March 10, 2008

DVD Review: The All New Super Friends Hour - Season One, Volume One

I have to be honest. I am not sure if I will ever be able to keep all of the different Super Friends series. Seriously, there have been so many different incarnations and combinations that I wouldn't even know where to begin sorting them out. Even when it comes to Warner Brothers releasing of the various series they are not exactly going in order. I generally went by the characters that made their appearance. You see, there were the ones with Wendy and Marvin, the ones with Zan and Jayna, and the ones that had a larger group of Friends that included the likes of Apache Chief and Hawkman. This doesn't even touch on the episodes that had one off villains versus the ones that had the Legion of Doom.

Back to the release at hand, The All New Super Friends Hour was the second in the long line of DC team up cartoons. It ran from 1977 to 1978 and replaced the teen duo of Wendy and Marvin with the super shape-shifting siblings (phew) Zan and Jayna, along with their space monkey named Gleek (replacing the Wonder Dog). The episodes ran for one hour and were broken down into four adventures. They were broken down into a couple of adventures featuring a couple of the Super Friends, one focusing on the siblings, and one that brought the whole gang together to battle some super-menace. There were even a variety of bumpers interspersed through the adventures that would teach kids magic tricks, safety tips, and engage their brain to figure out code words.

I am sure you are wondering how well they hold up after all these years. I have to say they do pretty darn well. Of course, they bring a high nostalgia factor, reminding me of those years gone by when I would waste away on Saturday mornings eating sugary cereal, when you couldn't turn n the television without escaping the animated goodies that were always on. Actually, it makes me long for those days. It seems like so long ago when Saturday mornings were wall to wall cartoons. It is rather hard to find them now, not to mention the weekday afternoon cartoons that I would run home for after school.

Watching the episodes now, the stories seem rather simplistic, the dialogue corny, and the safety tips and magic tricks obvious, but what do I know? I am way past the target audience now. However, I still derive a lot of fun out of watching these cartoons. They will also provide hours of entertainment for those kids out there. There is a certain timeless quality too them. It does not matter how old you are, superheroes and their adventures will always hold a fascination for us.

The superhero lineup for this series consisted of the primary heroes: Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman, with the occasional guest appearance by the likes of Black Vulcan, Atom, and Hawkman. Each episode had them defending justice and all that is good while teaching a moral like believing in oneself or helping others. So, pop in a disk, press play, and enjoy!

One more thing, remember to laugh at the random animals and water based items that Zan and Jayna change into!

Audio/Video. The technical specs are quite good. Each episode has been restored. None of them have looked this good since their original broadcast. The colors are bright and sharp with little to no evidence of print damage. The audio is also crisp, clean, and clear. Another fine job from Warner Brothers.

Extras. There are a pair of featurettes on the second disk.
  • One Dimensional Goodness: The Super Friends and the Good Old Days. This is an interesting look back at the superhero cartoons of the 1970's and their place in pop culture. There was the worry of showing too much violence as a reaction to the 1960's toons as well as what was going on in the real world (IE: the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King). (15 minutes)
  • Origins of the Guest Stars. This featurette takes a look at the non-core heroes that made appearances in each episode. Guests include Green Lantern, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the Atom, Rema the Jungle Girl, and others. (7 minutes)

Bottomline. Definitely a ride down memory lane. This set is a lot of fun. I tell you, these never get old. Now I need to go get some of those other sets!



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