"Say, does this look funny to you?"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Legend Of The Superheroes

Sometime in the late 70's, Fred Silverman went from being Head of Programming of ABC to Head of Programming of NBC. It would be a taunting job. Silverman had put together great shows for ABC. "Happy Days", "Charlie's Angels", "Starsky and Hutch" and others. Could he do the same with NBC? Well, no. He was terrible. Does anyone remember "Supertrain"? "Hello, Larry"? "The Harlem Globetrotters On Gilligan's Island?" You wouldn't have if I didn't mention it? This was Silverman's fault. Oh yeah, he made Gary Coleman a star, too. Can't forget that.

"Legends Of The Superheroes" was his fault, too. Superheroes were coming back in vogue, with "Superman The Movie" doing well at the box office and both Wonder Woman and The Hulk bringing in rating, NBC decided to do superheroes as well. I'm not sure who got together with who, whether NBC called Hanna-Barera about it or vice versa, but somehow the shows got on the air on Thursday nights for two weeks in 1979 at 8pm, against "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "The Waltons".

The shows opened with Gary Owens narrating that for centuries, there have been men and women dedicating themselves to fighting crime. Well, the only crime here is the writing. Ted Bundy style. Now I have to admit, the heroes and villains, minus the Batman crew, look ok for seventies standards. But the show itself is just camp to the hilt. Adam West, Burt Ward, and
Frank Gorshin return to the roles that stereotyped them for life, while Charlie Callas plays Sinestro, 70's stand by comic Jeff Altman portrays Weather Wizard, Howard Morris, better known as Ernest T. Bass from The Andy Griffith Show and Your Show Of Shows plays Dr. Sivanna, among other villains like Mordu and Giganta. Unknowns played heroes such as Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, The Huntress, Black Canary and Captain Marvel.

The first episode deals with the heroes having one hour (how neat) to find a bomb that could destroy the world. In it, there's foot chases, jet ski chases, heroes chained to tire racks, Captain Marvel seeing a shrink, The Flash posing to look like he's running, Solomon Grundy posing as a gas station attendant, and Marsha Warfield from "Night Court" giving commentary. "Alice, remember me telling to about that great big guy? Yeah, well, he just dumped the one with the wings." Once again, the heroes save the day and network gets the rating back, which weren't that good.

The next week, the superheroes face and even bigger challenge in what's called, "The Roast". That's right, it's time for a good old fashioned ribbing and ya mama jokes. This was a visual beatdown, hosted by Ed McMahon. No crap. One liners like, "I haven't seen people dressed like this since I had dinner at Alice Cooper's house" are the norm for this one. What's interesting is that the villains are showing up at Hero HQ roasting the good guys. I supposed no one told them that if they actually showed up for this thing, they could be arrested, or worse, as the new comic book mini series Identity Crisis shows, get the crap beat out of them, then lobotomized.

You know this is the seventies when they have a guy showed up called Ghettoman. Imagine J.J. Evans with superpowers. "When I look around me , I see a whole lotta super, but not too many brothas. I mean, a few years ago, the NAACP asked y'all to intergrate, but we don't feel the Green Lantern qualifies as colored." Yeah, that'll make the show look hip and against THE MAN.

There's singing, dancing, comedy. All the things that qualifies as superhero action to me. It was so bad, it stuck in my mind as I was growing up, thinking I would never see that again. You have to remember, this was before VCRs were affordable. Back then, you only had a knob to turn and a TV Guide. If you missed it then, that was too damn bad. So when I found this horror on tape, I had to have it. Then somehow, I wound up losing the tape after showing it to friends as a laugh. I decided while going to Dragon*Con this year to purchase a new copy, so I can say not only do I have a childhood memory locked away, but a reminder if how truly bad TV can be.

But, if you think this was awful, you should see "The Star Wars Holiday Special". I've got that one, too. Somebody's gotta keep this stuff away from the public.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's posts like this that keep me coming back.

I didn't catch these episodes, but the 70's had some of the worst TV shows ever. Did you ever see Gomer Pile and Ruth Buzzy's Saturday morning show where they wore silver space suits. OH it was terrible!!!

Dave Hewitt

11:05 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Ruth Buzzi and Jim Nabors were in

The Lost Saucer, (1975)

Krofft Superstars live on, don't they.

1:46 AM  

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