Captain Marvel and his alter ego Billy Batson, keeping it real in The Seventies
Chosen from among all others by the Immortal Elders — Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury — Billy Batson and his mentor travel the highways and byways of the land on a never-ending mission: to right wrongs, to develop understanding, and to seek justice for all! In time of dire need, young Billy has been granted the power by the Immortals to summon awesome forces at the utterance of a single word!
Based upon the Fawcett/DC comic book character Captain Marvel
's first foray into live-action children's programming in The Seventies
. The program ran three seasons on CBS
and was considered successful enough to launch a spin-off, Isis
It's probably noteworthy that Filmation also produced The Kid Super Power Hour
, which featured animated adventures of Captain Marvel [not a continuation of this series, although it did keep the show's theme music as the Marvel Family's Leitmotif
] as well as the extended Marvel family.
This series provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The wizard Shazam does not appear in this series nor is he mentioned in the Opening Narration's back story (instead, the six Immortal Elders speak with and confer their various powers to Billy directly). This would make the magic word "SHAZAM!" a case of Grandfather Clause and an Artifact Title, were it not the initials of the Elders
- On the other hand, Mentor could be Shazam under a different name — given how he can apparently hear/talk to the Elders himself, the way he can appear and vanish as if by magic, and that he [claims to have] taught archery to Cupid.
- None of Captain Marvel's Rogues Gallery appeared in the show, most likely to keep the violence to a minimum. Instead, Cap would help out normal people with various problems usually caused by their own poor choices.
- Adventure Towns
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: "Debbie"
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: A staple of children's shows at the time. But you knew that, right? And Knowing Is... well, you know.
- Art Shift: In an otherwise live-action show, the Elders are animated. Minimally, of course.
- Be Yourself: "The Sound Of A Different Drummer"
- Big Brother Instinct: Danny in "The Brothers"
- By the Power of Grayskull!: "SHAZAM!"
- The Chosen One: Billy
- Clear My Name: "The Past Is Not Forever", "Double Trouble"
- Conflict Ball: In "The Treasure", Native American Johnny refuses to call the police to deal with some looters on his land, a most obvious solution to the problem. The closest excuse the script provides for this attitude is that Johnny thinks "they [presumably meaning non-Native Americans] are all on the same side" and "I want to do this my way." The implication is that he distrusts the authorities, but no concrete reason is offered for this attitude.
- Crossover: After Isis debuted, she and Cap would occasionally appear in each other's series.
- Crossover Cosmology: A given with Shazam, what with the presence of Solomon amongst the otherwise Greco-Roman Immortals; but it also crops up in "Bitter Herbs" which features a Jewish family (hi, Solomon!) in a presumably predominantly Christian town. And let's not forget Isis, whose powers derive from the Egyptian pantheon.
- Drives Like Crazy: In "The Joyriders", a kid drives a stolen car the wrong way down a one-way street and responds to his friends' objections with "I know what I'm doing!" Almost immediately thereafter, he barely avoids a head-on collision with Mentor's RV... by cutting across a small corner lot.
- Drugs Are Bad: "The Lure Of The Lost" / "The Road Back"
- Expy: Mentor for Uncle Dudley.
- The Farmer and the Viper: "Goodbye, Packy" features a girl who has raised a wolf pup like a pet dog. She thinks she can go on treating it like a dog, even after it starts getting into the neighbors' henhouse and grows more and more uncontrollable. As Zeus points out, "Nature never breaks her own laws."
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Inverted in "Out Of Focus", when Captain Marvel asks Andrea Thomas to leave a dangerous (and crowded) area to phone some phantom authorities, so that she can disappear and transform into Isis.
- Initiation Ceremony: Well, not an Initiation Ceremony so much as an Initiation Dare, but happens in "The Brain".
- Latex Perfection: "Double Trouble"
- Lawful Good: In "Double Trouble", when Captain Marvel is suspected of robbery, he allows himself to be arrested, even though this leaves him unable to go after the real culprits. Lampshaded: even when the law is inconvenient, it is still the law. Also applies to the sheriff who arrests him: he genuinely believes Marvel is innocent, but he has to do his job.
- Miles Gloriosus: Fittingly enough, "The Braggart"
- My Greatest Failure: In "Little Boy Lost", this is given as the presumed reason Little Howard is The Speechless: his guilt over a botched prank that seriously injured a friend.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "The Lure Of The Lost", a girl flushes a bag of drugs down the kitchen sink. In her defense, she honestly thinks she's helping, by removing a temptation for her brother (who is a reluctant drug dealer), but her action also destroys evidence against the drug ring's leader. She does get called out on it, although mildly since she already realizes her mistake.
- No Badge? No Problem!: The local police of whatever Adventure Town we're in have an odd habit of sharing information with Billy and Mentor (and, more understandably, Captain Marvel). Most noticable in "Speak No Evil", wherein the avuncular sheriff actively seeks the two out in order to impart pertinent information on matters that, technically speaking, should not concern them and which they should not be privy to.
- Also applies, as in her own series, to Andrea Thomas/Isis. In "Out Of Focus" Andrea (not Isis) joins in a police chase first in her car, then on foot, and no one objects to her presence on the scene.
- Opening Narration
- No Name Given / Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Mentor. On the other hand, on more than one occasion he says Mentor is his name.
- Plot Hole: In "The Past Is Not Forever", it is explicitly established that a gas station worker held the only key to the station; and this is why, when the place is robbed with no evidence of forced entry, everyone believes he did the deed. Later, a rival street thug confesses to having framed the worker; but it's never explained how he pulled off the "no forced entry" robbery. Did the thug have a key? If so, where/how did he get it? Remember, the point is belabored that the worker had the only key.
- Plug 'n' Play Friends: For a change, this trope describes the main characters themselves. Billy and Mentor just seem to have a way with people, making folks (especialy teens) feel comfortable discussing private matters with a couple of dudes they've only just met.
- Police Are Useless: In "The Gang's All Here", the police refuse to arrest Vinnie (the Bad Guy Of The Week) for assaulting another kid, because he hasn't actually done it yet. Fair enough. Except that Vinnie, who is well known to be nursing a massive grudge against this other kid, has embarked upon a very public campaign of harrassment and intimidation — all after having already been arrested for framing the other kid for robbery. Are there no laws about being on good behavior whilst released on bail?
- Secret Identity: No one, except Mentor, should know Billy and Captain Marvel are the same person. But in the TV universe, either his identity isn't especially a secret or They Just Didn't Care. In one episode, a girl knows that Captain Marvel will be able to give Billy a message, even though there's no way she should know that the two have a connection of any sort. But how could people not figure it out? Captain Marvel appears everywhere (and only where) Billy and Mentor appear.
- In two episodes, Billy was forced to reveal his Secret Identity by transforming in front of someone. In both these cases, the time element left him unable to duck away first.
- Secret Keeper: Mentor, obviously, for Captain Marvel, and later for Isis as well. And Marvel and Isis for each other, of course.
- Chad the blind kid from "The Brothers" and Adam the Native American grandfather in "The Treasure" both become this when Captain Marvel must manifest himself in front of them.
- Series-Relevant Age-Up: Billy goes from a 10-year-old to a teenager in this series.
- '70s Hair: Billy's carrying around one huge coif, while Jackson Bostwick's Captain Marvel (mk.I) rocks the Seventies Shag.
- Sigil Spam: It's probably not supposed to be quite so noticable, but Mentor's Winnebago has Captain Marvel's "lightning bolt" insignia plastered on it rather prominently.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Mentor does this in "The Lure Of The Lost".
- Stock Footage: It's Filmation. Duh.
- The Speechless: Little Howard in "Little Boy Lost".
- Stout Strength: John Davey (Captain Marvel mk.II) is a little more... er, well-rounded than Jackson Bostwick.
- Tap on the Head: Happens to Mentor (off-screen) in "The Boy Who Said 'No'".
- Theme Music Power-Up
- Timmy in a Well: Actually, Daddy In A Well; Little Howard's dad in "Little Boy Lost", with The Speechless Howard taking on the role of Lassie. Well, at least Howard does indeed have the human intelligence necessary to seek out help even if he doesn't speak.
- Title Please
- Transformation Sequence