Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Discuss: Shazam!

Karen: OK, I know you all watched it! But do you remember it fondly? Which Capt. Marvel did you prefer - the original, Jackson Bostwick, or his successor, John Davey? Any favorite episodes?


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen - I don't think this one crossed the pond so I imagine this thread will be all quiet on the Eastern front (the show looks pretty hilarious, though).


david_b said...

This was one aspect of just how ultra-cool this brief '73/74 Bronze era was for me..

My parents and I had just moved down to Orlando, for what was going to be a career move for my new step-father. On the local affiliate was a daily dose of the 60s Batman, then Lost in Space, followed by Trek. Now I had just come from rural Wisconsin where NONE of these shows were shown with any level of fequency. So suffice to say, I was in HEAVEN. Then to have both animated Trek and DC heroes on Saturday mornings, then POTA and Shazam starting in '74...? I was on over-load.

('Course couple this with my entry into the magnificent Marvel Universe, it was like Dorothy waking up in Oz, all in streaming Technicolor..)

Oh, and Megos.., yes, it was never this good ever again.

Back to Shazam, I really enjoyed the first dozen or so episodes.. The 'moral-of-the-story' was a nice touch, definitely making it parent-friendly. I did miss more 'hard-hitting' action like fist-fights, actual villains and such, but eh, runaway bulldozers were alright. Like most, I noticed Mr. Davey right away, but he wasn't too bad for what I thought at the time was a 'fill-in'. Mr. Bostwick was definitely the better representation of the Big Cheese (besides the big hair, but that was in back then..), but Mr. Davey was pretty solid as well. I faithfully watched the show for the first two years, but the formula became stale quickly. As the critics compained about Batman nearly a decade earlier, 'you see one episode, you've seen 'em all'.

Coincidentally, I had just started collecting the first few issues of DC's Shazam at that point, so I was looking forward to the series. Again, no fun villains, but the approach was still charming. According to wikipedia, Adam West did a voice-over for Hercules in one episode, would like to see that one.

Anonymous said...

This story may interest only me but here goes...

When this show was on I had a friend who was Shazam crazy. At grade school we had a once a week P.E. class at the end of the day on the school blacktop. All the boys wore boring khaki uniforms. As our class assembled on the blacktop, my friend would sneak off to the restroom and put on his "Shazam costume". It consisted of a t-shirt with the yellow lightning bolt, a back half of a t-shirt for a cape and paper Shazam wrist bands. After everyone but my friend had assembled on the blacktop and our coach began to attempt to conduct class by calling roll. When he got to my friend's name (let's call him Steve), he would say "Steve?"..."Steve?"..."Steve?".Suddenly from behind the school building would come this loud shout of "SHAZAM!" and Steve, I mean, Captain Marvel, would come racing over the school steps, hands outstretched and proceed to "fly" a few laps around the schoolyard. We would all die laughing and it only took a couple of times before our coach caught on and would simply say something like "C'mon Captain Marvel" and the ritual would be repeated every class.


humanbelly said...

That. . . is a great anecdote-! TONS of personal credit to both Steve (for being true to himself and embracing his whims at a young age) and to your coach especially, for having the insight and flexibility to roll with the moment and not to crush the harmless fun in order to maintain discipline, as it were.

This actually makes my day start a bit better--- thanks-


Anthony said...

I never did watch this show but those are some really nice memories from david_b and Tom.

Anonymous said...

humanbelly - glad to help. Anthony - I neglected to also give a shout out to david_b. That '73 to '74 or '75 or so was special to me too. I can so relate to those memories.


Anonymous said...

Only seen the pilot on DVD. Didn't know there WAS a Shazam! show till I got the pilot free with season 3 of Wonder Woman. Hoping they release the show on DVD.


Edo Bosnar said...

Tom, brilliant story! And humanbelly is right - really cool PE coach. I know a stunt like that would not have gone over well with the nuns in my grade school.
As for Shazam, I watched it pretty regularly (along with Isis), but I really can't remember many specifics. As david_b noted, they were pretty formulaic, and also kind of bland and unmemorable.

William said...

First I want say that I loved Tom's story about the P.E. class. Sounds like your friend Steve was quite a character. Nice to hear that the coach was understanding. If that had happened in my school, the coach would have most likely made the kid do pushups for punishment and then sent him to office for further discipline.

I was a huge fan of Captain Marvel (aka SHAZAM) myself when I was a kid. I used think the characters name was SHAZAM at first, but my father, who read the comics when he was a boy, set me straight about his name being Captain Marvel. I bought the comics whenever I could and I had my SHAZAM! Mego action figure, etc.. I absolutely loved the live action show when it was on and I never missed an episode. As I recall, I actually preferred John Davey to Jackson Bostwick because I thought Davey looked more like Captain Marvel in the comics. Even though I was a kid, I was a stickler for little details like that.

In fact, I am living proof that TV and movie producers don't understand the minds of children. They really do think kids are stupid and don't notice things like the fact that there was never a character called "Mentor" in the SHAZAM comic books. Couldn't they just have called him Uncle Dudley? (Hula Hula replacing Woozy on the Plastic Man cartoon used to bug me in the same way). I was also confused about the traveling the "highways and byways of the land" in an RV plot twist as well.

Also Cap wasn't even close to as powerful as we was portrayed in the comics. I remember an episode where he had to subdue a lion or something and he struggled with it for several minutes before it ran off (I think). I remember thinking, "Come on, Captain Marvel could just pick up a lion with one hand and fly him to the nearest zoo or something." I understand now that they didn't have anywhere near the budget they'd need to show him doing any real feats of super strength comparable to the comics, but still, it was always a bit disappointing when he would strain with all his might to lift a styrofoam boulder or something.

However, when Billy would yell SHAZAM!, change into Captain Marvel and rush into action, it made me forget all about the shows minor shortcomings. In fact, it was probably my favorite thing on TV at the time, and I remember it very, very fondly. Thanks for bringing it up.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the DC comic emulated the TV show by having Uncle Dudley become Billy's mentor and the two of them rode an RV traveling "the highways and byways." I think they still had encounters with larger-than-life super villains, though, so it wasn't too bad. At least it wasn't "Curse of Shazam."

Unknown said...

A cool PE teacher!? You must have been on Earth Two. I was stuck on Earth Prime, unfortunately.

I was super-excited when Shazam premiered. I had just gotten back into comics after a brief 2nd grade sabbatical, and Shazam was a new discovery for me. The TV show was the first live action comic adaptation that I had ever experienced. We didn't have Superman or Batman in syndication yet. The wonder of it passed after the first year, but it was all I had for awhile.

I tell you, Dr. Sivana would have improved this show a thousand-fold.

Jackson Bostwick looked more like a superhero, but I thought that Michael Davey looked more like Capt. Marvel specifically. And, he was a better actor.
We actually never did get Superman on the central coast of California for some reason. I only ever saw scattered episodes of that and the old Filmation cartoons when we went to L.A. every summer. Used to drive my mother up the wall when I'd make a big deal out of watching TV on vacation.

"Traveling the highways and byways of Mulholland Drive", way ahead of David Lynch.

James Chatterton

J.A. Morris said...

As a little kid,the change of actors must have went over my head.

I didn't realize until today that Mentor was played by Les Tremayne.

Anonymous said...

I found the "moral of the story" epilog annoying. As William said, they seemed to think that the viewers were stupid. We would spend half an hour watching some kid get into trouble because he stole, or lied, or played hooky, or whatever. Then, at the end, Captain Marvel (or Isis) would deliver a moral saying that lying or stealing or whatever was bad. Well, duh. I am all for a kids' show having a moral, but it does not need to be so insultingly heavy-handed. Carl Barks and other comic book writers often included moral lessons in their stories without hitting you over the head with it. But then, I wonder if those afterwords were aimed more at the PTA and ACT than at the kids anyway.

nude0007 said...

I thought Bostwick looked and sounded more heroic, but he obviously lacked muscles. Davey had muscles, but mostly looked somewhat overweight. He also didn't seem to carry himself like a hero, and sounded like a country boy football star to me from what I remember as a kid. The shows were undeniable crap, though. lol
Just my opinion.

Dougie said...

The older I get, the more fond I become of Captain Marvel and his world. I particularly enjoyed the recent takes by Smith and Kunkel.

To my knowledge, this tv series was never shown in Scotland. But I knew about it from ads in DC comics circa 1975/6 when I went to High School. I was more interested in Isis at that stage, however.

The clip made me smile wryly. I'm quite surprised that no US comic actor has been chosen to helm an-oh-so ironic remake for the cinema (yet).

By the way, I'm currently listening to Superman's radio serial from 1940. It's a delight.

humanbelly said...

This is me shamelessly latching onto Dougie's tangent (a terrible board habit that I may never shake-- heck, I've never even made an effort to curtail it-!)-- but I definitely want to echo that the old Superman radio show is indeed a delight-- my full support. It's hokey, it's pretty predictable, it's often shameless in its product-hyping-- but it is most definitely not badly done. The pace is breathless and relentless, the scripts had a surprisingly nice flow to the dialog, and Bud Collyer really made the whole secret-identity convention come completely alive with his inspired Clark-to-Supes vocal shift. You completely buy into it.

HB (Who listens to the XM Radio Classics station an awful lot. . . )

Karen said...

Put me in the John Davey camp -he looked like CM to me.

Tom -very cute story. Thanks for sharing it.

William - the lack of truly super-feats was something that I recognized but accepted. It all goes back to what seems to have become a mantra of sorts around here: "That's all we had back then." Even as a kid watching a show and enjoying the fantasy of it, a part of me knew that nothing too terribly amazing could happen, due to the technical limitations of the time. That's probably why I am so delighted with each Marvel film. Thor really IS Thor -he's just as powerful in the movies as the comics. It makes me wonder, now that films can match and surpass the ability to show us the fantastic, where does that leave comics?

I want to share a little side-story here regarding Les Tremayne. When I was about 14 I went to a Sci Fi con in Los Angeles and they had a panel discussing the film War of the Worlds. Mr. Tremayne was there along with others who worked on the film. When they took questions from the audience, a young man, the very epitome of uber-geekness, stood up and asked Mr. Tremayne why the flying wing (which was used in the film) had been scrapped by the military. Looking a little bewildered, Mr. Tremayne answered along the lines that he didn't know, they'd used it in the film because it looked good. A short time later, the same guy stood up and asked Mr. Tremayne,"How tall is Joanna Cameron (the actress who played Isis)?" Poor Mr. Tremayne's jaw just dropped. "About 5'7", I guess" he answered, and I recall he looked from side to side and everyone on the panel was trying not to laugh. It was so awkward but he did his best. However I never saw him at a con again!

Fred W. Hill said...

I watched Shazam! regularly on Saturday mornings although I thought it was a bit dopey. Amusingly, although I figured out that this tv Captain Marvel was based on the first character to have that name and had been around far longer than the Marvel Comics character whose cosmic exploits I'd been reading over the previous year, it was sometime later before I realized that the relationship between the Kree captain and Rick Jones was a take off on that of Billy Batson and the elder Captain. Heck, for that matter, Don Blake and Thor, as initially introduced, weren't all that different in concept, except that Don was a doctor with a bum leg rather than a 12 year old news reporter. Sometime in the late '70s I also obtained a Mad paperback with a reprint of Harvey Kurtzman's tale of the epic battle between Superduperman and Captain Marble wherein Superdupes is getting creamed by the Big Red Cheese until he manages to trick C.M. into smashing his fist into his own face -- with, uh, messy results! Fun stuff.

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