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December 13, 2006


Greg Scott

"...[T]he series was a huge disappointment to us kids, despite the lower expectations for superhero fare in that day and age."

How dare you, sir.

I'll have you know that to a 4 to 5 year old kid raised on THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, SHAZAM! was a breath of fresh, non-1950s air. Remember that SUPERMAN THE MOVIE was still years away, even THE NEW ADVENTURES OF WONDER WOMAN was a year or so off, so if you wanted to see a live-action superhero that felt like he could exist right outside your door, SHAZAM! was the only game in town. Plus, it had those cool cartoon cut-ins with the gods, and an episode where Billy Batson somehow made a sundial with a stick.

(Never could figure out how he did that, yet I was sticking twigs in the ground in a futile effort to tell time until I was 7.)

Jackson Bostwick's Captain Marvel was my hero, and I proudly owned his Mego doll right along with Batman and Superman.

Unfortunately, when Davey took over, the whole thing was skunked. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN then assumed the primary hero role, until STAR WARS came out, which, of course, ushered in a whole new era of pre-teen obsessions.

But for a little while, SHAZAM! ranked pretty high up there, and his affect on us younger folk should not be dismissed. Hopefully Hollywood can find a way to repeat this effect, and maybe rope in some adults while they're at it. And maybe this time they can scale down the Danny Bonnaduce guest-starring turns too.

Mark Engblom

Yeah, I gave points to the SHAZAM crew for trying, but ultimately they really didn't seem to know what to do with the premise. The same thing happened a few years later with the "Incredible Hulk" series (more domestic-dramas of the week)...and that was POST Star-Wars. It wasn't until "Superman: The Movie" hit that the Hollywood crowd started getting some idea of how to play superheroes out on film. Granted, the budgets of "SHAZAM" and "Superman" were light years apart, but with Superman, it all didn't seem quite so "disposable" anymore...and that's the feeling I got from so many SHAZAM episodes. A guy with literally the power of the gods reduced to catching arrows in mid-flight or lifting up a fallen tree. There didn't seem to be anyone with an imagination big enough to do the Captain Marvel concept justice. All of that said, I still think the series is a good candidate for a DVD collection.

Thanks for weighing in!

Greg Scott

Wait a second, I'm not done yet!

In these discussions of live-action superhero adaptions, SUPERMAN gets credited for setting a new standard, but I think THE NEW ADVENTURES OF WONDER WOMAN tends to get a short shrift.

WONDER WOMAN was a bit campy, sure, but nowhere near the level of William Dosier's BATMAN of the 60s. (Almost on the level of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, really.) Lynda Carter defined Wonder Woman much the same way Chistopher Reeve did for Superman. The main area where WONDER WOMAN came up short was when it came to supervillains, but Wonder Woman's rogue gallery was never that strong.

Regardless, WONDER WOMAN was a show that brought to the screen a fairly close rendition of the comic version of the character and story, especially the Golden Age via the first season. Full costume? Check. Full powers? Check. Supporting cast? Check. A tone where the cast wasn't obviously winking at you every five seconds? Check. Lyle Wagoner? Check.

The show had everything that we normally associate with the modern era of superhero adaptions, yet it did it *before* SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. And for that, I think it deserves a bit of credit.

But back to SHAZAM!, I think that show actually harkens back to a tradition of storytelling that predates the modern era of superhero adaptions I'm citing, including WONDER WOMAN, which is essentially its contemporary. SHAZAM!, with it's simply morality plays and character-driven plots owed more to THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and THE LONE RANGER. Not the weakest foundation for storytelling, but nowhere near the level of excitement we've come to expect now.

Mark Engblom

Good points about the Wonder Woman TV show's fidelity to the source material....though I suppose if it were *truly* a faithful reflection of the Golden Age (WWII era) Wonder Woman, there would have been alot more spanking.



Please.... Cathy Lee Crosby was the definitive TV Wonder Woman. Everybody knows that.

Mark Engblom

LOL! Just to refresh your memories on the magic that was the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman, check it out:




Help -

I vaguely remember a black and white tv show called Shazam, circa 1959, or so. I remember a young man in a cave talking to God-like entities.

Does anyone have any info on this show? Probably aired before or around the time of George Reeves' "Superman."


the mexican

I can't really get into that...although it's a stellar thing to have on youtube


how dare you put john davey down he was also a fanastic captain marvel and so was jackson bostwick! i love both these guys and thought they did an awesome job in the parts they played.debra

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