austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Any trick in the book, now, baby

Well, enough of the deep and righteous moral outrage, which had not been one of the features of the first couple Superfriends: The Lost Episodes cartoons I'd watched for the weekend and which might have been improperly buried in your Friends lists. Instead we get to ... a Wonder Twins adventure.

So things start with ... uh ... Doll Leader and Space Doll Patrol landing on a dirt road and walking to the Gotham Toy Company to sneak into doll shipments going out worldwide. Swiftly, security guards who are clearly not just the voices of Zan and Robin doing different parts get stunned, and useless teddy bears and such are pulled out of their boxes and replaced with dolls that get shipped ``worldwide'', where they're put on sale by store clerks who don't care that Gotham City Barbie should not be red, pill-headed robot sent in a torn box.

Doll Leader is given to Gleek as a birthday present, who takes over the Hall of Justice by zapping Batman. Robin, never at a loss for a snappy yet awkward explanation, announces, ``He's zapped Batman, but he'll never zap again if I can help it.'' And he grabs Doll Leader, which would foil the alien invasion plan if only Doll Leader had not deviously ... squirmed ... out of Robin's hold. Robin is also never allowed to hold the cat for claw-trimming. Doll Leader zaps Robin, but only after throwing him first, in order to complete Robin's humiliation. Zan and Jayna try being a giant king grab and an ice vault, which is the sort of thinking that's kept them Junior Superfriends their entire lives, and they run away.

Worldwide --- well, one in Japan and one in Generic Middle America --- the dolls take over ``military and government officials'' who apparently were all home at the same time, and Doll Leader is proud to announce to home ... planet ... that ... we ... have ... won. Well, except that Doll Leader is running low on batteries, so he sends troops to the Metropolis Battery Company for refills. Zan and Jayna, who've overheard this at the Batcave (I think), drop in at the Metropolis Battery Company to ... watch them take the batteries and return to the Hall of Justice. They take on the form of a bat and a snowstorm, which the dolls keep firing at, and Gleek breaks the force field holding Batman and Robin by lightly stroking the base of Robin's force field with his tail.

The dolls use up their batteries shooting at the cloud Zan, so they pop open some new batteries, which are already dead, thus foiling the invasion. Batman and Robin, coming out of hiding from behind a box, say now they can send these dolls back to their home planet, which assumes that they've kept the receipts, and Gleek and the Wonder Twins jam in a comic tag that isn't funny.

I have problems with this episode, starting with that the head villain is just Doll Leader, and his minions are just ... the dolls, I guess. Doll Leader might have been given a name if the writer had the chance to do a second draft; if I understand things right this series of cartoons was made just about the time of a Writers' Strike and quite a few episodes look like they were rough drafts pressed into service because they had to animate based on something. Also at the time Hanna-Barbera was producing about 900 hours of Saturday Morning programming each week and even if there was time to write a second draft, there wasn't time to write a second draft.

For example, I think that the cache of dead batteries at the Metropolis Battery Company was supposed to have been arranged by Zan and Jayna --- why else the odd shot of them being there? --- but this point isn't made explicit, and this was not a series that just let plot points go un-explained. But there's some watchability to it, particularly in that the odd or illogical things happen just often enough to be funny and inspire that sense of ``come on, what could happen next?''

But for a Zan and Jayna Save The Day story, it plays all right, and they don't even have to rescue stupid teens to do it. And, of course, there's no deeply offensive moral outrages, which is another bonus.

Trivia: While Hirohito took office as Emperor of Japan immediately on his father's death in 1926 (and had been regent since 1921), his grand enthronement ceremony was not held until 1928. Source: A Modern History of Japan, Andrew Gordon.

Currently Reading: McKinley, Bryan, and the People, Paul W Glad.


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