Spinning off from Hanna-Barbera’s
earlier Harlem Globetrotters, The Super Globetrotters saw The Harlem Globetrotters serving
as the cover for their true identities: The Super Globetrotters. To protect the
world from evil, the Globetrotters would challenge the villains and their
henchmen to basketball games for whatever goal or object they have in mind for
their nefarious plans.
|Character model sheet.
Like the earlier series, while the show featured the names and likenesses
of members of the actual Globetrotters team, they were instead voiced by
professional voice actors. Reprising their earlier roles were Stu Gilliam as
Freddy “Curly” Neal and Johnny Williams as Hubert “Geese” Ausbie. Scatman
Crothers also returned, but as his original character of Meadowlark Lemon was no
longer a Globetrotter by the time the series entered production, he was instead
cast as Nate Branch. Replacing the other departed Globetrotters were James
“Twiggy” Sanders (Buster Jones) and Louis “Sweet Lou” Dunbar (Adam Wade).
|Multi-Man, Super Sphere, Gizmo, Spaghetti Man and Liquid Man.
Each Globetrotter possessed incredible powers granted to them whenever
they stepped into magical portable lockers. Hanna-Barbera recycled the powers,
identities and moves of three of the Globetrotters from the Impossibles segment of Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles: Branch was Liquid Man (sometimes
referred to his Impossibles counterpart’s
name of “Fluid Man” or “Aquaman”, and still bore the former’s “F” logo on his
suit) and could turn himself into water; Sanders was Spaghetti Man (based on
Coil Man), who could stretch and manipulate his body; and Ausbie was Multi Man,
who could create duplicates of himself. New for the series was Neal as Super
Sphere, who could retract his limbs into his basketball head in order to
bounce, smash and grow; and Dunbar as Gizmo, who could pull an unlimited supply
of gadgets for any situation out of his afro (including their lockers). They
were alerted to problems and aided by a basketball-shaped satellite called
Crime Globe (Frank Welker).
|Attila and his Huns.
Facing off against the Globetrotters was an eclectic blend of colorful
one-off foes voiced by an assortment of frequent Hanna-Barbera players. Amongst
them was Museum Man (Herb Vigran),
a disgruntled janitor who had a remote control that could bring fossils and
statues to life; Facelift (John
Stephenson, who also portrayed several other villains), a nuclear-powered
alien that could steal anyone’s face for use on his Demon Droids; Whaleman
(Michal Rye), a pirate who used a mechanical whale in his crimes; Bad Blue Bart
(Paul Winchell), a western
outlaw who used a remote-controlled Phantom Cowboy (also Winchell) to take over
a ranch; The Time Lord (Don Messick),
who could alter time using a crystal and summoned villains of history to aid
him; and Count Bragula (Lennie
Weinrib), a vampire with ambitions to dominate Transylvania. A real person
also crossed paths with the Globetrotters in the form of Attila the Hun
(Welker), who was shunted forward in time following a scientist through his
time machine. Although the Super Globetrotters would often attempt to stop the
villains through comical heroics, things were always ultimately settled with a
basketball game like the original cartoon.
|Teamwork makes the dream work!
The Super Globetrotters followed
executive Fred Silverman
from CBS, home of the original, to NBC where it debuted on September 22, 1979. The
series was written by Tom Dagenais, Rowby Goren, Andy Heyward, Robby London and Larry Parr. It ran until
December 1st when it was combined with Hanna-Barbera’s Godzilla to create The Godzilla/Globetrotters
Adventure Hour. Both shows played out their respective seasons as part of
this block and continued on as reruns until September 20, 1980. Instead of
using the team’s theme song “Sweet Georgia
Brown” by Brother
Bones, the series employed a sound-alike whistle theme composed by Hoyt Curtin.
|Ad for the DVD release.
Because the series was solely produced and owned by Hanna-Barbera, it was
the first of the two shows to be released to DVD through Warner
Classics Collection. The original Globetrotters
series was co-owned by CBS Productions who
maintain its rights. This was also the final series starring the Globetrotters,
although they were the stars of the 1981 television movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. The team and their various members
continued to appear or be referenced on television programs, films and
documentaries over the years while also continuing to perform on the court
almost 500 times a year shared between three different rosters.
Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2020.