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Nov 202012

When I found Sid & Marty Kroffts Saturday Morning Hits DVD awhile back, I discovered that the studio produced more than just Land of the Lost, H.R. Pufnstuf, and The Bugaloos. It also produced quite a few other shows I never knew about before. One such series was Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976-1977).

Like caped crusaders Batman and Robin, Electra Woman (Deidre Hall) and young sidekick Dyna Girl (Judy Strangis) are superheroes who fight crime with technically advanced gadgets and go up against colorful super villains. It’s hard to believe that I never heard about this show before because it sounds too good to pass up.

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl’s identities are Lori and Judy, who are reporters for Newsmakers Magazine. Whenever on the trail of a hot scoop, they always end up finding trouble, which requires the aid of their superhero alter egos. Very little focuses on that part, which is good because it spares us the drama about the difficulties of leading double lives.

The superheroines’ only ally is scientist Frank Heflin (Norman Alden), who stays at the reclusive Electra Base and always keeps in contact to back them up. Since there are no back-stories revealed on any of the characters on this show, it’s hard to say how Frank got involved with the crime-fighting duo. On the other hand, every Batman needs an Alfred.

Since the series is not available on DVD or Netflix, I only managed to see a couple of episodes, each from a separate Best of Sid and Marty Krofft DVD/VHS release.

However, I did discover that Electra Woman and Dyna Girl have six archenemies, which include The Sorcerer (Michael Constantine), Empress of Evil (Claudette Nevins), Glitter Rock (John Mark Robinson), Spider Lady (Tiffany Bolling), The Pharaoh (Peter Mark Richman), and Ali Baba (Malachi Throne).

They each have a partner in crime to match his or her image. Did you know that Sid Haig played the Genie, who works with Ali Baba?

I met Sid Haig at Cult Fiction Drive-In 2011.

One thing that concerns me about this show is that there are no actual fight scenes. The superhero action is completely confined to the heroines shooting laser beams from their ElectroComs, or using their gravity control to either float upward or land smoothly. I realize that stunts for fight scenes were different for women back in the old days, but come on. In the Batman series from the 60s, Batgirl was allowed to kick bad guys in the head. Couldn’t these ladies have at least been given that opportunity?

It’s not a total loss though. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl often end up in creative traps set up by the villain(s), but manage to find a way to escape at the last moment. On top of that, a Narrator (Marvin Miller) provides commentary to make things appear more exciting. However, it’s very brief and has hardly any personality behind it.

This was an interesting series. Despite the lack of actual crime fighting action, who wouldn’t find a couple of hot super heroines in tights interesting?

Jul 112011

The classic Batman series (1966-1968) has featured many different villains the caped crusaders had to face while defending Gotham City from crime and corruption. Of course there are the well-known villains like Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Cat Woman, Mr. Freeze, and Mad Hatter. However, there are other criminal foes that weren’t featured in later versions of the Batman franchise, but are still just as colorful.

Bookworm (Roddy McDowall): This criminal is brilliant with the ability to read a large novel in seconds just by touching every page. However, he over plots, like a frustrated novelist, accurate to the chapter, page, and paragraph. Like the Riddler, the Bookworm leaves clues based on various novels. You have to be brilliant to keep up with this guy, even if he’s not much of a fighter.

False Face (Malachi Throne): This trickster is a master of disguise, but never requires a mask because his face can blend easily like a rubber mask, which I find a little creepy. His thefts always feature a false quote, which is his trademark. You never know where False Face will pop in, disguised as anyone. He can change very quickly and so can his getaway vehicles. That makes him very hard to catch, like a chameleon.

King Tut (Victor Buono): It’s very seldom when a villain reveals his or her background on this show. King Tut has a very interesting one. He was a professor at Yale University, who taught Egyptology. Then something falls on the good professor’s head and suddenly he thinks he’s the reincarnation of the historical Pharaoh King Tut. Tut’s main objective is to conquer Gotham City as he had conquered ancient Thebes. After Batman defeats him, Tut returns to normal after another blow to the head. What really makes this interesting is that the professor’s situation has happened more than once. How do these heavy objects keep falling on his head so frequently?

The Minstrel (Van Johnson): Don’t underestimate this criminal. He’s a wandering minstrel that’s also an electronic genius. Minstrel is both tricky and cunning. Even when Batman tries to outsmart him, Minstrel always catches on quickly. Minstrel may be a frustrating adversary to go up against, but at least his singing isn’t irritating.

The Sandman (Michael Rennie): In case you were wondering, this is not the same Sandman from the Spiderman franchise. He’s a much different type of criminal. Under the guise of Dr. Somnambula, Sandman uses the art of putting people to sleep as a way to rob them, particularly rich insomniacs. His sleepy sand also has the power to turn people into his slaves as if they were sleepwalkers, but it doesn’t last long. Just be glad he doesn’t sing lullabies.

Chandell (Liberace): This musical maestro is both clever and deceptive.

Chandell uses his piano playing to lure a trio of lovely ladies posing as phantoms named Doe (Marilyn Hanold), Rae (Edy Williams), and Mimi (Sivi Aberg) to rob places. Chandell plays victim to keep anyone from suspecting him as the charmer he is.

Shame (Cliff Robertson): The colorful criminals of Gotham City come in many types, even western cowboys like this one. Shame sticks out from other western criminals from yesteryear because his crimes have a certain flare to them. He’s never modest and prefers platinum bullets in his pistol for it’s his calling card. Of course platinum is scarce, so Shame just paints lead bullets with platinum colored paint. He also has a thing for metaphors with double standards. Ones like “…Talking pig Latin to a donkey” or “…Slower than a turtle with arthritis.” How does he come up with those?

Louie the Lilac (Milton Berle): He’s a notorious gangster with a huge thing for flowers. Very little is known about Louie, except that he intends to control the flower market of the world as well as anything related to it.

On a side note: Milton Berle is well known for his comedy, but this character is just the opposite, even for a guy obsessed with flowers. So don’t take Louie lightly as a criminal.

Egghead (Vincent Price): This clever and crafty villain’s trademark speaks for itself. His bald head is as smooth as an egg and he has a thing for eggs of all sorts, especially egg treasures. Even as mischievous of a criminal Egghead is, he’s often treated as an underling by his partner in crime Olga (Anne Baxter) the Queen of the Cossacks. Olga drives him crazy because the power has totally gone to her head. However, Olga wouldn’t be queen of anything without Egghead.

The Archer (Art Carney): Not to be confused with Green Arrow, this villain is a modern day Robin Hood who has arrows that pack heat like explosions, gas, blinding flashes, etc. Archer robs from the rich to give to the poor merely to become more famous as Gotham City’s savior over Batman and Robin. Can you believe that he keeps a tape player to playback a crowd cheer? It can convince a crowd, like a laugh track. Archer’s ego is helpless without it.

The Puzzler (Maurice Evans): At first I thought he was just a cheap knockoff of the Riddler, but his riddling tactics are much different. The clues he provides for Batman are items that you would spell backwards. For example, he leaves a rooster at the scene of the crime, which means he’s going to go after someone named Retsoor. How clever is that? Puzzler also often likes to quote lines from Shakespeare plays whenever he speaks and his most common weapon is invisible paralyzing gas that’s contained in balloons.

There are more classic Batman villains to come in Part 2.