Animation studio Hannah-Barbera adapted their CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS cartoon into a live-action television special that aired on NBC over two nights. In the last issue of DIAL B, we covered the CAST of this infamous show.
This issue, we're going to take a look at Part One: "The Roast." The format of this show was similiar to the old Dean Martin roasts, with Johnny Carson's sidekick Ed McMahon substituting for Martin, and the members of the Justice League standing in for Don Rickles, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Red Buttons, etc. At the show's start, Batman (Adam West) introduced Ed as "a man who's famous for relaxing and enjoying himself." This is because Ed was famous for partying, aka getting drunk.
Looking around at all the costumed crusaders on stage, Ed says, "I haven't seen people dressed like this since I had lunch at Alice Cooper's house! Look at all those capes. Beautiful! It looks like Truman Capote's closet! "
"We're here tonight to see our favorite superheroes roasted and toasted by super villains and other people from their personal lives. Let's get right to our first super-villain."
"He's a man who uses his special wand to control the weather for his own criminal purposes. The arch enemy of the Flash --- THE WEATHER WIZARD!"
The Weather Wizard makes it rain on the Flash, then causes a storm on the set, knocking everyone off their podiums!
Ed introduces the next roaster: "Formerly from Thanagar, now residing in Peoria, Illinois, please welome Mrs. Esther Hol."
Esther, Hawkman's mother, delivers a monologue. "I run into people in the supermarket. They say, 'My son's a doctor, my son's a lawyer.' How do I tell them my son's a Hawkman?"
The next roaster is introduced as a regional minority hero, Ghetto Man! He bops onstage to some psuedo-hip "ghetto" music, then proceeds to tell a series of horrifying racial jokes, such as: "The NAACP asked you guys to integrate -- I'm sorry, but we don't feel the Green Lantern qualifies as colored people!" Please post all complaints on #GhettoManMatters.
How to follow a "Ghetto Man"? With Captain Marvel's arch-enemy, Dr. Sivana, of course. He flies in on a giant beaker, then has a chat with Ed. Sivana feels Ed's muscles, and tells him he's too flabby to be a superhero. HAHAHA. Ed McMahon, an ex-Marine fighter pilot, was probably anything but flabby, but whatever.
Sivana calls the heroes to the floor and, taking his "doctor" code name WAY too seriously, he proceeds to give each one a comical physical. A doctor's motto is supposed to be "first, cause no harm," but Dr. Sivana breaks THAT oath with a series of jokes so mind bogglingly-awful they're pain-inducing!
Can it get worse than Ghetto Man? Yes! We're at the halfway point now, and here comes Scarlet Cyclone, "now affectionately known as "Retired Man," to portray every old person as a feeble-minded cripple!
Next up: A stand-in for Hollywood gossip maven Rhoda Barrett, who interviews Ray Palmer, aka the Atom. She says the Atom is engaged, and that he recently attended a bachelor party where a girl jumped out of a cup cake.
The Atom's lover is the tiger-skinned clad Giganta. Giganta Rhona she met Ray through a computer dating service that isn't in business anymore. Rhoda pries into the couple's love life, noting the obvious problems, Atom tells her, "Rhoda, that's the chance she'll have to take." Yuck.
Now the headliners get some screen time! (Finally.) It seems Robin has accidently cracked up the Batmobile. There's trouble in Gotham City, but Robin has to talk Batman out of using the car. "What with the energy crisis," he suggests, "Maybe we should get a little economy car. Or mopeds. Skateboards?" Here's the clip...
LOOK OUT ED! The next super villain roaster is that undead, walking pile of slush... the one and only Solomon Grundy! Ed calls him "A humanoid creature born in the murky waters of a swamp." Wow, Ed sure knows his comic books!
"Is it OK if I call you Sol?," Ed asks fearfully.
"My friends call me Sol," Grundy repiles, "GRRRR! But I don't like my friends!
Ed introduces the next villain by saying, "Here is a man who uses his power ring for evil... the treacherous Sinestro!"
"When I was a kid I had it tough. The neighborhood I came from was so tough that a kid five years of age had white hair! Ou parish priest was called Father Knuckles!"
Next up is comedian Ruth Buzzi as Aunt Minerva, a real comic book "villain," taken from the adventures of the SHAZAM-saying Captain Marvel. To prove she's a crack shot, she richochets a bullet all over the set until it finally shatters the glass in her hand.
Aunt Minerva: "You look like a likely candidate to be my HUSBAND. You're the Flash, right?
Flash: "Yes! They call me fastest man alive!"
Aunt Minerva: "I'll pass!"
Aunt Minera decides she want to marry Captain Marvel, so she call for Ed to perform the ceremony! "First time I ever saw a shotgun wedding where the BRIDE is holding the gun," Ed remarks sarcasticaly.
But when Minera kisses Cap, she suddenly turns into a sexy young blonde! "Maybe marriage wouldn't be such a bad idea," Cap admits while oogling her.
Uh-oh. The next villian on the roaster is Mordru, the super sorcerer from the future who usually battles the Legion of Super Heroes!
Mordru tries to explain the plight of the super villains to the heroes by singing a re-worded version of "That's Entertainment." It's quite painful to watch, pure torture that has to be seen to be believed. The dancing... the music... the lyrics...
"A swine, who says murder's divine... that's entertainment!"
When his muscial number concludes, Mordru uses his magic to wreck the set. Then he vanishes. END OF ROAST! To end the night, Ed McMahon flies off (Superman-style) as he bids us goodbye. Hi-yo, Ed!