normal kids remind viewers that you could be a super hero without being a genetic freak, an alien or extremely rich. All you need is a cape and connections. How these two kids and the dog were picked for this honor is never explained. Did these kids win a cereal box contest? Why are their parents so cool with them constantly being in jeopardy or flying off to other worlds? I’ve always held to the belief that the point of Marvin was to make Aquaman look more powerful.
Superman could easily beat up most of the evil villains, but he’s got something worse than kryptonite holding him back. Parents groups had forced the networks to yank violence from the cartoons in the ‘70s. Hanna-Barbera had to pull the punches when it came to fighting. There’s a Gandhi level of non-violence to the resolutions. This is why they were the Super Friends and not the Super Buttkickers. Luckily their opponents weren’t bruisers. The villains aren’t from the pages of D.C. comics. There’s no Riddler, Joker, Lex Luthor or even Catwoman tangling with the Super Friends. A majority of the bad guys are merely misguided scientists and aliens.
“The Power Pirate” has an alien stealing the identity of a Scotland Yard detective to swipe various power resources. He needs to take the juice back to his home planet. “The Baffles Puzzle” turns a mad professor against culture. He creates a chemical that can destroy art, literature and music. His evil plan goes wrong when others use the chemical to blackmail countries. “Professor Goodfellow’s G.E.E.C.” presents the vision of a computer automated world. The scientist turns America into a lazy remote control nation with his amazing super computer. The plan goes wrong when a mouse gets in the system. It’s up to Plastic Man to save the day. “The Weather Maker” talks about global warming events three decades ago. It’s not carbon gases that are screwing up weather patterns, but a scientist.
“Dr. Pelagian’s War” gets nasty when an eco-warrior promises destruction if three captains of industry don’t stop their polluting ways. Is it wrong to use such harsh means to get people to think green? “The Shamon ‘U'” pulls a solid gold meteorite to the earth. What Dr. Shamon doesn’t realize is that his device has also sucked strange space gases into our atmosphere. The gases cause some things to grow and other to shrink. “Too Hot to Handle” brings the Earth closer to the sun so an alien race can invade. Turns out their planet is too cold because of pollution. The Flash is called in to help put things right. A scientist sabotages the space program in “The Androids.” He’s protesting misappropriation of government funds of going into space when the Earth is still messed up. He resorts to a robo Wonder Dog to destroy a rocket launch.
As seen in the summaries, nobody is truly evil that cause the Troubalert to summon the Super Friends. They aren’t even brought to justice at the end of each episode. Superman forces them to see the errors of their ways. They accept it. Nobody needs to get locked up in Arkham Asylum. Perhaps the biggest punishment they can suffer is the public knowledge that Wendy and Marvin contributed to their downfall.
This first season is the longest of the various incarnations that lasted till the mid-’80s. Each Super Friends episode was a single 45 minute long story. In the following seasons each episode would be comprised of adventures that were under 20 minutes. Guess kids back in 1973 had a longer attention span even with all the sugary cereals. The longer length does allow the plots to not seem too rushed. Super Friends!: Season One, Volume One reminds us of a time when a boy, a girl and their dog were able to save the world from pesky scientists with a little help from their friends.
“The Power Pirate,” “The Baffles Puzzle,” “Professor Goodfellow’s G.E.E.C,” “The Weather Maker,” “Dr. Pelagian’s War,” “The Shamon ‘U’,” “Too Hot To Handle” and “The Androids”
The video is 1.33:1 Full Frame. The transfers aren’t the cleanest although it appears the dirt is on the animation cells. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are just right to hear Ted Knight (Mary Tyler Moore‘s Ted Baxter) give the narration. The subtitles are in English.
Super Friends Trivia Challenge is an interactive quiz that can have two players competing.
Super Friends!: Season One, Volume One brings one of the most popular Saturday morning cartoons home. Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog didn’t have the super powers of the Wonder Twins, but they weren’t dead weight when hanging out with Batman. They proved that kids could help save the world. The action is a bit dopey, but it still has that escapist fun that will make an overgrown kid want to stay inside.
Warner Home Video presents Super Friends!: Season One, Volume One. Starring the Voices of: Ted Knight, Casey Kasem, Frank Welker and Danny Dark. Box set Contents: 8 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: January 5, 2009. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Aquaman, Batman, DC Comics, Flash (Barry Allen), Justice League of America, Plastic Man, Robin, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Super Friends, Superman, Wonder Woman