Super Dave made his debut in 1972 on The John Byner Comedy Hour and became a regular on Byner’s next show, Bizarre. He also appeared on the short-lived Van Dyke and Company and was a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman. In 1987, Super Dave got his own self-titled variety show on Canada’s Global Television Network from 1987-91, which aired on Showtime in the United States. The show took place at Dave’s all-purpose “compound” where guest stars would be introduced in random fashion with elaborate false backstories before Dave would perform one of his bumbling stunts. Demonstrations of the compound’s various features and technology would often replace the typical stunt but would yield the same result of Dave being comedically injured.
|Fuji and Super Dave.|
Margaret Loesch decided to bring Super Dave to Fox Kids for the 1992-93 season. The concept was adapted by Einstein and Allan Blye, along with Reed and Bruce Shelley and Mike Maliani into Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire. The show followed Dave (Einstein) and Fuji (Irizawa) as they used their stunt show as a cover for investigating criminal activity or were lured into saving the day under the guise of performing those stunts and Dave’s celebrity. Like the live performances, Dave’s stunts often backfired (partly due to Fuji) resulting in his sustaining severe bodily harm. Part of the show’s comedy involved fourth wall breaking, with the characters acknowledging they were on a show, talking to the audience, and even dealing with the network executives. Einstein and Irizawa were joined by veteran voice actors Frank Welker, B.J. Ward, Stevie Vallance, Kath Soucie, Susan Silo, Don Lake, Brian George, Jesse Corti and Charlie Adler in a variety of supporting roles.
|Character model for foe Slash Hazard.|
Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire debuted on FOX on September 12, 1992. The series was produced by Blye-Einstine Productions, along with DiC Entertainment and Reteitalia, Ltd with animation by Hung Long Animation Co., Ltd. and SaeRom Plus One Co., Ltd. Animation. Each episode began with Dave narrating the premise of the upcoming show over clips and ended with a live-action Dave introducing and showing stunts recycled from the earlier Super Dave show. The series was predominantly written by Robert Askin, along with Richard Mueller (misspelled “Muellar” in his credit), Bob Forward, Rowby Goren, Judy Rothman, Phil Harnage, Larry Caroll, David Carren, Jack Hanrahan, Eleanor Burian-Mohr, Einstein and the Shelleys, both of whom were also the story editors. Tom Worrall, Murray McFadden and Mike Watts composed the music.
|One of Fuji's character models.|
When it aired, the show was met with criticism for the characterization of Fuji. Early in the show’s development, Kenyon S. Chan, chairman of Asian American studies at Cal State Northridge and a member of Fox Children’s Network Advisory Board, had expressed concerns over Fuji’s design. The exaggerated caricature of the Japanese-Canadian actor leaned towards the negatively stereotypical with his short stature, protruding lip and slit eyes through enormous glasses. That negative characterization was made even worse once episodes started airing and Irizawa’s impersonated heavy Asian accent was finally heard. Along with Chan’s objections, concerns from Asian communities and organizations such as the Media Action Network for Asian Americans prompted FOX to order changes be made to the character.
|The new Fuji: rounder eyes, less-pronounced lip, and a complete lack of accent.|
Loesch announced that new live-action introductions would be recorded in order to show audiences that Fuji was “not a buffoon but is based on a real actor who happens to speak this way.” Stephanie Graziano, Fox’s director of animation, announced she, Irizawa and Einstein would be sitting down to discuss changes to Fuji’s appearance and voice for future episodes. All of that damage control ultimately proved to be for nothing as Daredevil for Hire wasn’t renewed for a second season. A special episode, “The Super Dave Superbowl of Knowledge”, aired in January of 1994 incorporating a slightly-altered design for Fuji and Irizawa’s new vocal performance. The special was written by Einstein, Hanrahan, Burian-Mohr and Kevin Donahue.
|Cover to one of the VHS tapes.|
Buena Vista Home Entertainment released “Space Case” and “Con Job” to VHS, marking the only release of the series to date. Super Dave, however, continued to make appearances on various programs, talk shows, game shows and his own specials. In 2000, the character peaked with the release of his own full-length direct-to-video film, The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave.
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