Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Shazam! (1974)

After experimenting with live-action with the Groovie Goolies and transposing The Archies to make them appear to be in front of a live audience, Filmation felt the time was right to try a full live-action series. In fact, there was virtually a live-action revolution in 1974. Hanna-Barbera had Korg: 70,000 B. C. on ABC, and over on NBC, independent producer William D'Angelo and his partners introduced Run, Joe, Run, a canine take on The Fugitive. Of course, the Kroffts had Sigmund & the Sea Monsters, also on NBC, back for a 2nd season. Filmation & CBS offered up Shazam!, which brought the former Fawcett hero Captain Marvel to the small screen for the first time. Here's the open that most of you might remember, narrated by co-producer Lou Scheimer, uploaded by 70skidvid to YouTube:



Jackson Bostwick lasted just one season as Captain Marvel. After a dispute with the producers, he was replaced by John Davey for the series' final 2 seasons, in which Shazam! was part of a 1 hour block with The Secrets of Isis. Aside from a brief run on TV Land a few years back, Shazam! has been consigned to limbo, largely ignored for whatever reason. WB did include an episode of the series as part of a Wonder Woman DVD set a while back, as I understand it, and, understandably, there has been a demand among fans for Shazam! to be granted a DVD release of its own. 70skidvid provided a clue as to the reason for the delay, as they noted that their clip contained material from Classic Media, which owns most of Filmation's library these days, but you'd think, especially with the previous tease, that WB would hold the rights, as they do for every other DC Comics property adapted for television.

Captain Marvel would return to television 4 years after the end of his live-action run, this time as part of the short-lived NBC series, Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!. In it, the Captain was joined by Mary Marvel and Capt. Marvel, Jr., but as we've documented previously, that series lasted just one year, part of Filmation's amazingly bad luck with NBC.

Count me among those who'd like to see a full DVD release.

Rating: A.

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