A couple of years ago, when “Super-Friends vs. the Legion of Doom” came out on DVD, it was billed as “season one,” but I remember watching Super-Friends when it first aired (the one with Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog), and I don’t remember no “Legion of Doom”! I stopped watching Saturday morning cartoons shortly after that and never saw the “Legion of Doom” ones, but I enjoyed the DVDs (kind of). The episodes I wanted to see (strictly for reasons of nostalgia) were the ones with Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog. I saw it on DVD at B&N recently, had a coupon and nothing else in mind, so I bought it.

Even with my membership and an additional coupon it was pretty expensive considering I didn’t notice until I got home it was volume one of season one and contained only eight episodes! Even (or perhaps especially) when I was ten, I thought kids and anthropomorphic animals palling around with the Justice League was pretty stupid, so I probably didn’t even watch the entire first season. I still think teenagers and anthropomorphic animals are a pretty stupid idea (now, as then, I take my superheroes seriously), but watching these episodes for a second time some 35+ years later is a kind of quirky fun.

Oddly (perhaps), the Super-Friends are comprised of only Superman, Batman (and Robin), Wonder Woman and… Aquaman!? According to the opening voiceover narration they were “created from the mythic legends of the universe” (whatever that means!). The thing I remember best and most fondly is the theme song!

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Wow...you are old! ;)
Jeff, the Super Friends series used to be revamped and retitled every couple of seasons in order to keep it "fresh". The set you bought with the Legion of Doom was from one of the later seasons when it was officially titled Challenge of the Super Friends. It was probably labeled as season one since it was the first season of that particular incarnation.

According to Wikipedia, here are the various incarnations and titles.

Super Friends (1973–1974)
The All-New Super Friends Hour (1977–1978)
Challenge of the Super Friends (1978–1979)
The World’s Greatest Super Friends (1979–1980)
Super Friends (1980–1983)
Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984–1985)
The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985–1986)

The set you want is from the first, 1973-1974 season when it was simply titled Super Friends.
I will note that the Super Friends were the Filmation "title" super heroes (except for Wonder Woman... got to have something for the girls, y'know!) That's probably why they were chosen. (Why use Aquaman? Hanna-Barbera probably just got the rights from Filmation in one big package... or signed a very similar contract to the one Filmation had. Myself, I would have used Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the Super Friends. I mean, there are more opportunities for flying shots than there are for swimming shots...)

And they were DREADFUL. I had been used to watch super hero cartoons where the main characters were, you know, super heroes. Super Friends was aimed, it seemed, at five and six year olds, and mostly involved either environmental threats or vague dangers, but all of which could be settled by Wendy and Marvin telling the bad guys, "Jeepers, can't you just be nice instead?" "Be nice? BE NICE??? Great Scott! I never thought that was possible! From now on, I shall... BE GOOD!!!"

"Challenge of the Super Friends" wasn't great by any means... but at least, there were villains and some conflict - if not actual fisticuffs. After all, kids, no one has ever solved a conflict using violence... sigh.

But when the first season - the first episode - of Justice League came out, I nearly wept in relief, and for what had gone before in the name of... the Super Friends.

Thanks for posting the list of the various iterations of Super Friends, KS! Although I figured out “Challenge of the super Friends” was a later version than the one I had seen, it’s nice to have the list to see how the various series fall in sequence. Although it wasn’t perfect (nor the series I had expected), “Challenge” was far superior to the original version. If they’d aired “Challenge” in 1973 instead of 1978, I may have continued to watch.

Eric, I suspect you are correct about why Aquaman was chosen to be a Super Friend. I also agree that the original Super Friends was aimed at five and six year olds, because I was ten at the time and found it too childish to bother with. Your next point (about the “messages” of these cartoons) leads me to this…

Doc Beechler said:
Wow...you are old! ;)

Actually, old or not, I consider myself quite lucky (Saturday morning cartoon-wise) to have been born precisely when I was. As America entered the 1970s, Saturday morning network cartoons became increasingly pedantic and preachy. With shows such as Fat Albert (which at least had the talent of Bill Cosby to back it up) leading the trend, even the Lone Ranger/Tarzan Hour took a few minutes at the end of each episode to “review what we’ve learned.” Speaking as a former kid myself, kids hate being preached at, especially when done in such a ham-fistedly obvious manner.

The reason I consider myself lucky, however, is because the local independent stations were still showing old theatrical shorts intended for an adult</> audience and 1960s series such as Jonny Quest. By the time the ‘80s rolled around, network cartoons had grown even more preachy, and the local stations were showing reruns of the ‘70s soft, preachy cartoons.

These days, kids with cool parents are the real winners because all the good cartoons are readily available for purchase on DVD, and adults who had to suffer through the preachy “message” cartoons of the ‘70s and ‘80s can watch shows such as Southpark which can be appreciated on multiple levels.
Jeff, you probably remember my multi-part Deck Log entries on Saturday morning cartoons, still over on the old board. The last part explained why post-1967 kids got such watered-down, preachy pablum.

I consider myself lucky that I came in long before that decline, in time to see the shift from live-action kid stuff to real cartoons with no worries about warping the youngsters' minds with too much violence and trying to convert them into stopping pollution or whatever. You are dead-right about how kids hate being preached to. All those thinly disguised PSA's that got tacked on to the end of a show; no kid ever watched them. It just gave him the time to go into the kitchen and make a bowl of cereal or a glass of chocolate milk.
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Thank you all very much, now I can't get the damned theme music of the damned original Super Friends show out of my mind!
The Baron said:
Thank you all very much, now I can't get the damned theme music of the damned original Super Friends show out of my mind!

Maybe this will knock it out of your head:

Ted Knight saying, "Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice . . . !"
There are worse pieces of music to have stuck in your head, y'know.
Commander Benson said:
The Baron said:
Thank you all very much, now I can't get the damned theme music of the damned original Super Friends show out of my mind!

Maybe this will knock it out of your head:

Ted Knight saying, "Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice . . . !"

Ah, good old Ted Knight - a shame they never thought to have him voice the Golden Age Starman.
The thing is, I think kid's shows can be fantastic vehicles for prosocial and educational messages but it takes very creative people to do it well. PBS is great at it and I'm happy I grew up in the era of Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and 3-2-1 Contact. Even the networks, like ABCs School House Rock, could do it sometimes. But, you're right that when you tack it onto a cartoon that really is a toy commercial to begin with...it doesn't work.
I think the thing is, to not be hamfisted about it. Let the message come out naturally in the story.

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