In defense of the original SuperFriends.
The following article was posted by one email@example.com on
rec.arts.tv, way back in 1996. It has been reproduced here with
I'm surely in the minority here, but... I kinda liked the "Wendy,
Marvin, Wonderdog" era. Sure, the stories were fairly
juvenile, but no more so than the Wonder Twin episodes. In fact, there
are several things that I liked about the original series. For example:
Characterization. Wendy and Marvin had distinctive personalities that
were not entirely comical. Wendy was acerbic, bright and full of
initiative. Marvin was not as bright, but often was insightful
nonetheless. He had a typical teenaged ego problem, and
entertained fantasies of being a full-fledged superhero. The Wonder
Twins, on the other hand, were nothing if not comical. Zan was a
one-note character -- an egotistic, bumbling boob. Jayna, on the other
hand, had no character to speak of, and was blander than tap water. As
for Gleek... ugh. Don't even get me started on monkeyshining,
banana-craving, consistently-played-up-for-sight-gags-and-forced-laughter Gleek.
Even the villains were portrayed in a manner atypical for Saturday
morning cartoons. They weren't your typical power-crazed baddies who
were hungry for revenge or out to conquer the world. Rather, they had
more substantial reasons for the crimes they committed -- misguided
of course, but certainly better than the standard "Must
kill/steal/conquer because I'm evil" that characterized many of the
later SuperFriends episodes.
Not having any powers, the Junior SuperFriends actually had to use
initiative and their wits to solve the crises. This was quiet different
from the Wonder Twins' approach, which was to simply use their powers
-- ineffectively, at that.
We got to see more of the SuperFriends than just their powers. We saw
Marvin relate the story of Superman's origin, and his early years on
Earth. Wonder Woman was shown to have brains and scientific savvy,
instead of merely being the resident lasso-bearer. Aquaman was more
than just a man who talked to fish; instead, he was often shown to be
an expert on ocean geography and marine life, and on some occasions,
was depicted as having superhuman strength, in keeping with his comic
book portrayal. Batman used his analytical skills as often as he used
his bat-gizmos. And Robin... Robin got to reminisce about his aborted
circus career, and was shown to be a vital member of the team -- not
just some kid who took orders from the man in black.
Okay, so the show was hokey. Okay, so it was flawed. Still, I think
there's a lot to appreciate about it, when contrasted with
the years of predictable, one-dimensional SuperFriends stories that
came in its wake.
ELISPOT reader systems,