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DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures - animated DVD / television series DVD / family and children's DVD review
Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Maria Canals, Michael Rosenbaum
Distributor: Warner Home Video
DVD release: 12 August 2008 Feature runtime: 126 minutes
(2 discs)
Format: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Mono - English, Portugese), Subtitles (English, Portugese), 18 "Justice League" and "Teen Titans" episodes, Animation Maverick: The Lou Scheimer Story

Any kid of my generation worth his salt would instantly become glued to the set when these DC Super Heroes cartoons came on our local cartoon shows (who cares whose birthday it is, get on with the cartoons!).

They're all short little cartoons (about six minutes long) featuring individual adventures of The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Justice League of America (Green Lantern, Flash Superman The Atom, Aquaman, and Hawkman), and the Teen Titans (this is the 1960's incarnation with Wondergirl, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad, though not Robin). They would fire the imagination and add life to comic book characters we know and love. It's wonderful to revisit them in this collection of 18 episodes.

These cartoons were produced by Filmation in the late '60s. Filmation was once a force in the U.S. animation market, and they got their first real start with superhero shorts. You may remember their animated Star Trek series, or perhaps the Groovy Goolies, or a little show called He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Filmation was one of the last animation houses to produce entire cartoon series in the U.S., and they did so until they were purchased and mercilessly smothered under a pillow in 1989.

I became a snob at some point in the '80s and made fun of Filmation's fare. The He-Man characters seemed to have two expressions, and a lot of the animation was recycled from stock footage and retooled to fit the current situation (sometimes). When the footage wasn't retooled, they'd use extremely short cuts so that continuity errors wouldn't be noticed. This is perhaps the primordial ooze from which MTV-style editing arose.

These cartoons certainly are good examples of the methods Filmation used to cut corners. They're not lively animations, and lip sync is avoided where possible, but I'm not watching them for a compelling story or excellent animation. I watch them because they are foundations of my childhood.

Filmation is no more. Animation for U.S. TV series usually happens, with the exception of South Park, in Asia. An era has ended and its sad to see. Filmation's body of work is starting to come out, though. You can catch He-Man, Fat Albert and some others on DVD, and you can sure catch these Super Hero wonders. If you're nostalgic pick it up!

Keep your ears peeled for Ted Knight, who announces and provides narrative to the episodes, as he did on Hanna-Barbera's Superfriends.

The only extra feature worth mentioning on this set is "Animation Maverick: The Lou Scheimer Story," and it's a doozy! The 45-minute documentary details the birth and life of Filmation and shows some excellent examples of the ways the studio reused stock footage. With interviews and archival footage and photos, this feature alone makes the set worthwhile for animation lovers.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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