Saturday, August 06, 2005

Not only Batman but . . . !!!

In my last post, I wrote of my favorite childhood memory: meeting Batman at a Charlotte Convention Center car show. The day is as vivid now as it was over thirty years ago. Batman was not the only superhero I met that day. After "chillin'" with Adam West for my specified two minutes, I got in line to see Billy Batson, the teenage alter ego of Captain Marvel.

How many of you remember this ground-breaking Saturday morning television gem? Here's the opening to each show:

Chosen from among all others by the immortal elders...
Solomon... Hercules... Atlas... Zeus... Achilles... Mercury

Billy Batson and his Mentor travel the highways and byways of the land on a never ending mission -- to right wrongs, to develop understanding, and to seek justice for all!

In time of dire need, young Billy has been granted the power by the immortals to summon awesome forces at the utterance of a single word -- Shazam!

A word which transforms him, in a flash, into the mightiest of mortal beings -- Captain Marvel!

So, teenager Billy Batson (that guy had to be at least 22) travelled the country with his adult companion Mentor (What? No first name (or any name for that matter - Mentor is a job description, not a name). These two would encounter various situations that would require their help. These "situations" usally centered around "After-School-Special" type tragedies such as bullies and recycling and sharing!

Whenever their help was needed, a flashing light on the dashboard of the RV would start beeping and blinking. This would summon the elders (an odd amalgam of Biblical, Greek and Roman "gods" Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury. These guys would then give Billy some cryptic advice needed for the emerging situation. By yelling the word, "Shazam" (the word is an anacronym for all of the elders' names), Billy would turn into Captain Marvel, an adult hero with the power of flight, super speed, and super strength. As Captain Marvel, he would use his powers to capture criminals, save those in distress, and right any other wrongs that came up.

In yet another example of things being a lot worse than you remember when a kid, this show really was poorly done. How many ways did it stink?

Lessee...Mentor and Billy's Winnebago has this thunderbolt logo on the hood, and Billy is always wearing this red shirt with gold trim. And who should show up later than Captain Marvel, with his thunderbolt logo (same as the RV) on his red shirt with gold trim (same as Billy). And none of the local yokels can make the connection???

How come he and "Mentor" (ahem!) only traveled in rural, out-of-the-way places. I don't think Batman and Spider-Man spend a lot of time in Podunk, California but Captain Marvel spends all his waking moments fighting small town corruption (or bullies). Also, whenever Captain Marvel had to fly, they always show him flying over a large city (the *same* city, no matter where they go).

The star of this show, Michael Gray, has his own website. He is STILL charging $15 for an autograph. I don't know how much I paid but I am pretty confident my father did not fork over fifteen bucks for this guys John Hancock!

The "Shazam" show also had a spin-off called "ISIS." If I remember correctly, she was a professor or something. She drove around in a cool woody-type convertible car. When she went on an archeological dig, she found an Egyptian medallion that belonged to Isis, an Egyptian legend. The medallion gave anyone who wore it, including this woman who found it, the powers of Isis, but only if she said, "Oh, mighty Isis." She would then be transformed wearing Egyptian outfit and was given the ability to fly and change the weather. I can't imagine the Christian outrage that would occur today with such paganistic Saturday morning fare.

1 comment:

Jim Pemberton said...

It shows that the Church has NOT been silent. We have been making an impact on the media.

However, the teenage pregancy rate is up along with drug use and suicide. But I wouldn't blame it fully on the Church. The "sexual revolution" is merely bearing fruit. It would have been worse without the Church. Unfortunately, the Church is feeling the effects of it and does bear some culpability - many of those pregnant drugged-out sucidal kids go to church.