19 January 2008 | johntracytb5
Great fun above and below the waves!
The summer of 1967 was one of the most exciting times of my youth, once CBS started to run their advertisements for the "Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure." I'd been an avid fan of Aquaman and Aqualad stories since their days in Adventure Comics, and, being that Aqualad was my favorite hero, I also followed his adventures with his land-bound friends, The Teen Titans. Imagine my surprise to find that there would be an animated series based on my favorite heroes, something I could enjoy every Saturday, instead of waiting for the comics to hit the stands.
The voice actors in the "Aquaman" series were amazing, most notably the manic performances of Ted Knight as the narrator, as well as playing nearly every villain featured. I can only imagine the contortions he went into while delivering lines for the Sea Sorcerer or Captain Barracuda. (I'd have paid to see that)! Marvin Miller, previously the voice of TV's "The Millionaire," made for a wonderfully regal yet benign Aquaman, and Jerry Dexter's voicing of Aqualad quite nicely matched the innocent zeal of Aquaman's faithful friend and sidekick. (Every time I see the "Jumpin' Jellyfish" ride at Disney's California Adventure, I hear Jerry's voice in my head saying that line). Diana Maddox had more work at playing the winsome Wonder Girl in the "Teen Titans" cartoons than as Mera, here featured as the Aqua-Duo's gal pal, rather than the wife she was to Aquaman by that time in print stories. Also of note is Pat Harrington Jr's giddy delivery of Speedy in the three "Teen Titans" cartoons, ever the smart-aleck, quick-witted Boy Bowman, coupled with his performance as the youthful Ray Palmer, aka The Atom. (Hopefully those fun outings with the Justice League Of America members and the Titans will appear on DVD in similar fashion following the "Aquaman" DVD). Additionally, the lush soundtrack for this series matched the sumptuous seascape backgrounds, making these undersea romps just as memorable as the inviting image of the ever-glowing Atlantean dome featured at the close of each show.
Unlike the far more sinister and serious Aquaman later featured in Warner Bros. Animation's series "Superman" and "Justice League," these outings with the Aqua-Duo (or "Marine Marvels," take your pick) are a joy: light on violence (though Aqualad gets banged up early and often) and long on aquatic splendor, always ending in mirth and a hearty "Let's head for home, Tadpole" ...or "Squirt," "Sardine," "Shrimp" or "Minnow." (You'd think Aquaman could have had the decency to give the kid a real name, wouldn't you)? It didn't matter that the Sea King had to have a power shift (his hard water abilities) swiped from his wife, or that Tusky gets to save the day almost as often as our heroes. Our Marine Marvels knew how to show off their wondrous undersea world to its best advantage and, to this day, the series remains Filmation's most beautiful effort.
It's sad that it took forty years for WB Animation to clean up those bleeding reds from the old film stock and issue these fabulous cartoons as they originally appeared. I could almost forgive them for the travesty of the Cartoon Express edited versions of the 1990s. (I said "almost")! It is, as Aqualad says, "great fun" to see our intrepid aquatic heroes riding the waves to adventure in glorious comic book colors once again. Filmation owned my Saturday mornings in the late 1960s and I love reliving that era through these marvelous episodes.