August 12, 2017


(NBC, September 12, 1981-March 6, 1982)

Filmation Associates

Lou Scheimer – A.W.O.L.
Erika Scheimer – Brat-Man
Christopher Hensel – Captain California
Maylo McCaslin – Dirty Trixie
Rebecca Perle – Glorious Gal
Jere Fields – Misty Magic
Johnny Venocur – Punk Rock
John Berwick – Rex Ruthless
Jim Greenleaf – Weatherman
Linda Gary – Miss Grimm
Alan Oppenheimer – Principal Sampson, Narrator, various

            Welcome to Hero High, where the heroes of tomorrow learn today.

A modern depiction of Archie's Super-Teens.

            Hero High was the idea of producer Lou Scheimer, who originally wanted to develop a series exploring the retirement years of superheroes. However, as the idea was shot down by the network, Scheimer reworked it to be about heroes learning how to be heroes in high school. With the suggestion of adding a band element, it was decided to make the show the eighth installment Filmation’s ongoing Archie franchise. The Archie kids had already been depicted as the superheroes Pureheart the Powerful and the Super-Teens in the 1960s comics, and sporadically thereafter. Unfortunately, during production, Filmation’s rights to the Archie Comics characters expired and weren’t renewed. The characters were quickly modified by Kevin Frank, Tim Gula, Mel Keefer and Janice Stocks to become completely original creations; although, their Archie influences were still evident.

The cast of Hero High.

            Hero High followed the misadventures of the student body as they learned to use their powers while foiling the occasional supervillain or two. Among the main cast was A.W.O.L. (Scheimer), who could go completely or partially invisible; Brat-Man (Erika Scheimer), who caused earthquakes or sonic blasts by throwing super tantrums; Captain California (Christopher Hensel), who had a super-shine smile an flew with his semi-intelligent surfboard, Wipeout; Glorious Gal (Rebecca Perle), who had a variety of mental powers, super strength and could fly; Misty Magic (Jere Fields), who possessed magical powers; Punk Rock (Johnny Venocour), who had sonic powers and super speed while playing his guitar; and Weatherman (Jim Greenleaf), who could control the weather and fly on clouds. Although they also attended Hero High, Rex Ruthless (John Berwick) and Dirty Trixie (Maylo McCaslin) were often the sources of trouble on the show, trying to foul-up their classmates with the dirty tricks located on their belts. 

The kids with Police Chief Hardy.

They were joined by their pet sidekicks Peter Penguin, who was an avian version of Harpo Marx, and Giggler the hyena, who shared Rex and Trixie’s dirty ways, as well as their long-suffering teacher Miss Grimm (Linda Gary) and Principal Sampson (Alan Oppenheimer). Sometimes, the kids had to aid Misty’s uncle, Police Chief Hardy, on various cases. Background characters included the aptly named Li’l Sumo, Captain Walla Walla, Kangaroo Ken, and Coach Cosmo.

            Hero High premiered on NBC on September 12, 1981 as part of The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam. It was paired up with Filmation’s animated second attempt at a show with DC ComicsCaptain Marvel, aka Shazam. As a result, characters from Shazam! would make appearances on Hero High; including Shazam (Burr Middleton) himself and his sister, Mary Marvel (Dawn Jeffory). The Filmation original character Isis (Diane Pershing), who was originally paired with the live-action Shazam! in The Secrets of Isis, also made an appearance. Hero High’s writers included Bill Danch, Robby London, Bruce Taylor, Coslough Johnson, Ron and Sam Schultz, Jack Enyart, Tom Ruegger and Misty Stewart.

Live Rex Ruthless, Glorious Gal, Punk Rock, Capt. California, Dirty Trixie, Weatherman and Misty Magic.

The programming block featured live-action wraparound segments starring the Hero High actors in full costume as their characters with the exception of A.W.O.L. and Brat-Man. The group would perform in front of an audience of kids, telling kid-friendly jokes and playing songs for them. A total of 13 original songs were made including the show’s theme, all composed by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and producer Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael) with Dean Andre. The live segments were filmed at Filmation West, with the voice recording for the animated segments happening at Filmation East. Johnson wrote all the live segments, which were directed and produced by Arthur H. Nadel.

Isis drops by Hero High.

            It was intended for the show’s music to be published on an album with the actors going on a concert tour, but the show’s cancellation after its single season ended those plans. Three of the songs for Hero High were released the year before the show even aired as part of the album Rock ‘n’ Roll Disco by Fat Albert & The Junkyard Band, recorded by different performers. The show was nominated for “Best Children’s Television Series” by the annual Youth in Film Awards (now the Young Artist Awards), and Perle walked away with “Best Young Actress in a Daytime Series”. Berwick walked away with something a little more as he married Nadel’s daughter after meeting her at the show’s wrap party. 

Shazam helps out Capt. California and Brat-Man.

            One of the lasting influences of the show came years later when Ruegger became the steward of Warner Bros. Animation’s television renaissance. The episode “The Big Bang Theory” featured a villain named Brain, whose voice was patterned after Edward G. Robinson. The episode was written by Ruegger with consultation from Tom Minton, and it was storyboarded by Eddie Fitzgerald. Ruegger’s Brain character, along with Fitzgerald and Minton, inspired the creation of would-be world conquerors Brain (Maurice LaMarche) and Pinky (Rob Paulsen) on Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain.

The Hero High DVD.

            Hero High was released onto DVD in 2007 by BCI Eclipse LLC under license from Entertainment Rights. The set was full of extra features, including audio commentaries, spotlight interviews with some of the people who worked on the show, a documentary about Filmation, photo and art galleries, DVD-ROM scripts and storyboards, and a booklet with an episode guide and trivia. Although the full animated show was present, only 20 minutes of the live-action footage was included as a bonus feature on the set. 

“The Art of the Ballot” (9/12/81) – Glorious Gal runs against Captain California in the school election to prove the girls are just as good as the boys.

“What’s News” (9/19/81) – Rex hogs the spotlight when a reporter comes to the school to do a story.

“Rat Fink Rex” (9/26/81) – Rex goes power-crazy after he’s made the new Hero High Honor Guard.

“Do the Computer Stomp (10/3/81) – A new computer is allowed to decide who takes who to the upcoming dance.

“Malt Shop Mayhem” (10/10/81) – The kids are made to get jobs for their training, and things don’t exactly turn out right.

“Boo Who” (10/17/81) – The kids head to a haunted house.

“Cover Twirl” (10/24/81) – Glorious Gal tries to get Captain California’s mind off of the visiting Isis.

“My Job is Yours” (10/31/81) – The kids are allowed to take control of the school for the day.

“Girl of His Dreams” (11/7/81) – Rex falls for the visiting Mary Marvel just as his powers disappear.

“The Not So Great Outdoors” (11/14/81) – The kids are forced to camp out when their bus breaks down in the woods.

“Off Her Rocker” (11/21/81) – Misty disappears after the others make fun of her botched trick.

“Follow the Litter” (11/28/81) – Rex and Trixie attempt to foil the others’ plans to clean up the school.

“Jog-a-Long” (12/5/81) – The boys and girls decide to compete in the local marathon against each other, and Rex and Trixie have plans to foul things up for them.

“He Sinks Seaships” (12/12/81) – The kids help Chief Hardy recover an ocean liner from Captain Seaweed.

“Starfire, Where Are You?” (12/19/81) – The kids search for a stolen top-secret shuttled named “Starfire”.

“The Captives” (12/26/81) – The kids have to rescue Misty Magic and AWOL from two thieves hiding in the mountains.

“High Rise Hijinx” (1/2/82) – The kids have to rescue a stolen statue from thieves held up in a penthouse apartment.

“Track Race” (1/9/82) – The kids have to rescue the governor from a sabotaged high-speed train.

“A Clone of His Own” (1/16/82) – Criminals replace Police Chief Hardy with a clone under their control.

“Game of Chance” (1/23/82) – A rigged carnival leads the way to a diamond smuggling operation.

“The Umpire Strikes Back” (1/30/82) – The kids help Chief Hardy track down a spy disguised as an empire at the baseball stadium.

“The Human Fly” (2/6/82) – The tiny Human Fly plots to steal an emerald from the museum.

“Big Bang Theory” (2/13/82) – Big Brain and Tiny plan to use explosives on bank vaults.

“Law of the Pack” (2/20/82) – The kids try to stop an evil animal trainer who steals pets and trains them to commit crimes.

“A Fistful of Knuckles” (2/27/82) – Captain Marvel helps the kids recapture the criminal they accidentally helped free from jail.

“The Blow-Way Blimp” (3/6/82) – The Chameleon steals the box office from Punk Rock’s concert.

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