Monday, October 29, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Fantastic Four (1978)

The Fantastic Four's section cartoon show was released in 1978 on NBC. Just 13 episodes were produced.
The Fantastic Four 1978 Cartoon
This show is notorious for one thing: Replacing the Human Torch with the robot H.E.R.B.I.E. This show pretty faithfully adapts some classic FF tales and it just tries to shoehorn H.E.R.B.I.E. into the Human Torch's role. H.E.R.B.I.E. fights with Ben Grimm just like Johnny would. But H.E.R.B.I.E. comes across as oddly antagonistic to even the other team members such as Reed. In fact, even though Reed is called the "leader" the FF regularly turn to H.E.R.B.I.E. and he comfortably barks out orders. H.E.R.B.I.E.'s dialogue is obnoxiously designed to prove how smart he is. The only thing is H.E.R.B.I.E. regularly proves what a dunce he is, even failing to think of looking for a pirate treasure aboard a pirate ship.

Beyond H.E.R.B.I.E., the rest of the show falls pretty flat as well. The animation is shaky. The character designs are slightly more faithful to the comic books than the previous cartoon, particularly the Thing. But the art is simply dreadful. The Thing's appearance ranges from blank orange to a melted lump of orange rock to the more traditional cracked look with an orange beak on the front of it. Eyes seem to be a particular problem for the animators. Additionally, this show uses a lot of stock footage shown again and again.

Like I mentioned, most of the plots come directly from the early FF comics. Now this isn't exactly a good thing, however. Sometimes the plots barely make any sense. At times the story is far too thin to effectively cover a half hour, causing a lot of "filler" material to be added (such as Reed fixing a machine, emergency calls to the military, and crowd reactions). The Invisible Woman is effectively invisible, as she was commonly sidelined and used as a damsel in distress rather than a full member of the team.

All in all, the Fantastic Four cartoon of 1978 is boring and poorly produced. The show from 1967 was much more entertaining.

1LR REVIEW - 8 out of 20! It's a Miss!

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