Sunday, August 19, 2012

Legends of the Super Heroes

Here's a re-post from October 2010.
Not a bootleg. Not an imaginary story. Not a hoax.
Yes. The notorious two-part NBC special from 1979 that has lived on in infamy as a bad childhood memory is now officially out on DVD thanks to The Warner Archive Collection. 
Part 1 is "The Challenge" in which several Justice Leaguers take on a cadre of super-villains. Part 2 is "The Roast" where the villains go all "Dean Martin" on the heroes' asses.
This videotaped canned-laughter oddity from Hanna-Barbera brought your Saturday-morning cartoon favorites to life in living color played by actual living, breathing actors!
Adam West, Burt Ward and Frank Gorshin of BATMAN fame recreated their roles from the 1960s ABC campfest. 
They are joined by TV stalwarts Jeff Altman (as the Weather Wizard), Charlie Callas (as Sinestro), Gabriel Dell (as Mordru), Ruth Buzzi (as Aunt Minerva) and Ed McMahon (as the host of the "roast" portion).
Lesser known actors brought the JLA heroes Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and The Atom to life. Also featured (in the place of Superman and Wonder Woman) were Captain Marvel and newcomer The Huntress. 
The Black Canary was played by someone named Danuta - who never acted again. Imagine that.

On the villain side, Dr. Sivana, Solomon Grundy and Giganta (played by transexual performer A'leshia Brevard) rounded out the cast.
Other characters appearing included the ridiculous and offensive Ghetto Man, the cringe-inducing Retired Man (aka The Scarlet Cyclone) and Pat Carroll as Hawkman's mother! 
NIGHT COURT's Marsha Warfield has an uncredited cameo as "the phonebooth woman".
As for the storylines, special effects and writing - the less said the better. LEGENDS OF THE SUPER HEROES is best viewed as a product of its time - a time when just about anything could get onto primetime TV. These were the days of the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL and PINK LADY & JEFF (starring the Weather Wizard himself!).
So if you are like me and can't get enough vintage bad TV and men in tights - check out LEGENDS - the legendary program so unwatchable that it HAS TO BE SEEN!


Booksteve said...

I am nothing if not accepting and ever since it originally aired I have accepted all of its out and out stupidity but there's one thing I have never been able to accept. What is UP with Batman's cowl?

Throughout the whole thing, he wears it over his cape (as opposed to having the cape over it as in the original series) giving him the appearance of a huge neck! Surely Adam remembered it as he was still wearing the costume regularly in personal appearances so it must have been decided by someone on the production! But why!? It is distracting, ridiculous looking and even more impractical than the usual way!

Doug said...

Hi Steve -

Over the years I've heard two theories about the cowl.

1) Fox owned the "rights" to the original cowl from the TV series and would not allow H-B to use it. I find this hard to believe since I don't think a studio could actually "own" a costume design and if so, why couldn't H-B use one that was more similar and less ridiculous looking?

2) The costumer for the show was lazy and just figured nobody would notice since they would be sitting there in disbelief while watching the show anyhow.

I'm sure there are other theories out there too.

Thanks for writing!
- Doug