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Back in the mid-70's, Captain Marvel became the sensation of superheroes on
TV. It had mysticism, morale and emotion; even though, Captain Marvel never
fought against a foe that could match his abilities. And the special
effects were cheap, considering the time it was made.
The storyline was much more interesting. Billy Batson was privileged by receiving the combined powers of the Six Wise Immortals: Solomon, Hercules, Agamenon, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury. Each one gave him respectively: wisdom, strength, courage, stamina, invulnerability, and speed. He only had to invoke the acrostic of their names: SHAZAM!, and he transformed himself into the Mightiest Mortal of Earth (with Superman-like powers, without the inconvenience of kryptonite).
Alongside him, was Mentor (who probably was a former receiver of the powers). Both of them traveled through the country, helping the ones in need.
The most interesting part came when Captain Marvel and Isis (a "sister" TV show) made cameos in their respective TV shows. It was nice to see both characters working together, and helping each other when the situation was getting out of hand.
I just watched an old episode and it was light hearted entertainment with nice morals and a good message. Unlike that other reviewer who is either homophobic, has a complex, or was trying to be funny, I saw the relationship between Billy Batson and Mentor as an Obi Wan and Luke thing. He was being a mentor!!! Hence the name. I don't know why people like that have to bash anything that has 2 males in it, like Batman and Robin, etc. Two men can be friends. An older men can pass on his wisdom to the young without being gay. And if anything would endanger Billy in anyway, all he had to say was SHAZAM!!!! All you haters get a life and give this nice 1974 show a break.
This show was part of my 70's childhood,but still it was the most fakeness
live action series ever depicted for the minds of the Saturday Morning
youth. The series was called "Shazam!",and it was produced
Filmation Productions and it was on CBS-TV from 1974-76 and continued
repeated episodes throughout the rest of the decade. Even though,it
part of Captain Marvel was played by two different actors(Season 1-3
Jackson Bostwick,and in Seasons 3-4 by Bruce Davey who went on to do
numerous array of TV shows and specials) the special effects were some of
the hokeyest ever where in one scene our hero is flying through the air(but
WE kids know he was connected to a wire with a fan blowing through him under
a very low budget of lets say,around 50 to 70K),and others(like they travel
the country in a Winnebago in the same exact neighborhood where they last
were just up the block from the previous episode) that were a laughing
stock. But lets just say that the series from the early 70's has found a
home,and its part of TV Land's late night line-up for LOST forever series
and sitcoms. Catch it on TV Land!
NOTE: Coming soon to TV Land,more of the best/worst of the live action Filmation genre series from the 1970's continues including LOST shows like "Isis"(starring former Vogue 70's fashion model Joanna Cameron in her first and ONLY TV "Saturday Morning" series),"The Adventures of Thunder","Ark II","Jason of Star Command",and "Space Academy"(which stars Jonathan Harris of Lost In Space,James Doohan of Star Trek,and Pamela Ferdiyn of Lassie). Don't Miss It!
When I was a Kid I loved this show... I never missed an episode. Now I re-see it on Nick at night and realize I have been desensitised. After the show I used to run outside and over to my friends house and we would play super heros the rest of the day... Superman could still kick Shazams butt... However Billy Batson turning into Shazam was way cooler then clark kent running into a phone booth....
This TV show got the kid's Saturday Mornings going.
For 3 seasons, the world mightiest mortal saved lives, fought evil drug
pushers and ended the episode with an educational moralistic message,
became a Filmation staple.
This show was good for what it was. Too bad Filmation couldn't afford to get the rights to Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. Instead, they created the Isis series. That would've been cool to see Billy & Mary Batson, Freddy Freeman, and Mentor and/or Uncle Dudley. Imagine seeing one or all of the Marvels transforming and on occasion working with Isis. Interesting points: John Davey (Captain Marvel #2) left show business in the early 1990's and is currently in the real estate field in northern California; Les Tremayne (Mentor) passed away in late December of 2003, Michael Gray (Billy Batson) is the owner, along with his wife, of a floral shop in L.A., Jackson Bostwick (Captain Marvel #1) is basically the only one still in the business. Joanna Cameron (Isis) left the business in the 1980's , was in the medical profession (a registered nurse) for awhile, and as of recently, is a hotel marketing manager in Hawaii. The show's budget per episode was $70,000 with a crew of about 80 people.
What can I say. In South America the spanish version for this TV show was
the air till 1977 and it was great for me. I'll never forget the ending
morals what show me about the good and bad things of life. I am not a fan
Captain Marvel but I think that Billy Batson and Mentor show me little
pieces of the person that I am today. I must thank for that. Of course if
could see it again I'd be laughing about how Captain Marvel use to fly...
but I couldn't ask for more on that time.
"Shazam" was a very good show considering it had a budget of $70,000 per episode and only consisted of 28 episodes. The show brought life back to the D.C. Comics character, who was revived after a 20 year absence. Had the show had a prime time slot and been based more on the comic, it's potential would have been even greater.
"SHAZAM!!" With this desperately bleated out word, young Billy Batson (Gray) turns from a 25 year-old teenager to a bland, 30-something guy in a red body suit who saves horses lives and puts out school fires. (...a far cry from the loftier efforts of the comic book superhero who inspired this Saturday morning kid's show!) Pretty, youngish Gray (who owns one shirt) travels the globe (actually the same neighborhood over and over) in a Winnebago with his 'Mentor' (chickenhawk Tremayne sporting the worst comb-over in the history of TV.) While Tremayne dispenses sage advice with his formerly-velvet announcer voice, Gray learns lessons each week from an animated (actually one picture in which only the lips move!) array of 'elders'. These elders spout platitudes on how things should be and then, miraculously, Gray and Tremayne stumble across an example in which they can put their newfound knowledge to work. On cue, a danger comes about which is beyond Gray's ability to solve. This invariably means that Gray will have to call out "Shazam!" (an acronym of the elders' names) and Captain Marvel will appear in his place. Marvel was played by two men, neither of whom were able to get anywhere after this show, though the second one did do a large amount of TV guest roles. While they are handsome, they are hopelessly average in build and strength. The costume just sort of clings here and there, rather than being stretched across rippled muscles. The producers may as well have gotten the guy who played "Dennis the Menace's" dad to do the part. The poor guys are further humiliated by eternally cruddy flying effects in which the men lie on a board while a fan blows on them and stock footage of sky is projected behind them. More hilarious is watching Tremayne ALMOST keep his hands off Gray. He paws on the kid at every opportunity, telling him what to do, and his "this just in" vocal style adds a campy, homoerotic flavor to their scenes. Still, the show is irresistible and watching it brings back a lot of memories. The overbearing music is like a brainwashing device. Once one hears it again, it sticks in the mind and can't be excised. A flood of childhood memories involving jumping off a rock and landing face down in the dirt reappears. A delightful companion piece is it's spin-off "Isis".
THAT the Golden Age of Comic Books started with the publication of
ACTION COMICS No. 1, featuring that sensational action-adventure
character, "SUPERMAN", is fact. Created by a pair of former High School
buddies from Cleveland, "The Man of Steel" would prove to be a
veritable overnight success; providing impetus for not only its
publisher, National Comics Publications (aka Detective Comics, Inc. and
ultimately, D.C. Comics), but also energizing the whole comics field
with the desire to bring the public more and more Super-hero "Long
HENCE, it came to pass that from all corners of the New York's Publishing section, the World saw the rise of every imaginable variation on the "Superhero" theme. That meant a bumper crop of literally a thousand superman' all arising from every and all corners of "publishers' row."
NATIONAL Comics was responsible for a great portion of the bu$ine$$ driven proliferation of those altruistically driven, abnormally endowed with unusual powers and abilities "far beyond those of Mortal Men!" Within a year, DETECTIVE COMICS No. 27 premiered the non-super powered, but highly trained and prowess laden"BATMAN" Feature.
FROM that point on and in rapid fashion, the D.C. dual headed editorial offices* gave us "THE FLASH", "GREEN LANTERN", "THE SPECTRE", "HAWKMAN" , "THE SANDMAN", "DR. FATE", "HOURMAN", "STARMAN" and the inevitable female variation in "WONDER WOMAN".
BUT the other publishing companies weren't standing by idle. From Timely (later Atlas, then Marvel Comics*) we received such luminaries as "THE HUMAN TORCH", "Prince Namor, THE SUB-MARINER" and that pure symbol of patriotism, "CAPTAIN America" THE editorial staff at MLJ Publications brought out a crew of super characters all of their own with the likes of "THE SHIELD", "WIZARD"and "THE BLACK HOOD." MLJ would later change its corporate moniker in honor of a "Henry Aldrich-Andy Hardy" type of Teen-aged comedy strip. To this day it's known as Archie Comics Publications!
THERE were literally hundreds of characters that fit into this category; but we feel that there are a few more which merit at least a mention. Quality Comics Publications gave us the visually stunning and literary whimsiness of "PLASTIC MAN"; as well as publishing Will Eisner's copyright feature of "THE SPIRIT" , both in their POLICE COMICS monthly.
AND from Fox Features, we had an interesting assortment, most interesting of which was "THE BLUE BEETLE", which merited a short lived adaptation to a Radio Series, which starred Frank Lovejoy in the title role.
IRONICALLY the biggest rivalry for Superman and Company came from a character who is in many ways the one with the closest resemblance to the Progenitor of all Super Heroes. Fawcett Publications "CAPTAIN MARVEL" bowed in their WHIZ COMICS No. 2 (there was no # 1 published), dated February, 1940. From the start, it was clearly evident that perhaps Superman-D.C. had met its match, from another super-strong, flying, totally noble hero. As further evidence of this, Fawcett's 2nd comics title to feature Cap & his gang, CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES, went to publishing every 2 weeks, the first comic book to do so.
BUT all would not remain peaceful in the escapist 4 color mag world as D.C. filed several suits, claiming copyright infringement against Captain Marvel and Fawcett. The legal tug-of-war dragged on for several years; until Fawcett threw in the towel with a figurative "No Mas"! They agreed to never publish the adventures of Captain Marvel in exchange for an armistice. The year was 1953 and comic book publisher faced a lot of changes in the business; including a sharp drop-off in popularity for the "Cape and Mask" set. It was a done deal; no Fawcett Comics, no Legal Troubles.
NOW we must fast forward nearly two decades. A great Super Hero revival had been in progress for several years and once again, the bu$ine$$ $en$e of the 'Suits' at D.C. reasoned that it would be foolishly wasteful to leave the old "Big Red Cheese" on the shelf during such an era of "super-powered" good will. A deal was struck and D.C. first paid royalties to publish Captain Marvel and later acquired the rights to him outright.
SOON, Television beckoned; as the Super-hero was a most desirable item ever since the Pop Art-Camp BATMAN TV Series had made such an impression on the Nation and indeed, the whole World in 1966. Filmation, known for its TV animation projects, which included the NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, AQUAMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF America and the first BATMAN Cartoon Series, came up with a format for a sort of juvenile coming of age/road trip scenario for the weekly episodes. In a typical we would have young Billy Batson pondering some great mystery of life and conferring with the old Wizard, Shazam (and oft with those gods and heroes whose name spelled the acronym of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury). All this was rendered by FIlmation's Animation Department.
PROVIDING proper adult or even a sort of "parental" guidance was the character "Mentor"; played by long time distinguished actor of stage, screen, Radio and Television, Les Tremayne. The character is somewhat mysterious and he seems to be some sort of Wizard, himself; possibly even being Old "Shazam", himself.
ONLY one problem remained as the name of Captain Marvel was tied up under Trademark Law in a more recent character, a member of Stan Lee's Marvel Comics Stable. The name was their's to use, but not as a title. So, the title of "SHAZAM!" was settled on and Captain Marvel was known to whole new generations. The mixed Live Action & Animated "SHAZAM" had a successful 3 year run on CBS, with two guys in the lead. There was Jackson Bostwick (1974-75) and John Davey (1976-77). There was little noticeable difference in the two's performances.
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