LOU SCHEIMER: Dig These 13 Pulse-Pounding Productions of the 1970s

A BIRTHDAY SALUTE to the Filmation impresario by columnist JIM BEARD…


The late Lou Scheimer was one of those jacks-of-all-trades in the television industry who just amaze me—producer, composer, director, animator, even voice actor. And then it gets even more amazing when it hits me that he was almost single-handedly responsible for a huge chunk of the shows that made me get up every Saturday morning and glue myself to the television.

I believe in giving back to those who had such a big impact on my life. Lou’s on that list, and this is my birthday tribute to him and his 1970s Filmation shows. (He was born Oct. 19, 1928.)

In no particular order, here are 13 Lou Scheimer productions that loom large in his legacy:

Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74). I remember the show’s debut like it was yesterday. I knew exactly when it was going to premiere and was right there to see new adventures of the Enterprise crew. Lou was producer on this one.

The New Adventures of Batman (1977). Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their roles as the Dynamic Duo for the show, with Lou as executive producer as well as… wait for it… the voice of Bat-Mite and the Batcomputer.

Mission: Magic! (1973). Oh, my golly! This one… does anyone but me remember this show? It’s only 16 episodes, with Lou producing and a theme song that still plays in my head. Did you know it was a spin-off from The Brady Kids cartoon and starred pop musician Rick Springfield?

Groovie Goolies (1970-72). Another short-lived Scheimer production, but once you see it, it’s indelible. Classic monsters as pop-rock band. It was part of the Archie and Sabrina animated universe, as well as sometimes crossing over with the Looney Tunes gang.

Space Academy (1977). Lou executive produced this Star Wars-inspired live-action show, complete with a group of space kids and Jonathan “Dr. Smith” Harris as the head of the school. Some of the kids were also in the Star Trek episode And the Children Shall Lead.

Jason of Star Command (1978). A spin-off from Space Academy, and once again produced by Lou, the show was set on the same space rock as its predecessor… but none of that matters. All that matters here is one of my strongest childhood crushes, Susan O’Hanlon as Captain Nicole Davidoff. Sigh…

Ark II (1976). Another oddball live-action show of Lou’s, this one a rare representation of post-apocalyptic science fiction for children on Saturday mornings. It had this really cool, giant tank-like vehicle, and Lou did the opening narration, too.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972-85). I watched the heck out of this show. I had no idea Lou was the voice of not only Dumb Donald, but also Legal Eagle, and Stinger, the Brown Hornet’s sidekick.

NOTE From Dan: Bill Cosby’s sickening legal issues cannot be ignored. Fat Albert, however, was a beloved show that was deeply meaningful to millions of children. In this context, it deserves mention when judged on its own terms.

Journey Back to Oz (1972). Lou’s known primarily for television, but he produced this animated, theatrical sequel to The Wizard of Oz. I never saw it in the theater but saw it multiple times on TV. It’s significant for starring Judy Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli as Dorothy, and a whole host of huge stars as the other characters.

The New Adventures of Flash Gordon (1979-82). This was evidently supposed to be a made-for-TV feature but morphed into a TV series for Saturday mornings. Lou was executive producer. What was going to be that feature film was aired later in 1982, also produced by Lou.

The New Adventures of Zorro (1981). Lou also did a lot of uncredited voices for minor characters on this one. I always thought it was kind of strange fodder for a kids show.

Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1976-80). Are you sensing a trend here. Leave it to Lou—no pulp properties will go unmined! At one point in 1980, they combined a lot of these characters in a Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour, again produced by Lou.

Shazam! (1974-76). Now, say what you will about the incredibly soft nature of this show, but back in the day we kids were starved for whatever live-action superheroes we could feast our eyes and ears on. The costume was right, as well as the powers, so we took it and liked it. And full disclosure: I was more a fan of Jackson Bostwick as the good captain than John Davey. Bostwick looked like he’d stepped right off the comic book page.



— 13 GREAT CARTOONS: A FILMATION DC Superheroes Celebration. Click here.

— The FILMATION BATMAN Index of Reviews and Features. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I was born in 1974, do I don’t remember a lot of these first-run, but I watched Jason of Star Command, Zorro, Tarzan, and Shazam and the Shazam/Isis Hour. I also watched The Kids Super Power Hour, which included Shazam cartoons! Why those haven’t been released on DVD yet, I have no idea. When the movie was released, I thought they would surely see the light of day, but nope. Thank you, Lou Scheimer, for all you did.

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  2. Oh, and I preferred Jackson Bostwick as well. He had that square-jawed, superhero look.

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  3. A lot of these shows I caught more on syndication that actual regular airing (1979 birth year meant that there wasn’t a lot I saw first-run.) But growing up, I used to LOVE the reruns of the “Star Trek” animated series! And… ickiness about Cosby aside… “Fat Albert” was MUST-SEE television for me as a kid! And finally, props to genre superstar Sid Haig for his run in “Jason of Star Command”!

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  4. Concerning Flash Gordon… Both the tv movie and the series were produced, and were separate entities. The TV movie took place in the 1940’s/WWII… it was a stand-alone movie. The TV series continued after that, and never really mentioned the WWII setting. The series has been made available on DVD, but the TV Movie can only be found on You Tube… it was never rebroadcast in any form. It was called “Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure”, and is quite excellent.

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  5. I got to meet Lou Scheimer in 2001 and we had a great time at lunch. The cast of Shazam! are personal friends. Filmation was the best in the 1970s.

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  6. In the opening for the New Adventures of Batman it shows the Riddler with the colors reversed on his costume, purple bodysuit with green gloves and belt instead of the proper other way around. Interestingly, Riddler never appears on the show except in the opening.

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    • RE: Riddler with reversed colors–and never appearing on the show

      That had to do with legalities and liscencing rights as Hanna-Barbera had the latter in using the Riddler (and the Scarecrow) in their Challenge of the Superfriends (1978), so Filmation couldn’t legally use him.
      And, as a way to avoid infringement, it reversed his costume colors in the opening credits.

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  7. Thanks for this! I remember “Mission: Magic” as well as “My Favorite Martians,” which was a load of fun and had Jonathan Harris but didn’t do well ratings-wise! I heard that “Space Academy” was intended as a “Star Trek Spinoff,” but the connection fell through. These shows were pure gold!

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  8. I live in Australia and I have Netflix. They have all of the Star Trek shows, including the animated series.

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    • I have the two I care about – the original series and the animated series – on DVD and Blu-ray. All of the others are available on Paramount+ here.

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  9. I loved the Captain Marvel show when I was a kid. Used to pin a towel on my back and “fly” around my house. Used to watch Ark II as well

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  10. Great list! A lot of memories there. As a big Star Trek fan, I was thrilled to find a cartoon, though being born in 1969, I saw it in syndication. At one point, Tarzan was my absolute favorite cartoon. Flash Gordon is also really good – with some of the same voice actors as Tarzan. I watched the Batman cartoon, of course, and eventually learned to live with Bat-Mite. Shazam was a thrill since, as you point out, that was about it for live action superheroes at the time. Fat Albert is of course a classic. And no, I never saw Mission Magic – or Groovie Goolies, for that matter.

    Just one thing – where’s Space Sentinels/Freedom Force? That was a really good cartoon. I even have it on DVD!

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