Shazam! (TV series)
|Also known as||'The Shazam!/Isis Hour'|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||28 (list of episodes)|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 7, 1974 – October 16, 1976|
|Related shows||The Secrets of Isis|
Shazam! is a half-hour live-action television program produced by Filmation (the studio's first such program), based upon DC Comics' superhero comic book series of the same name. The program starred Michael Gray as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who can transform into the superhero Captain Marvel, originally played by Jackson Bostwick and later by John Davey, by speaking the magic word "Shazam!" With his guardian "Mentor" (Les Tremayne), Billy travels the country in a 1973 Dodge Open Road motorhome, looking for injustices to resolve.
The show ran from 1974 to 1977 on CBS' Saturday morning lineup. From 1975 to 1977 it was known as The Shazam!/Isis Hour and included The Secrets of Isis, about an Ancient Egyptian superheroine resurrected in the body of a schoolteacher, as the second half of the hour. Joanna Cameron, the star of The Secrets of Isis, appeared as Isis, and her alter-ego Andrea Thomas, on three episodes of Shazam!, and John Davey likewise appeared as Captain Marvel in three episodes of Isis.
Differences from source material
As in other media, when he spoke the magic word "Shazam!" Billy would be struck by a magic lightning bolt and would be transformed via animation and special effects into Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal.
However, the television version of Shazam! departs notably from the comic book version of the character. The eponymous wizard Shazam, who empowers Captain Marvel in the comic book and serves as his mentor, does not appear in the series. Teenaged Billy instead speaks directly to the elders that empowered him (who appeared as animated characters): Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury) via a communication device. Instead of being based in any one particular city, Billy (Michael Gray) and his traveling companion Mentor (Les Tremayne) travel through California in an RV, interacting with people in various towns where they stop. Whenever a potentially dangerous situation arises, Billy becomes Captain Marvel to save the day. In an era before cell phones were commonly used, Mentor would make phone calls from the RV on a type of mobile phone, asking a "mobile operator" to dial the number.
While the series was on the air in 1976, DC's Shazam! comic book was modified somewhat to reflect the format of the TV series, with Billy Batson traveling across the country aboard a van furnished by his employer, station WHIZ, contacting the six elders via the "Eterni-Phone", and with Uncle Dudley, an established character in the source material, taking on a role similar to the Les Tremayne Mentor character.
Unlike the comic books, there were no supervillains (such as Doctor Sivana, Captain Marvel's greatest enemy in the comics) shown on the program, and violence was downplayed. Billy, as both himself and as Captain Marvel, would help people out of difficult situations of their own making. As in many Filmation shows and cartoons, moral messages were contained within each episode, crystallized at the end of each episode by Billy learning a new moral lesson from either Mentor or his empowering elders.
Home video releases
The pilot episode, "The Joy Riders", was released as Warner Bros. Television Commemorative DVD Volume 8: Shazam, part of a DVD series designed to promote 50 years of Warner Bros. Television and to promote other TV shows that were not yet released on DVD. It was included with the release of the third season of Wonder Woman in 2005 in North America. Meanwhile, The rights to The Secrets of Isis remained with Filmation's successors Entertainment Rights, Classic Media, and DreamWorks Classics; that series was released on DVD in its entirety in 2007, including the three episodes featuring Captain Marvel.
On October 23, 2012, Warner Bros. released Shazam!—The Complete Live Action Series on DVD via its Warner Archive Collection. This is a manufacture-on-demand (MOD) release, available exclusively in the US and only through Warner's online store, as well as Amazon.com through its CreateSpace service.
After its original network run, Shazam! was brought back for reruns from January 5 through August 30, 1980. A handful of episodes appeared on TV Land infrequently throughout the 2000s, originally appearing on the "Ultimate Fan Hour" in early 2004 as part of the "TV Land Kitschen" lineup.
- "The History of DC Comics on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- Shazam! #26 (Dec 1976), DC Comics, Inc.
- "Shazam! DVD news: Announcement for Shazam!—the Complete Series". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- Lambert, David. "Shazam! – Delivery Date Delay for DVDs of The World's Mightiest Mortal". TVShowsOnDVD.com website. TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
- Shazam!—The Complete Live Action Series at Amazon.com