Judge Jim Thomas' low-tech bandstand becomes a picnic table when needed...No, it is a picnic table.
A remarkable robot and a trio of shape-shifting heroes make the scene when things look mean!
Airing from 1966 to 1968, each episode of Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles featured three shorts (about 6 minutes each): one of Frankenstein Jr. bookended by two of The Impossibles. Who or what were these worthies? Glad you asked!!
Frankenstein Jr. chronicles the exploits of boy genius Buzz Conroy, who fights the forces of evil with the help of his own invention—a giant flying robot named Frankenstein Jr. (presumably because even in the Sixties, TV execs knew the importance of name recognition). While the duo battle the monster of the week, Buzz's father, Professor Conroy, helps out by radio, somehow avoiding the attention of the Department of Child Welfare. Frankie Jr. is voiced by Ted Cassidy (Lurch from the original The Addams Family), which adds a touch of the stentorian to the proceedings.
The Impossibles are a trio of musicians who double as superheroes:
• Coil Man can turn himself into a slinky.
The group plays on a high-tech bandstand that transforms into whatever sort of vehicle they need—a van, boat, flying car, etc.
The concept is interesting, and the look of both shows provides a hefty dose of Sixties nostalgia. The Impossibles spoofs the Beatles and superheroes (quite an achievement right there). The major weakness is that the format makes any kind of storytelling virtually impossible, if you'll pardon the expression. In a 6-minute short, you get 30 seconds establishing the band's current gig, another 30 seconds for them to get their assignment, 30 seconds of stock animation recapping their powers, plus 15 seconds or so at the end for the group playing their next gig, and in the confrontation, each of them gets to use their power at least once—all that adds up, and the result is that there is precious little time for the actual story. While the stories tend towards the generic, they look way cool, and with some inventive ways for the guys to use their powers (Coil Man shooting Fluid Man out of a seltzer bottle, for instance), which is why I have very fond memories of watching the shows as a five-year-old.
Frankenstein Jr. plays a little better—the stories get a little more room to breathe, and frankly, it's just fun to listen to Ted Cassidy lend his stentorian voice to a giant robot. About a decade later, the Frankenstein Jr. shorts were recycled as part of the Space Ghost show.
Warner Archive didn't really go the extra mile for this release. Really, they didn't even go an extra foot. There's a fair amount of film damage, as well as occasional flickering and inconsistent colors. Audio is fairly clear though, which is nice, as both shows, Frankenstein Jr. in particular, have some good sound effects. The menus are a little basic. Each short is listed separately. They're arranged by episode (1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 2C, etc.), but you cannot play a single episode; you can play individual shorts or use "Play All." You really don't want to watch a lot of these in a single sitting, but at the same time, pressing the play button every 6 minutes gets a little old.
There's a five-minute feature on the development of the show.
The stories are hopelessly generic, but the visuals are interesting. Worth a look, if just to relive some childhood memories. Just don't try to watch them all at once.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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