Saturday, January 17, 2004

It's a Wonder I'm Normal (1 of 2)

Late last night, I was flippin' thru the channel guide and saw "Shazam!" on Nick-at-Nite or TV Land or one of them other stations that reruns my childhood memories.

I haven't thought about that program in, what? nearly thirty years. But just seeing it in the listings brought back a memory I didn't know I had: running into my parents' bedroom on a weekend morning and jumping on the bed to watch "Shazam!" (and that "Oh mighty Isis" show). So, I mean, I had to give this thing a watch.

Holy freakin' cow -- this was astonishingly bad. Let's set aside the bit about the preachy moralizing -- this was childrens' television, so if they could sneak in a lesson to be learned, more power to them. But, damn, what an awful little package they wrapped it up in.

First, the effects. OK, OBVIOUSLY, superhero flight technology wasn't what it is now. (Although this does explain why that Superman movie was advertised with that "You will believe a man can fly," tagline. 'cause, boy, there's no *way* I could have bought Captain Marvel in flight. Not even when I was six.) But it wasn't just that. "Shazam!" also featured a transformation sequence -- which I recall DID impress me at age 6 -- which is this same sad little sequence they repeat EVERY time he transforms (it conveniently involves a drawn-in psychodelic background, so it doesn't matter WHERE the transformation takes place). And does anyone remember "The Elders?" Those are the people who gave Billy his special magic Captain Marvel powers. Billy apparently contacts them by reciting some spiritual words (which are slightly less plausible than "Mork calling Orson") while standing over an upside-down red bowl decorated with flashing lights. And when he talks to them -- they're a CARTOON. Nobody bothered evening hiring ten guys to stand around and pretend to be Elders -- I think maybe they couldn't afford the costumes or something. So they're all drawn -- but they aren't drawn like any real cartoon -- they all remain statically posed. Someone apparently splurged on an animator who goes so far as to make the Elders' mouths open and shut -- but I guess he didn't pass "Body Movement 101."

1 comment:

andreakingme said...

I used to dream about the actor who played Shazam. He was so cute. And I dreamed that I was Isis. Ah, the drama of those shows! I'm sure I watched them both with wide eyes.

Technology and entertainment has sure come a long way, baby. (A la that winning cigarette brand campaign. Virgina Slims.)

How'd we ever manage to be entertained by that crap? Gulp. I'm sure this means I'm ugly and jaded now.