Legends of the Superheroes: The Roast (1979) Review

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

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This is the second part of the two episode series of TV specials which aired in 1979 titled Legends of the Superheroes.  They aired days apart on NBC in 1979.  I have already reviewed part 1- Legends of the Superheroes: The Challenge.  I said it then and I say it again for this episode... you win some and you lose some.  Just like Legends of the Superheroes: The Challenge this episode sub-titled The Roast was certainly a loser. 

Once again this was supposed to be a live action version of the Super Friends cartoon series using the late Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin.  Airing in January 1979, Challenge of the Superheroes was a two part special that aired just days apart. The concept sounds too good to mess up but mess it up they certainly did.  The Challenge was so abysmal that it wasn't even "funny/bad" it was just "boring/dumb/bad".  

At least for this episode we knew what we were getting into.  Hosted by Ed McMahon of Johnny Carson Show fame, this episode didn't try to be a live action Super Friends special, instead it tried to be just what it was:  Saturday Night Live meets Hee Haw only worse and with superheroes.

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Batman (Adam West) was even more ridiculous this week and we once again got to meet Retired Man AKA: The Scarlet Cyclone.  Why didn't they just call him Red Tornado?  Better yet, why was this character even here?

Legends of the Superheroes: The Roast  wasn't even a roast.  No one really came out and made fun of the various DC Comics superheroes.  It was really just a series of very poor stand up comedy skits using people dressed in superheroes costumes.  For some reason, Frank Gorshin did not return as The Riddler in this special though I'm not sure anyone really missed him.

The cast of characters was essentially the same as last episode with a few minor changes.  The role call of heroes included:

Batman (Adam West): Who, unlike the Adam West we all know and love, was utterly hateable in this special.

Robin (Burt Ward):  Again, just like last episode, he seemed to want to be anywhere but here.  His only real contribution was wrecking the Batmobile off screen which led to an awkward and unfunny skit with Adam West.

Scarlet Cyclone (William Schallert):  Same tired old people jokes as in The Challenge.

Green Lantern (Howard Murphy): Had the only notable "action" sequence in the whole episode where he and Sinstero fired their energy rings at each other.

Captain Marvel (Garrett Craig):  He actually got to stand up this episode.

Black Canary (Danuta):  Again, completely forgettable but with a costume a little too uncomfortable for a show presumably aimed at kids.

Hawkman (Bill Nuckols):  Once again he looked the best of anyone but I don't believe he actually had a speaking role this episode.  He only (and totally irritatingly screeched like a hawk) at least twice.

The Flash (Rod Haase):  His power was to be in this special for all of about one second... again.

The Huntress (Barbara Joyce):  Her power was to be completely forgettable.  Even more-so than the first episode as I don't even remember her at all this time.

The Atom (Alfie Wise):  He wasn't in the The Challenge but he has an interview skit in this episode where he is getting engaged to Giganta (Aleishia Brevard)... and that's the whole joke.  He's small and she is big.  HARR HARR HARR!

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Burt Ward and Adam West somehow lost all their chemistry from the 1966 Batman television series and this 1979 abomination.

Again, there wasn't any plot.  It was just a series of stand up routines and one of the most uncomfortable was by an original "superhero" created just for this episode- Ghetto Man.  Yes, it's exactly what you think it is and the less said about it the better.  For G.I. Joe fans, the actor playing Ghetto Man was Brad Sanders who voiced Big Lob in the G.I. Joe animated movie in the 1980s (and, yes, we will review that at some point.)

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The thing I found the funniest out of both episodes was that they hired a guy (Rod Haase) to play The Flash who did absolutely nothing in either episode.  His costume looked pretty good though he didn't really fill it out that well.  Still, he did nothing at all so I guess fans of The Flash got either the best or worse deal in this series depending on how you look at it.

Like the first special, if you want to see what other DC Comics superheroes and villains might have looked like had they appeared in the 1960s Batman television show then I suppose you could look this up but beyond that this Legends of the Superheroes special is a complete waste of time. Patreon supporters at the $5 or higher contribution level can listen to our podcast audio review of the series by clicking here.

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Captain Marvel actually got to stand up this episode.

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