Sunday, September 5, 2010

With superfriends like these...

“Super Friends! Season One, Volume Two”
Review by Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: 7/14/10
Special Features: Trivia game
Rated: NR
---Review: Before cartoons became dark and violent in the 1970’s Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others were part of the “Super Friends” which was the OTHER extreme—lame, weak stories highlighted by poor 70’s limited animation. The good news is that the design for the characters looks quite sharp and captures the look of the characters from the original comic books although the detail wasn’t quite there. The difficulty facing the producers and writers was creating conflict and action without violence and they had to carry “messages”, i.e., pollution is bad, conservation good. While messages are important I’ve never felt that the sole purpose of cartoons was to educate kids and have some sort of message. Message is inherent in the medium and the way the story is told. That somehow escaped the network that was facing pressure from advertisers and the FCC.
***That said the folks that grew up on the “Super Friends” will enjoy digging into the past to a simpler time but also may find themselves bored silly. Aside from the superheroes hanging out at the Hall of Justice as if it is a glorified Starbucks, occasionally dealing with the invading alien or bad guys that demonstrate no ability to reason—which makes you wonder HOW they rose to the top of the class for bad guys—you have a series that would have been ripe for parody on an animated version of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”.
---Image & Sound: Bright, colorful and surprisingly good looking for a nearly 40 year old TV show. Detail is dicey at time but overall decent. There are the occasional artifacts such as edge enhancement but overall the show looks pretty decent.
***Audio sounds quite good with the mono highlighting the dialogue (and, of course, the nicely intoned voiceover by the late actor Ted Knight) which is how it should be.
---Special Features: Extras? We have the SUPER FRIENDS we don’t need any extras. OK, well, we do get a trivia game for a truly trivial show from the 70’s. Seriously, there are other animated shows that deserve to come to DVD ahead of “Super Friends” (which amazingly ran for 7 years despite the increasing indifference by its aging audience) and WHY they haven’t come out ahead of this is beyond me.
---Final Words: If you’re part of the increasingly small crowd that remembers this show fondly, you’ll find that memory quickly brought into the cold light of reality; “Super Friends!” was hardly entertaining and really was no more than a glorified babysitter for parents that wanted to sleep in on Saturdays.

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