Legends of the Superheroes – The Challenge!
By Dave Newman on 17th November 2020
I want to get back into looking at some Super Friends episodes and thought this would be an interesting link to them. A live action version of the show with Adam West, Burt Ward and others in the roles of heroes and villains. First up today is The Challenge, tomorrow is The Roast.
Roll call to start with bad special effects and costumes, featuring Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Huntress (in orange and white), skinny Flash, Black Canary, Robin (with someone standing in for Burt Ward to do back flips and then not switching out for the picture), and Batman. On the other side, Mordru is struggling to get the other villains to pay attention to him until he shoots lightning to a laugh track from 1953. Riddler, in massive electrical gloves, calls off their side: Solomon Grundy, who looks and sounds like an anorexic Andre the Giant; Sinestro, in a lot of makeup; Weather Wizard, who shoots some snow up Riddler’s arse; Giganta, who’s trying to look sexy but comes across like Matilda the Hun from GLOW; and Howard Morris as Doctor Sivana.
Sivana has created some vague machine that will kill everyone except them in the world in one hour from the moment it’s pressed. Riddler is going to lure the superheroes to their cave base too. Total pantomime acting so far, with a quick switch to the Hall of Heroes, which is the same set but with different decorations. Batman welcomes Retired Man to their meeting.
The Batmobile is parked outside of their cave, but Sinestro has been fucking with it with his tongue hanging out like a crack addict. Grundy is sent to further delay them, although I thought the idea was to get them there. He has a low impact and low speed fight with them at a garage.
Sinestro drags up to play a fortune teller that Green Lantern bumps into. GL rejects the idea of meeting up with a brunette in even more camp fashion. Sinestro Teller reckons he’s an introvert, but it takes a lot of courage to wear a tight outfit like that in public. Sinestro is bumped onto his arse but seems reticent to ditch the dress or the quasi-Jewish accent.
Next up, Weather Wizard, with a crooked mask and collar higher than his head. He poses as a used car dealer, which is probably what most people involved in this production ended up having to do after this show, and sells a dodgy motorcycle and sidecar to Batman and Robin. It splits in two very quickly, leaving Robin replaced with another stuntman with much further receded hair.
Hawkman, who’s played by a very buff bodybuilder called Bill Nuckols, is taken out of action by Grundy, who can only be recognised when he takes his hat off. Black Canary, played by an actress called Danuta Wesley, who is doing her best to keep her tits out and cleavage on show, meets a similar fate.
Captain Marvel submits himself to a session on the psychiatrist’s sofa with chief headshrinker Riddler. He diagnoses a split personality and suggests he gets a girlfriend. With the amount of makeup he has on I’d say that’s a good suggestion. Riddler then outwits himself and Marvel gets away and frees his friends after a trick game of go-fetch with Grundy.
With the superheroes heading for them, the villains pull out their last ploy – trick them into drinking a power-sapping potion at a lemonade stand. Marvel falls for the trick first and can’t fly, but doesn’t revert back to Billy Batson. Green Lantern is more of a cheapskate, but falls victim to peer pressure and drinks the concoction that looks like piss. The villains think they have the battle won with three minutes remaining, but Grundy serves up the lemonade and everyone loses their power. The superheroes, including Huntress and her loaded boobs, turn up and defeat the villains and defuse the bomb.
The Bottom Line: Imagine making Super Friends episodes with no animation budget, no prop budget, no acting budget, with a script by someone with the vaguest idea of what comic book stories are all about but some experience of writing sitcoms and skits for TV variety shows and you have this episode. Definite evidence of a casting couch with the girls involved. There must’ve been some room in the budget to take Adam West out for liquid lunches too because he pretty much sleepwalks through this without any of the charm or energy of his sixties run. So, nothing good here, even though you definitely can’t say it’s boring.
But wait until The Roast tomorrow!