Written by Hombre Divertido
On June 10th 2011, the Warner Archive Collection cracks open the Hanna-Barbera cartoon vault and delivers two very interesting creations from 1966. Whereas Frankenstein Jr. would bare a resemblance in theme to Gigantor, an American adaptation of a Japanese series that premiered in the U.S. two years earlier, The Impossibles were quite unique as they capitalized on the mop-headed musicians that were taking over the music industry at that time and combined that with the superhero concept that was about to move from the pages of comic books to the small screen.
The new made-to-order, two-disc release contains 18 thirty-minute episodes each of which features stories starring either Frankie (Ted Cassidy) and Buzz Conroy (Dick Beals), the boy scientist son of Professor Conroy (John Stephenson), or The Impossibles, a rock group that became the crime fighting team of Coil Man (Hal Smith), Multi-Man (Don Messick), and Fluid Man (Paul Frees).
Though the animation looks good on this new release and the sound and vocal talent is top notch, the formulaic writing makes a Scooby Doo adventure look like Hitchcock. In Frankenstein Jr., Civic City, the home of the Conroys, was often under attack from some kind of giant creature that had either come from space or had been invented by a criminal. Buzz would use his power ring to activate the giant robot, and off they would go to do battle with said creature. Buzz and Frankie would often get into perilous situations that led to some excitement going into a commercial break. Not so with The Impossibles who rarely seemed to ever be in danger of injury or failure to capture the villain of the day. The villain in each “Impossible” episode had a wacky evil laugh, an unusual power that was often demonstrated through the use of some kind of gun, and had always stolen something, often from an event that was featuring the music of The Impossibles.
Though it was clear that the Conroys had invented Frankenstein Jr., and that they now utilized his great power to fight the forces of evil, there was little information as to how The Impossibles obtained their powers. They did not seem to have actual names, and in one episode, while performing as the musical group, they signed autographs that read: Coily, Fluey, and Multi. They had costumes that they changed into, but no effort was made to hide their identities.
Frankenstein Jr. is the superior product here as the characters and relationships have more depth and the stories are slightly more fun. The Impossibles is a great concept that remains undeveloped throughout the two-season run. Given a backstory, secret identities, and some exploration of the music, this threat-foiling threesome could have developed into a successful franchise. Leave us not forget that The Archies would later prove that an animated group could have a hit record. The Impossibles are ripe for a remake and the world should be clamoring for an acoustic release: The Impossibles unplugged!
Recommendation: This will take an eighteen-week investment regardless of how old you are. Baby boomers looking to relive that Saturday-morning cartoon and cold-cereal coma are likely to feel embarrassed when they realize how trite the stories were and children will get bored if you watch more than one episode a week. It’s fun in very small doses. Please keep in mind that the show was cancelled after two seasons due to complaints about violence in children’s television. That fact alone makes this outing worth a look. Also, in terms of the set, some bonus material would have been nice.