Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"The Challenge of the Superheroes!"

In 1979, Hanna Barbera decided to stretch out from animation into live action. It used its DC Comics license to produce a bizarre two part special- The Challenge of the Superheroes!

Stepping into roles they created a decade before, Adam West, Burt Ward and Frank Gorshin returned to form, battling each other yet again. Undoubtedly inspired by the wild success of Superman, this bizarre spectacle brought together cast off DC characters in a tacky, tawdry two part special. The first part was an overlong 1966 Batman episode with the second half a bizarre spoof of Dean Martin's Celebrity Roasts which were already on life support by that time. Would the kids of 1979 understand the joke? Would their grandparents, the primary audience for Dean Martin's rickety roasts, appreciate the cheesy superheroes? No and no. Hanna Barbera's short lived live action adventure would fail, becoming a seldom seen fiasco that DC Comics would disavow. The program has finally gotten a home video release as part of Warner's Archive Collection, nearly three decades after its release.