All-New Super Friends Hour, The

Tagged: TV

Animated tv series (1977-1978; vt Super Friends II). Hanna-Barbera Productions for ABC-TV. Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Creative Producer: Iwo Takamoto. Directed by Charles A Nichols. Writers included Willie Gilbert, Elena Lesser, Orville H Hampton, Duane Poole, others. Cast includes Norman Alden, Jack Angle, Michael Bell, Danny Dark, Shannon Farnum, Buster Jones, Casey Kasem, Michael Rye, Olan Soule and Liberty Williams. Narrator: William Woodson. 15 60-minute episodes, each of four separate instalments. Colour.

This ABC-TV revival of Super Friends (1973-1974) was reportedly sparked by the popularity of the live-action Television series The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978) and Wonder Woman (1976-1979; The New Adventures of Wonder Woman) (see Wonder Woman Film/TV). Reuniting most of the DC Comics Justice League of America characters, this more sophisticated version features Superheroes other than the familiar roster. Some diversity was added by the guest inclusion of Apache Chief (Bell), a Native American hero who could increase his size to huge proportions (although he spoke in stereotypical broken "Native American" English); and Black Vulcan (Jones), an African-American hero with electricity-manipulation abilities. (DC already had a similar superhero, Black Lightning, then unavailable owing to legal disputes between creator Tony Isabella and the publisher.) The Alien Wonder Twins, Zan (Bell) and Jayna (Williams) are Shapeshifters who transform by touching hands and saying "Wonder Twins Powers – Activate!"; they are accompanied by rhe annoying blue "space monkey", Gleek (Bell). Rima the Jungle Girl from W H Hudson's Green Mansions (1904) occasionally appears in environmentally-themed adventures; she briefly had her own Comics title from DC in 1974-1975.

The programme followed a four-instalment format. First, two heroes in a standalone adventure. The Wonder Twins would star in the second instalment, always involving teenagers engaged in some criminal or risky activity (such as vandalism or hitching rides from strangers) that led to their being rescued by Zan and Jayna. The third instalment was the main adventure, generally the longest segment and including the entire team. The fourth and final segment brought in a guest hero such as The Atom (Angel) or Green Lantern, whose powers were conveniently necessary to solve the current challenge.

As in many series of this period aimed at younger viewers, short inserted segments offered advice on safety, first aid and life in general. Later the episodes were cut to 30-minute instalments for syndicated repeats; still later, they were sometimes included in the runs of other animated programmes featuring such DC characters as Batman. [GSt]

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