Monday, March 14, 2011

Super Friends...They're in the Mail...

After several months of putting it off I finally got around to ordering the DVD's of the first season of the Super Friends. The episodes were released in two separate Volumes last year and those particular DVD's are the only ones missing from my collection. They should arrive in the mail within the week...probably near the weekend. I'd only seen a few of the episodes because back when Boomerang was airing them the channel would stick them on at Midnight and since I work nights I was never home to see the episodes...except on the weekend when I was home. It'll be nice to have all the episodes...from what I read there will be 2 DVD's in each collection with 4 episodes per DVD. There were 16 episodes produced altogether. The series ran 1 season and was ahead of it's time...considered a 'flop' originally. Later in the decade with the emphasis on escapist television drama and a live-action Wonder Woman series it was decided to re-run the 1973 Super Friends episodes which led to the eventual premier of The All-New Super Friends Hour which introduced the world to the Wonder Twins and Gleek (they replaced Wendy and Marvin and their Wonder Dog from season one). The original 1973 series, though, set in motion the overall formula for the remainder of the Super Friends programs that were to air throughout the late '70s and into the mid '80s.

Ted Knight narrated the first season's episodes...at the time, as far as animation fans are concerned, he was closely associated with the Filmation super-hero cartoons of the late '60s that were still airing in reruns on Saturday mornings in the '70s. Knight did the voices of The Joker, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Simon the Pieman, and Black Manta to name just a few...in addition he was the narrator on those super-hero cartoons. Knight became a huge television star beginning in 1970 with the arrival of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Knight played Ted Baxter on the series from it's debut in 1970 through it's final episode in 1977. It was in 1973 that he was called on to narrate the first season of Super Friends. By this time the adult audiences knew of him as Ted Baxter and I bet a lot of them were unaware of his contributions to children's cartoons.

This was also at a time when TV personalities often downplayed or hid their association with cartoons.

Meanwhile...when the Super Friends series was brought back with new episodes in 1977 (after a 4 year hiatus in production), William Woodson was the new narrator...and he, too, did character voices. Unlike Ted Knight, Woodson's voice roles in the series were in the category of incidental voices...characters that aren't part of the regular cast but are used to help support the storyline in a particular episode. Woodson would remain the narrator from 1977 through 1984. His voice appears in one episode of the series in 1985, ("The Bizarro Super Powers Team"), but in that particular version, (Galactic Guardians), the producers didn't use any narration on the rest of the episodes.

Ted Knight footage is easy to find on-line...videos of him are readily available on You Tube. William Woodson, on the other hand, not so readily available. One video clip, in particular, is a 1962 episode of The Rifleman. In this clip Woodson portrays the Sheriff of Red Creek. The episode aired on April 30, 1962. Woodson's footage begins at the 7 minute, 5 second mark but the bulk of the Woodson footage doesn't kick in until the 9 minute mark. This is where Woodson's character and Rifleman, Chuck Connors, have an intense confrontation.

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