Well I finally completed my tour of the two Superfriends box sets (which are coupled together here) and can honestly state that the first volume is seriously the equivalent of a caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis. How so? Well it's clear that the early episodes contained residual spillover from the 1977 (and earlier) seasons in that the writers weren't quite familiar with the power of the Legion of Doom at their disposal. As such the initial episodes retain plots with very grand schemes laced with loads of space travel, black holes, inter-dimensional portals and so on. By about the halfway point of the first disc, things take a turn for the better. It's as if suddenly the show's writers realized that they had 13 villains (each with interesting back stories) at their service.
The plots become richer and better fleshed out as the season progresses and the ridiculousness of helmet-less space travel and Flash with the ability to fly along-side Superman begin to disappear.
Interestingly enough, the first 8 episodes of this set have been released before: The first four as Attack of the Legion of Doom and the next four in United They Stand. Despite having purchased both of these stand-alone sets prior, I had to order this one as well so as to enjoy the remaining 8 episodes of the 1978 season.
Also oddly enough, there are special features on the stand-alone sets that, for whatever reason, didn't make it on this complete season box in the form of episode introductions by story editor Jeffery Scott (which was surprisingly interesting). However, I suppose Warner realized that such differences may be beneficial in maintaining sales of the prior releases.
However the good news is that in addition to all 16 episodes from the 1978 season, we are treated to commentary on both the first and last episode of the set by DC writers Geoff Johns and Mark Waid. There is also a nice little retrospective called Saturday: Sleeping bags and Superfriends. While this could have easily been a three disc set, WB decided to instead make the second disc dual-sided to fit the final two episodes and final commentary pieces.
Included on the red box set are the following episodes:
1 Wanted: The Superfriends 2 Invasion of The Fearians 3 The World's Deadliest Game 4 The Time Trap 5 Trial of the Superfriends 6 Monolith of Evil 7 The Giants of Doom 8 Secret Origins of the Superfriends 9 Revenge on Gorilla City 10 Swamp of the Living Dead 11 Conquerors of the Future 12 The Final Challenge 13 Fairy Tale of Doom 14 Doomsday 15 Superfriends, Rest in Peace 16 The History of Doom
Here is the second part of the 1978 season that featured the Wondertwins and Gleek (in addition to 5 of the 11 Justice League Members). It appears that the Amazon description of this set is filled with errors. For starters, it is not the 1973 season as the title of this page suggests. In addition the plot synopsis says to expect 'apprentice' super-heroes Marvin, Wendy, and Wonder Dog. In reality, by 1978 the two junior members and their dog were replaced with the Vulcanized versions of Donnie and Marie Osmond and their pet space monkey, Gleek. Finally even the special features aren't immune to such inaccuracies, promising a retrospective featuring Kevin Smith (of Clerks fame). Nowhere is Mr. Smith found on this two-disc set. Although Paul Dini (eating a Pop-Tart no less) makes a pretty funny appearance in the retrospective.
Errors aside, this collection contains 16 episodes that ran as the second portion of the season that introduced us to Challenge of the Superfriends back in 78. The show's writers were clearly making strides in the right direction (especially compared to the 1977 season which also featured the Wondertwins). The shows each run for just under a full half-hour and unlike their Challenge counterparts, do not offer a villain (or legion of villains) to battle. Instead the show takes a similar (if not slightly improved) approach that was taken in the previous season where scientists and aliens make up the threats to the world. Actually, expect a dose of alien activity that could put X-Files to shame! Among the strangest villains encountered is none other than Count Dracula himself who, rather than bite his victims to infect them, merely sprinkles dust on the exterior of a jumbo jet to transform the passengers into vampires. In most every episode on the set, the Wondertwins disobey orders to stay at the Hall of Justice and wind up saving the day in the process.
Having never been a big fan of the Wondertwins in the first place, I do feel that this set pales in comparison to the Challenge of the Superfriends box set but remains an essential piece to the complete SF collection.
1: Rokan: Enemy from Space 2: The Demons of Exxor 3. Battle at the Earth's Core 4: Sinbad and the Space Pirates 5: The Pied Piper from Space 6: Attack of the Vampire 7: The Beasts are coming 8: Terror from the Phantom Zone 9: The Anti-Matter Monster 10: World Beneath the Ice 11: Invasion of the Brain Creatures 12: The Incredible Space Circus 13: Batman: Dead or Alive 14: Battle of the Gods 15: Journey through inner space 16: The Rise and Fall of the Super Friends
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About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing. … more
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