TV Review – “Challenge of the Super Friends: The First Season”

Technically, there are spoilers ahead. Frankly, they
won’t make difference, given how non-sensical the
plots are anyway.

Cast and Crew

The cast and crew include names like Frank Welker,
Casey Kasem, Ray
Patterson, Carl Urbano, and Jeffrey Scott. Complete
information is
available from this

DVD release

includes English and Spanish soundtracks with
English, French, and
Spanish subtitles.

Past TV reviews can be found here.

Original Airdate

These 16 episodes originally aired in 1978.


The Super Friends, namely Superman, Batman, Robin,
Wonder Woman, Green
Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Aquaman, Apache Chief,
Samurai, and Black
Vulcan, band together to face off against the Legion
of Doom, namely
Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, Solomon Grundy,
Toyman, Riddler,
Scarecrow, Cheetah, Giganta, Captain Cold, Gorilla
Grodd, Sinestro,
and Black Manta.

The package is labelled “The First Season.”
Technically, that’s
accurate, but it’s also the only season, so they
might as well have
named it “The Complete Series.” I wonder if they
were afraid people
would misunderstand, since this wasn’t the first
incarnation of the
Super Friends. (In face, it’s the third of six such

High Point

This wasn’t my first exposure to Super Friends, so
I’ll have to go
with the complete and utter lack of the Wonder Twins.
If this was my
first exposure to the Super Friends, I’d have to go
with episode 15,
“Super Friends: Rest In Peace.”

Low Point

The worst part is the animation. There’s just no
attention to the
little details, such as the finger Hal keeps his ring
on, or the
proper colour of Batman’s chest emblem, or which
Super Friends are
standing where between changes in camera angles, or
how many arms the
Green Lantern has. (Yes, at one point, he had three.
His ring was on
one of his left arms at the time.)

The Review

If you’re looking for originality, this
isn’t where you’ll
find it. There’s a pointless clip show that seems to
have been the
finale only because they didn’t have enough money
left to produce an
entire season. Episode after episode ends with the
Super Friends just
watching the Legion leave, with plans to get them
next time. The
exception is episode 15, which ends with the Legion
in custody, and
yet, in episode 16, they’re out and about with no
explanation about
how they escaped. It’s like the writer was on speed
the entire time,
just jamming in cliches with no attention to logic or
reason. This is
an adaptation that makes no attempt to move away from
where these
properties have been before. This is probably the
only version of the
Flash that can fly, but that’s not worth much. I
give it 2 out of 6.

The animation is lousy. Nobody stays on
model, the
characters that are drawn to fill out the appearance
are often wrong
or missing (eg. Green Lantern in the trap and on the
rescue team in
“Secret Origins of the Super Friends,” Aquaman
missing from the boxes
in “Swamp of the Living Dead,” and so forth.) The
only reason it’s
getting a 2 instead of a 1 is because I’ve seen a few
episodes from
the “Marvel Super Heroes” series from the 1960s, so I
know what a 1
really looks like. I give it 2 out of 6.

The stories told had high aspirations,
putting the entire
world in danger with every episode. The resolutions
were often
non-sensical, however, as were the executions. Look
at “Secret
Origins of the Super Friends” for example, and you’ll
see a plan with
potential; travel back in time to prevent the heroes
from becoming
heroes. One problem is that it would imply that the
Legion knows the
secret identities of Superman, Wonder Woman, and
Green Lantern. A
second problem is that Legion members obtained the
powers of the
heroes instead, and promptly forgot about it. Lex
Luthor had a Green
Lantern power ring, and what does he do with it? He
flies himself
back to the Hall of Doom, deactivates it, and then
works without it
for the rest of the episode! There’s some good stuff
here, like
episode 15, but a lot of it is logicless nonsense
designed to keep the
action up at the expense of everything else,
including the characters.
At one point, Superman even uses his heat vision to
weld the moon back
together! This is just plain bad. That must be what
makes it so much
fun. The stories get 3 out of 6, helped somewhat by
episode 15.

The voice acting was all one-note stuff, but
that’s how the
characters were written, so I won’t hold it against
the voice actors
themselves. Some characters, like Superman, Lex
Luthor, Solomon
Grundy and Toyman, had some very good voice casting
to go with the
characters. None seemed really wrong. Well, except
Batman, but I
think everyone but Kevin Conroy will sound wrong to
me now. I give it
4 out of 6.

The emotional response is wonderful. This
is a hell of a lot
of fun to watch, due in large part to how bad it
actually is. It’s
fun to watch because of all of the problems, not in
spite of them.
Add in the nostalgia some of us have for it, and it
works quite well.
I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is cheap. It looks rushed
and careless from
start to finish. The music is repetitive, and
over-emphasized. The sound effects are poor. In
“Swamp of the Living
Dead,” I would swear that most of the sound effects
were made by a guy
with a microphone. I give it 2 out of 6.

Overall, it can be a fun set, but I still
hesitate to
recommend it to any but a very limited audience.
This is almost as
cheesy as super heroes can get. I give it 3 out of

In total, Challenge of the Super Friends: The
First Season

receives 21 out of 42.

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