To think I’d forgotten the glorious image of Batman shaking hands with Ed McMahon.

§ October 19th, 2010 § Filed under television § 10 Comments

Due out today:

The Legends of the Super Heroes DVD from Warner Archives, the made-on-demand online DVD shop for films and TV shows that, for whatever reason, couldn’t swing a general retail DVD release.

Now, I haven’t seen these two specials (“The Challenge” – our heroes versus the Legion of Doom, and “The Roast” – a celebrity roast hosted by Ed McMahon) since they originally aired in the late ’70s, but I recall, as an eleven-year-old Mikester, enjoying them, cheesy as they were. Here’s a taste:

BONUS: Comedian Jeff Altman pops up as Flash villain the Weather Wizard at the end of the clip.

Yeah, it’s really heavy on the camp, but whereas the comedic aspects of the similar ’60s Batman TV show were more knowing and self-aware and amusing, I suspect the out-and-out farce of Legends may be hard to take for those of us who still hold out a little hope for some remaining dignity for our four-color friends who wear tights and fly around and punch each other. I mean, I don’t know…like I said, I haven’t seen these in decades, so I can’t tell if the awkward half-assedness of the proceedings would ultimately result in being sort of entertainingly charming or simply unbearable. A mix of both, I’m presuming.

But still…Jeff Altman as the Weather Wizard! Okay, I don’t know why I’m fixated on that, but I am. What can I say, I like Jeff Altman. And Night Court‘s Marsha Warfield apparently appears in there, somewhere. And it’s the only live action versions of some of these characters, like Legion of Super-Heroes baddie Mordru, and Captain Marvel’s nemesis Sivana. And then there’s Ghetto Man, which…yeah, I know, but he comes out and rips on the heroes with a short bit of stand-up which, watching it just now via the YouTube, actually has a couple of pretty good superhero jokes in there…plus, he and Batman totally hip-bump as he’s coming onstage, and that’s awesome.

So anyway, Legends of the Super Heroes…it’s now officially out there in non-bootleg form for anyone who dares to watch it. Not sure if I’ll get it, myself…but I suppose nostalgic curiosity will eventually win out. If nothing else, it’s an interesting artifact of the time. Plus, it features Jeff Altman. Have I mentioned that?

10 Responses to “To think I’d forgotten the glorious image of Batman shaking hands with Ed McMahon.”

  • C. Elam says:

    To be fair to Jeff Altman, he does a pretty good job as the Weather Wizard (and as a used car salesman, but that’s another story). There is some decent comedy to be had here and there, if you are able to get over the notion that heroes MUST BE SERIOUS. Fortunately, I made that leap a long time ago.

    But ye gods, they drag so bad at times. They are indeed a mix of charming and unbearable, but I think it’s up to the viewer at home to make the determination as to the percentage. I was absolutely mad for them when they aired, and somewhat less than enthused when I rewatched them some 15 years later.

    Marsha Warfield has a minor role as a woman in a phone booth who comments on the action in the first special. I don’t think she even receives on-screen credit.

    I wouldn’t consider this an endorsement, but if you liked them at 11, you should watch them again just to see what you think. Though I would wait to see if some kind soul would buy them for you instead of spending your own money on the disc.

  • Scott Waller says:

    I remember watching this in the fourth grade and I lost my mind. When they showed Black Canary (the fishnets and bolero jacket were an instant draw for a little gay boy) I actually jumped and cheered to the extent that my mother warned any more outbursts and she’d turn off the set. The next day and well into the week recess was much more “super” than usual. As the first commenter points out, certain images from the show stuck with me: Marsha Warfield in a phone booth (talk about legendary icons: phone booths) and I still remember her comment on Black Canary’s knockers. I remember the Hawkman was chained to a car lift in some abandoned garage on a country road in the middle of nowhere. The stories, I propose, have evolved with the consumers. I think the same ten and eleven-year-olds who watched this air back in 79 are still reading the stories now. Any gas station on a country road would be a front for an underground high-tech lair, not just a cheap shooting location. I can’t wait to get my copy.

  • Rich Handley says:

    I remember watching this! Ha! I just might have to pick this up.

  • Hal Shipman says:

    I remembers accidentally tuning into bits of each on in the ’70’s.

    Sadly, Warner’s Archive series isn’t “on demand” enough for Netflix. Because there’s no way I’m buying this, though I’d like to see it again.

  • Wesley Smith says:

    Hopefully next up: The unaired Justice League pilot featuring David Odgen Stiers and live action appearances of the other primaries of the Giffen era.

  • g23 says:

    My family had a betamax in the late 70s, and I pretty much wore out the tape with the “Challenge” recorded on it. Campy as hell, but perfect for me at age 5 or so.

    And in spite of that, it’s one of my earliest memories of comic book super heroes. And one of the things that got me interested in comic books as a kid.

    It also helped for my parents too… it helped them categorize comic books as “silly fun.” Which came in handy during puberty when I became interested in more underground and prurient comic books… Batman/X-Men on the top of the stack, Alien Encounters and Paradax on the bottom…

  • adam barnett says:

    I remember enjoying this quite a bit as a lad in the late 70’s, but it didn’t age well for me. It isn’t the tomfoolery that bothers me, but like C. Elam said, they DRAG for big chunks at a time, much like the Super Friends cartoon . . . must be hard to fill up the time when people you expect to see punching each other aren’t allowed to punch each other!

  • philip says:

    This looks like torture. I’m sure 9-year-old me would have LOVED it, but like a lot of things from that era (Star Wars Holiday Special, the entire output of Sid and/or Marty Krofft) I think they are better left as fond memories.

  • I still have this on VHS (and, dare I say, someone, not-too-long-ago sent it to me as an AVI).

    It’s horrifically bad.
    But the kind of bad that makes it transcendentally good.

    I may have to pop it on this weekend just for the shits-n-giggles of it all.

    Plus… MORDRU in his big-ass floppy costume.


  • Anonymous says:

    This is where Gail Simone gets all her ideas.
    This–and old Smashing Pumpkins videos.