Monday, September 03, 2012

Geek TV: The New Fantastic Four!

newff1Concept: It's the Fantastic Four as you've never seen them before – without the Human Torch, but with an annoying robot named HERBIE!


Total Episodes: 13

Original Air Dates: September 9, 1978 – December 16, 1978

Original Network: NBC

Geek Factor: 7

Characters:

Mister Fantastic (Voice of Mike Road): Leader of the group, scientific genius with the ability to stretch his body. Married to Sue Richards.
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The Thing (Voice of Ted Cassidy): Reed's best friend and former test pilot, with a good sense of humor (except where HERBIE is concerned), the cosmic rays gave him incredible strength, endurance and toughness but at the cost of looking like a monster.


The Invisible Girl (Voice of Ginny Tyler): Wife of Reed Richards, mother figure to the team, with the ability to turn herself and anything else invisible, and cast an invisible force field.

H.E.R.B.I.E. (Voice of Frank Welker): A robot whose name stands for Humanoid Experimental Robit, B-Type, Integrated Electronics. Mostly for comic relief with the Thing, but provides information on the spot as needed.

Geek Guest-Stars:

newff3Hal Smith, who provided an assortment of voices on the show, was the voice of Gumby, did some assorted voices on Quick Draw McGraw and The Huckleberry Hound Show as well as other H-B shows of the era, appeared on-screen in two episodes of Dennis the Menace, was King Theseus in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, voiced Professor Argus on Rod Rocket, Dr. Todd Goodheart and others in The Funny Company, a bunch of characters including Gunner and Engineer Taurus on Space Angel, the King and Yappee on The Peter Potamus Show, Owl in the original Winnie the Pooh shorts, Coil Man on Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, and many other roles – as noted in a previous entry about him in this series!

newff4John Stephenson did the voices of Doctor Doom, Karnak, Magneto, and many others! His voice career began as narrator for The Ruff & Reddy Show, and later went on to be the voice of Fancy-Fancy and the Sergeant on Top Cat, Dr. Benton C. Quest and others on Johnny Quest, Chief Winchley on The Secret Squirrel Show, onscreen as Varner in an episode of The Man From UNCLE (he had other on-screen roles as well in non-geek shows), narrator on The Atom Ant Show, Colonel Fusby on The Peter Potamus Show, Mr. Slate and others on The Flintstones, Professor Conroy on Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, and many other voices on shows like Birdman, Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor, Abbott and Costello, Arabian Knights, Young Samson & Goliath, Wacky Races, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, etc., etc. etc. He's another of those guys who did voices for just about every Hanna-Barbera show! Later, he could be heard as Doctor Strange, Eric the Viking and Loki on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Gen. Flagg on G.I. Joe, Doggie Daddy in Yogi's Treasure Hunt, and an amazing range of other roles! Apparently his last work was providing a voice for a Scooby-Doo video, but it's worth noting he'd done the voice of Mr. Slate one last time on an episode of Johnny Bravo.

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Don Messick did voices in every episode of the show, and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned his long distinguished voice career before (don't worry, when I get around to shows that he had a leading role in, I'll cover it in even more detail). Gene Moss, who voiced the Trapster and others, had earlier beeen the voice for a few characters on Roger Ramjet, also writing episodes of that, plus he wrote an episode of Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp! Nancy Wible did an assortment of voices in the show, too, and had earlier been the voices of female characters on Davey and Goliath.

newff6 Geek Pedigree:

Jack Kirby, who co-created the FF, worked as storyboard artist for the series, around the time he was moving (temporarily) away from doing comics work. Jack, as well as Stan Lee and Roy Thomas received writing credits on a number of episodes.

Mike Road, the voice of Mr. Fantastic, had earlier done the voices of Ugh on Space Ghost, Zandor and Zok on The Herculoids, Race Bannon on Jonny Quest, and a bunch of other shows! You can go to the previous entry in this series for more about his career, but I'm hoping to cover him again when I get to Jonny Quest. Ginny Tyler, the voice of the Invisible Girl, had done voies on Davey and Goliath, The Sword in the Stone, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (those plus her roles on Disney records earned her the title of “Disney Legend” in 2006), Jan and the Black Widow on Space Ghost, Polynesia in Doctor Dolittle, and Flirtacia on The Adventures of Gulliver.

Ted Cassidy, the voice of the Thing, will forever be identified with Lurch on The Addams Family, and I covered his career in-depth there. Frank Welker, the voice of HERBIE, has also been covered quite a bit in prior entries, but I will get to him again in a future one! Ditto for Dick Tufeld, narrator of the show, who's been mentioned before, and will definitely get more coverage in future installments!

DVD Release: None in the USA, but some releases have been made in the UK and Canada.

Website: http://marvel.toonzone.net/ff1978/ is as good a site as any!

Notes: HERBIE was later brought into the Marvel Universe by John Byrne (who also later explained that HERBIE went into the cartoon because Johnny Storm was absent the day contracts were to be signed). He's more recently been seen in the second season of The Super Hero Squad Show, where he provided a different explanation to Wolverine for the switch.

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