In this episode, Don and Rob sit down to discuss the history of American TV superheroes. From the open plains where the Lone Ranger roams, to Gotham City and Smallville, the pair chart the history of TV supers as from the dawn of TV to the present day. Along the way, they define what a Superhero is, discuss how animated TV supers evolved, and bring back memories of the Six Million Dollar Man monster that terrified Rob as a kid. All this, and why Hugh Hefner is responsible for the campy Batman 66 TV series, is waiting for you in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs.
Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt
List of TV Superhero Shows
Capes and Cowls: A History of Superhero TV
The Lone Ranger
The Adventures of Superman
DC Heroes RPG
The Superman Radio Show
Doc Savage Man of Bronze
Couragous Cat and Minute Mouse
Batman 66 or, if you prefer….
The Green Hornet
The Marvel Superheroes TV Series (60’s)
Captain America Theme
The Super Six
Frankenstein Junior and the Impossibles
The Mighty Heroes
Shazam! (TV Series)
The Six Million Dollar Man
Ted Cassidy (Lurch)
Richard Kiel (Jaws)
The Bionic Woman
The Bionic Superpowers Sound Effect
Wonder Woman TV
The Amazing Spiderman 70’s TV
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl
Spiderman and His Amazing Friends
The Greatest American Hero
Misfits of Science
My Secret Identity
Superboy TV Series
Probe TV Series
Lois and Clark
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
HEROES TV Series
One Punch Man
Angel and the Ape
The Tick (2017)
Skull the Slayer
I remember watching Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl as a kid. Even then I thought it was kind of hokey, but I loved the characters.
And now for something completely different… I think you should do a podcast on My Little Pony. No kidding. The latest iteration in the franchise actually has a lot of nerdly references, at least in the first few seasons.
>I remember watching Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl as a kid. Even then I thought it was kind of hokey, but I loved the characters.
Looking at it now, I can see that it had a late Silver Age kind of vibe. For a tv show of the time…. working with Saturday AM budgets and time, it wasn’t so bad. Maybe a little dated (since the superhero comics were well into the grittier Bronze Age by now) but as a kid I didn’t care.
I think that’s why they’ve had such a hard tome rebooting it; it’s tough to “modern up” the old school wackiness that was the Silver Age. You’d either have to play it for laughs (which I believe the second reboot sort of did) or go all “Dark Knightey” on it…. which the first reboot sort of did. Neither captures the feel, which was as much a product of the time as of the show itself. A lot of old stuff has that problem.
>And now for something completely different…
….IT’S…! Dadaada-dadada-da…. dada dada-da-daaaa….
What….no? Nobody…? Okay….
>I think you should do a podcast on My Little Pony. No kidding. The latest iteration in the franchise actually has a lot of nerdly references, at least in the first few seasons.
Y’know…. it’s not a bad idea, especially considering how much of a cultural event it’s become. It’s a tough topic to find an “in” for, considering how weirdly diverse the fan bade is, and how those elements are received with such varying amounts of acceptance and derision by the general public. Making it…. again, weirdly so…. one of the most potentially politically volatile topics.
No, God no. No My Little Pony… Please.. for the love of Mike.
Thanks btw for the almost regular shout outs now. They make me smile and laugh, and talk back to my podcatcher in ways that might make my doctor concerned.
A couple of things I think you didn’t speak to:
1. What about Captain Power? While ostensibly a sci fi show. It’s about as sci fi as Power Rangers.
2. I think the Hulk live action show was really a drama. I think it’s not a superhero show honestly. The entire writing staff were women, and if you go back and look at it, he’s not actively involved in heroics. He’s just trying to be left alone to find a cure.
3. However the made for TV movies with Thor and Daredevil and the Hulk would absolutely be examples.
4. You forgot to mention Jaime Summers was in love with Steve Austin and when they brought her back she had amnesia. That’s how they dealt with her past with him. Erased it!
5. No love for Stingray?
6. Plasticman’s show
7. I remember a Superman/Aquaman show I was quite fond of during the day
8. HERCULES! WHAT THE HECK ABOUT HERCULES! HERO OF SONG AND STORY. HERCULES… well you get the ticket.
9. Sixties Spider-man.. check out the Amazing Spider Band. I have the album…
10. Do you remember a made-for-tv movie meant to be a pilot for a character like DarkMan. He was a judge and hid in the shadows?
11. I would say you shouldn’t include shows like Airwolf and Blue Thunder and the like. I think a superhero series has to be all about the main character and the supports have to be pretty strictly supports not to mention you have to have some kind of mission and gadgets or power. I think the A-Team would be called a Superhero show if its just about mildly high-tech gadgetry. Or Max Headroom if its about the gadgets themselves.
12. What was the Canadian cartoon series almost in the same animation style as Johnny Quest where they were down in the sea?
13. Johnny Quest?
14. We need a show about the Power Records Kids Superhero stories.
15. Number 15 is obligatory on these lists
16. Babylon 5 is awesome. Just ask the Story Toolkit if you don’t believe me.
17. /\ Worth repeating. And seventeen is a good number to end lists.
>No, God no. No My Little Pony… Please.. for the love of Mike.
Haw…. sometimes journalistic integrity forces one into the very depths of darkness….
>Thanks btw for the almost regular shout outs now.
You’ve almost become our version of Dan Carlin’s “Ben.” Except you’re real ‘cos people have heard you. (Unless that
‘s a clever ruse….)
>1. What about Captain Power? While ostensibly a sci fi show. It’s about as sci fi as Power Rangers.
This is a tricky one ‘cos it swings a bit more towards actual sci-fi than superheroes, and even though it was a nifty show it’s become lost to the mists of time. It wasn’t hugely influential…. although it WAS a very early attempt at interactive tv; what with the toys that you could shoot at the screen with and all. I suspect we WILL be covering it at some point though, since it is an interesting bit of tv history. (AND wasn’t a bad show in it’s own right.)
>2. I think the Hulk live action show was really a drama.
It definitely is, but it has superhero origins, and I think a lot of the lack of heroics was more a budget/time thing than a specific thematic choice.
>3. However the made for TV movies with Thor and Daredevil and the Hulk would absolutely be examples.
Yeah; and I kinda think those were attempts to bring it closer to it’s roots; once it was seen to have some popularity.
>5. No love for Stingray?
The marionation show? Hmmmm…. we’ll probably cover those separately too. Again’ they’re an interesting bit of tv history, but not something with far reaching effects.
>6. Plasticman’s show
The animated one? *shudder*
>8. HERCULES! WHAT THE HECK ABOUT HERCULES! HERO OF SONG AND STORY.
Do you mean the Hercules who was a winner of ancient glory? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQRasr-0hsM
I think you have to be Canadian to get that one.
>10. Do you remember a made-for-tv movie meant to be a pilot for a character like DarkMan. He was a judge and hid in the shadows?
Oh yeah…. don’t remember the name though. There were quite a few in the later 80’s/early 90’s.
>11. I would say you shouldn’t include shows like Airwolf and Blue Thunder and the like.
Well…. I think they count, but they veer into their own thing pretty quickly. The big thing that makes them super-heroey is that the vehicles are always one of a kind special devices that can’t be replicated (for some reason) until the evil version gets built. Blue Thunder crosses over into the cop show idea more than super hero ‘cos they kind of tone down the superness of the copter. (It’s essentially a really good, but attainable device) and they stuck to a lot of 80’s cop show-isms. Airwolf is definitely a supervehicle show.
>I think the A-Team would be called a Superhero show if its just about mildly high-tech gadgetry.
This is tricky…. I think you COULD make the case that the A-Team is a superhero show, given the impossible actions they perform; but I think it’s not ‘cos those actions are presented more as tropes than aspects of the characters themselves. So…. it’s not that they’re mechanical geniuses who can build a tank out of common household items; it’s that there’s ALWAYS a fully stocked toolshed that happens the have a bulldozer that the bad guys lock them in.
>Or Max Headroom if its about the gadgets themselves.
Max was more about the setting, which is why I think it’s definitely sci-fi instead of superhero. Even Bryce; the tech genius is an aspect of the setting. (As we find out there’s at least one school mass producing them.)
>12. What was the Canadian cartoon series almost in the same animation style as Johnny Quest where they were down in the sea?
>13. Johnny Quest?
Hmmmm…. another borderline one. It comes from the old school pulp adventurer realm; which…. like the supervehicle shows is kind of it’s own thing, but definitely from the superhero school of thinking.
>14. We need a show about the Power Records Kids Superhero stories.
HAW! True…. although it’s tough to find experts on stuff like that, and I don’t think my knowledge is encompassing enough for a full show. (It’s mostly user-end info.)
>16. Babylon 5 is awesome. Just ask the Story Toolkit if you don’t believe me.
It’s no Star Fleet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExC6OEQazrc