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 Archive’s Hanna-Barbera 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.