Friday, August 24, 2012

Geek TV: The Fantastic Four (Hanna-Barbera)

americasbesttv1Concept: The classic Jack Kirby/Stan Lee comic book series done in cheap animated form... but still, there's some charm to it, because most of the episodes were adapted pretty much straight from the comics!

Total Episodes: 20

Original Air Dates: September 9, 1967-September 21, 1968

Original Network: ABC

Geek Factor: 9


Mister Fantastic/Reed Richards (Voice of Gerald Mohr): Leader of the team, scientific genius, ability to stretch.

The Invisible Girl/Sue Richards (Voice of Jo Ann Pflug): Wife of Reed, “den mother” to the group, ability to turn invisible and create invisible force fields.

The Human Torch/Johnny Storm (Voice of Jac Flounders): Sue's younger brother, hotheaded by nature, ability to burst into flames, fly, and throw fire.

The Thing/Ben Grimm (Voice of Paul Frees): Reed's best friend, former test pilot, incredibly strong and tough.

Doctor Doom (Voice of Joseph Sirola): Arch-enemy of the FF, scientific genius who wears a suit of armor. Rules the country of Latveria with an iron fist (literally!).

Geek Guest-Stars:

Tol Avery, who voiced Warlord Morrat (a Skrull, in case you forgot), had previously appeared on-screen in episodes of Science Fiction Theatre, Maverick (where he appeared seven times playing seven different characters), The Jack Benny Program, Get Smart, Batman (1966-1967), The Wild Wild West, Lost in Space, and Land of the Giants. His voice career seems to have begun doing two parts on separate episodes of Jonny Quest prior to the FF show. Later, he appeared in two episodes of Mission: Impossible and an episode of The Magician, but those are all of his geek credits.

Ted Cassidy, the voice of Galactus on the show, of course is best known as Lurch on The Addams Family, and I think I pretty extensively covered his career there.

ffHenry Corden voiced both Attuma and the Molecule Man, and his career began on-screen with appearances in The Secret Life of Water Mitty, Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, the TV series Terry and the Pirates, Son of Ali Baba, Adventures of Superman, Space Patrol, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Twilight Zone, and many other shows. His first voice work appears to be parts in 15 different episodes of Jonny Quest, often doing multiple parts in each show from 1964-1965, but he would continue to do on-screen roles on shows like My Favorite Martian, I Dream of Jeannie, Mister Ed, Tarzan, The Monkees, and Bewitched as he continued doing voice work for Hanna-Barbera on shows like The Secret Squirrel Show, The Flintstones, The Atom Ant Show (where he voiced Paw Rugg on “The Hillbilly Bears”). Afterwards, he was the voice of Bez on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, as well as continuing on-screen roles on shows like Land of the Giants, Get Smart, and The Flying Nun. He continued appearing both on-screen and off; in 1975, he was the voice of General Urko on Return to the Planet of the Apes, and in 1977, he took over the role of Fred Flintstone after the death of Alan Reed. One would think voicing Fred would be enough for any actor, but he also was Ookla the Mok and others on Thundarr the Barbaraian, although it should be noted that Fred pretty much seems to have taken over his life until the year 2000, when he voiced Fred for the last time. Henry passed away in 2005.

F4f4Regis Cordic voiced Diablo, but under the name Rege Cordic, he'd appeared in episodes of The Monkees, The Flying Nun, Get Smart, and other shows. After voicing Diablo, Regis appeared in episodes of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, Kung Fu, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Future Cop, The Six Million Dollar Man, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, Logan's Run, The Bionic Woman, and other shows. His voice work seems to have been doing various voices for shows like C.B. Bears, Dynomutt Dog Wonder, Spider-Man (1981), Challenge of the Go-Bots, and The Transformers. He died in 1999. Jack DeLeon voiced the Mole Man, and afterwards did voices on Emergency +4, The Hobbit, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy Doo, and other shows, but he's probably most recognizable as Marty Morrison on eight episodes of Barney Miller. Some of his appearances have him billed as Christopher Weeks.

Frank Gerstle was the voice of Blastaar, and he'd earlier been seen in the Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom serial based on the comics (he's the fuel demonstrator in Chapters 7 & 8), and had appeared in Dick Tracy (1953), The Neanderthal Man, Killers From Space, Science Fiction Theatre, and other shows. You might recall seeing him as Jake, the Bartender on Dragnet (1952-1958). He'd also appeared in The Wasp Woman, The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, and many, many other shows, including an episode of The Green Hornet shortly before doing the FF. At the same time he voiced Blastaar, he was voicing Raseem on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour for “The Arabian Knights.”

Don Messick was the voice of Kurrgo and the Skrull Emperor, and he's another one with a long list of credits, voicing Ruff on Ruff & Reddy, a number of roles on Yogi Bear including Boo Boo and Ranger smith, Ricochet Rabbit, Vapor Man on Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, Dr. Quest on Jonny Quest, and many, many other roles, especially originating Scooby-Doo, as well as taking over the role of Scrappy-Doo in 1979.

FFMarvin Miller the voice of Super Skrull and King Toth, is another man with many credits to his name, such as the voice of Robby the Robot on Forbidden Planet, narrating the short Gerald McBoing-Boing, and doing a lot of other work on-screen (usually as a reporter, it seems) and off (he provided voices for several Godzilla films). Of course, he was first mentioned here as the voice of Aquaman!

Vic Perrin, the voice of the Red Ghost, Silver Surfer, Professor Gamma and The Demon, has also been covered here before, so I'll just mention that he was the Control Voice on The Outer Limits, appeared in an episode of The Adventures of Superman, voiced Dr. Zin and others on Jonny Quest, and had two voice parts and one on-screen appearance on Star Trek. He also voiced Sinestro on Super Friends. What I didn't know last time was that his voice was also used on the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) used everywhere to save lives!

Mike Road was the voice of Prince Triton and Rama-Tut, he's more recognizable as Race Bannon on Jonny Quest, Zandor on The Herculoids, Ugh on the Dino Boy segments of Space Ghost, and would later play Reed Richards on The New Fantastic Four!

Hal Smith voiced Judge, Klaw, and Otto Von Lenz, and had earlier been the voice of Owl in the original Winnie the Pooh shorts. If you want to see what he looked like in person, watch The Andy Griffith Show, where he played town drunk Otis! His voice parts included Hardy Har-Har on the Lippy & Hardy segments of Quick Draw McGraw, Gunner and Engineer Taurus on Space Angel, multiple guest roles on The Flintstones, Coil Man on Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, and many, many other roles... including roles on the 1978 The New Fantastic Four! He even returned to voicing Owl for other Winnie the Pooh cartoons.

Ginny Tyler voiced a character named Henel (I forget which episode she was on), she had earlier done the voices of Sally and Elaine Hansen on Davey and Goliath, Casper on The New Casper Cartoon show, Jan and the Black Widow on Space Ghost, Polynesia on Doctor Dolittle (1967), Flirtacia on the Adventures of Gulliver, and then her brief part on the FF. She would return to the FF for the 1978 The New Fantastic Four, this time voicing Sue Richards, the Invisible Girl!

myster1Janet Waldo voiced Lady Dorma and Princess Perla, and is of course best known for voicing Judy Jetson on The Jetsons, but her career is much more than that! She appeared in 16 episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, did voices on episodes of Jonny Quest and The Secret Squirrel Show, voiced Mrs. Slaghoople and others on The Flintstones, Jenny on The Space Kidettes, Lana Lang on The New Adventures of Superman, Granny Sweet on The Atom Ant Show, Nancy on Shazzan, Penelope Pitstop on Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, and many, many more roles, such as Shanna the She-Devil in an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and Circe on Thundarr the Barbarian. Her latest voice work was doing Penelope Pitstop again for the Wacky Races video game in 2000.

Geek Pedigree:

Of course, Joe Hanna and William Barbera, who directed the episodes, pretty much created the idea of animated shows for television, and revolutionized Saturday mornings. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (who got writing credits for five episodes) created the FF, and a lot of other characters, to boot! The character designs for the show were done by Alex Toth, who had a long history in comic books as an artist, and is also known for designing many other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, from Space Ghost to Super Friends. Musical director Ted Nichols had previously directed music on The Flintstones as well as The Herculoids, Abbott and Costello, and Young Samson & Goilath. He would go on to direct the music for many other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, especially Scooby Doo, Where Are You!

Gerald Mohr, the voice of Mr. Fantastic, was the Narrator for a segment of The Reluctant Dragon, the voice of The Scorpion in The Adventures of Captain Marvel, narrated the 1949-1950 episodes of The Lone Ranger, guested in episodes of The Man From UNCLE, The Girl From UNCLE, Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and voiced Green Lantern in the Justice League and Green Lantern segments of The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.

Paul Frees is another of those men whose career can't possibly be adequately covered, but here's some highlights: All sorts of voices in various animated theatrical shorts (many by Walter Lantz), narrator on When Worlds Collide, Second Radio Reporter and Opening Announcer on The War of the Worlds, a voice or two in Godzilla Raids Again and Rodan, and lots and lots and lots of movie roles (mainly as narrator) and TV roles, voices on Mister Magoo, John Beresford Tipton on the Millionaire, of course Boris Badenov on all incarnations of Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show, several characters on The Dick Tracy Show, George Harrison and John Lennon on The Beatles, Fluid Man and the Narrator on Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles... the list just goes on and on and on! Towards the end of his career, he was most often used as the voice of Ludwig Von Drake on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. He died in 1986.

Joseph Sirloa, the voice of Doctor Doom, had earlier appeared in episodes of The Green Hornet, Get mart, Mission: Impossible, and The Man From UNCLE. He later played Dominick in The Magician, guested on Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, and many other shows.

DVD Release: None (see notes)

Website: seems to be okay, as is but neither of them really provide all that much!

Notes: This is a series that may never get a legitimate DVD release, thanks to the fact that it was produced by Hanna-Barbera, which is now owned by Warner Brothers, who owns DC Comics; on the other hand, the FF themselves are, of course, Marvel Comics properties, which is owned by Disney. It would be great if there could be some kind of meeting of the minds here – maybe Disney could just flat-out buy the show from Warners? It's too bad, because it's an enjoyable show, and the only people making money on it are those selling bootlegged videos at comic book conventions! As noted above, most of the episodes were adapted from the comic books... but there were some changes! Episode #11, “Danger in the Depths,” adapted an issue that guest-starred Sub-Mariner, but since Grantray-Lawrence Animation had the rights to Namor, a different character was created (although everyone else remained the same, including Dorma!). Oddly enough, this same story was used in the Sub-Mariner cartoon, but with the X-Men replacing the FF! Also, episode #12 “Demon in the Deep,” seems to have been very loosely adapted from Fantastic Four #4, with Dr. Gamma taking the place of Subby. In episode #15, the entire Galactus trilogy is adapted, with Sue taking Alicia's part in convincing the Surfer to turn against his master. Episode #20, “The Deadly Director,” is also based on an FF issue that involved Sub-Mariner!

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