Warner Bros. // 1979 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // November 8th, 2010
It's the Justice League vs. the Legion of Doom! Sort of.
Every now and then programming executives come up with an idea for a special that is so novel, so sublime in its brilliance, that it changes the face of television forever.
This isn't one of those specials.
Rather, this is a half-assed idea that got (at best) quarter-assed execution. Legends of the Superheroes is comprised of two live-action 50-minute specials, broadcast in January 1979. Both specials have laugh tracks, suggesting that they were intended to be funny. In "The Challenge," the Superheroes -- Batman, Robin, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, The Huntress, and Black Canary -- battle the Legion of Doom -- Mordru, Solomon Grundy, Weather Wizard, Sinestro, Giganta, and Dr. Sivana. The battle apparently involves determining who is the biggest idiot. For the record, Captain Marvel is the only one of the lot who shows any kind of sense. As for the "biggest idiot" question, evidence suggests that would be me, for requesting this damned thing. (I also requested The Starlost; I may need help.)
There's nothing wrong with poking fun at the characters; hell, I've got a stash of Ambush Bug comics, for crying out loud. But put a little effort into it, will you? Most of the villains aren't household names, so presumably the writers had some familiarity with the characters. Instead, we get a mishmash of weak plotting. The heroes are tricked into drinking a potion that takes away their superpowers, even though Batman, Robin, Huntress, Green Lantern, and Hawkman don't have any super powers (Green Lantern's and Hawkman's powers come from technology).
The second special is a hero/villain roast. Hosted by Ed McMahon. During the festivities, we learn that The Atom and Giganta have fallen in love. That oncoming light you see at the end of the tunnel is the inevitable "joke" about how their size difference will impact the wedding night. Yeah, that pretty much covers it. Actually, no, because mention must be made of one of the special guests at the festivities, the hero of the downtrodden...Ghetto Man.
There are some highlights (provided that you redefine "highlight" as "something not so wretched as to make your own small intestine strangle you in self-defense"): It's kind of nice to see Adam West and Burt Ward don the tights again, though said tights are perhaps a bit tighter.
An actual highlight is the return of Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, as he is at least fun to watch. As yet more evidence of the creative abyss that spawned this mess, Gorshin doesn't appear in "The Roast."
Superman and Wonder Woman do not appear here because they had their own gigs: Superman: The Movie was in production and Wonder Woman was still on the air.
Video is decent. Images are a little soft, but on the other hand, colors are vivid -- there is some flaring. Unfortunately, a side effect of the good video is that you can see just how bad the costumes are; seriously, they look like they were made by a preschool class.
Audio is good, but then again, there's nothing particularly challenging here. A decent mastering job was done, but the court can't help but wonder if that time and energy could have been spent on a more deserving project, like a special edition of Ishtar.
There are some extras in the form of some deleted scenes/outtakes, none of which are remotely interesting or funny. There's also a take of Mordru's rendition of "That's Entertainment" (there will be a brief recess while the court pounds its head on the bench), in which the song is drowned out by a metronome. No explanation is provided for why this was done; the court's best guess is that it had something to do with timing for sound effects. That, or the FCC asked that they drown out the wretched lyrics.
The Warner Archive will doubtlessly pull in a few shekels from the S&M crowd, but that's about it. If you buy it, it's your own damned fault.
Like we really needed another reason to hate the Seventies.
Guilty. So very, very guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes