Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
The United States of
America is a relatively young country when compared to the rest of the world.
In that time, there’s only been a few dozen people who have held the title of
President. Some were good. Some were terrible. Regardless of your own views of any
present or past President, there is one that many largely agree was
terrible—even the people who created him! That President is…Super President
Hero of the people.
Super President was DePatie-Freleng
Enterprises’ entry into the booming action/adventure genre of Saturday
morning. The show was broken up into two different segments. Super President focused on the President
of “a modern nation”, James Norcross, who also happened to be the superhero
Super President. A cosmic storm granted him super strength and the ability to
change the molecular composition of his body into anything; including steel,
granite, ozone and water. Each change was preceded by the electrons rotating
around the nucleus of his atom logo. He could also fly via a jet-powered belt
he wore as part of his costume. Otherwise, he traveled in his flying Omnicar,
which was kept in his lair accessible through a secret entrance in his office.
Super President often went against mad scientists, mutated creatures, and
The Presidential Mansion.
Super President never explicitly stated what country Norcross
was President of, however it overtly indicated that he was the President of the
United States. The original design for Super President featured a red, white
and blue design with gold trim and a black hood until it was changed to the red
and white design used on the show. The President’s Mansion—as it was called—resembled
The White House with some additions
and a new location by the coast of Capitol City. Norcross’ closest ally was
Jerry Sales, his special assistant and the only person privy to his dual
identity (surprisingly, considering “President” is right there in his superhero
name). Sales also served as the show’s “damsel in distress”, frequently being
captured and used as leverage against Norcross. The show’s setting was also
never specified. While it featured elements indicative of the 1960s, it also
exhibited a lot of futuristic technology in both the Mansion and in the
Richard Vance and Spy Shadow.
The other feature of
the show was Spy Shadow. Secret agent
Richard Vance (Ted Cassidy) worked for Interspy investigating a series of
strange crimes, rescuing important kidnapped victims, or foiling the
world-conquering plots of diabolical super villains typically employed by the
evil organization SPIDER (Society of Plunder, International Disorder, Espionage
and Racketeering) led by The Cobra. However, unlike most spies, he mastered an
Eastern mind technique that allowed him to transform his shadow into the
separate entity of Spy Shadow (also Cassidy, using a deeper tone). Vance
usually summoned his shadowy ally to get into places he couldn’t, or to carry
out the mission whenever Vance was taken out of the action by the villain. However,
Spy Shadow couldn’t exist in an area devoid of light. While the Super President segment was designed to
closely resemble the look of superhero comics, Spy Shadow had a different, more cartoonish look to it.
James Norcross and Jerry Sales.
Super President debuted on NBC
on September 16, 1967. The series was the brainchild of DePatie-Freleng
management. Unlike other shows they’ve pitched to networks, NBC was immediately
interested and bought the concept sight-unseen. It was also the first of
DePatie-Freleng’s series to utilize script writers--having previously scripted
their shows during the storyboarding process--after being pressured by their
union. Those writers were Tony
Benedict, Don Christensen,
Alan Dinehart, John W. Dunn, Edgar Furth, Jack Miller, Lee Mishkin, David Scott and Ken Sobol. Each episode
featured a Spy Shadow segment
sandwiched between two Super President stories.
Art Leonardi was the
character designer and Doug
Goodwin the composer.
Spy Shadow to the rescue!
To say the show was poorly received would be an
understatement. The show came during the administration of Lyndon
B. Johnson at a time when the country had grown extremely tired of the
seemingly never-ending Vietnam
War. While nostalgia for the administration of John
F. Kennedy may have pushed the series into quick production, memories of
his assassination gave the overall concept a feeling of poor taste. Further, it
came at a time when there was growing concern over the level of violence
depicted in children’s television, which would completely change the Saturday
morning landscape in the coming years. DePatie-Freleng was also
less-than-pleased with the resulting series, calling it “the worst thing we’ve
ever made.” It probably didn’t help matters that the show was scheduled right
after reruns of DePatie-Freleng’s superior The
Super 6, further shining a light on the poor writing and animation the
Super President character model.
The ratings were abysmal and the series was cancelled after its initial
15 episodes were produced. It remained on NBC’s schedule through 1968 until it
was ultimately replaced by reruns of Top Cat. The only merchandise
known to have existed was a Halloween costume, however a giant-size comic book
was in the works. However, the comic featured references to the candidates in
the upcoming election and was scrapped after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
After that, the show has largely fallen into the wastelands of history;
recalled only by retrospective websites, books and those who may have seen it
growing up, with very little information about it actually existing.
“The Billion Dollar Bomber
/ The Brain Drain Game / The Condor’s Eye” (9/16/67) - Alien B’Nark holds five
cities for a billion dollars ransom each. / Vance is sent to rescue a kidnapped
physicist in the Swiss Alps. / The Condor plots to kidnap and hypnotize world
leaders to help him plunder the world.
“Day of the Locusts / The Kilowatt Killer Caper / Monster of the Atoll”
(9/23/67) – A deranged scientist uses locusts on his nation’s food supply so
that the people will support a revolution. / A scientist uses electricity to
either capture or destroy an atomic submarine. / A witch doctor uses a monster
to keep his influence over his tribe.
“The Great Vegetable Disintegrator / Evila the Terrible / The U.F.O.
Mystery” (9/30/67) – Professor DeCordo takes Jerry hostage for ransom to
complete his vegetable disintegrator. / Evilia employs a hypnosis ray to
conquer the world. / Professor DeCordo returns and takes Jerry hostage in the
Omnicar, which the army views as a UFO.
“King of the Sea / The Mystery Rustler Caper / Man of Steel” (10/7/67)
– Zegura plans to become king of the sea by flooding the East Coast. / Vance’s
vacation is interrupted to investigate the mysterious disappearance of herds of
cattle. / A metal menace invades a secret weapon base and captures Jerry,
prompting Super President to act.
“The Case of the Destroyer Satellite / The Egyptian Rat-Trap Flap /
The Electronic Spy” (10/14/67) – A rogue satellite takes out the country’s
telecommunications system. / Vance learns El Kavadar has a map that will lead
him to an immense treasure. / Dr. Zak plans to use his little robot to steal
weapon plans from the Government Test Center.
“The Treachery of Jerry Sales / Desert Dilemma / The Earth Robber”
(10/21/67) – Count Batulla puts Jerry under his control to lure Super President
to his death. / Interrupting Cobra’s slave trade leads to Vance being left tied
in the burning desert. / Super President investigates the sabotage of the
nation’s oil fields.
“No Time Passes / The Case of the Treacherous Tugboat / The Chameleon”
(10/28/67) – Captain Tempo uses his ability to freeze time to rob Capitol City.
/ Tugboat Family assembles her own fleet of ships, courtesy of the navy. / The
Chameleon lures Norcross into a trap and disguises himself as Super President
to get into the Central Nuclear Control HQ.
“Red Ray Raider / Close Shave in Burma / A Million Years of Menace”
(11/4/67) – Super President traces some missing vehicles to a flying saucer. /
Vance sets out to retrieve a kidnapped prince. / An asteroid eclipse revives
Starga from suspended animation and he resumes his mission to make Earth
inhabitable for his people.
“The Sound of Doom / The Aurora Borealis Business / The Cosmic
Gladiators” (11/11/67) – Train robberies are occurring with a sound-based
weapon. / Madam Shark hijacks Vance and strands him in the Arctic during its
night cycle of six months. / Super President ends up on a floating space island
where its ruler demands he join the Cosmic Gladiators in destroying the
“The Menace of the Moles / The Big Bounty / The Interplanetary Menace”
(11/18/67) – Super President investigates when a company buys up factories that
have been electronically paralyzed. / Vance ends up trapped in Cobra’s
building, which Cobra sends crashing to the ground. / A demonic fireball
threatens to cook the entire planet.
“Tangled Terrors / The Guns of Titicaca / Birds of Terror” (11/25/67)
– Dr. Greenly Thumb seeks vengeance for Earth’s neglected plant life using a
series of scientific concoctions. / Vance is sent to liberate the slaves from
Baron Von Willietner’s copper mine. / Giant birds help themselves to the
nation’s food supply.
“Return of the Vikings / Dead-End Express / Electronic Giant”
(12/2/67) – Tempora uses his resurrection machine to bring back all the great
villains of the past. / Vance is tasked with guarding cargo on a train dubbed
the “dead end express”. / Dr. Three escapes from prison and turns himself into
a giant to get revenge on Super President.
“Spears from Space / The Contraband Caper / Toys of Death” (12/9/67) –
Earth is used as a target by two beings to determine whose weapon is better. /
A wounded agent leads Vance to Cobra’s contraband ship. / General Happytime
uses robot toys to destroy the government.
“The Gravity Destroyer / Bandit Gambit / The President and the Pirate”
(12/16/67) – Garrar plans to clear off the Earth using anti-gravity rain. /
Vance heads to a small island to depose its tyrant ruler. / Super President
sets out to find a pirate galleon that’s been terrorizing the seas.
“Time Crimes / The Great Trainload of Robbers / The Ice Invader” (12/23/67)
– A time machine sends Super President back to ancient Crete and the Labyrinth
of Minos. / A sinister producer plans to lure Vance into his movie production
in order to destroy him. / Experiments turn a penguin into a creature capable
of changing the climate of the planet.
I actually found a Super President Halloween costume on ebay. It had Woolworths as the brand name. Evidently they issued costumes just for their chain stores. I can sent you a photo if you like.
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