The New Adventures Of Superman (1966) + The
New Adventures Of Batman (1977) [Animated/Filmation/Warner/DC Comics]
C+ Sound: C/C+ Extras: C Episodes: B-
animation in the actual Superman 1966 shows are not best represented by the
cover on the side, even though the art is somewhat similar to the show.
a new empty myth about Superhero characters that they were always dark and
foreboding, just finally now freed (somehow, as if without explanation) to be
who and what they “really” and “always” were.
This may sell comics and product, but is so beyond wrong and so denies
history and the great success of the genre that it actually hides something
more important and impressive. Warner
has finally decided to issue two of the biggest hit Superhero series that have
not been seen much but are no less important: The New Adventures Of Superman (1966) and The New Adventures Of Batman (1977), animated shows produced by the
great Filmation company.
The New Adventures Of Superman (1966) was from the producer of
the 1950s George Reeves live action Superman
series, Whitney Ellsworth, after two failed, dreadful pilots that were
thankfully never picked up: Superboy and Superpup. Superboy was made
later a few times of course, but rarely worked even then, though shorts of him
in this animated series (not included here) are some of the best versions to
doing nothing but advertisements, Filmation made this their first-ever animated
TV series and you can see the ambition in the sped-up theme song, the desire to
mix action with humor and the attempt to write short, to-the-point witty
teleplays and make it all work.
Considering the limited budgets, this is impressive and yes, it even
sometimes aspires to imitate the Fleischer Superman shorts. Fortunately, it takes its cues from the 1960s
comic books and does not try to be that 1930s/1940s show or the 1950s
live-action hit before it. It was a huge
hit, gave Superman new life, launched Filmation on their way to being the
important production house they became and shows Superman in a smart, science
fiction period too easily forgotten and not revisited in later Superman
why it is so key, important and despite some of the villains seeming aged or
not as potent as later variations, note that they are still smarter, even when
some of the plots to get Superman and power are wild. All 36 shows are here and long overdue for
The New Adventures Of Batman (1977) is the one time any
incarnation of the caped crusader dealt with Bat-Mite on a normal basis. Along with Batgirl, he was a cast regular,
with his magic powers to appear and disappear from another dimension. Originally comic relief in the comic book, this
series continued the child-friendly programming Filmation had advocated and
made Superfriends into what it was
before it became darker. It also
explicitly wanted to continue the live-action TV show from the 1960s and
lucked-out in getting Adam West and Burt Ward to reprise their performances as
voice actors here. It would not be until
the recent The Batman series that any Bat-material would want to connect itself
to the 1960s show.
there are only 16 episodes, they are entertaining, expectedly campy, amusing
and have more of the 1970s Batman-as-detective (and Detective Comics) look than
any other animated incarnation despite that comic book print version being more
mature and darker. Note the classical
rendering of the Batcave and the sly updating of the 1960s Batmobile. Smooth is the best word to describe the look
and feel of these shows, some of the smoothest Filmation ever made and marks
the last time West and Ward played the characters straight/serious before they
began sending up their send-up.
shows up in one of her rarer incarnations and Clayface (long before the 1980s
trend of steroided monster villains took hold) becomes more prominent as The
Riddler was a Hanna Barbera/Superfriends
exclusive, despite being in the credits.
For fans of Batman in the 1970s, here was a fourth show and the second
of two new ones all playing at the same time.
No single Superhero character has ever been that popular to achieve that
commercial and production success and that all included The Dynamic Duo is all
the more amazing.
X 1 image on both sets is not bad for their age. Superman
can be grainer than I remembered, especially for such a colorful show. Technicolor was the company and it is not a
stretch to believe dye-transfer prints may have once been struck for broadcast. The variety of color is one of the ways
Filmation overcame their budget and animation limits and even when they had
more money to work with and Technicolor abandoned dye-transfer, they still used
color in a superior way, as their second Batman
show here demonstrates. Like their Flash Gordon (reviewed elsewhere on
this site) they surpassed Hanna Barbera in this respect and makes for some
interesting viewing just visually.
are in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, which is unfortunate because the sound could
have been upgraded to even simple stereo, but Warner is being purist about
this. Superman shows its age from background hiss to the limits of the
optical mono mixdown here. Batman sounds better to the point that
we bet an upgrade would be easier. Both
upgrades should be considered when Warner has to upgrade both shows to HD. The theme songs are genre classics for all
kinds of reasons.
each include a good featurette looking at their respective shows. The one on Batman may be longer than that of Superman, but it has some inaccuracies that even within the text
being corrected is not totally addressed.
The issue is Batman on TV. In all
honesty, once the live-action show was a hit, it did not leave the air until
recently for legal reasons too complicated to get into. When TV standards and practices went after
violence on TV ironically in the face of increased and increasingly brutal
Vietnam coverage, action shows were hurt the most.
showing how unstoppable the DC Comics heroes are, Batman became a hit animated
show after Superman for Filmation (hopefully hitting DVD soon) in the late
1960s, then Batman showed up on Hanna-Barbera’s The New Scooby Doo Movies and helping the Mystery Machine gang take
on The Penguin and The Joker, set insanely high new TV ratings records. Then in 1973, Hanna-Barbera got the rights to
the Justice League comics and launched the child-friendly Superfriends (first season of which is overdue on DVD) with Batman,
Robin, Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman for starters and became the
longest-running hit in animated Superhero and Hanna-Barbera history.
show was still on, Batman was so popular that while the live-action 1960s show
was all over the place in syndication, toys were selling like crazy and Superfriends still in full swing with
Batman, Filmation launched this new series in 1977 and it too was a huge
hit. The featurette claims at one point
that there was no new Batman material for 10 years, which is simply not true. Only after Superfriends ended did new Batman material finally stop, but for
the few years before the late 1980s relaunch, there was plenty to repeat. Ironically, The New Adventures Of Batman has been the least seen since.
there were even more extras, but it is great to have these fun shows back
again. Whether unintentionally funny or
surprisingly good, both shows are key in the history of the characters and
Superhero genre. Now you can see for
- Nicholas Sheffo