The All-New Super Friends Hour
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Secret Four / Tiger On The Loose / The Mysterious Time Creatures / The Antidote”
Original airdate: Sept. 17, 1977
“The Secret Four”
“The writers of ‘The Secret Four’ had two exciting setpiece ideas but lacked a coherent plot to integrate them.
Superman battles a tornado, while Batman and Robin find themselves in a classic Adam-West-era deathtrap and must employ bat-suction cups for their escape.
It’s a fast-paced, whimsical four-panel adventure, especially when Batman showcases his improvisational skills with a ‘well-executed bat-flip.’
Hey, Christopher Nolan, ever think about adding more well-executed bat-flips to ‘The Dark Knight Rises’?
However, the narrative surrounding these sequences is almost non-existent.
The antagonists are portrayed as business-oriented individuals inexplicably cosplaying as mages from Final Fantasy.
They hardly pose a significant challenge to the dynamic duo of Batman and Superman.
It seems that when you’re trying to fill just eight minutes, some corners may get cut.”
Their plan, and I use the term loosely, revolves around energy, much like 85% of the storylines in the Super Friends universe.
Superman is compelled to add yet another reminder at the end about the importance of collaborating to discover new energy sources.
All the while, he can hardly conceal the sharp sense of tedium, nursing a fleeting desire to engage in combat with Metallo instead of delivering a lecture to a group of middle-aged individuals.
Was the world’s precarious energy supply really the dominant topic of conversation in the 1970s?
I don’t recall Mr. Kotter repeatedly admonishing the Sweathogs to turn off the lights when leaving a room every other week, but perhaps those episodes never made it to Nick at Nite.
“Tiger on the Loose”
“Oh, it’s the Wonder Twins episode this week? … Well, let’s see.
A tiger escapes from the zoo, and it’s particularly dangerous because 1) it can fit on the seat of an average-sized school bus with plenty of headroom to spare, and 2) it manages to go unnoticed while sitting on the school bus seat until all the children and the teacher calmly climb back on and are almost ready to depart.
Zan and Jayna arrive to save the day, and even after watching it twice, I still can’t figure out why Zan has to transform into a toboggan to save the day.
Furthermore, I can’t explain why Toboggan-Zan still has a human head; it’s genuinely horrifying.
Then the irritable zookeeper, who unfairly blamed a teenage handler for the tiger’s escape, learns a valuable lesson about not jumping to conclusions.
And we at home also learn an equally important lesson: never subject ourselves to the painfully unintelligent Wonder Twins episodes in Super Friends.”
“The Mysterious Time Creatures”
I didn’t particularly enjoy “The Mysterious Time Creatures” as a significant part of the show.
The plot involving Dictor’s coup and his pursuit of the deposed leader of his world didn’t make complete sense to me.
Additionally, his goal of taking over the universe with a single medallion (MEDALLION! D’OH!) wasn’t exactly logical.
I could have overlooked the lack of a substantial plot if there were some impressive action sequences, but the episode didn’t offer much in terms of excitement.
While it might seem trivial to expect in a series like this, it reminded me more of earlier Super Friends episodes than anything else.
However, the episode did show promise.
The de-aging of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman was the highlight of the episode, and I would have liked them to remain kids for a longer duration.
It brought humor and self-deprecation into the story, such as when boy Aquaman tried to summon his flying fish to save them from Dictor’s underground ship, and Wonder Woman quipped, “What do your stupid fish do once they get here?” Her comment echoed the thoughts of many.
One striking aspect that truly stands out is the aging animation and its disturbing nature.
Whenever the episode depicts the aging process of the deposed alien president, it’s genuinely horrifying.
And the decision to de-age him into a pile of dust is undeniably grim, Super Friends.
Much like the introduction of Black Vulcan, Apache Chief brings diversity to The All-New Super Friends hour.
The intention behind this is commendable, but the execution can be disappointing at times.
In this episode, the Apache Chief and Wonder Woman journey to India, presumably because the Apache Chief, a Native American, is familiar with the region.
Their mission is to deliver a small box of cobra bite serum to a devastated village, which appears to be a rather inadequate disaster response for the large number of people affected.
The episode showcases Apache Chief’s skills in identifying traps, outsmarting wild animals like boars and a panther, and ultimately using his unique power to grow to a towering 50 feet to wrestle the gigantic cobra into submission.
It does raise questions as to why this approach wasn’t the initial plan and why Wonder Woman had to be put in jeopardy first.
Nevertheless, they decide to leave the enormous, mind-controlling cobra in its temple after extracting its venom.
One reason Super Friends remains in the public eye is the deliberate and campy sincerity of the show.
When we initiated the series, as observed by Astha and me, its utilization of PSAs was notably heavy-handed, resulting in unintended humor.
While many other series incorporated similar practices to comply with children’s programming regulations (e.g., G.I. Joe), Super Friends wholeheartedly embraced this gimmick.
They introduced brain teasers, had Aquaman instructing us on crafting rhythm instruments from paper plates and dried beans, and featured Superman delivering an incredibly on-the-nose message that “Smoking doesn’t make you an adult; it makes you a loser.”