Saturday Morning Fever #1 – Challenge of the Super Friends


Grab a bowl of your favorite sugary cereal and enjoy the first episode of SATURDAY MORNING FEVER, the newest Fire and Water Podcast Network show! Join Siskoid, Ryan Daly, Chris Franklin, and Rob Kelly as they discuss one of their all-time favorite Saturday Morning cartoons, CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS!

Have a question or comment?

Opening theme by Luke Daab:

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29 responses to “Saturday Morning Fever #1 – Challenge of the Super Friends

  1. Wow, what a great show *about* a great show! CHALLENGE of the SUPER FRIENDS is one of the greatest cartoons of all time, if only measured in the reach of it, and its grasp on Pop Culture. Who does’t like Good vs Evil writ large?
    I agreed with everyone’s comments in general. Like Chris said, as soon as the theme music starts my heart beats faster. SUCH a good opening!
    I do have one thing I would have added to the conversation: my LEAST favorite episode. I think it’s the one Siskoid mentioned, where some cosmic deity has the heroes and villains actually run “challenges.” There was Aquaman, Batman, Superman, and I think Apache Chief…..and of course, the writers had Aquaman LOSE his challenge, but Batman and Superman *won* theirs. I ALWAYS hated that.
    Looking forward to the next episode!
    PS I LOVED the tag at the end! Inspired, gentlemen!!

  2. Thanks Russell!

    Least favorite episode probably would have been a good idea, too, but it was so hard wrangling those three I did my best just to get the show recorded! It’s like herding cats.

    And all props to Shag for the stinger. We knew we wanted him to come in at the end, but the idea was all his.

    1. Hey! I resent that! Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a ball of yarn that’s begging for my attention…

  3. Geez guys another show?!?! I made this comment on the Facebook page but don’t you have real jobs to go to?!?! It was greatly timed with yet another slow lonely night shift. Its like someone has given the Fire and Water Network a copy of my roster.

    Anyway, greatly enjoyed the first ep of this new show. Chris your impressions are on point my friend. I can recall seeing this show from time to time as a kid as Im more of a Ryan Daly vintage, but I don’t think it was ever a regular fixture on Aussie TV. Paul Hix would probably be able to say for sure since he is like 100 years old or something. I also threw this link up on the Facebook page but I’ll post it here as well in case there are other people out there like myself that haven’t seen it all. Again please take all usual care with virus protection.

    On the promo comments page people are already calling dibs on certain shows so here are a few of my choices Transformers, Astro Boy, He-Man, Thundercats, Centurions, Inspector Gadget, Robotech and Ulysses 31 just to name a few! The end tag by Shag was great. Great work guys.

  4. Wonderful inaugural episode, fellas. I like that you also made your cast international (the Siskoid) and diverse (Rob Kelly — he’s sickeningly wealthy).

    On the topic of El Dorado, as a brown kid growing up with very few brown representatives on TV, I found ED to be extremely important, albeit a bit hokey looking. Just look at any Aztec illustration adorning the walls of any Mexican bakery or auto shop. We had Freddie Prinze Jr. (who was dead), Erik Estrada (who was playing an Italian), and Rita Moreno. But lo and hehold, one of us was in the ranks of the Super Friends — and he was one of the big guns!

    So yeah, he made a huge difference in letting me think I could make it to the upper eschelons of any organization. And here I am, the “E.P.” of the hit Pod Dylan on this very network!

  5. Interesting that you chose this title. There is an excellent retrospective of Saturday Morning cartoons, by Timothy and Kevin Burke, titled Saturday Morning Fever. It covers things from the Golden Age of late 60s adventure cartoons (Space Ghost, the Herculoids, Superman, Batman, etc…) through the toy commercial cartoons of the 80s (Munchichis, etc…..). It covers the violence crackdown, which left the 70s cartoons pretty impotent, as well as things like Fred Silverman revamping programming at ABC and programming Saturday morning the same way they did prime time, leading to a strong block of cartoons throughout the morning. Great little book.

    I loved Challenge of the Superfriends. I watched them in the day and had been watching the Super Friends since its debut. I even recall watching the preview special that ABC ran, with Jack Burns and Avery Schrieber (with special appearance by Rick Springfield, who was voicing himself in Mission Magic), on Friday evening, which featured clips of the new cartoons debuting the next morning. We got to see the Justice League in pure Toth glory. Looking back, that first series, despite the violence restrictions and lack of villains, was actually pretty good, with some decent plots and ecological concerns. The names get a bit too punny. The All-New Superfriends Hour was pretty hit and miss; but, this was near perfect (as could be, given the limitations). I suspect my love of the first Super Friends series is due to having seen it at the start. Challenge is still better; but, these had great designs from Alex Toth and excellent stories. Wendy And Marvin might have been lame; but, I still prefer them over Zan and Jayne. The Wonder Twins, despite their powers, seemed like screwups when they were with the JLAers. Wendy and Marvin weren’t rescued quite as often.

    It seems to be forgotten, due to the structure of the reruns, that the show was actually broadcast in an hour block, with The Superfriends, which featured different cartoons, with the core members and Zan & Jayna (and Gleek). In syndication, they were usually not shown together. Up through Challenge, the Super Friends shows were either hour shows or an hour block. After it, they became half hours. This was also the era where Bugs Bunny was up to 90 minutes, for a season or two.

    The funny thing about the show was that the Legion of Doom was a better collection of villains than any of the ones that went up against the Justice League, in the comics. The Injustice Gang and the Secret Society of Super Villains never compared. Why DC never went with that I never understood (until Alex Ross).

    My favorites were Doomsday, where the LOD leaves behind Sinestro, Black Manta and Cheetah and they escape the Super Friends and exact revenge on the LOD, as well. The other is Revenge on Gorilla City, since we also get Solovar. It was a nice trip into the DC universe. Super Friens RIP also gives us a little bit of Lois, which made for a change. Favorite hero was Batman, though I would have preferred to have some of the other JLAers here. For the LOD it was Black Manta. I was always a bit miffed that they ignored the fact that Giganta was a Wonder Woman enemy and was an ape evolved into human form, rather than a woman who grew to giant size.

    I believe this was the last Super Friends show that Alex Toth worked on (more in the early stages, I think). Jack Kirby worked on the next series, World’s greatest Super Friends and I believe Legendary Super Powers is when Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN) provided revamped character designs.

    The ultimate influence of this show, for my money, is still the Road Warriors, as the Legion of Doom, in pro wrestling. Originally, they were just part of an entire stable of heels, though it ended up as the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering (their manager) and the only used the LOD name, in the WWF. The other influence is in Justice League Unlimited, where we got the Omni-men, who were pastiches of the ethnic characters created for the series, plus the post-Cadmus Arc season, where we got a new LOD, with the Hall of Doom. That one even gave us a peek at the bathrooms inside the Hall of Doom!

    Great episode. Solomon Grundy want more! Bizarro no want hear more podcasts!

    1. ps Around this period, Hanna-Barbera had bought out an Australian animation studio (AIP, I believe) and farmed a lot of the work on these shows to them. Alex Toth spent time over there teaching them to draw the various characters and helping to coordinate things. They also produced a lot of the H-B specials of the era, particularly the holiday stuff (which AIP had already been doing, with literary adaptations). Paul Hix or one of the other Aussies might be more up on that part.

      1. Sorry Jeff, I got nothing. I’m not sure how or why, but this show never crossed my radar as a kid. I think I was too obsessed with Dr Who instead.

    2. Jeff, I tried to get the facts about Challenge actually being an hour, with one half being this version, and the other being the traditional five SF with the Twins, but after Rob put out some catnip, I forgot.

      The Toth influence is definitely more keenly felt in the first season, but I can’t abide Marvin. God I loathe that character.

      I also meant to bring up the Road Warriors/LOD, but again, I got distracted by a shiny bell…or something.


      1. Well, Frank Welker’s voice for Marvin is pretty annoying, though not as bad as his Mxyzptlk or Toyman. Thing was, I loved the new Toyman, when he was introduced in the comics, with the original teaming up with Superman to stop him. Then, hearing that Welker voice made me hate the guy.

        The Road Warriors would have been a fine addition to the cartoon. Might have livened up the action, with them rushing at the Super Friends and beating the tar out of them. Well, until Superman tags in.

  6. Wonderful episode guys! I watched the Super Friends as a little kid starting in the 1970s & the Legion of Doom episodes were always my favorites. The classic Super Friends vs. Legion of Doom has been seen recently in the very fun “Scooby Doo Team-Ups” series. These are stories aimed at young kids but they brought a smile to my face. It was nice to see Wendy & Marvin again too,

    The Alex Ross “Justice” miniseries from a few years back was another nice update on the old Hanna Barbera cartoon.

    What a great idea for a series! I am already looking forward to an in-depth discussion of Inch High Private Eye!

  7. As a child of the 70s and 80s, Saturday Morning cartoons were staples and Super Friends was always ‘must see’. And, in particular, this season was my favorite because of the breadth of it. There were so many characters that I knew from comics that my non-comic friends were now talking about.

    I haven’t seen these episodes in many many years so comments are just from memories. I definitely liked the nutty Jack Nimble Toyman and his irritating voice. I loved Solomon Grundy as well -“Solomon Grundy stronger! Stronger than all the Super Friends” is a line I still say today. As for favorite episodes, I think there is one where Bizarro and Cheetah make a satellite ray which makes male on Earth have a Bizarro head and every female a Cheetah head. Even back then I knew it made little sense for Bizarro and Cheetah to be able to make such a tech based weapon.

    There are plenty of shows I’d love to hear about – Josie and the Pussycats, the Tarzan/Lone Ranget cartoons, Fangface, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, etc. And if the show ever branches out beyond Saturdays – Battle of the Planets and Robotech (especially Robotech).

    Rob, I wonder if you were thinking of the Seattle Seahawks secondary who called themselves the ‘Legion of Boom’. Of course, Patriots fans like me get to call them the ‘Legion of ‘hey you just lost to us in the Super Bowl, hahahahahahahahaha!’

    Anyways, great show concept and great opening episode!

  8. Hi Guys! Great show. Not just this episode, but the concept itself. The first episode alone brought back very happy memories from my childhood. Super Friends was what was important early on Saturday mornings. I loved each episode..I loved it no matter what the title. All-New…Challenge Of…World’s Greatest..Legendary Super Powers…Galactic Guardians…I didn’t care as long as it was the Super Friends! Like you all did during the show, I don’t think I could ever pick a favorite iteration of the show or episode. However, I think The Flash was my favorite character. Great voice actor as well as visually pleasing on the screen. If you are accepting ideas for future shows, (besides the other incarnation of The Super Friends), I can think of The Smurfs, Batman, and of course Looney Tunes. Thanks for this show and I hope it’s not too long until the next one.

    Russell Bragg (Clarksburg, WV) [host of “The DC Comics Presents Show”]

  9. Wonderful show, gentlemen. My thanks.

    Luke Daab’s theme is truly amazing. I agree that an actual Saturday Morning cartoon theme should have had something like this. I suppose the closest cartoon programme theme would be the guitar solo from Silverhawks – which I understand was not a Saturday morning cartoon, was it…?

    Chris’ Solomon Grundy voice is awesome beyond words… and may explain Cindy’s absence…

    Anyone who knows me knows that the SuperFriends programme will always be near and dear to my childhood heart, and I would like to think that I would not be the comic book fan I am today if not for this show. I had watched the first (Wendy and Marvin) season when it aired in 1973 (I was age 10 at the time), and I first watched the Challenge series at age 16 in 1979 on the Saturday mornings (when they followed the same-season “Zan and Jayna” adventures) during a family summer trip in the U.S. (my parents and I had just moved to outside of London from Singapore that year). It was a two-month trip, so I had only seen 8 episodes (from “The Time Trap” to “Conquerors of the Future”), but I loved them all — even though I was technically “too old” for this programme, mainly for the reason that Rob stated about this show being so “on-model” to the DC Comics at the time, albeit with the goofy Silver-Age plots (noted by Ryan, I believe) that I had enjoyed reading in DC Comics back issues for the prior six years. Back then I had no idea how many “Challenge” episodes there were, but the “next week” preview for “The Incredible Space Circus” and “The Final Challenge” told me there was at least one more episode I had yet to see. I knew that ITV London was airing the SuperFriends programme on Sunday afternoons during this time (though it was half-episode edits of the 1973 season at the time) so I figured I would be able to catch the rest of this season eventually in the U.K. Sadly, ITV discontinued airing the programme after broadcasting “The All-New SuperFriends Hour” episodes (which were just the main SuperFriends story with none of the shorts). It would not be until the show aired in syndication in the mid-1980s and having a friend in the US willing to VHS-tape them all that I would be able to see the rest of the season. I was in my early 20s then, so I enjoyed these all-new episodes more with a sense of childhood nostalgia than with the same excitement you all had watching these episodes for the first time as kids.

    The wonderful “Genius Animated: the Cartoon Art of Alex Toth” book includes some presentation art for “The Challenge of the Superheroes” with the original “Legion of Evil” featuring Sivana and the Captain Marvel and Bat-villains Chris had mentioned, along with Cheetah, Sinestro, Captain Cold, and Flash villain Abra Kadabra (!). There is a model sheet for Catwoman as well.

    (This tome also features the entire set of Alex Toth storyboards from the second half of “Trial of the SuperFriends” – which includes some unproduced scenes, including a Cheetah versus Wonder Woman duel during the final confrontation with the Legion of Doom.)

    For those who want to pull out their DVD set and see the plots and scenes mentioned on the podcast that did not tie to a specific episode title:

    The episode where the SuperFriends are killed one-by-one is “SuperFriends: Rest in Peace”.

    The episode that introduced zombies and the “swamp witch” is “Swamp of the Living Dead”. This is also the episode featuring the Legion making a deal for absolute power with an evil being and then betraying him later (not the “Monolith of Evil” episode).

    The scene with the Riddler burning his Gleek card is from “Wanted: The Superfriends” (fun fact: Michael Bell voiced both the Riddler and Gleek).

    The “end of the world” episode with the “Deus Ex Machina aliens” and the super-villain origins is “History of Doom”.

    Solomon Grundy grabbing Black Manta by the head to make him sit down happens in “The Secret Origins of the SuperFriends”.

    Green Lantern moves the Earth a few degrees off its normal orbit in “Invasion of the Fearians”.

    Batman uses the Bat-Rocket (not the Bat-Plane) to go back in time to correct Superman’s altered history in “Secret Origins of the SuperFriends”.

    The Flash flies a few times in “The Trial of the SuperFriends”.

    The magic lasso changes into a cage to capture Cheetah in “SuperFriends: Rest in Peace”.

    Robin’s “light saber” is used in “Wanted: The SuperFriends”.

    The three-armed hero was actually Green Lantern (not Hawkman), and that third arm appears in the scene in “The Time Trap” just before he formed his horse to joust with Sinestro.

    The “basement prison” where Batman watches Batman crawl up to escape is in “The Fairy Tale of Doom”.

    Green Lantern being in the Doom brig while he is outside the Hall of Doom actually happens in “The Secret Origin of the SuperFriends” (not “The Time Trap”).

    Green Lantern appears as Hal Jordan in “The Secret Origins of the SuperFriends” and the opening scene in “Conquerors of the Future”.

    The episode where Superman and Green Lantern merge into one being was in “The World’s Deadliest Game”.

    Green Lantern traps Luthor in a dollar bill during the final confrontation in “SuperFriends: Rest in Peace.”

    Hawkgirl was horribly miscolored in the later 1983 short: “An Unexpected Treasure”.

    The SuperFriends tunneling down beneath the earth to briefly “face a monster” happens in “The Monolith of Evil”.

    And a few minor trivial facts before I close:

    Rob, while there were 16 “Challenge” episodes, there was a 17th Legion of Doom story in a 1983 short called “Revenge of Doom”. However, while one can see all of the members of the Legion making a cameo, this story was really Superman, Batman and Robin, and Wonder Woman versus Lex Luthor and Sinestro…

    Not every episode began with the Legion of Doom headquarters rising out of the swamp and the villains explaining their next scheme. The ones that broke this tradition are: “Trial of the SuperFriends”, “Revenge on Gorilla City”, “Swamp of the Living Dead”, “Conquerors of the Future”, “The Final Challenge”, “Fairy Tale of Doom” (sort of), “Doomsday”, “SuperFriends: Rest in Peace”, and “History of Doom” (hmm… that was actually more than half of the season…).

    While mentioned as a “season of failure”, the SuperFriends mostly stopped the Legion’s weekly schemes although the villains would usually escape at the end – but not always. The episodes in which the Legion of Doom were actually captured are: “Conquerors of the Future”, “Fairy Tale of Doom”, “Doomsday”, and “SuperFriends: Rest in Peace”.

    I look forward to many more of these “Saturday Morning Fever” retrospectives on classic cartoons in the future…

    1. The Super Friends finally capturing the LOD was mandated by the network, as the censors felt the criminals always getting away sent a bad message. I still think they should have had at least one episode that revolved around a mass jailbreak of the members of the Legion.

      1. Having recently rewatched “Secret Origins of the Superfriends” with my daughter (who asked about the origin of Wonder Woman), I now saw that it was indeed the Batplane that had the ability to travel through time. I was confusing the time travel with the Bat Rocket’s ability to travel between dimensions in “The Final Challenge”… which shows that my memory is by no means perfect…

  10. Congrats on the new show and WOW, I was convinced Luke’s song was something contemporaneous. It’s so perfect for the material and the time.

    As I said on Facebook, i’ve not seen so much as a single Super Friends episode ever, because they weren’t shown in the UK to my knowledge – but I hope you don’t mind me listening anyway. I will check out the helpful links.

    Now, was it Ryan who was saying that the cartoon did well to make the Wonder Woman origin make sense to a kid? As I say, I’ve not seen the show, but from what he described it sounds like every Wonder Woman origin retelling up to then with the exception of Robert Kanigher.

  11. I’m the guy whose iTunes automatically downloaded the promo on Thursday and I’m like “but where is Saturday Morning Fever? Why hasn’t the actual Saturday Morning Fever episode downloaded this Thursday? I wonder if Rob started a new stream or had trouble uploading Saturday Morning Fever, because now it’s Friday and Saturday Morning Fever still hasn’t come out!?!”

    All I can say about about Luke Daab’s theme is you’re the best– AROUND! No one’s gonna ever keep you down! Savin’ the day! Savin’ the day! With the eye of the tiger! F-yeah!

    Back when I started getting Netflix, I was going through the first season of Justice League while simultaneously buying VHS copies of Challenge of the Super Friends from the 99 Cent Store, and vastly preferred the ’70s show. Challenge is definitely my favorite incarnation of the Super Friends, and the one I remember best from syndication. I also felt like there were a lot more episodes, and I did treat my viewing of Super Friends as “Challenge” and then everything else. However, I must add the disclaimer that I did not watch most of the last two “Super Powers” seasons, as they were still in first run. I was never a morning person, so I skipped most Saturday fare (except the later showing teen-centric stuff) and reserved my cartoon watching for weekday afternoons.

    I will confess to viewing Apache Chief and the other non-white Super Friends as “less than,” not because of their ethnicity, but because I knew they were created for the show and therefore not “real” comic book heroes. However, I confused (or perhaps intuited) Black Lightning and Black Vulcan being the same character, so he got a free pass on my judgment. My favorite was El Dorado, because he was so mysterious that he appeared in the credits but almost never in my viewings of the actual episodes. I also loved his cape swirl teleportation move. I was so happy to see analogues of these characters on the Justice League cartoons, even if they proved closer to Strikeforce: Morituri. I wish they ‘d put out a Super Friends or Global Guardians book incorporating them into the comics. At least we have Future Quest now.

    I agree with the seeming consensus that the Legion of Doom was the best DC super-villain team of them all. I heart the name and character selection. It makes sense that they would have spun out of an aborted adaptation of the Monster Society of Evil, the granddaddy of super-villain teams. As Wonder Woman has always been my favorite Super Friend, I dig that she got two of her villains in the LOD. Gorilla Grodd was probably my favorite of the lot then and now, though I definitely liked Solomon Grundy and Black Manta as well. I don’t recall the individual episodes well enough to choose any one over the others.

    Alex Ross’ Justice was a painfully dumb slice of Grimdark, but it was still awesome to see the iconic Super Friends and the expanded Justice League of America team up against a modernized Legion of Doom. Also, the Hall of Justice remains the greatest JLA headquarters, regardless of its lack of presence in the comics. I have the Super Powers version sitting on my bookcase.

    Xum– Caaaaw! Silver… Hawks! Boys afternoon half hour toy commercial, served best with brother program Thundercats, He-Man, and G.I. Joe.

  12. A fun listen and a fun new show! Super Friends are where it all started for me, but eventually Mom brought comics home from the grocery store one Saturday morning, right around the time Super Friends wrapped.

    Looking forward to future episodes from y’all, and hopefully you’ll get around to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

  13. My favorite line in the series comes from the Secret Origins episode “No, you fools! It’s the Green LUTHOR!” And wouldn’t removing Superman from the timeline have eliminated both Luthor and Bizarro?

    1. Yes it would. A comic fan friend of mine and I had a lengthy and entertaining discussion of the reprecussions of having Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern erased from the timeline… and eventually concluded that it would have essentially prevented the Legion of Doom from forming, which meant they could not go back in time in the first place, which meant they never did, and that snapped the timeline back to normal…

      But that may have been too complex for most of the 8- to 13-year-old crowd… definitely too much to fit into 20 minutes…

  14. I have only recently discovered the whole F&W family of podcasts (working my way through the Who’s Who show and loving it), and I gotta say: this is one of my favorite places to go on the internet right now. Do you guys have a Patreon or something?

    1. Hi Max, thanks for the kind words and we’re glad you’re enjoying the shows here on the network.

      We do not have a Patreon. But if you would like to donate some money, in lieu of sending it to the network we suggest you make a donation to the CBLDF:

      Thank you!

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