Episode Length of the new SUPER FRIENDS: 30 minutes
Episode Length of THE CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS: 30 minutes
The year 1978 was a great year for the Super Friends if not the best year. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE was a smash hit at the box office and the live action WONDER WOMAN TV show with Lynda Carter was airing its third and final season on CBS Friday nights. And there were toys and merchandise galore of not only Superman and Wonder Woman, but also Batman, Robin, Aquaman and Shazam. That year, Hanna-Barbera animated what is considered among fans to be the all time best version of the SuperFriends ever.
In January 1979, Hanna-Barbera briefly ran a live-action series entitled Legends of the Superheroes which was loosely based on this incarnation of the Super Friends.
This time around viewers were treated to two separate incarnations / segments of the Super Friends the new SuperFriends (which include the Wonder Twins) and the Challenge of the Super Friends:
- 9:00 am – new SuperFriends
- 9:30 am – Challenge of the Super Friends
- 1st Incarnation / Segment
- In addition to making the 16 episode Challenge of the Super Friends series, Hanna-Barbera also animated 16 episodes featuring the established core group of the Super Friends to run alongside the Challenge episodes. The core group of this new SuperFriends series were the original five heroes who made up the team and their Exxorian trainees, Zan and Jayna and their monkey Gleek. These episodes actually aired first before the Challenge episodes to serve as a warm up to the headliner. This new SuperFriends series is unlike the episodes from the previous series in 1977. It is less interested in delivering a moral message like the 2 previous series. It is more cosmic and sci-fi minded, journeying into space to battle villains on other worlds as well as on Earth. Plus, there are plenty of mutations and mind control for our heroes to endure and deal with in this season. It would appear that some of these episodes may have taken cues from Star Wars and SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE.
- In Syndication, these episodes were shown using the opening credits of The All-New Super Friends Hour along with the close from the Challenge series. Therefore, it is often mistakenly believed that it was not part of this season.
Challenge of the Super Friends
- 2nd Incarnation / Segment
- Challenge of the Super Friends was a 16 episode series that came the closest to the comic books. Not only did Challenge have the Justice League of America, it was the first official Super Friends series to feature DC Super Villains from the comics. And this series had 13 of them together as an alliance called the Legion of Doom. Superman foes like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Toyman, and Bizarro, and Batman foes like the Riddler and Scarecrow. The Legion of Doom dwelled in a murky swamp and launched their attacks for global conquest from a sinister looking, swamp-based, mechanical, flying headquarters, called the Hall of Doom (which resembled Darth Vader’s helmet) as a suitable contrast with the Super Friends' gleaming Hall of Justice. Every week, the Legion schemed to either get rid of or destroy the Super Friends so they can conquer the world. The Super Friends themselves consisted of 11 Justice League heroes. No teen tag-alongs or pet comic reliefs actually appeared in this show though when Luthor introduces the Riddler he fans out a set of cards with the pictures of Gleek, Zan, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Robin, Batman, and Superman on them which he then burns.
- This hour became so popular, that an extra 30 minutes of reruns from The All-New Super Friends Hour was added in 1979 extending the show to 90 minutes.
Super Friends Cast
- Superman – voiced by Danny Dark (1978)
- Batman – voiced by Olan Soule (1978)
- Robin – voiced by Casey Kasem (1978)
- Aquaman – voiced by Bill Calloway (1978)
- Wonder Woman – voiced by Shannon Farnon (1978)
- Hawkman – voiced by Jack Angel (1978)
- Green Lantern – voiced by Michael Rye (1978)
- Black Vulcan – voiced by Buster Jones (1978)
- Samurai - voiced by Jack Angel (1978)
- Apache Chief - voiced by Michael Rye (1978)
- The Flash - voiced by Jack Angel (1978)
Legion of Doom Cast
- Lex Luthor – voiced by Stan Jones (1978)
- Brainiac - voiced by Ted Cassidy (1978)
- Black Manta – voiced by Ted Cassidy (1978)
- Sinestro – voiced by Vic Perrin (1978)
- Cheetah – voiced by Marlene Aragon (1978)
- Gorilla Grodd – voiced by Stanley Ralph Ross (1978)
- Captain Cold – voiced by Dick Ryal (1978)
- Scarecrow – voiced by Don Messick (1978)
- Toyman – voiced by Frank Welker (1978)
- Solomon Grundy – voiced by Jimmy Weldon (1978)
- The Riddler – voiced by Michael Bell (1978)
- Giganta – voiced by Ruth Forman (1978)
- Bizarro - voiced by Bill Calloway (1978)
- This third season would run on the ABC Network from September 9, 1978, to December 23, 1978.
- According to Darrell McNeil (assistant animator for the Super Friends from 1976-83), "this was when 'Super Friends' became 'Superfriends' — one word."
- Concerning Season 3, McNeil also says that, "the then-proposed title for the series was 'Battle of the Superheroes.'" He goes on to say that original name for the 'Legion of Doom' "was the 'League of Evil' and was to be led by Captain Marvel's nemesis Doctor Sivana. However, Filmation was producing the Shazam! TV series (1974 to 1976) and The New Adventures of Batman (1977) which prevented the use of characters such as Mister Atom, King Kull, Beautia Sivana, Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Catwoman. Early conceptual art drawn by Alex Toth also included Heat Wave, Poison Ivy, and Abra Kadabra."
- Most of the SuperFriends voice over cast returned for this hour with the exception of Norman Alden. Norman was interviewed on the Aquaman Shrine blogspot and stated that he was let go and succeeded by Bill Callaway as the new voice of Aquaman. Callaway would stay with the series and the voice over role of Aquaman throughout all future incarnations of the SuperFriends.
- Other than its initial airing in 1978, the episode: The Incredible Space Circus has never been syndicated in America. It is now available on DVD through Amazon.
- The other networks served up some SuperHero competition (this hour still ruled the airwaves):
- NBC offered up the Godzilla Power Hour and Jana of the Jungle and Marvel Comics first family was back on with the New Fantastic Four by DePatie Freleng.
- Over at CBS, Filmation served up Tarzan and the Super 7, a 2 hour variety show consisting of 6 cartoons and one live show. One of the features was the 1977 Batman cartoons still in reruns for all the Batman fans.
Warner Home Video (via DC Comics Entertainment and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment) released this season of Super Friends on two DVD box sets, the first one being Challenge of the Super Friends: The First Season, which featured the "Challenge" segments, and the second being Super Friends: Volume Two, which featured the Super Friends segments.
|Title||Type||Ep #||Release Date|
|Challenge of the Super Friends||The First Season||16||July 6, 2004|
|Super Friends||Volume 2||16||May 24, 2005|
This DVD series is available through Amazon –Challenge of the Super Friends, Volumes 1-2 (DVD - 2005).
- Volume One are episodes from The Challenge of the SuperFriends
- Volume Two are episodes from the new Superfriends'
Cartoon Network produced a couple of commercials spoofing Challenge of the Super Friends.
- One dealt with the idiosyncratic nature of the Legion of Doom and Brainiac’s odd manner of dress (Brainiac: “Look, I just want some pants...a decent pair of pants!” Solomon Grundy: “Solomon Grundy want pants, too!”).
- The second, co-starring The Powerpuff Girls, dealt with Aquaman’s powers (Aquaman: “My ability to talk to fish is of no use to us, Wonder Woman!”) as well as the level of violence compared to today’s cartoons, as Wonder Woman and Aquaman look away while the Powerpuff Girls beat up the Legion of Doom, going so far as to set the Scarecrow on fire. Most notably was Bubbles' double-entendre reply to Wonder Woman's compliment on how they were developing as superheroes. "Someday we'll be as developed as you." Lex Luthor, as a villain with a dirty mind, began laughing. His underlings understood the joke and laughed as well. When a piece of the Hall of Doom's ceiling fell on Luthor's head, everyone laughed.
In 2003, Cartoon Network Latin America aired the spoof series The Aquaman & Friends Action Hour that starred Aquaman as a children's television show host and the Legion of Doom as his bankrupt villains.
- Challenge of the Super Friends at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Cartoon Network: DOC - Challenge of The Superfriends - cached copy from Internet Archives
- Challenge of the Super Friends entry at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
- Challenge of the Super Friends entry at TV.com (episode titles)
- Challenge of the Super Friends @ Legions of Gotham
- http://web.archive.org/20010826013030/members.aol.com/SprFriends/chronology.htm#challenge "Hanna-Barbera Superfriends Chronology"]. Members.aol.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- by LBS Communications
- This is the only reference to the Wonder Twins by the Legion of Doom.
- This quote is from an interview by Marc Tyler Nobleman with assistant animator, Darrell McNeil. The blog article is entitled, Super ‘70s and ‘80s: “Super Friends” — Darrell McNeil, animator. This blog article is from a larger series entitled, “Super Friends” — Introduction.
- Background information from an interview by Marc Tyler Nobleman with animator, Darrell McNeil. The blog article is entitled, Super ‘70s and ‘80s: "Super Friends" – Darrell McNeil, animator. This blog article is from a larger series entitled, “Super Friends” — Introduction .
- The series: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle ran on CBS from 1976-1984