If you were a kid in the 70s…
The Superfriends ruled the Saturday morning TV circuit: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, even token Wonder Woman, and of course the bad guys who battled them, the Legion of Doom, featuring Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Scarecrow, and mostly forgettable C-list DC baddies. In that old school world of the Big 3 broadcast networks - before cable, before VCR/DVD/DVRs, before the almighty web (“back in my day…”) - the animation was crude, dreadful by modern standards; the story lines and character development thin as newsprint; Casey Kasem distractingly voiced both the boy wonder and stoner Shaggy from Scooby Doo, but somehow it all worked. In fact, to little kids everywhere including me, it ruled.
Only much later did I learn as an ad guy that the whole concept of Saturday morning cartoons was a “content” play devised by the big cereal companies, to glue kids to their ad-filled programming and peddle kids their wares while parents slept off the excesses of Friday night. Who can forget “Honeycomb’s BIG, big big big…” and Tony the Tiger bellowing “Sugar Frosted Flakes - they’re GREAT”, horribly catchy jingles drilled into youthful brains long before marketing food directly to kids became verboten (“Part of a complete breakfast!”) and sugar became a four letter word, though like margarine for butter before it that’s starting to change as HFCS’s day has come as well.
Funny thing is, once Star Wars hit in ‘77 and became the cultural phenomenon we still can’t escape 35 years later (talk about an empire), galaxy-far-away ripoffs were everywhere on TV, from Battlestar Galactica to Buck Rogers. Still, one of the oddest Star Wars rip offs of all time was when Darth Vader’s head was appropriated by the Superfriends, and appeared rising from the swamp as the Legion of Doom’s headquarters.
Even that wasn’t enough to overcome the dread Wondertwins era. But that’s a story for another post.