16 October 2002 | Poseidon-3
S-weet H-unk A-nd Z-any A-ged M-an!....SHAZAM!
"SHAZAM!!" With this desperately bleated out word, young Billy Batson (Gray) turns from a 25 year-old teenager to a bland, 30-something guy in a red body suit who saves horses lives and puts out school fires. (...a far cry from the loftier efforts of the comic book superhero who inspired this Saturday morning kid's show!) Pretty, youngish Gray (who owns one shirt) travels the globe (actually the same neighborhood over and over) in a Winnebago with his 'Mentor' (chickenhawk Tremayne sporting the worst comb-over in the history of TV.) While Tremayne dispenses sage advice with his formerly-velvet announcer voice, Gray learns lessons each week from an animated (actually one picture in which only the lips move!) array of 'elders'. These elders spout platitudes on how things should be and then, miraculously, Gray and Tremayne stumble across an example in which they can put their newfound knowledge to work. On cue, a danger comes about which is beyond Gray's ability to solve. This invariably means that Gray will have to call out "Shazam!" (an acronym of the elders' names) and Captain Marvel will appear in his place. Marvel was played by two men, neither of whom were able to get anywhere after this show, though the second one did do a large amount of TV guest roles. While they are handsome, they are hopelessly average in build and strength. The costume just sort of clings here and there, rather than being stretched across rippled muscles. The producers may as well have gotten the guy who played "Dennis the Menace's" dad to do the part. The poor guys are further humiliated by eternally cruddy flying effects in which the men lie on a board while a fan blows on them and stock footage of sky is projected behind them. More hilarious is watching Tremayne ALMOST keep his hands off Gray. He paws on the kid at every opportunity, telling him what to do, and his "this just in" vocal style adds a campy, homoerotic flavor to their scenes. Still, the show is irresistible and watching it brings back a lot of memories. The overbearing music is like a brainwashing device. Once one hears it again, it sticks in the mind and can't be excised. A flood of childhood memories involving jumping off a rock and landing face down in the dirt reappears. A delightful companion piece is it's spin-off "Isis".