1 out of 5 – Would Recommend: Legends of the Superheroes

L to R: Batman, Robin, Captain Marvel, Black Canary

Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where we’re celebrating The CW’s big TV superhero crossover by going back to the oldest TV superhero crossover of which I’m aware: 1979’s Legends of the Superheroes!

What’s The Plot?

Well, there were actually two specials to air under this title. The first, “The Challenge”, saw the Justice League face off against a team of supervillains who’ve activated a doomsday device! They’ve got an hour to locate the baddies hideout and shut it off, but the villains will do everything in their power to stop them – will our heroes succeed?
The second, “The Roast”, saw the JLA come together to be roasted in the style of the Friar’s Club by Ed McMahon, their allies, their families, and their enemies.

L to R: The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Huntress

Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?

The specials were produced and directed by TV industry veteran Bill Carruthers (who cut his teeth on the Soupy Sales Show in his native Detroit) under TV Hall of Famer Joseph Barbera for NBC.

Five Reasons to See It

  1. This special marks the first live action appearance for classic characters like Hawkman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Black Canary. They even get to show off their powers – for a certain value of “show”, given the low budget.
  2. Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin reprise their classic roles as Batman, Robin, and The Riddler turning in the comically earnest performances for which they are famous. They’re even tooling around in THE George Barris Batmobile…albeit after it had been flocked with nylon fibers.

    LtoR: Solomon Grundy, Sinestro, Dr. Sivana, Modru, The Riddler, Giganta, Weather Wizard.

  3. The less said about the “regional superhero” who shows up to The Roast, Ghetto Man, the better.
  4. One of the JLA’s members is The Huntress, an odd choice as she was exclusively the Earth 2 daughter of Batman in ’79. However, her description in the intro implies she might have been filling in for a certain other superheroine who was tied up with her more serious program on ABC.
  5. “Finally, he shows up on Thanksgiving – he says ‘hi’ to the turkey and leaves.” – Hawkman’s mother

Recommendation

The specials are utterly cheeseball and low budget, but that’s their charm – they are intentional comedies! If you want something for serious, watch “Crisis on Earth X” on the CW – the first half aired last night (and is streaming on their app), the second half will air tonight.

Fun Fact: Crisis on Earth X will clock in at 18 superheroes, beating Legends’ record of 11.

Come Back Next Week For a New Installment of Strange Times & Places!

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past’s social media lackey. He’s all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!

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